If you suffer with mysterious symptoms that no doctor has been able to really diagnose, you likely live with some level of anxiety around those symptoms. I know because I suffered for years with mysterious symptoms that would come and go without any discernible pattern. Many doctors gave a try at diagnosing but I remember vividly walking out of several offices with prescriptions in hand for a diagnosis I knew was wrong and never even bothering to get it filled.

Thank God this was before “Dr. Google” was really a thing! The terrifying thoughts I would struggle with didn’t need any help in jumping to the worst possible conclusion. If the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with me, maybe it’s because I was the only one who has ever had such a terrible disease. And when I was in the midst of the worst symptoms, there were times when I was positive this mysterious unnamed thing was going to kill me. Rationally, of course, I knew this was unlikely, but those thoughts all felt real to me in the moment.

If you are facing fears like this, I know you are probably curious to know how I was able to overcome those fears and break free. But first, I want to tell you a story. Before you skip ahead and scroll down the page, just know that this story holds the key to the information I will share later. It’s a real story and I believe it happened so I could help explain this very point to you.

A Mysterious Story Unveiled

In college I moved into a newly constructed duplex with a roommate. One day after we had been living there for a few months, we started hearing something coming from the back of our laundry closet. We couldn’t tell exactly what it was but we could tell it was some sort of creature.

My roommate flipped out. She literally packed a bag and told me to call her when it was gone because she was going to stay somewhere else until this issue was resolved. So I did what most other college girls would do when there’s something in the house that isn’t supposed to be — I called my daddy.

He talked me through a few options. With his help we discovered that there was never a filter placed on the dryer vent outside of the house. I tried contacting our landlord but they said removing the creature wasn’t their problem but they would send someone over to put the proper filter on the following week. I bravely tried to investigate behind the dryer myself, but I was too afraid to unhook the dryer vent! So, my sweet parents made the 2 hour drive to come see me that afternoon.

The Moment of Truth Came

I watched with bated breath as my dad squeezed himself behind my dryer. I kept hearing the squeaks of whatever creature had somehow wandered inside. In the moments that followed I went from complete fear to wishing so much to have it on camera because what came out of my dryer vent was not a mouse or a snake or any other nasty yucky creature like my imagination had created… it was a bird!

I watched in amazement as my parents tried to bat the poor thing towards the the door. The bird had been in there for a long time though and could barely see, so it just kept flapping it’s wings and flying in circles around the open floor plan kitchen/ living room. My devoted parents were leaping into action, chasing it with a broom and flapping their arms like maniacs. And after about 5 minutes, the bird could finally see, it found the door and flew out. After closing the doors, we all collapsed with laughter at the ridiculousness of it all.

Medical Takeaways

So what does that crazy story from my college days have to do with your fears of mysterious symptoms being undiagnosed?

Be persistent in finding the right person to help you.

The minute I started hearing those noises, I paid attention. When it continued, I sought out help. When the immediate help of my landlord refused, I didn’t give up. Sometimes with mysterious symptoms we don’t get answers because we just quit asking questions and quit trying to find someone who can or will help.

Some of you in more remote areas might need to consider traveling to get the medical care you need or finding a good physician who is willing to use telemedicine to help you get to the root of your problem. But if you don’t pay attention and ask for help, you won’t get relief.

In my case it would have resulted in a dead bird and some much more disgusting clean up if I had ignored it!

Some people run to you in crisis, others run away.

I want to clarify that I do not in any way blame my roommate for peacing out when this happened! Honestly if i had thought of it first, she might be the one with this story…

But the truth is when something is wrong, some people are going to lean into the mess to help and others will fade into the background. Don’t worry about the relationships that might get pruned as a result of your medical issues, focus instead on being thankful for the ones who choose to stick around.

The fear is only there because of the unknown.

Finally, this story emphasizes that we often create monsters out of frail, insignificant things. When you understand that the fear only has roots in your mind because of the unknown thing behind your symptoms, you are free to choose a different response. You are free to imagine that instead of something being wrong causing your symptoms, perhaps your symptoms are a sign of healing somehow.

Sound crazy? Well, at this point you know that the fear is all in the mind anyway, so why not take a light-hearted approach. You might have to deal with the symptoms, but you don’t have to endure the fear of the unknown.

Diagnosis is preferred, but not required.

The moment my dad disconnected the dryer vent, we had a diagnosis – it’s a bird.

I will be the first to admit it’s rarely that straight forward to get a reliable diagnosis when we are talking about the human body.

But what, really, is the benefit of a diagnosis?

A diagnosis simply names the problem. It doesn’t immediately fix the problem, but it gives it a name. And in some ways a diagnosis helps us to feel not so alone because enough people had to experience something similar for there to be a diagnosis right?

It also might give us clues for treatment ideas. That can be helpful, but in some cases it is just more confusing.

So what are the next steps without a diagnosis?

For the rest of us who are stuck without a diagnosis, thankfully the human body is so beautifully and intricately interwoven that a diagnosis is not necessarily required in order to see improvements in the overall functioning. Here is my heartfelt, tough love advice:

  1. Be consistent in doing the things you know help your body to function well – eat good foods, get enough movement without over stressing your body, drinking enough water, and so on
  2. Avoid the stuff you know is bad for you – processed food, alcohol, tobacco, junk food
  3. Investigate your environment. Mold, chemical sensitivity, or even exposure to significant levels of EMFs can cause all kinds of weird symptoms. Purify your environment as best you can and take note of how your symptoms respond.
  4. Choose to focus on small wins. If you can make consistent tiny changes in the direction of your health, eventually you will see drastic results because these small wins compound over time!
  5. Refuse to indulge your imagination of what is wrong with you. Instead, when you feel worry start to creep in, close your eyes and use your imagination to think about what it would feel like to have a body that just works. Imagine it so intensely you can feel it. (this might sound a little “woo woo”, but there’s research coming out everyday about the positive benefits of belief on healing)
  6. Continue to seek out answers responsibly, but wisely. Sometimes our body starts to break down because something else in our life is disconnected. Do you have someone you need to forgive? That can show up as discomfort in the body. Are you being deceitful at work? When we go against our conscience, it can manifest in our bodies. *Please note that I am not trying to make you in some way responsible for your discomfort, but simply trying to suggest that it’s worth some self-examination to determine if you have some seemingly unconnected area of imbalance that could be contributing to your current situation.

Continue to Seek Out Medical Advice from Your Dr.

While the suggestions above are great for supporting your health journey along the way, you need to have a healthcare practitioner that is helping you to investigate the particulars of your individual case. Please do not use this framework as a means of bypassing that process.

However, you might find, as I did, that as you just focus on building your body the symptoms that have been plaguing you start to mysteriously vanish just as they came. And even without a diagnosis, you are experiencing new health.

Sometimes there’s a reason for fear, but sometimes it’s just a bird in your dryer vent.


If you are curious about more of my story, check out this one about how I finally gave up sugar for good, and this one that explains my personal and professional background.