Living A Healthy Life With Chronic Disease

How Do We Cope with Imposter Syndrome?

I’ve been asked to share more on my health journey, living with chronic disease and how I found my balance. So, today on the blog, I am going to be addressing this for those interested in hearing more! If discussions of physical and mental health are a sensitive subject for you, I wanted to take this moment to issue a content warning for this blog. Please take care of yourself, and if skipping this week’s blog feels like the right choice for you, please do. Big Hug!

The Backstory. 

Almost 8 years ago, pregnant with my first daughter, I received a phone call from my family doctor to come in and review some blood work. Her office told me there’s nothing to be alarmed about but that the doctor would like to see me to discuss a few things.

“You have an autoimmune disease”.

“Your body is attacking your thyroid”

“You’ll just have to take this pill for the rest of your life and that’s it”.

“You can still have a normal life”.

I went home thinking I guess it makes sense? – Could explain why I was gaining weight even though I had been training and running half-marathons, or why I felt tired and cold even on the warmest days… but symptoms? They were not really very evident. So I did what she recommended, largely because I was three months pregnant and didn’t want to complicate anything right now. But truthfully, life went on. I made some adjustments – mostly being aware of when I felt off, but lifestyle, diet, self-care… not great.

Months passed, my pregnancy was healthy and we had a healthy little baby girl. I threw myself into maternity leave, loving every second of my time with our little one. But, I struggled… mostly inside, battling something I knew very little about. Slowly, I was growing angry that my body was attacking itself and I could do nothing about it. That was the hardest part. On our daughter’s first birthday, we found out we were having another baby, and just like that, the blood tests started again. My endocrinologist increased my dose again and scheduled monthly checkups. But beyond that, I don’t remember being told to do anything else differently. Nine months later, our second healthy girl was born. My dose dropped back down and then parenting two under two began, as well as a reno, a career change and so much in between. Looking back though, I was slowly beginning to question being told, “there’s really nothing you can do”.

I made time to just do nothing. Which was something. In the process of trying to gain control, I learned that the very thing I needed was to stop.

Woman walking calmly in floral field during sunset.

Then my grandmother passed away. And two months later, my father. I felt like I lost more control – I would ask, why was all of this happening to me? My angry grew. As did my anxiety. What does it mean to be healthy if it can so quickly be taken away? Was the same going to happen to me? All my thoughts revolved around sadness, grief and fear.

Then the pandemic hit. And that’s when I had to make a choice. I was riddled with anxiety, fear and hatred towards my own body. None of which were helping a body trying to heal and reduce anti-bodies. Out of a sense of desperation, I started to read and listen to everything that had to do with autoimmune disease, health anxiety and grief. I began therapy again to manage all of my emotions and thoughts. Slowly, over the course of two years, I found the right people -doctors, therapists and friends that allowed me to gain a sense of acceptance and control over my disease and thoughts. It was not about fighting it anymore. But despite all of this, I was still really angry. Angry at the doctors that told me there was nothing I could do, angry that for the last four years I hadn’t done anything to educate myself and angry at the conventional health system that made me feel like I had to choose between conventional and functional medicine. For me, the combination of the two is what made all the difference.

Only then, I began to heal my body. I eliminated inflammatory foods from my diet, as well as caffeine and alcohol for one year. I learned how to breathe again. I took it easy on my body and acknowledged the things in my life that were causing unnecessary stress.

I made time to just do nothing. Which was something.

In the process of trying to gain control, I learned that the very thing I needed was to stop.

Two years later, and it’s so much more than just taking a pill. My energy is back and I’m comfortable in my body. I’ve been able to reduce my dosage of medicine significantly by making lifestyle adjustments. I know how to listen to my body and 9 days out of 10, my Hashimoto’s doesn’t have control over my day.

Healthy Salad on a clean, fresh plate

The Start of a New, Healthy Donata.

In many ways, I feel healthier than ever. Mainly because I’ve educated myself and learned how to give my body what it needs. That is power. From time to time, I still struggle with feeling deprived or different, somehow unlucky, but really, this is just perception. I am vigilant about listening to my body, making adjustments when I need to and taking it easy if I feel a little off. I’m gentle with myself when I can’t follow my routine or when I feel like cheating a little on my diet! I have an occasional glass of wine and have switched to decaf coffee.

Healthy means different things for different people. While I will always in some way be battling this disease, I am and feel extremely healthy. Living with chronic disease does not mean you’re unhealthy. While I may have to do certain things that other’s don’t, my body feels strong and my mental health is better than ever. This is something that I learned to believe – it’s a comprehensive, holistic approach to you life and goes far beyond just one thing.

Of course, please note that I am NOT a doctor and in no way giving medical advice. This is simply what I have done and what I believe to be good for me and life with chronic disease. 

Wildflowers in Field

A Day in My Life. Living Happily with Chronic Disease.

First thing is first – sleep. I know what my body needs and that’s usually 7.5-8 hours of sleep. I try to get that every night, but it’s not always possible. If I don’t get that sleep, I’ll try to give myself a little wiggle room – maybe do a gentler workout or ensure I’m getting extra nutrition in my meals that day.

1. Me Time (No phone time first thing in the morning + 5 min. journaling)

I resist the urge that my phone be the first thing I look at each morning. I mean, think about it. How many other things do you think your body would prefer to do instead? Step outside for 2 minutes, look at sun rising, drink water, stretch… I will also write down a quick intention for the day, and write down anything that is occupying space in my mind that I don’t want – by writing it down, it frees me up for other things.

2. Get dressed for the gym, take my medicine, warm water with lemon, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon + lunches. THEN we wake up the kids.  

I make sure my body is ready, because once the girls are up, it’s about an hour of chaos, rushing and mental madness. I also try to have their lunches made so that all we need to do is get them dressed and fed before leaving for school. I’ll make myself a quick protein smoothie that I’ll sip on my way to school and the gym.

3. School Drop Off + Gym.

My husband and I drop off Camila + Elena at school and then head to the gym. Depending on where I am in my cycle, my exercise routine will change. Usually though, it’s an alternating routine of weight lifting, core strength, running or walking on the treadmill inclined, and lots of stretching.

4. Steam Room and/or shower.

I end each steam or shower with a 1 min. cold shower. I’ve gotten used to doing this about two years ago, at which point I HATED IT, but now I’ve gotten so used to it that I crave it every morning. Living in a super hot climate year round helps, as it’s nice to get that cool down once a day.  

5. Work Day

One thing at a time. It’s easy for me to get into squirrel mode, trying to do everything. But now, I’ve slowed down and work on one thing at a time, one problem at a time. I’ve also learned to ask for help when I need it so that I don’t feel overwhelmed and can manage stress better.

Another new habit I’ve implemented is scheduling more breaks into my day. Taking a second to get up, walk around, breathe and reset has been a game changer.

I eat around 12pm, prioritizing protein as I’ve learned my body feels better when I eat a substantial amount of protein with each meal. I also eat tons of veggies and try to make everything from scratch. I love to cook, so this is fairly enjoyable for me.

6. After-school activities + Dinner.

Ballet, hip-hop, skating, art class… and then it’s dinner time. We try to eat before 6pm and it’s usually a protein, healthy carb and veggies. We love to BBQ, and I love to make poke bowls – It’s not complicated and we make this family time. The girls are starting to ask to help make meals, so things get messy sometimes. I’m learning not to worry about the mess and enjoy these little moments. Then we’ll wind down, homework, do baths for the kids, watch some tv and read in bed with the girls before they fall asleep.

7. Quiet Time, Music, Puzzles, Reading in Bed.

My husband and I started to do puzzles together – listening to some music with a glass of wine. This has taken our attention away from the TV, though we still make time for some Ted Lasso! We also love to read, so if we do watch TV, we’ll head upstairs early enough to have time to read before bed.

Wildflowers in Field

The Takeaways… 

Hashimoto’s, a chronic autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid, can be so many things. It’s symptoms often go unnoticed because they’re easily mistaken for everyday fatigue, moodiness and anxiety. If you’re stressed, which we all are from time to time, the symptoms are the same. For others, the symptoms are much more severe and detectable. It’s important to have our thyroid checked because it is the source of so many other functions in the body. You can have hyper or hypo-thyroid without having Hashimoto’s. A blood test to check your thyroid function as well as your anti-bodies will determine whether it’s of the autoimmune type.

I also want to add that everyone is different. This is just my journey and what worked for my body. If nothing else, I want to encourage you to be open to finding the solution that works for you. In my case, it’s a combination of medicine and lifestyle changes that make me feel good. The most important thing is that if you’re not feeling good, continue to find the sources that will help you find what you need. It’s not okay for anyone to tell you,” this is how it is and there’s nothing you can do”. I think that sense of defeat is what may lead you to feeling worse, but perhaps in other ways.

Lastly, I want to end this post by saying that I believe the healing starts to happen when you stop fighting it. My angry slowly started to turn into acceptance. I found friends and support that allowed me to vent and grow, without feeling like I was victimizing myself. Once I let that go, my happiness began to return and I found ways to laugh about things that would once make me cry. We’re all better because of it, not despite it.

Much Love,


If you're new here, I'm Donata Delano. I am the creative owner and artist behind Donata Delano Art. As for my business, as some of you know, I run my art studio out of our home. I have a dedicated room where I paint, package and ship all my artwork to you. If you're curious about my daily life and how I run my business, I post often about my process, my studio and my work on my instagram here:

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1 comment

  • Anne: May 18, 2023
    Author image

    Thank you for your honesty writing this. I struggle with an autoimmune disease as well, and it’s nice to read that we’re all still healthy despite our struggle. Looking forward to reading more from you Donata.

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