Sunday, 31 August 2014

One Year Update

Aka things that failed, things that work. 

What a year! I’d like to say I’m all healed, my gut infections and all my symptoms are gone, that depression, anxiety, sleep issues, skin problems, tummy struggles and fatigue are a thing of the past. I’d love to share that my social life is blooming and I can eat and drink everything without some kind of retaliation. I want nothing more than to say I’ve found the elusive ‘what works’ and share it with you. But today is not that day. The unfortunate reality is that in a failed medical system of trying to figure things out by yourself it takes a lot of time, usually more than you expect when you start out. Which is maybe a good thing otherwise we might not start out at all!

What I can share though is that I no longer feel like a victim to my health (although some days it does still frustrate the hell out of me), I can see why what happened has happen, I can see why what didn’t work, failed to work. I know what tests to bother with, what not to think twice about and where to focus my energy. I'm more savvy as to which supplements and books are worth investing in and which white man meds are not worth touching. I can spot a good article in the first few sentences and I know, for the most part, what will help me and what will lead me off course (I’m easily led off course). I also have conviction, consistency and direction, which is something I didn’t have a year ago. As much as I’d love full health, those things are also pretty cool. 

I started not knowing what was up, to finding out, to struggling to find someone who knew all about blastocystis, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, chronic fatigue, low adrenal function, mould toxicity, MTHFR gene mutations, pyroluria and the vast array of symptoms all those things cause. I struggled to find a practitioner who would take me seriously and a specialist that could actually help. I’ve been bullied, ripped off, scoffed at and told that my issues weren’t an issue. I’ve been told to deal with it, to medicate it and cautioned by a well meaning doctor, “are you sure you’re not just depressed” and accused by a specialist of still having the eating disorder I overcame in my younger years. I’m just lucky I’m stubborn enough to prove these people wrong, as if I wasn’t I would have given up many times over by now.

While some people have a strong system and may have some of the issues I listed above, they may go a long time unaware and not presenting symptoms. But for those of us who are  physically sensitive, have several years of self neglect and incorrect eating behind us. Who are stress heads that always feel like the world is against us in some way - like we can’t quite tap into this universal flow everyone else seems to be a part of, having a list of health challenges like mine above really can be devastating to daily function and mind set. It’s hard to just ‘get by’ or ‘get on with things’ or ‘deal with it’ and ‘suck it up’ when it takes you an hour or more to wake up in the morning and when you finally do feel alert enough to function, the list of daily symptoms start to present themselves one by one and slowly wilt away any energy you do have.

I’m grateful I’ve had the support, the resources and the time to deal with some of these things. To find the right path and spend money on what was needed and when. My heart goes out to all the people with families to support who are working full time that haven’t been as lucky as me on this crazy journey. Cynthia Pasquella said in a recent podcast (here) that when she got to her rock bottom with her health and was at her wits end, she had a moment when she saw clearly that these things didn’t happen TO her, but FOR her. She was able to change out of victim mode and take some power back. She has since gone on to achieve great health and success from that point onwards. It’s the stories like that, and the hope of helping others, that keeps me going. 

So while I still have all my ‘health challenges’ and have in one sense failed to get rid of them, deal with them or erase the effect they have on me. I’ve restored some faith in myself and my bodies ability to heal. I’ve stopped throwing white man meds at everything with their false promises of sorting it all out while working against my body, and I’ve learned to embrace my current list of issues as teachers who are going to show me the way to something greater. My biggest lightbulb moment is getting to the bottom of WHY this happened, and changing it to prevent it happening again. Not just figuring out the fast fix to get rid of it… Because as tempting as that might sound and as shining as it might seem, it never fixes anything for very long. So here’s hoping this next year is more successful now that I’ve learned what NOT to do to fix your health ;-)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Burn Out!

AKA the all too familiar downward spiral.

So I did it again, not sure when I’ll learn. Got some energy back and started to do EVERYTHING the way I used to, the way I miss, the way that makes me feel powerful and productive… But the way that runs me down, uses all my resources and makes me sick. Seems every time I push too far too fast the SLOW DOWN signal becomes louder… This time I got a nasty attack of Shingles on my face.

I had chicken pox as a kid, the virus stays in your system and lays dormant. Chilling in nerve cells until your run down and your immune system is suppressed and then BOOM. Starts out as a cold, for me a migraine, numbness of the skin on my face and stabbing eye pain. Then about three days later a few small red bumps that I thought were hives and perhaps an allergic reaction to my new gut healing protocol showed up.  A few more days later my skin is burning, my eye has swollen up and the right side of my head is in intense pain. Being the stubborn chick I am I left it until my flatmate didn’t ask me IF I wanted to go to the hospital but gave me three time slots and asked WHEN.

I was pretty resistant, the whole time berating myself and blaming something I’d consumed or the lack of sleep I’d been getting the last two months. Thought the whole hospital idea was a waste of time and didn’t consider it could be anything viral. But it was worse than I thought, and while I was grateful to have an answer for the burning, swelling and numbness I'm not too happy to have 14 days of strong anti-virals in front of me and what could potentially be up to four weeks of forced down time. Bummer! 

Scale back two months: a break up, moving house, leaving a job, going back to full time night shift, driving 45 minutes across town pretty much everyday to ‘do stuff’ and get to appointments, new noises and not enough sleep. I enrolled in an online course, 2 workshops and joined the gym. Push push and refusing to slow down, I was way too busy for that. Same old story, lots of do and not enough down time. No matter how impeccable my diet is, or how expensive and thorough my supplement protocol, I made myself sick, again. I’m starting to notice this pattern, and this time I was able to surrender much more quickly. I “took my hands off the wheel” before I veered more out of control.

Cancelled appointments, let work know I’d probably be out for two weeks, called off social arrangements, withdrew from a workshop and mentally planned for two weeks of rest. I didn’t have any big story around it, simple fact is I was unwell, again, and my lifestyle created yet another hurdle for me as I still refused to listen.

Funny story is, I had Danielle LaPorte’s ‘Desire Map Day Planner’ open on my bookshelf for six weeks prior to my fall which listed the following:

Reviewing it now I did (and did not do) all of these things.

And back in April I posted this article about the exact same thing, busting through all your energy as soon as the smallest fraction of it starts to come back:  The Glass Wall Mistake that Everyone Makes

So, back on the couch, not as frustrated with myself as I usually am in these situations, I guess because I have more acceptance and understanding around how and why I got myself off balance. A greater sense of if I want to stop the roller coaster, I have to make the choice to get off it!

Action Steps:

  • More sleep, 5.5 hours a night isn’t enough
  • More time outside, working nights makes this hard, it has to become a priority
  • More gentle exercise, walking and yin yoga is more supportive of my body than strength training and running intervals at this point
  • Down size my ‘to do’ list, essentials only
  • Only start one new thing at a time, just because I have the energy in this moment for three new endeavours does not mean that energy will last into next month…
  • Meditate daily, even just ten minutes will create much more space in the rest of the day
  • Log off the computer and read something meaningful, facebook is boring and rarely enhances my day in any deep way ;-) 
  • Make more time for random restful activities and remember that they are NOT a waste of time.
  • Don't be afraid to chill and watch a little mindless TV or indulge in a movie night.

Biggest take away is that despite my consistency with my diet and always looking for the answer in what or what doesn’t go in my mouth, if I continue to live in this way and disrespect how much lifestyle choices affect my health I will continue to swing significantly up and down.

Slow down. Listen. Get outside. Laugh with friends. Stop obsessing. Tap into the flow of life. Trust your intuition. Look at the bigger picture. Be kind to yourself… For reals this time xx