Childhood Dreams- a fashionista is born:
Growing up in Copenhagen, my childhood was playful and inspirational, with my dad being my ultimate hero. He was my knight in shining armor. He gifted me with my sense of entrepreneurship, independence, and creativity. He made me promise to dream big and face life with a fabulous sense of humor. As a little girl, having big, elaborate dreams came naturally. I had my heart set on moving to the U.S. to live the American dream: a super glamorous and busy lifestyle with lots of champagne, shiny pearls, and fabulous, fashionable outfits.
Unfortunately, my dad wasn’t prepared to teach me how to make all my dreams come true and live happily ever after with a debilitating chronic illness.
The Diagnosis- forget about the American Dream
I was diagnosed at a very young age in Copenhagen, Denmark. I was exhausted all of the time and mainly unable to walk. This was back when resources and medications were limited. The eventual prognosis was even worse: the possibility of life confined to a wheelchair. That definitely wasn’t in my life plan! But All the medical specialists I saw at that time desperately tried to convince me not to pursue my childhood dream of a fabulous and glamorous lifestyle living in the USA and to accept this bleak outcome as my new reality . I was advised to settle down as if life no longer included adventure, sparkles and thrilling surprises. But my heart was set on moving and shortly after graduating from business school I packed my suitcases, medical papers, a few bottles of pharmaceuticals and off I went to the land of opportunities.
My double life:
Without a doubt, I have genuinely lived the best life I could have imagined under these less than perfect circumstances. I have traveled the world, experienced different cultures, built a successful career as a business consultant, and launched a design studio producing modern wellness and spa products. If I am completely honest I would say that my "success" has been based on some conscious and well thought out decisions mixed with a good amount of denial. The overwhelming sadness and frustration of dealing with the health issues caused me to not fully deal with reality at times. And after my rest and recuperation days I would tend to overcompensate for all the productive hours I had “lost” and a “full speed” very ambitious mode would take over. But my life has not been all work and no play, so when my energy was not totally exhausted by my work life, my natural instinct for play and excitement would kick in. That meant one week I would be out in the world celebrating life with a bottle of bubbly and I would be moving full speed ahead as if I were a superwoman without ANY limitations, then the next I would deal with extreme fatigue, anti-inflammatory diets (champagne not included), followed by long periods of crashing and rest. This was my so called "double life" for decades, but unfortunately not a lifestyle I could sustain.
The more modern medications, the uncountable various anti-inflammatory diets, and numerous periods of recoup time worked wonders for years. However, after 28 years of running at full speed "on and off" my body finally had ENOUGH. The fatigue was at its worst and it felt as if my life was ruled only by my health and that "living life to the fullest" was on a very limited time schedule. So by mid 2013 I decided to discontinue my business consultant services and focus my energy mainly on getting my health under control and partly on my very beloved design studio.
Little did I know, that this decision would have a devastating affect on my health. Months into my journey of close to full time health focus, more research, diets, supplements, rest, meditation retreats and yoga classes I became depressed. My life was so consumed by my declining health and reality finally fully sunk in. The unpredictability of the illness, the obsessive thoughts of "what did I eat", "how did I sleep", "am I stressed", and "where am I in my cycle" had all just worn me out. Yet with all this effort and discipline I ended up not improving. Then it further become an emotional battle with more fatigue, social isolation and anxiety and this is when I was finally diagnosed with a situational depression. It had simply become too much with all the obsessive restrictions, the discipline and also me trying to stay optimistic when really it was all so depressing and lonely. And with the new diagnosis and an unimproved auto immune disease, I soon learned how profoundly my emotional health and stress levels affected my level of inflammation, mood and my overall sense of well being. It had become the viscous cycle of auto immune and depression.
It was at this point I decided to change my focus and get some of the old "Mette sparkle" - or happiness therapy - back into my daily life. And so Your Daily Danish therapy began :-).
So what NOW:
Today the depression is not on the forefront. LUCKILY. But I think it will always be lurking in the background, when dealing with the uncertainty of a chronic illness. So part of my lifestyle today is to allow myself as much pampering, comfort, perks, praise, childish humor and daily "fun" activities as humanly possible. "What's Your Daily Danish" is the question of the day, every day for me and everyone I love. It can be anything - small or large - as long as it gives you a boost of "happiness" and comfort.
Besides my Daily Danish I am following a luscious healthy diet without any fanaticism. I enjoy my delicious, exclusive chocolates DAILY, champagne is back on the menu (limited - but let us not get carried away...) and I exercise as often as my energy level allows. I hug as many people as I can (awesome!) and I use my Danish humor whenever I feel any negative stress coming on. And the final trick in my bag - and probably one of the most important besides my daily danish - is that I always try to stay open and flexible to whatever challenges this crazy, amazing and paradoxical roller coaster ride has to offer me - on any given day at any given time.