dryadgrl: (Default)
This weekend at Bibleution so much happened. One of the things that happened is that in a conversation with the amazing @Bric... we talked about our chronic illness stuff. The question arose: Who would you be without your illness?

And that was huge for me. I don't know that I've looked at it in quite that way. I had 3 realizations about it - one is that in order to heal more I have to have waaaaaaaaay better boundaries than I've been recently. I nearly had a full on migraine this weekend for the first time in 5 years. 5 years!!!! So no, there's a lot I'm not going to do going forward. I'm not even sure what that looks like honestly. I'm just barely starting this journey.

The second, is that I need a lot more support than I've been getting. In a conversation with my beloved this morning I was feeling very, very vulnerable because I needed to ask him for yet more help. He's incredibly generous with me and... And I had the story that if I asked, he'd leave me. I immediately recognized it as a story about fear and about not feeling worthy and deserving of support. About how I long to be supported and loved and seen and yet desperately afraid. So I told him my story and he said the thing that is both true for him and what I needed to hear: "I love you! You are totally worth it!"

It changed the course of my day. And in truth, he's changed the course of my life and work with his love and support. I've never had this level of support in my life before. Literally ever. Not from my parents or other lovers or partners. It's felt like I needed to fight for every single bit of support I've ever gotten. Ever.

And I have - fought for it. My condition went undiagnosed for 14 years. I've fought for medical attention, for medicine, for health care, for work, for my son, my home, my health, the right to live my life my way. Literally everything. So there's no surprise that I spend a lot of time very, very angry - it has literally saved my life hundreds of times over to push for what I want, for the right be alive. To advocate and not give up, to be angry to use that to make sure I can live. I'm not yet willing to give it up - not yet. But as I get what I need a bit at at time, it softens. As I no longer have to fight for every single thing, I relax more and more.

The third thing is that I realized most of you have no idea that I'm chronically ill. That I spend a fair amount of time in pain and that's why I don't do a lot of things and why I sometimes turn away and go, or why I don't stick it out until the end, or sit in that big chair - I can't. I can't sit in a regular chair, after an hour I'm in incredible pain. I think people think that I'm just fat and that it's my own fault, when in fact my multiple conditions/diseases went undiagnosed for 14 years and so spiraled wildly out of control and it's only been the last 5 years that I've been getting them under control. That means I've been chronically ill for 19 years. Nearly all of my adult life.

I'm really, really tired of talking about it and explaining about it. I don't want it to be center stage. But in doing that I have made it so that I am not getting what I need, that I don't know how to get what I need. My disability is inconsistent - sometimes I can and sometimes I can't do any particular thing. It's very moment to moment. Often I'm quite happy. But often enough I need support or someone to listen to me. But I'm not weak and I don't want pity - I have had an incredibly hard time learning to receive and there are ways that I still have a hard time. Like everyone's coaching each other and I often just can't receive it. Receiving kindness for no reason has been suspect in my life - code for someone wanting something from me.

Anyway, I just want you to know me and to know that I'm not trying to keep myself away from you or to distance myself from you in my anger or frustration, but it's kept me alive for decades. I'm working on learning new ways of being.

Thank you for hearing me.
dryadgrl: (love)
I just started a detox protocol given to me by Joan (my healer).

The symptoms are that I've been having gastro distress in my upper belly with bloating, no intestinal involvement and some indication of mild systemic infection (which often happens when digestive stuff is involved because anything that involved metabolism effects the whole system).

She did some AK and figured out what I was reacting to and found that this would help. She used the word biofilms (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofilm). What she seems to mean is a bunch of stuff that is all stuck together. So likely I'm in need of major detox. Not surprising given all the recent stress with deaths and the summer travel and change in adventures and so on.  I've been considering doing a fall cleanse of some sort. Apparently I waited too long.

She's never given me anything like this and in the past has recommended that I (and others) stay away from essential oils.

I don't - I use them regularly to treat all manner of stuff. Especially skin and gastrointestinal stuff. All my salves and lip balms have essential oils in them and they are the most effective stuff I found to treat cuts, bruises, sun burns, and so on. And things like fennel are so good an belly stuff it's a shame to not use them. So it's interesting to she her coming around.

She said: In addition to getting back on my regular nightly activated charcoal in water last thing before bed, she's added BFB-1 ...http://www.supremenutritionproducts.com/BFB/index.html

topical use only
it includes: piper nigum (black pepper)
rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary)
syzygium aromaticum l. (clove)
origanum compactum benth. (oregano oil)

The upside of having played with essential oils for years is that I knew the first two right off and smelled the oregano and I knew I could look this stuff up.  So I did and found the common names listed above. In fact I think I have all of them except rosemary in my current stash.

I don't know the amounts of each, but it's interesting to know that they are saying don't take this internally (all are edible, though I'd take the last two in a capsule). I wonder why.

The dosage info:
"Adults: First 3 days, 1 drop into the sole of each foot or bottom of big tow twice daily (either one drop of BFB1 into the foot and one of BFB2 into the other if both are indicated or one drop of the particular indicated product into both feet twice daily). After 3 days if there is good tolerance (no rash or major die off) add one drop to the print side of the thumb and one to the back of the earlobe each time a drop is placed on the foot.

"Children under 12: 1 drop on to the sole of the foot, one daily for the first 3 days and if tolerated increase to one drop on the bottom of both feet twice daily.
Do not use during pregnancy."

I'd also hesitate to use it on small children or toddlers (and never on babies). Oregano and clove especially can be really intense and you don't want to hurt anyone.

Note on healing
What I'm finding is that we are so trained to be dependent on professional healers that there seems to be a distinct lack of self trust - and I see it reflected in myself. I have done tons of research and know quite a lot these days about natural healing methods, essential oils, herbs, tinctures, plants, food, supplements and their correspondences for use in bodies. But still I sometimes don't trust myself even when I'm not in trauma.

In trauma, it's critical to see a healer - you'll need help healing. It's the nature of trauma and shock. MDs are great for broken bones and stuff especially.

But when my belly is upset for a few days I worry I don't know enough.

I wonder what kinds of of things could be done to support people in having more of an education about even simple things they could be doing to be more healthy or to come back into alignment especially that don't involve taking allopathic medicines. But to know the difference - what are pain kills good for? What can be solved just with rest and tea? What can you solve at home without intervention?

As I've been having my own adventures I'm more and more clear about what I can solve on my own and what I can't. But there's a lot of work to be done. I think what's happening is that more and more I'm realizing that I can rely on my self of myself and my healing knowledge and my sense of what methods to see out when I can't accomplish stuff.

Anyway, I want more people to have access to health more frequently and more confidence in their own health choices.  Posting here about what I do is part of how I'm contributing to that. (Not that this gets much exposure, it's been so many things to me mover time.) But health and healing are a huge piece of that.

So there.
dryadgrl: (love)
So in 2005 I was in the hospital for a while. I had been severely depressed, anxious and suicidal for years. I stopped being invovled in activist projects, I couldn't leave the house, I gained a lot of weight (about 150lbs), my insides were a mess and I often couldn't be away from a bathroom. The acute bit was that I got a migraine that lasted for weeks (6 weeks to be exact) with no history of migraines.  And nothing seemed to help

It finally got to a place that my girlfriend at the time felt she couldn't help me and convinced me to go to the ER to talk to someone. I was really lucky in that way. I wasn't committed, I wasn't picked up at work or school. I'd been suffering for so long it was actually a huge relief to be in the hospital. And I expected that they could help me.

The upside of hospitalization is that I got some space from all the stress and no one expected me to work or go to school or take care of my then 8 yo son. I could chill out, sleep, and reflect. Mostly actually I did art, saw doctors and learned that I never wanted to be in a psych ward again.

A couple of things happened that changed my life. One is that I was diagnosed with "we think you're bipolar" and "you'll never work full time ever again."  That I should expect to be on anti-depressants, anti anxiety meds and pain pills basically the rest of my life.  I'm happy to say that I do now work full time and am a pretty productive member of society. You know, as much as a single mom of a teenager ever is.

They also did some scans of my brain and told me that they didn't know why I was having migraines and that there was a thing in my brain they didn't think was effecting me, but they didn't know. So I saw brain surgeons, neurologists and stuff. The answer there was always "we don't know." WHich, by the way, is less than heartening when your head feels like it wants to split open and you can't go outside because there were no sunglasses strong enough to deal with that big ball of light in the sky.

But another thing happened. When the doctor told me I'd never work again and should expect to be disabled my whole life, something inside of me shifted. My brain fought back. My head swam for several moments and then this small voice inside me said, "This is not my life."

In that way I was lucky. Actually in many ways I was lucky.

One night I was sitting up with a nurse, just talking because I couldn't get my head around all of this and she said to me, "You know, you're different. I see people come in here all the time and I know they'll be back. But you won't. You have support. You'll figure it out."  When I couldn't figure out what the hell she meant she said, "You have support. You have more support than anyone else I've ever seen in here." She clearly believed in me and my systems in a way that I couldn't fathom.

Also they tried to put me on anti-depressants, but I have a mortal fear of them. I watched my mom be put on every psych med known to mankind and they did all of nothing for her. She took everything form lithium to progesterone and they couldn't solve what seemed to be similar symptoms. So I had no expectation that they would help me.  I couldn't tolerate the anti-depressants. Every time they'd put me on one, I'd freak out. I don't know if it's psychosomatic or if I really couldn't tolerate them, but in the end, no anti-depressants. Which was, for me, a really good thing.

Anyway, so my brain shifted. Then I went home.

At home I was alone, which in many ways was a relief. My son was staying with friends which was an incredible gift that I did not fully appreciate at the time because I was so miserable. I could hardly make my own food, I couldn't work, I couldn't really see people and I missed my kid like crazy. So I focused on making food for myself and reading.  My girlfriend was a rockstar and she did a bunch of research and helped me (well pushed me) to look at the Yeast Connection - a book about candida overgrowth and it''s side effects. I read bits of it and decided if all I could do was feed myself, I could do this project.

So I did. And for 6 months I saw my therapist 3 times a week and made my own, boring food. The basis of the book is that if you take every good thing you've ever liked to eat and throw them in the trash instead of putting them in your mouth, you'll be much healthier. So I was off of everything that is involved with sugar, fungus, and yeast from obvious things bread, pasta, crackers and gluten (and all grains) to all forms of sugar, vinegar, dried foods, and mushrooms. So in addition to no deserts, no grains, and nothing sweet, there were no condiments outside of salt and pepper. So I ate meat and vegetables. And occasionally fruit. And did not kill myself.

In some ways it was awful, I couldn't eat out or with people mostly, but what the hell, I wasn't really leaving the house. Eventually I learned how to be in the world that way.

My migraines became instantly less frequent and less intense. But I still took pain meds, and anti-anxiety drugs.

Wait... what? Food is such an intense trigger for migraines that I could change it in a few months by not eating a few things? (Ok not eating anything good, but still.) And I had more energy, my mental health symptoms were lessening, and I started to be able to work!

I started with 6 hours. A week. That's it. That's all I could do.

And it wore me the hell out.  Two three hour shifts and I would come home and pass out each time. It took me days to recover from working.

Anyway, I did this for a couple of years on and off. The food stuff was really helpful, but it only got me so far. Because it's not the answer. It was a beginning - I needed to start the detox project and to understand that there was something I can do to create change.

I continued to see doctors, none of who where helpful and who said things like, "Well that food stuff won't really change anything."  And "You're fat of course you have migraines, they were bound to happen." And "You're not really depressed, you just need to exercise more." Really helpful guys, thanks.

As you can imagine I developed a... distaste for western medicine. Aside from being completely not helpful, they were destructive to my self esteem and mean (concern trolling is still trolling).

In about 2008 ish as I was packing to head out to a convention with my kid I fell down the stairs. (Just what I always needed!) I destroyed my left shoulder and injured various body parts. Stupidly I still took my kid for half the con after going to the ER. I know, I'm not as bright as I look sometimes. But we'll also call this a blessing in disguise.

At that stage a friend who'd been watching me struggle took me to see someone she called her chiropractor. (Dr. Joan is a chiropractor. She also does a lot of other things and has a lot of training as you'll see.)  She paid for my first visit as incentive because I was so resistant to seeing yet another practitioner who just couldn't help me. Joan made me fill out a very extensive questionaire that asked about everything from sleep patterns to bowl movements to food allergies to mood fluctuations. I think it's a couple hundred questions actually and quite daunting.

Dr. Joan talked to me for a long time (her first session is 1.5 HOURS!). She said she didn't think I was bi-polar and she did think she could help me. Eventually put me on the table where she made me move my body in various ways which I now know to be Applied Kiniesology and did my first NAET treatment. She sent me home with some supplements and instructions for rest, food, and the idea that there was help for me. I felt immediately better. (If you see doctors for your pain or chronic stuff that statement will probably shock you. I know I was stunned that someone in the medical field could actually make me feel better.)

I saw her a lot after that. The more I trusted that she could help me, the more I told her, and the more we talked about. We talked about everything from my dreams (related to kidney function!) to bowels and detox, mood, relationships, work, family, home, kid, my dreams and aspirations. Everything.  We tracked my food, my mood, my sleep, exercise, supplements... all kinds of stuff and different times to make connections and create understanding. She gave me things to read, exercises to do, things to think about and encouraged me to go slow and forgive myself when I messed up.

I tear up thinking about it. Finally having a practitioner who really got that I'm not crazy, that things can change and that compassion is a critical part of healing. Compassion, y'all! It was like being granted a gift from the gods.

She made me aware that my symptoms were a complex set of interactions about hormones, organ function and what I believed. She introduced me to ideas about how people get sick and how they get well and what's needed to do that. She partnered with me about problem solving everything in my life.

There's a lot that's happened at Dr. Joan's office over the last few years, some of it you wouldn't believe. But the result is this: nutrition is more important than almost anything else in terms of baseline mental health. Exercise is right up there and so is sleep and sunlight. And compassion.  I can control how I feel.

I learned that my body was not making certain things - like DL-phenylalanine (DLPA) so my body was anxious and couldn't be happy. So I had to take it directly. When I did it changed everything. Literally changed my attitude. I would take DLPA and about 45 minutes late (we clocked it) I would start to laugh. I would literally go from sadness and anxiety to laughter and joy. So I took a lot of them. For a long time.

There are several things I found I need to take all the time: really good fish oil, minerals, iron especially, and various b vitamins. And it changes. Sometimes something goes wacky or I eat the wrong thing and I need a different supplement or need to do a detox of some kind. Sometimes we get to a new level of healing and I need less or different supplements.

Dr. Joan taught me that my body will heal the vast majority of things that happen in my body if I listen to it and get some help to uncover the messages. She's amazing. I still see her as often as I need to. But instead of seeing her twice a week it's more like every couple of months or so to make sure I'm still on track and to fine tune supplements and such. She taught me what to look for, what's normal and what's not. Because I grew up with a mom who was sick all the time, I didn't know what was normal and still sometimes forget or have no reference.

In 2012 we reached a plateau and, after much urging from her, I went to see and MD who prescribed me thyroid meds (Armour to be precise). It was quite a battle because my thyroid numbers aren't outside the test range, but they are outside the functional range (which is a whole thing in itself). It was quite scary given my history with MDs. But I found one after only 1 mis-fire and I've been on it ever since. It's changed my life - again.

It put me over the edge into being able to work a lot more. Within a couple of weeks I could work about 40 hours a week in a way that I haven't been able to in something like 8 or 10 years.

The other thing that's happened is that I can now exercise regularly. It's been a gradual process. When I first started seeing the MD she said I had to exercise 4 times a week for 30 minutes and I told her that I would try. But truth? I didn't think it was possible. And I tried and would do a few days or a couple of weeks and fall off the wagon.  It's been about a year, almost exactly and what I've found is that now, this week, I swam 3 days for 45 minutes and but was some kind of active every day - I actually left the house. I got up, ate, took a shower, got dressed and - at some point - left the house.

For most people that doesn't seem like a big deal, but remember when I was sick? I was leaving the house maybe 2 days a week. Maybe.  I would often go several days without direct sunlight.  What it comes down to is that I did a whole lot of work and I didn't give in and I didn't give up and I didn't let people tell me about my body when I knew better.

I realize that for years I was really defensive about my body stuff and I sometimes still am. But I've worked for my health. I've worked hard for it.
dryadgrl: (love)
I'm creating an entry that willbe updated (maybe a lot) about the individual herbs I'm working with. I'm guessing I'll also have them by herb for things that are important. But I find myself mentioning this or that herb so I might as well have them all together.


Astralagus - great herb- take for long term immune system support. Mild, lovely. Can put the root in stews, take the shredded or powdered herb in tea or medicinal honeys.

Black pepper -may increase the gut motility as well as the digestion power by increasing gastro-intestinal enzyme secretions. It has also been found that piperine can increase absorption of selenium, B-complex vitamins, beta-carotene, as well as other nutrients from food. Antiseptic for tooth decay and gum swelling.

Calendula for skin stuff it's brilliantly calming. If taken as a tea with chamomile it's very powerfully for relaxation, but don't taken combined for more than a week.
Chamomile supports rest and clarity and relaxation, good for upset tummies. Gentle
Cinnamon is great for digestion, to move energy and to release heat in the body.
Clove potent, can burn your skin, numb your mouth, used internally can increase hydrochloric acid in the stomach, very warming.

Echinacea Stimulates the immune system. Short term only! It will stimulate immune system if there is something to stimulate, but can over tax weak immune systems. Over used.
Eleuthero (siberian ginseng) adaptogen - using for help with thyroid stuff. Evens out hormones and can help raise or lower levels depending on what's needed. Tinctures are fine, but they contain alcohol which can change the hormone levels as well. So caution there. But in pills, teas and capsules you get rid of that.

Elderberries are great for head colds. The perfect cure, if you will. Taken in tea or syrup.
Elderflowers are cooling which is great for the flu, it brings the heat down and for immune support

Ginger Anti-nasueau, flatulence, and helps with poor digestion. Immune system tonic. Warming.

Kava creates vivid dreams, first night/time of taking it (as a tincture) is very relaxing. Taking repeatedly seems to be too much for me and produces weird symptoms. Use sparingly.

Oatstraw nutrative nervine, helps to restore nerves (for anxiety) and a very weak sleep aid. Also good for depression.
Oregano - anti microbal, anti bacterial, parasiticide, very very strong as an essential oil can burn off skin tags, effective internally an externally but be careful, it can burn you. strong  disinfectant, stimulate the immune system, some places say it is good topically as an insecticide against mosquitos. (http://www.globinmed.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=82444:origanum-compactum&catid=829:o)

Lemon balm -
Marshmellow Demulscent (good for making things wet), good for tummy cramps, acid reflux

Mint (of all kinds)Digestive aid, both hot and cooling
Nettles has trace minerals and other minerals, helps with iron uptake, allergies, reproductive health tonic, immune system support. Riyana recommends taking this every day.


Red raspberry leaf Great for when hormones get out of balance - PMS, menopause, etc. Helps tone and strengthen uterus. Pick the leaves in early spring for best potency.
Rose hips are great for vitamin C. The vitamin C is very available for absorption in the body
Rosemary - astringent

Skull cap restful, it's like putting a hat on my head, it keeps my thoughts from swirling around in the universe; I think it helps me relax.
St. John's Wort Elevates mood. Contra-indicated with anti-depressants.

Yarrow flowerGreat for cold and flu, remove heat without heating up first, support women's reproductive health
dryadgrl: (Default)
I have one that I bought that is awesome. It appears to be apricot kernel oil, rice brain oil and tea tree oil. Except that it's the consistency of lip balm.

It says it has chick weed (stellaria media) infused apricot kernel oil, basil (ocimum basilica) infused rice bran oil and tea tree oil. But none of those are solid are room temp and this is. So either they left something out or I am missing something in the preparation.

I'm thinking that I might use beeswax and shea butter as the based and put the oils in that and put them in a big lip balm like tube.

So I'm working out a recipes and if anyone has used these, I'd love to hear more about them.

It seems like it's at least 1 to 4 hard ingredients to oils. So if I use the same proportions maybe that would work. Hrm.
dryadgrl: (Default)
I trained Kiddo from very young to ask him self HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?) when he's upset or tantruming. It was pretty effective to get him and I to both slow down and figure out what was happening when he was younger.

Now there are no tantrums. He does do Sullen Teenaged Boy Sulking on occasion, which I'm sometimes even entertained by. But it is also an opportunity to ask about feelings, needs and choices.

Food, and specificallys tabling blood sugar does a world of good for moods. Last night I was feeling sadness and I had a moment of wanting to stop on my way home and buy food. I stopped myself because my head said, "Hey, wait, this is emotional eating." And my tummy said, "It's true, we're not hungry." So I smiled happily to myself, mood lifted slightly and drove home.

Well 40 minutes later as I approached home, I was hungry and did stop for food and it also lifted my mood.

What I realized is that it's a fine line between emotional eating to stuff emotions, and making sure to eat enough so that emotions aren't exasperated by blood sugar drops. Which brought me round to remembering that all this stuff that I'm going through has a biological reason. My body is trying to keep me alive.

If I am not in touch with my hunger, and I don't know if I'm hungry because that bit of my body doesn't work, it's a reasonable and possibly useful reaction to eat when there are big emotions. It's a signal that something is wrong. It does turn into food problems eventually because it's using poor signaling as a substitute for self care. But the underlying thing my biology is trying to solve, "Keep her from dying" can be temporarily solved by making sure that I eat food if hunger things aren't working but I'm receiving other potential food-related signals.

Putting this together last night gave me space to forgive myself for emotional eating. And if you'e never struggled with that you might not know that the other half of that cycle is guilt when I realize that I've eaten too much or the wrong thing and feel like I "should" or want to be doing it some other way but couldn't do it.

The truth is that this is a biological issue and I'm not bad or wrong or horrible. And forgiving myself for having made mistakes in the past means that I can be more present in the future. I can eat what I need when I need it and not worry about what might happen. Worrying just leads to guilt cycles.

I wish I could say that I did this all through reading some book and it's the solution to emotional eating for everyone, for ever. But this has been resolved by doing a lot of talking and reading and research and also taking supplements and seeing my doctor every couple/fews weeks.

I feel like the OA people and the people who say, "fat is bad!!!!!!" need to get the message about biology. Addictive behavior is a brain chemical issue. Weird eating things are complex chemical and biological issues. It's also not at all clear that people are even all designed to be a certain size to begin with. (And it's clear that I'm still struggling with mainstream correlations of health and wellness and body size even with the available research. I hate the my body is a political battle ground.)

For me, the biology piece feels a lot more solvable than just, "Use you're willpower or you're a bad person." We know willpower is largely a myth. We know that more than 90% of diets fail. We know medically that dieting is not a solution. But since I've been able to change so many other things in my life sometimes it feels like I "should" be able to just do it. Re-framing my success is very helpful. Remembering integrated systems need to be supported together and not separately as the allopaths would try to do.

However, again and again I find that things change as I heal one body thing or another, one piece at a time, over time. My healer told me that this path is a long one and I didn't realize just how long it would be when I made my commitment to healing nearly 7 years ago.

So right now it's thyroid and thymus with lots of support for absorption, digestion and actually taking the nutrients that my body is not making itself. Now that I am absorbing those nutrients, it's a game changer. Even a few days off my supplements and in sadness with a relationship thing, I'm still fine. I am having emotions, but I get how people can get up every day and keep moving. I still don't think it's healthy to keep moving without acknowledgement of what's so, but I see it's possible.

I hesitate to say these things out loud because it sometimes sounds so dire. It was dire and I am still vigilant about it, possibly more than necessary, I really don't know. But it's great to be able to look back and see how far I've come and how the healing work I have done has made such a huge difference in my life.
dryadgrl: (Default)
So today is about 11 days since I started taking thyroid meds.

Last week was incredibly stressful and I ended up sick -again- on Friday and spend most of the weekend recovering. I still have that terrible hacking cough, but at least I'm not stuck in bed.

Over the last 5 years my relationship to food has been slowly changing. At it's worst I was only starving or stuffed. My body didn't register many other sensations about food. My healer says that the one leads to the other and at some point told me to focus on what's good for me and just to listen the best that I could (and to not worry so much about it)!

One of the things that I learned in my short stint in OA was: it's none of my business what size my body is and that I'm best served focusing on eating well and taking good care.

Anyway, what I've noticed is that 2 years ago I started trying to eat on more of a schedule and so I was starving twice a day, not just once. And that when that happened, I needed to eat Right Now! I ate too much because I was responding to the nausea and light headedness of not eating often enough. When I got to this place, the only thing I could eat was either chocolate milk or yogurt. Anything else would make me sick.

My digestion and absorption process was pretty completely broken.

About 7 months ago (August 2011) I started to get hungry more times a day without being totally starving all the time. But I was still starving often and still eating too much in response to starving. I was eating most of a chocolate bar every day. JM (my healer) told me a long time back now that chocolate helps balance blood sugar and while it would be good to not eat so much of it, that it was doing a job and that if my body said that I needed it, to eat it. (Imagine seeing a doctor who's supportive of chocolate!) In fact she supports me in eating what my body is craving - and then telling her about it so that we can test for nutrient deficiencies and imbalances.

In this way I've felt like my healer is in alignment with my spiritual path of deep listening to people and the earth's body as a way of coming into balance.

Sometimes I would get "just hungry" instead of starving and I would eat a little and then that feeling would go away so I often wouldn't eat nearly enough. And of course not eating enough leads to those feelings of starvation, but I couldn't see that at the time. Part of not seeing it was that I was comparing the way other people were eating (in any given 1-off meal) with how I was eating because I had no real internal monitor. In short, my body hasn't been giving me accurate signals and so there was nothing to hear. The last few months the chocolate habit has dipped from a full bar to often just a few pieces.

Also when I got an adjustment or saw my healer, I'd become really hungry - the work she was doing on my body activated all those systems and so I'd temporarily be regular-hungry. But invariable, somewhere around my period, it would just go away. And nothing I could do on my own would bring it back.

This week I haven't been starving at all. I have been hungry and needing to eat every few hours. And sometimes if I don't eat enough, I'm still hungry! This morning I ate leftovers from yesterday's breakfast and about half an hour later I was hungry! And so I ate again!

Both of those are major triumphs. The fact that my brain and body worked together at signaling and that I responded to that signal with food - yay! Not just that but that the signaling is managing to prioritize over doing other things like working or phone calling or whatever. I used to put off food while doing other mind things until the familiar super-hunger came and made me sick.

In some ways this feels so weird - both that I'm just not sure what "normal" eating looks like and that I have essentially no practice at doing that. I grew up in a household where my mom constantly dieted so food was either forbidden, secretive, or binging (often all three). And where I swore I'd never diet. In my teens my heavy exercise routine meant that I ate constantly to be able to dance and swim so much. There were 4 years between the end of swimming and getting pregnant and that's when this stuff started. That was 15 years ago. So it's been at least that long since I even had a shot at "normal" eating.

So I feel very new and unskilled at food. I don't know how much to buy for consistently making real meals at home, I don't know how often to expect to eat, I don't know how to plan my day around making sure that I get enough food and I've no idea if or how this will change. But unlike last year when I felt despondent about the possibility of having to eat all the damn time, it's happening with much less effort. Meaning: it's happening.

I have found that healing is like that. It happens in waves and it often has to happen a bit at a time. I could see that I needed to change food things, but I couldn't do it. And then sometimes I could eat more regularly, but it didn't stick (no consistently signals) and now it feels like it's a more solid change. That probably means there will be some backsliding, especially if I fail to take meds which I go through cycles of not being able to do. Those cycles get better and easier consistently, but they haven't stopped and I don't expect to ever be perfect. My guess is that it also means that I'm healing. That my body will eventually be more able to do this thing. And that's what we want!

What I do know is that I feel better. Eating balances my blood sugar and makes my moods more stable. Whatever is in what I'm taking is allowing my brain-body connection to work. Yay!
dryadgrl: (Default)
http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/im-not-suffering-from-obesity/

I love seeing this in my inbox. I'm not always with her 100% - there are things that are too radical for me. (I know, crazy, huh?)

But this one is right one. Especially given my recently coming to terms with having a doctor who will really listen. Like to me about stuff that isn't about my weight.
dryadgrl: (Default)
It's been a long time since I talked about my illness stuff in any detail.

I'm re-exploring this stuff as I'm more and more well.

The very short version is what we now think happened was I got pregnancy-onset hypothyroidism in 1997 During pregnancy with my awesome-amazing son. Hypothyroidism has a lot of possible symptoms but they include depression, anxiety, weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight, adrenal fatigue and adrenal related stuff, and exhaustion (and a whole host of other things including hormonal issues and nutrient deficiencies). There are something like 22 different kinds of thyroid things and that's compounded this issue.

I gained (a lot of) weight during pregnancy but it didn't stop when I had the baby. At first I thought it could have just been that car accident when I was pregnant and couldn't do very much for several months. But even once I could walk and so on, I had a difficult time with my weight and by then I started the slide into depression that got progressively worse for about 8 years (which, by the way, is a damn long time) and culiminated in a round of being hopsitalized for 9 days and a several year battle with very severe depression, anxiety and complusive suicidality. Now I know that this was a result of thyroid issues that deteriorated to include nutrient deficiencies as a result of absorption issues, adrenal fatigue, major (severe) depression and an anxiety disorder as well as a whole lot of metabolic issues.

Doctors were reluctant to test me for thyroid stuff instead telling me to exercise and take anti-depressants because I was "just fat" among other completely degrading crap. At one point when I was telling a neurologist about my migraines he said, "Well you're fat, what did you expect?" I said, "I"ve been fat for 10 years, I've had migraines 6 months." Needless to say I never went back and never saw another neurologist.

The more research I did, the more it was clear to me that depression was a symptom of something, not a cause. But, well, no one believed me. I mean fat people are lazy, unmotivated, stupid and deserve what they get, right?

Wrong.

Your thyroid control metabolism. Yes that's about weight, but it's also about nutrient absorption and that effects every single body system without exception from blood and brain function to growth to bones and muscles, etc. So no matter what I ate, my body and brain were starving which is also part of biology of depression and anxiety (the starving peice is also about cortisol and weight, this is an integrated system after all). The next system to get stressed once there is thyroid stress is adrenals and so even minor stresses would send me over the edge into very dark places. And so on. It's a very dark, difficult downward spiral into hell.

And once you get there, it's no fun either.

The hospitalization came in 2005 when my girlfriend couldn't take care of me any more. She had taken me with her for the weekend and I just couldn't cope and spent all of my time crying or sleeping or in the depths of despair. There was really nothing she could do for me. It was really the right thing and I'm very grateful for her support. She came and visited me every day and in fact it made our relationship much stronger for a time. It's actually amazing that she ever found me loveable. I was in so much pain and I couldn't imagine being lovable or loved.

Two very different things happened. One was a series of conversations with doctors in hospital who basically told me that I needed to take anti-dpressents and that I would never, ever be well. Ever. They said that my thyroid numbers were a little low, but they thought I was bi-polar and the medical records are all about my weight ("morbidly obese") and the depression and not one word about thyroid stuff or other possibilities. They told me to that I would never work again and that I should be prepared to be disabled the rest of my life.

They psychward is a terrible place. It's a lot about over-medicating people until they drool on themselves so that they don't "cause harm." It's full of people who are there to stay out of other much more terrible places or to avoid extreme fates. Yes sometimes jail/prison, but group homes and being "cared for" by terrible people and crazy abusive stories. I don't recommend it.

Though I will say it made my life look very appealing and very... sane in comparison. (Saying my life was "sane" at the time is like saying that being stretched on a rack is "uncomfortable.")

The other thing was late one night, I was sitting at the end of the hallway in the psychward, a few days in to my "stay" and a nurse came and sat down next to me. We talked for quite some time and she said that I didn't belong there. She said that a lot of these people will come back over and over but she'd be willing to bet she'd never see me again. She said that I had tons of support - people came to visit me every day (not my family, but my girlfriend and my lover and friends and my son). She also said that people really looked up to me because they knew too. And there's some truth to the idea that in the evenings we all (the inmates) started gathering to do art together which started because I just couldn't take one more evening alone crying.

But it's a bizarre thing to be the most sane person in the psychward. When I was at the lowest I thought it was possible to go, I was still not a paranoid delusional or hearing voices or afraid that people in my life were trying to kill me. One woman was convinced that the staff was trying to rape her with various things every night. But she said it was still better than the group home.

This weekend in yet another cleaning frenzy, I just let go of art the one of the women made for me and stuff that I made as well. I held on to it for 6 years. Because the crazy people mostly stick together. Mostly.

Anyway, this is all a lead up to say that I let my current healer do blood tests on me, which I haven't let anyone do in several years because I was tired of the crap and the unwillingness to do the right tests (not just TSH, but T3 and T4 please!) and not wanting to get stuck with needles in order to talk to people who see me as dumb or useless or stupid. Fuck them. I'm not putting myself into the hands of people who don't deserve my trust.

So I did it. I got the tests and I filled out a new round of assessment paperwork for my current doc and let her send it all out for analysis.

And it came back in big bold letters diagnosis: primary hypothroid.

We talked about it. We agreed on a path forward. She was impressed about the cleaning frenzy and said it was an important part of getting well and she and I both got teary-eyed about taking the next step.

She gave me new medicines.

She gave me medicine for the thyroid issue that I have been diagnosed with.

I mean we know I have thyroid issues so I've been on very low doses of iodine and some other supplements and not a lot else because I couldn't deal with the testing. But the boyfriend was a rock star and talked me through the whole thing, even the bits where I was grumpy waiting for the testing.

It's such a relief to be working with a healer who believes me, who not only listened to me say that I didn't think anti-depressants were the way to go but agreed with me and helped me treat the symptoms without pharmaceuticals. It's amazing to look back and see how different my life is because one person believed in me.

In truth she believed in me because Tia believed in me. So that's two people.

That was Saturday. I've been on the meds for 5 days and things are shifting already. I can feel eating patterns shifting - I am inclined and available to cook more. I'm HUNGRY! Several times a day! Every day! (I started getting hungry regularly in August, but this several times a day thing is so novel!) And I'm eating several times a day! When I'm hungry!

(For those that have always had a body that spoke to them about hunger, the broken part was that I was rarely hungry. I was either not interested in food or starving and nauseous and weak. There was no in between. So my blood sugar was always crashed out, my adrenals were always stressed out, my mood was always fucked, always. For years.)

That means I have more energy. Over the last few weeks I'm much more available in some way that my son is responding to. I have only been short with him twice in the last few weeks which feels really good. We have a great relationship, but it's hard on him when I'm sick or unavailable.

In retrospect there's been big change this last 7 months. Since I quit IPC, my anxiety went way down. In fact I had my first anxiety attack in months today (when I had to go see those folks in court).

I found out I am allergic to nightshades and stopped eating those and things have really shifted. Then there's the boyfriend and my capacity to be in relationship. I can do it, is the short version. I can show up for people and for myself in some kind of weirdly consistent way. I acknowledge my own boundaries and don't routinely force past them without noticing. Now at least I see them as they go rushing by. And often stop well in advance of a limit, especially a physical one.

I am no longer in every day chronic pain.

Just so that you get it: I am no longer in every day chronic pain.

I've been listening to my body more and more and just doing less. And doing less but being effective at those things and even happy. I've been pretty happy most of the time for most of a year. I have capacity for friendships and relationships in ways that I haven't in forever.

Somehow I decided that it would all be ok and have been working, but less, and not stressing about money, even though there's not much coming in. I'm just less worried... I think this is how it is for healthy people. They can still function even if money is tight and they don't spend all of their time freaking out and being sick and sleeping or staring at the ceiling about this issue or that thing.

I guess that's why they call it functional. Because they function. I think I get it now.

I haven't been this healthy in a long time. Probably since before Kiddo was born. I used to think... I thought I was a person who loved people and had lots of friends. But I could not be close to many people while I was so sick even though I deeply needed them. As I've gotten well, there are more and more amazing people in my life. I'm both grateful and sad about that. I wish I'd been able to have them all when I thought I was dying, but I'm so glad they are here now.

One thing that I've learned about healing is that it comes in waves. Some times big sweeping waves and some times small, nearly imperceptible, ones. But they all change my life. This one feels big between the house cleaning and getting back on the 'medication and treatment' horse in a new way. I can really see a path forward to consistent wellness from here.

I am so relieved to finally have a clear, concise, written diagnosis. No more screwing around about it. I have a doctor that I trust to help me and the help is happening. It's taken me 3 years to relax into the idea that this is a long-term relationship. That she will keep treating me even though I fall down and can't cope sometimes and things don't work and I don't know what to do about that sometimes. She just keeps helping me up, brushing me off, and loving me. I don't know what I would do without her.

And the idea that my body could really work well and not betray me or fall apart at every turn is amazing. I'm so excited about that.

Oh and I've started taking a belly dancing class. I haven't taken a dance class in 18 years.

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