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What Being Unwell Taught Me About Wellness

Reclaiming her health after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, yoga instructor and author Julie Blew
took part in a graffiti-inspired photo shoot to bring attention to MS, her invisible bully.
Photo: Chadwick Fowler

Interestingly enough, the words unwell, sick, illness, disease, and disorder have never worked for me, as I do not see myself as unwell. In fact, I am as strong as they come. However, there was a turning point in my life four-and-a-half years back that changed my view of wellness and how I would handle moving forward after an intense diagnosis.

In 2016, I suffered an acute neurological attack that left my head in a fog, my right leg severely weakened, and my left arm clumsy. It led me to a multiple sclerosis diagnosis that changed my life. There are things that occur that no one can see—the brain fog, the memory loss, the nerve pain, and the loneliness. These were the challenges I faced when confronted with a major life change. I want to share with you how I became well, how I became a fighter, how I became strong, and how I am determined to make my “chronic bully” disappear.

I am not a life coach or a wellness expert and will never refer to myself as one. I am a human being having a human experience. I know that we have one body and one life, and I am going to do my best to take care of that so I can live a long, healthy life. You don’t put oil where windshield wiper fluid goes. You don’t give your animals things that would hurt them, so why would you feed and fill your body with toxins?

As a veteran yoga instructor and person who pays attention to sensations and all that arises inside my body, I knew something was wrong. And because of that, I got a very quick diagnosis and an opportunity to turn things around. And I did turn them around. You don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, not when it comes to your health.

Changing My Diet

The obvious place to start on my path to wellness was my diet—the foods and things that I was ingesting. I always ate healthy, but now I had an inflammatory condition, so it made perfect sense to eat organic anti-inflammatory foods. I cut out sugar. I added vitamin D, biotin, and zinc. I still eat this way, and I will never stop. Why would I? Clearly, the things I do are helping me beat one hundred percent odds of another neurological attack.

Finding Supportive Doctors

Next, it was time to find doctors. I found holistic and medical doctors that honored and supported my decision not to use pharmaceuticals that may or may not help me feel better. I wanted doctors I could trust, because I won’t gamble with maybes.

Building Strength

I became strong. I did everything in my power to return the strength back to my body, as I could barely climb my stairs after all the needles, spinal taps, blood draws, steroid infusions, and MRIs. Baby steps! I practiced hot yoga daily. I added acupuncture and weekly body work. I began to run and race until I couldn’t move another muscle. When my body said sleep, I slept. Sleep is so healing. Physically, I started to thrive. Emotionally, I had to lose the stress.

Listening to My Body

I began to listen hard to what my body was telling me. And at first, it spoke quite loudly. I pushed myself physically every single day. I still do. I have a chronic illness, and it’s with me until we find a cure. Every single morning, I wake up, I open my eyes, I wiggle my toes, and I prepare myself for another nonstop day of moving, running, stretching, working, and living. Every day is Groundhog Day.

I gave myself permission to remove the stress, even if it meant removing people. Stress causes dis-ease which can turn into disease. I believe that the enormous amount of stress in my life over the years contributed to the attack that turned into a life-changing diagnosis. It’s okay if people don’t like you. It’s okay to let unhealthy (for you) people go. This has been a huge factor in my wellness.

Many don’t know how to listen to their bodies or would prefer that extra piece of cake or that third glass of wine and that is okay. Life is meant to be lived, and if that is important, then that’s what you do. Eat. Drink. Et cetera. What matters to me is not eating sugar or drinking alcohol or even allowing stressful situations, toxins, and toxic people to enter my body, mind, and spirit in any way. My wellness is what matters to me.

When there is a possibility though, an extra strong chance…like 100 percent odds something bad may happen to you, why would you risk it? That has never made any sense to me. I do everything I can every single day to make sure I stay upright. That is what matters most to me—to stay strong physically. To walk. To love. To live. It’s the little things.

Getting diagnosed with MS in September of 2016 changed my life. It changed me for the better. I am stronger. And I will battle this thing until a cure is found. I will continue to live in my groundhog world because that is what keeps me going and moving and running and living.

I fight for those who can’t. I share my story with the hope of showing everyone that not all is lost when you find your health in the balance. You can turn things around. It is hard. It is constant. But it is worth every single sacrifice and all the dedication and devotion and determination you can give it.

Becoming “unwell” was the greatest thing to happen to me. I will never let myself be unwell ever again if I can help it. I will always strive for wellness and do anything and everything I must to stay strong and healthy and upright.

About The Author
Julie Blew Headshot

Julie is a mother, a yoga instructor, a runner, a photographer, a philanthropist, and a warrior. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2016, she did not let it take her down, instead it inspired her to fight against insurmountable odds and run with them, literally. Blew shares her inspiring journey in her memoir like the wind…not the color and continues to fight for her MS family, educating and inspiring those around her, and raising money for a cure through her website www.FUMSinc.org.