Copper poisoning, lyme disease, and a relentlessly positive attitude
When Julie Maio placed her first order with Knix, she DM’d us on Instagram to let us know how much she loved her new bra. We took a look at her profile, and we let her know how much we loved her outlook on life!
You see, Julie has been through a lot. She has struggled with chronic illness, anxiety, and depression her entire life, which was severely worsened when she experienced copper toxicity from an IUD at just twenty-two years old. Later, she was diagnosed with lyme disease. We want to know: How does she stays so positive through it all?
What is copper toxicity? Can you tell us about your experience from when you first had the IUD implanted?
Shortly after [having my copper IUD implanted], all these health issues started happening. I was barely sleeping, my appetite was really bad, I gained a lot of weight. I had brain fog, and issues with anxiety and depression. After a few months, I was starting to lose my will to live because I had [all these opportunities lined up for school] and it didn’t make sense to pursue them when I could barely even think and keep myself functioning day-to-day. I had cystic acne, my teeth started chipping, I was losing hair.
I went to see a different doctor and when I told him I had this copper IUD, he told me, “You need to get that out right away if you want to get better.” I went home and googled “copper toxicity” and came across all these forums. I read one woman’s post that was like reading my exact story.
Immediately [after having it removed], I started to feel a sense of relief, but it was the start of a very long journey of detoxing, because the copper was stored in my vital organs and tissues and fat cells and all that stuff. It was crazy: as my hair was growing, it was two different colours. You could literally see the copper leave from the top of my head.
How did you get diagnosed with lyme disease? Is it curable?
I'm pretty sure I had Lyme from a young age because I was sick a lot as a kid. I started having ear infections, stomach issues, bronchitis, reoccurring infections, just always bloated and having mental disturbances like anxiety and depression, but nothing was as serious as it was with the IUD. After the IUD health crisis, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's, pyroluria, and SIBO, among others, so we would just treat these things one at a time.
But summer of 2016 was when I got the lyme diagnosis and since then, the lyme has been my main focus. I think people believe that if you catch it early on, it is curable. But because I have no idea when I caught it, I can’t cure it, but I can put it into remission. It’s a lot of accepting that this is a lifestyle to adapt to what’s going on inside my body.
Your Instagram is so positive and playful, even when talking about serious topics like pain and mental health. How do you manage to stay so positive?
The biggest thing for me is just knowing there have been periods of my life through this whole journey where my quality of life was practically stripped from me. When I was finally able to emerge from that painful physical and mental space, I learned not to take things for granted.
But I don’t live every single day with that lens. I’ve put in a lot of hours at therapy and a lot of that work is focused on mindfulness and working on rewiring my brain to be more neutral or positive. A lot of facing my fears and anxieties head on.
Now, I’m very confident in my voice and the story I have to tell and I just try to live my life by helping people, regardless of what capacity. I learned that I really have to love myself to get through these experiences and that wasn’t a skill that was really taught to me. In order to keep myself alive, I had to learn patience and love and understanding.
How do you learn to love yourself?
It’s kind of like studying anything else. You might have to pick up a book—or a handful of books —and read them. It’s something that you need to practice. It’s different for everyone. For me, self love can be going to Target and buying an outfit because it helps me feel good about how I look. It could be making time for your hobby. In some ways, it’s like dating yourself. Like, I’m going to take myself on this date and go to a concert or to the library to get a book. But it also requires hard work and getting to the root of what you don’t love about yourself and learning to at least be neutral about those things. For me, a lot of it was my outward appearance because when I got sick, I lost my hair, I gained weight, I had acne. So I had to relearn self-love that goes beyond how you look on the outside and work on the inside.
For me, at the nexus of all of this is mental health. That’s where I’m at right now, really working on my mental health and understanding that if you have a happy and healthy mind—that’s not to say you can overcome anxiety and depression by thinking positively—but just understanding that we kind of have this world crisis of not paying enough attention to our mental health. We need to make sure that we are taking time for ourselves to meditate, do yoga, go for walks, dance, whatever it is, to make sure that we can live in the moment.
To learn more about Julie, follow her on Instagram at @chroniclesofyoolie.