Finding Peace in the Process: How I Overcame Autoimmune Disease
By: Kori A. Winters
Four years ago, I graduated college feeling like I was moments away from my deathbed.
During the last semester of my senior year, the symptoms came out of nowhere. It started with a strange, itchy rash on the left side of my chin. Then another developed on the back of my neck. Several more appeared on my legs and under my armpits. My muscles were sore to the point where it felt like I had been doing an intense workout everyday. I was physically weak and tired all of the time, and depression had sucked out the little energy I had left in me.
Graduation day was a blur. My entire body was swollen and I was constantly exhausted. My family cried at my graduation party. Not tears of joy, but of sorrow and confusion. What was supposed to be a joyous celebration had instead been tainted by this random, mysterious plague that was taking over my body. I had no clue what was going on with me and I was terrified. It wasn’t until a month after I returned home to Michigan that I was finally diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called dermatomyositis (DM), which involves severe muscle and skin inflammation.
I often tell people that my journey to healing was the best and worst time of my life. While I was unable to do a lot of things on my own like getting out of the bed, taking a shower, dressing myself, doing my hair, and even speaking at one point, my limited abilities ultimately helped strengthen my character and faith in God. I discovered that healing involves a lot more than just taking medication periodically. It is a complete restorative process of the mind, body and spirit. While medicine certainly helped me during my illness, I had to be proactive in my healing process. After all, faith without works is dead. (James 2:20)
So I started by changing my diet. I took heed to the fact that I had a lot of inflammation in my body, which was the cause of my symptoms. So I researched different anti-inflammatory foods (i.e. ginger root, omega-3 fish, fruits, spinach and circumen) and adopted them into my diet. I also paid attention to foods that triggered inflammation (i.e. gluten and dairy) and removed them from my diet. After doing this, I instantly felt a difference in my body.
I also talked to God a lot. I asked questions, I cried, recited scriptures, you name it. However I was feeling, I took it to God. I meditated. I prayed. The more I did this, the more clarity I got. The more clarity I got, the more I was able to develop a positive mindset towards my situation. I began to focus on the things I could do rather than the things I couldn’t. I challenged myself daily to reach new goals, whether it was pushing myself a little harder to get out of bed or walking a little further up the street. By strengthening my spirit, I was able to strengthen and reprogram my mind to focus on the good in my situation instead of the not so good.
During my illness, I found an indescribable peace within myself. I learned how to let go of my past mistakes. I learned how to forgive. I learned how to be proactive with my health by listening to my body and my inner Spirit. And most of all, I learned how to have faith and trust God. When I was first diagnosed in June 2012, I was told that I would be on medication for at least a year. I was also told my illness had no real cure. By the beginning of 2013, there were no signs of the disease in my body and I was medication-free.
And to this day, I am still walking and rejoicing in my healing.
Kori A. Winters is a Black, female 20-something from Detroit with a God-given purpose and passion to inspire others through her creative talents. A proud alumna of Howard University, Kori earned her B.B.A. in marketing which works hand in hand with her writing and social media prowess. Outside of her day job as a marketing communications specialist, she runs her own blog, AccordingtoKori.com, which serves as a medium for her to uplift others — namely young women — by sharing her life experiences and perspectives. Kori intends to utilize her blog as a platform to launch other projects centered around promoting faith, health and self-love.