Take what you like, leave the rest.
This is not your typical self-help book in that I’m not a typical self-helper. I’d never dream that I have all the answers for someone else. This is me, sharing with you what I did to begin healing, and you, deciding what works for you from what I’ve learned.
Although an entire section of what’s written in these pages is directed at a person who is and has been chronically ill, much of what I learned is helpful to any body. Mind/Body principles are the same for everyone. Help your body heal and you will help your mind heal and vice/versa. You may be on a path headed in a direction you don’t really want to go, where symptoms keep getting worse. You might not be “chronic” yet, but perhaps you can see it on the horizon. Find what’s helpful in this book to you right where you are and ignore the rest.
I’m not a doctor. I don’t have a degree. It’s up to every person to do their own due-diligence and get to know their own bodies as well as I now know mine. It’s never too late or too early to start. Maybe this is the perfect time for you to start or continue that journey!
It took me a while to get to know myself so well. I had to get over some major hurdles first.
HURDLE 1: I took back my personal power.
After years and years of being chronically ill, after years and years of seeing doctors and tests and hospital stays and medications, I decided to stop asking the doctors to validate my illness and pain.
I was told for so many years that I was “ish” and not quite “something” and I would go home after invasive and expensive tests, time after time, questions unanswered, still feeling sick and feeling defeated. I was waiting for those doctors to give my pain a name. I needed them to validate how ill I was feeling, how small and terrible my life had become, by at the very least, telling me what was wrong with me.
In an odd way, I was trying to prove to them that I really had something. You can only take your doctors looking at you like you’re a crazy hypochondriac for so long before you go a little bonkers. “No, really!” you want to yell, “I feel really, really ill!” And they do the equivalent of patting you on the head and sending you home because your test results don’t show what evidence they need to see.
And then one day, I got the Big Results. I did, in fact, have lupus and fibromyalgia and much more! Yay!
I realized as those doctors sat me down and told me my options, that they believed me but it didn’t make me feel any better. And in fact, the protocol they had in store for me wasn’t one I wanted to do.
I listened to them explain how there were no cures for what I had, and in fact the medication protocol they were recommending had very little success, but it was the best thing on the market, and my heart sank. I didn’t want a future of immune-suppressant medications and anti-malarial drugs and steroids followed by a 50% chance of chemo, none of which was shown to improve the lives of the people taking them.
Over the next months, while I resisted their treatment options and had many long debates with my family over why I was no longer willing to do what the doctors recommended, I listened to the doctors tell me that I was being fool-hardy. I was taking my life in my own hands, playing Russian Roulette, and if I didn’t care about myself, at least I cared about my family, right? Oh, yes. They did go there. One lupus symptom flare-up and that’s it. Bam. I’d be in the hospital and losing organs.
I suppose that could have happened. How can I possibly know all the outcomes? Except, it didn’t. Instead, I made some drastic and radical life-style changes and reversed my immune system issues to the point where my lupus is what they call “In Remission,” aka “We don’t know why you’re doing so well.” And consequently, my brain has changed to such a degree that I’ve never felt so steady and clear-headed in my entire life. Ever. That was a surprise.
One of my specialists has now confided in me that the people they see get back into the “ish” category, who get their autoimmune issues into remission, are usually people who don’t go the medication protocol route they recommend. So, that’s sad. He also said they are doing the best they can against an awful disease and recommending what they truly feel is the best for the most people to keep them from flaring and losing organs.
While I understand what he’s saying, I have to say I feel like I dodged a bullet and I thank my lucky stars that I chose that moment, and not a moment later, to go down this path of listening more to my own intuition than to the doctors, to let go of needing their validation for my pain. And while my case might be different than yours, most surely it is, there is probably something in my story you can use for yourself.
HURDLE 2: I stopped confusing myself with my illnesses
A part of reclaiming my power was a decision to stop calling myself by the names of my illnesses. I am not mentally ill. I am not lupus. I am challenged with mental and physical illnesses. Changing the way I said that to myself allowed me to divorce myself from the illness and visualize myself on the other side of it. I have tools with which to fight! I have energy to give and love to give myself and others for this challenge. It’s a process that I can grow through and eventually overcome.
Part of my research has been in energy work and it’s plain to me that what we focus on becomes larger in our lives and naming things is important. Words are important. Instead of focusing on being “Mentally Ill,” I focused on facing my mental health challenges with grace and love and increased both of those exponentially while my mental health challenges themselves diminished. What we focus on grows larger. It’s the law of positive energy attracting positive energy. It’s the law of abundance.
HURDLE 3: I started talking to myself in a positive way.
I took the same principle of positive energy attracting positive energy and applied it to my thoughts about my body, as well. I no longer said, “My leg is so stupid today,” because it was hurting and I hated that, so I hated it and I told it so. I realized that sending those hate messages to my leg wasn’t helping it, therefore it wasn’t helping me, and it was surrounding me with non-positive energy.
I started learning how to create neutral and positive thoughts out of the non-positive ones. And it was hard. It continues to be a challenge that I look forward to embracing every day because it’s SO WORTH IT.
“My leg is so stupid today,” became, “My leg is asking for a little extra love and attention today. I love you, leg!” And I am not kidding you, my friend, love works.
HURDLE 4: I became willing to work to get well over everything else, even pizza.
I didn’t want to be one of those gluten-free-freaks. I truly didn’t. I love my breads! And those people that are always talking about what they are and aren’t eating? Puleeze.
And yet. I started keeping a food diary because I kept surprise-vomiting and couldn’t figure out why some days I was sick and some days I wasn’t. It was hard to do it every day, all day, for 2 months, recording everything I ate, how much, how I prepared it, and when I ate it, and how I felt, but I did it and I figured out not only could I not digest wheat, I also couldn’t digest corn, rice or any other grain. So, boo. (Update on this here.)
I allowed myself to mourn that for a few weeks while I pretended LALALALA and experimented with adding some grains in at some times and thinking it might be ok, like when I went out for tacos with my friend. Surely OUT tacos are not the same as IN THE HOUSE tacos, right? RIGHT? But, turns out, for me, corn was corn and I couldn’t digest it ever. And I found that out with the food diary.
I didn’t care anymore what anyone else thought about me eating the guts out of the taco or the sandwich and leaving the bread and tortilla behind because I started to feel better. And the better I felt, the more willing I was to do whatever I needed to do to stay that way.
I was on a quest for wellness and I could see it, just right there. I was feeling differently than I could ever remember in my entire life. It was awesome. I had hope. And with that hope came persistence.
HURDLE 5: I stopped caring whether other people thought I was getting well, REALLY getting well, or if it was all in my head.
This need I’ve carried for outside validation runs deep and long. Even after letting go of needing validation from doctors, I still needed validation from my friends and family. It bothered me a great deal when people I cared about asked me if the energy work I did or the essential oils I was working with REALLY did anything or if it was all in my head.
I struggled with it for months, healing using the modalities I felt great about, but still crumbling and feeling terrible when a well-meaning loved one would ask me an insensitive question. You see, asking someone who has struggled with mental illness if they think what they are experiencing is all in their head can pack quite a punch. It can make them second-guess themselves and wonder, well, maybe?
And then one day, it hit me. Yes. Yes, of course. It is all in my head. Everything is in my head. How I experience the entire world is in my head. These people that are so hung up on whether I’m REALLY getting well or if it’s just in my head are completely missing the point.
I’m getting well. Period. And so I jumped whole-heartedly and fearlessly into this journey.
And especially because I’m someone who has been challenged my entire life with mental illness, I know the power of my brain. My brain is fantastic! Powerful!
Everything is in my head and I’m fine with that. My brain saved me from going insane by creating multiple personalities to cope with severe trauma. My brain made it so I could grow to be an adult, have children, and enjoy a loving and committed relationship with the partner of my life and experience all the love, tragedy, joy and every other emotion and situation you can think of. I’m alive. Thanks, Brain.
So, me and my head, we’re over here getting better. I’m using my head, my brain, to heal and get well. It’s real. My blood labs don’t lie. My doctors certainly don’t lie about how much my body and brain have changed and improved. Trying to take the brain out of the healing equation is ludicrous.
And If I can do it, so can you. If it’s the right time for you, I invite you to be fearless with me!
Waking up one morning and deciding to jump in with both feet by cutting out all the “bad” foods, exercising for an hour in the mornings, quitting caffeine immediately and only eating raw, organic foods starting from today for realsies this time might sound like a good way to go and the fastest way from point A to point B, but it’s actually just a recipe for disaster and quite unkind to your body.
Slow and steady wins the race and makes lasting, healthy changes. The Body Support Checklist will show you my suggestions for creating and keeping changes that stick.
The entirety of what’s in this website is simply too much to do all at once because it’s a change of life, not a diet. It’s real, lasting healing for your entire Mind/Body that will improve how you feel and your ability to enjoy the rest of your life.
Here’s some thing we’ll go over:
Energy is what makes everything work. Every single atom in the universe contains energy. You are full of energy. Everything you think, breathe and put in and out of your body, including media, has an energetic signature that either heals you by increasing your physical energy or takes away from your energy stores. We know that non-positive words can have an effect on a person, especially a child who is told repeatedly something damaging, but we need to really embrace that knowledge and use it intentionally with ourselves in our healing process.
Positive Self-Talk is crucial for healing. It’s something that you can learn. It takes practice, but it’s well worth how uncomfortable you might feel with it at first. It helps teach mindfulness, which is a foundational healing element. Being Mind-full means spending time being in the moment, being aware of what’s happening around you and in you, and observing instead of judging. It opens a portal of communication to your inner Self and gives you a chance to choose how you want to Act instead of knee-jerk Re-Acting. Being intentional with your actions creates a greater sense of connection and joy and then we can begin or continue healing in that space.
Nutrition is the building block your physical needs are built on. You must figure out which foods are healing for your system versus which foods take away from your energy stores and inhibit real change to take place. If you keep putting in foods you can’t digest, all your systems have to pause while they work on it. This leads to foggy brain, gas and bloating, exhaustion, inflammation and malnutrition. (Updates on this here.) You need to figure out what works for you and what your body is asking for.
There are ways to put this all together, so you are a cohesive unit up top, down below and all throughout your body systems. We’ll explore how mental health is connected to your gut and how to lay down new neural pathways and make new habits stick.
Ready? Let’s do this.