Monday, April 30, 2007

Antidepressants and Drug Therapy

Does it bother many people besides me that the drug companies are starting to rule the commercial airwaves roost? "Do you feel sad or depressed a certain number of days per month? Maybe you have that new illness nobody ever heard about before. If so, you should take our drug company's product. You know, the one we're required to tell you will cause dry mouth, poor sexual function or some embarrassing digestive complaint after dinner."

Not that many years ago people didn't tend to get drug therapy for very many situations. Now they do. When I first looked into becoming a therapist myself, a number of years ago, the norm was not to prescribe drug therapy unless the patient also embarked on a reasonable course of talk therapy, too. Now the drug companies seem to be in control and the insurance companies have followed suit.

Several years ago (before I became a medical intuitive) I had an appointment with a psychiatrist to get a prescription filled for a condition it turned out I didn't actually have. He didn't ask a lot of questions or put me through any tests and, most significantly, he didn't suggest therapy at all. He listened to my immediate family history, heard my fears that I might be manifesting similar symptoms (I see those as coping patterns now) and then trusted me—the patient who was afraid and not thinking clearly—to suggest what he should do. I knew the prescription was inappropriate as soon as I started to take it. I felt like I was in a straight jacket, couldn't even tear up for a Hallmark commercial that touched me to the core. I felt touched but I couldn't emote and release it. It was shocking to me. I threw that prescription in the garbage, healed my own issues without his help, and never looked back.

Years ago my friend Jaffy who has a somatic therapy and rolfing-like practice in Massachusetts told me that she always suspects Prozac when she finds that she can't get the energy in a person's body to move. Now she just asks up front.

What's disturbing to me is that a lot of the clients we see are depressed. If they were happy about everything they wouldn't need to come to us! We've seen that drug-induced "dead energy" phenomena, too. We've had significant success and breakthroughs anyway but it requires Paul to use what I think of as his energetic pile driver technique to do it and, sometimes, even that isn't enough.

It's a stunning phenomena.

Energy is supposed to move. But sometimes we really don't want to.

The last time I felt depressed and couldn't pull myself out of it, I had a job I couldn't stand. I was divorced and depressed about dating again after 20 years, my best friends had moved away, and I couldn't face the prospect of figuring out how to start my life over again. I didn't want to. Everything felt so out of control I just wanted to keep the job I had even though I didn't like it so I could stay in one place. I needed to feel in control again, safe, stable and in one piece.

A perfect candidate for drug therapy, you might say. But I didn't want to go down that route. So, eventually, I got sick instead. Chronic insomnia and perimenopausal hormone changes threw my adrenal system into overdrive and I wound up with hot flashes that were misdiagnosed as panic attacks. I was given drug therapy for that. It forced my body to override the signals it was putting out and let me get some sleep. That actually was a good thing. Don't get me wrong. I'm not against using drugs when you need them but I am concerned about chemical dependency.

In order to get off those drugs I had to do something I said I really didn't want to do. I had to change my life and that's not a small thing.

I made the decision to leave my job as soon as I had enough money saved. And, while I was waiting and building up my bank account, I committed to doing something I cared about (art) every day and made it priority. I used herbs to heal my hormone imbalance, got regular exercise to keep the energy moving, and made sure I ate healthy food. I also insisted that changes were made at my job—I knew I was leaving anyway so what did I have to lose?— and those changes not only helped my life but the lives of everyone else, too. Unfortunately for my boss (;->) those changes came too late. Almost a year to implement so, while I waited, I had to stick to my plan so I wouldn't go down the slippery slope of hopelessness and depression ever again. Eventually, I left anyway.

Movement! The lifeblood of change. That's often what it takes for people to get well. When I went to school to get a Masters in Transpersonal Psychology I was told that the latest research had shown that the most effective form of psychotherapy for people with depression was not drug therapy or talk therapy. It was helping a person change the way they think and then helping them change the way they lived their lives.

It makes sense, doesn't it? If you're not happy with the conditions of your life today, talk only goes so far. You have to make new decisions (which requires thinking more positive thoughts) and then you have to take action. But if you use prescription drugs to push your feelings down so you don't have to do anything different, well, I hate to say it but is that any different from other forms of drug addiction?

I was scared when I threw my prescription away. I wanted my life to be better but I didn't want to "feel the fear and do it anyway." And yet I wasn't willing to accept illness or drug addiction either. So I took a chance and did a few small doable steps and new energy and possibilities came trickling in.

And then they came rushing in and I'm glad I did it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Multiple Allergies, Chronic Fatigue, Chemical Sensitivity, and OCD

At this point in our career Paul and I have met several people at their wit's end because of multiple allergies and chronic fatigue. They all have similar complaints: "Help me! Help me! I'm desperate. I've had multiple allergies, chemical sensitivity and chronic fatigue for . . . 6 years." "10 years." "15 years. "30 years!" "I've tried EVERYTHING! Doctors, acupuncturists, psychotherapy, herbs. I can't do things I want to do because I'm practically a prisoner in my own home. I have to wear a mask in public. I can't be around scents or anything synthetic. EVERYTHING in my life has to be tightly controlled. I'm so mad! I feel SO vulnerable! I have to be constantly on my guard and I hate it! I can't understand how people allow these chemicals to exist. I can't believe that after all this time people still use shampoo with perfumes in it. Can't they see how dangerous this is?! I'm just the canary in the coal mine. " And so on.

Our hearts go out to them. We say "come on over" but when it comes to healing this type of illness, it's only recently that I can say we've started to get a handle on what it takes to succeed.

A little background on this: I've had multiple allergies and chronic fatigue myself. I can speak about this from the inside out. I know how scary it can be to have an overwhelming reaction to something that most people think is safe enough to eat. To take myself to the emergency room with dizziness and heart palpitations immediately after eating wheat bread at breakfast time. To think perhaps I had diabetes or some other life threatening disorder. To be told by my doctors: "There's nothing physically wrong that we can see." And yet to feel so exhausted I couldn't walk around the block.

I know what it's like to finally discover the world of allergens, to eliminate the culprits in my life and see my health dramatically improve practically overnight. I know what it's like to then have to watch what I eat, to read cereal boxes and all kinds of food products to eliminate all sources of the offending substances. To feel like I couldn't afford to take the risk of eating in a restaurant or at a friend's house unless I brought something I knew I could eat with me.

And I know what it's like to say "I'm not going to live my life this way. I can't believe my body isn't designed to handle these food stuffs, the pollen in the air, the cat on my couch, etc., etc. and I'm not going to settle for it any longer!"

Then I found out what it's like to succeed. My story, as it turns out, isn't everyone's story but it it's still a great place to begin.

There are lots variations to the scenario that puts these kinds of problems into place and, therefore, myriads of solutions. I took on a multi-modality approach myself -- acupuncture, herbs, liver detox, supplements, diet changes, psychotherapy -- and after achieving some successes with all of those things, completely eliminated the problem using a combination of the skills Paul and I use today (spiritual counseling, medical intuition and energy healing).

However, in my experience, in the end it doesn't really matter what route you use because the final piece of the battle -- at least for the most difficult cases -- is always the same. At some point you have to learn that the war is over. That you can put the battle down and know from deep down inside that you're actually well again, that it's safe to go out and play, that you really can begin again. And that's the place where belief comes in.

"When you fight something, you’re tied to it forever. As long as you’re fighting it, you’re giving it power." -- Anthony de Mello

What good was it to eliminate all sources of wheat, for example, from my life, do whatever process I did to eliminate the wheat "allergy," but continue to practically jump out of my skin whenever someone put a piece of wheat bread on my plate? That's the sticky part of this process of change: the immune system has been sensitized to the point that it goes on red alert in the presence of this allergen. It believes it is under attack. I can do all kinds of things to train it to do otherwise. But what if, when I hold that first piece of wheat bread in my hand, I also tell myself "Omigod, omigod, is this really safe to eat? Is this 'Hybrid wheat'? Was it sprayed with toxic chemicals? Am I going to go into heart palpitations again? What if it doesn't stop and it kills me this time? Aaagh!" Isn't my over-sensitive immune system going to react to what I think or say?

"Your body believes every word you say" -- that's the title of a book Barbara Levine wrote (Your Body Believes Every Word You Say : The Language of the Bodymind Connection 2nd. ed.). She's the current owner of Aslan Publishing, the company that published my first book The Solstice Evergreen: History, Folklore and Origins of the Christmas Tree. She's had an interesting life experience—she cured herself of a serious inoperable brain tumor by changing the way she used to think and that's no small project.

I did the same thing. When, after weeks of trying, my friend Katie, the person who taught me how to heal my allergies in the first place, told me I would be cured if not for my deep fear that that wasn't true I took it seriously. The next time I chose to test wheat I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, tried to get as grounded and meditative as I could and told myself "I know it is theoretically possible and immanently desirable for me to be able to eat wheat again . . . at least on occasion." That's as close as I could get at that time.

I held a piece of certified organically grown wheat bread produced by a reputable company I thought I could trust so I continued: "This is one of those occasions. I ask my body to allow this delicious healthy slice of wheat bread to be completely and healthily assimilated." I then took a bite and swallowed. Trust me, that was a huge test!

And I didn't die, have heart palpitations, get spacey, get a stuffy nose or be sick.

So I did it again. Ate the whole slice that time, got scared, felt those weird sensations of the old sensitivity coming on and stopped it in its tracks: "Please, body!" I took a breath and tried to calm down. "We managed this before. This is great food. Wholesome, nutritious, organic. I know we can manage this again and allow it to be completely and healthily assimilated." The spaciness and stuffy nose cleared.

I ate it again. Eventually I gave up the ritual of asking permission of God, my body or the powers within to let me eat wheat again. I just did it. And it doesn't have to be organic, made by a reputable company or any limited thing. I've been eating English muffins or pancakes or waffles in restaurants or in my home almost every day lately. Certain things bring the symptoms back from time to time. I recognize those triggers now—beliefs in the way, every time. I acknowledge them and tell myself a different story and it works, every time.

It's important to me that people understand that the illness didn't start by being all in my head. I never at any time said "I'm afraid of wheat now" before that substance was identified as an allergen. I learned to be afraid. Anybody who had been through a life-threatening or limiting situation caused by a substance they ate or were exposed to would do the same thing. It's important. It's how we survive. If eating the red berries on that tree over yonder makes you sick as a dog you don't try them again. Animals know better than that. Humans are the same. It's common sense. You'd do the same.

People with chemical sensitivities are not to blame for whatever triggered their disorder. Put your body through whatever emotional or physical trauma they went through and you'd go through the same thing. Notice I didn't pull my punches by refusing to implicate emotional triggers as a probable cause. I am hesitating on the inside. But feeling like horrible things have happened that were out of your control and desperately needing to feel safe and "in control" again is what happens when you live through an experience that felt horrible and out of your control whether that event was caused by being doused by a huge amount of pesticide on your way to the zoo one day or by a toxic uncontrollable family environment where you were fed poisonous words along with your breakfast cereal or where you worried and had no control over when some kind of overwhelming physical abuse might begin.

That kind of family environment can lay the seeds for oversensitivity to other kinds of perceived environmental attacks. An amber alert button can lay dormant for years and years and then come out into the open after the immune system gets worn down from a backlog of repeated stress. That last piece of bread, your neighbor spraying pesticides on his lawn around the corner, the last cycle of abuse, whatever it is that sends your system into red alert is the thing that gets blamed for the immune system's distress but it's typically only the last link in the chain. The planes that flew into the World Trade Center appeared to be the thing that sent our nation off to Iraq but the situation that really sent those war planes into action was in place decades, if not centuries, before that.

What does that have to do with being able to eat a slice of bread? Well, it's the associations our brain learns to make -- for better and for worse, conscious as well as unconscious, purposeful action or conditioned response -- that puts this type of illness and level of awareness it takes to heal it into place.

A person with chemical sensitivities "knows" that the world, for them, is now a very dangerous place. Life has proved it to them time and again. The brain stores these experiences under the title "known facts" and it doesn't matter what anyone else believes because "we know these truths to be self-evident" and that's where the "fun" begins.

Or doesn't. Take your pick.

People with multiple food or environmental sensitivities like I had develop obsessive/compulsive patterns to keep themselves well. If the smell of synthetic perfumes or newly laid formaldehyde-laden acrylic carpeting makes you sick, you learn to sniff the air every time you step into a room. You can detox a person's liver, chelate the dangerous chemicals from their system, and do all kinds of wonderful healing acts but if they consciously or unconsciously scan the air for danger everywhere they go they can inadvertently undo that healing in an instant by reinforcing the original belief that all is not well, the world is not benign, the amber alert light absolutely must stay ON.

And that causes stress on the immune system. And so it grows.

You know about The Law of Attraction now, right? What you focus on increases. At least in your consciousness. That's OCD. The more you worry and obsess about something the bigger and more obsession-worthy it seems.

To break the pattern, to REALLY heal yourself of the illness, you have to let go of the obsession—the belief that you can't be safe in the world as it exists today.

"Whoa!!!" My own inner activist pipes up to say. "What about those terrorists who want us dead? What about the fact that people really are modifying the foods we eat without knowing the long-term consequences of those actions? What about radiation being used to kill stuff on our vegetables? What about preservatives and other food additives that might be hurting our immune systems, and pesticides and other contaminants in the food we eat? What about the state of the world we live in? And given the line of questioning in my own website and on the news these days, what about the god-damned BEES??!!!"

Deep breath.

The sun is shining and, for the present moment at least, the grass continues to grow by itself.

About the bees: It's not being ignored. Let's forget for a second the environmentalists and usual activist suspects. The people who stand to gain the most from this problem being solved -- at least financially -- are, in my opinion, the very people who created the problems in the first place. The beekeepers and big agricultural interests and food suppliers themselves. They need the bees to stay in business. They know what to do -- investigate it! Figure out what's most important to do and get it done.

About our bodies: they know what to do, too. When the red alert button isn't stuck in the ON position our bodies do what needs to be done ONLY when they have to. If we give up pushing that button with all our might they get to rest and recuperate. We get well faster, stay that way longer, and do what needs to be done effortlessly, naturally, the way it used to be done before we thought we couldn't cope without employing superhuman efforts.

One last bit: We're never alone. Sometimes there is something that has to be done. Sometimes we do need help. But we don't have to figure it out by ourselves. We ask for help and Spirit answers in all kinds of ways. You can lay down your arms and let it come.


Fast Forward to 2014: One of our favorite clients has had great success healing the most severe case of multiple chemical sensitivity we have ever seen. I believe she's using an approach called neuroplasticity retraining (although her specific program might call it something else--it's also known as amygdala retraining, neural retraining, limbic retraining, etc.) It's basically retraining the brain to stop believing that benign substances and not so benign substances that most people can handle are dangerous... and it works! Here are links to articles about this on the web (please note I am NOT endorsing any of these programs, just creating a resource list for myself and others to use as a starting place for further investigation.): (The Brain's Way of Healing, The Brain That Changes Itself)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Happy Earth Day

I received this link in my email today and thought it sweet and wonderful. The screen will look dark. Just "click" your mouse about and you watch the magic sprout!

Friday, April 13, 2007

The FDA, Herbal Remedies, and Your Legal Right to Help Yourself

I went to one of my favorite flower essence related websites last night and was shocked and dismayed to see a notice posted on their page encouraging members to submit articles. The notice said something to the effect of "Please don't make claims that flower essences can be used to "cure" any physical or mental illness. The FDA frowns on this." Actually, they prohibit it. . . and while this is great news for those of us who cringe when alternative health affectionados go overboard in their praise of some newly discovered "miracle cure," it's absolutely infuriating when it prohibits me from saying to my clients "This stuff does wonders!" and I know from experience that this is the case.

The problem is that the FDA doesn't know how to evaluate a medicine that isn't one size fits all. It has a specific protocol based on the mindset that brings us one size fits most drug therapy and, literally, kills or creates emotional and physical cripples of the rest. Because herbs work differently for different people depending on their physiological and emotional make-up it makes a big difference to have enough knowledge and understanding of your own condition before walking blindly into an herb store and taking something off the shelf. On the other hand, unless you go overboard and overdo it, it's almost impossible to kill yourself using most of the herbs you'd find on a shelf anyway so, with a little reading and/or education, the average person actually can self-diagnose, help themselves quite a bit, and do themselves little or no harm.

But big pharma and the FDA bureaucrats they've bought and paid for want people to believe that herbs are either dangerous or ineffective, a hoax, snake oil. You can't have people taking responsibility for their own health care and well-being-- we're too stoopid--the medical establishment and the drug companies have to be in charge of that! "One pill makes you smaller, one pill makes you tall... and the ones that mother gives you don't do anything at all." Can't trust those old wives tales, ya know.

Can flower essences be used to cure physical or mental illness? Well, let me put it this way. When you address the underlying cause of any symptom or disease through ANY kind of appropriate therapy -- instead of relying on symptom management which is the major emphasis of western medicine today -- the illness or condition no longer has a reason to persist.

At the risk of sounding like the Hair Club president guy who says "I'm not just the president of this business, I'm a client!" I need to say this: I don't just make and sell Flower Essence Products I use them! And I wouldn't be wasting my time and hard earned dollars to market such an esoteric and little understood product if it didn't work.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I Got Reviewed! I'm so Pleased!

Isn't this the nicest thing?! Tonie Minsal recently reviewed my Mama Love Perfumes for her website Le Parfumeur Rebelle. This is what she had to say:

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Chloe is Better!

If you've read some of my earlier blogs you know I've been doing an experiment with my cat Chloe to see if I / we could help heal a cyst she's had on her eyelid for 2-3 years without using any healing techniques other than intention alone. No Reiki or any other hands-on healing. Just intention.

Well, it's been a mixed experience because this particular assignment stretched the limits of my ability to trust but from the very first day I started with this test we saw the cyst start to change. It appeared to get better, then worse, then better. I obsessed on it -- which is a form of interference -- and then I gave up. But Paul didn't. He added hands-on healing into the mix.

Alright. So he cheated. He also claims to have talked to my cat and struck a deal with her that if she would heal her own cyst he would give her drinks out of the bathtub faucet -- a habit I'm trying to break her of!

Oh well. Apparently whatever he and I did worked. But we'll never know what did the trick or if it took all we did combined.

Except for a bald spot where the cyst used to be there's no trace of it anymore. If . . . WHEN . . . her fur grows in you won't be able to see where it was at all. So far the process has taken a month.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Deep Healing Journeys

There are run of the mill healing moments -- getting over a cold or healing an ankle sprain, a broken leg or some other common event -- and then there are long lasting illnesses, chronic patterns and more life-threatening events that become healing journeys of a much deeper and potentially life-changing order. I've had to deal with a number of these in my life, one in childhood, and a significant one or two as an adult. None responded to conventional medical care, none could go away on their own and they all allowed me to look at the interaction of mind, body and spirit in ways that those less involved conditions ever can.

Have a headache? Yeah, it might have come because of the things you wished you could have said but didn't say to your boss, but chances are you don't have to take a good look at that to get over it. You just take a couple of aspirin, lie down and go to bed. But when you have a condition that has lasted years and limits your life in significant enough ways. . . well, then you have a good chance to try a few things the average person wouldn't touch, and if you find that addressing the deeper meaning of your distress does you some good, you keep going down that path and never look back.

At this point in my life, after having completely healed myself of completely debilitating conditions more than once, I think that our bodies serve as a mouthpiece for a deeper, higher, aspect of ourselves that wants the best for us and helps us achieve our highest potential. Unfortunately (from our limited everyday perspective), this aspect of ourselves may be in direct conflict with what our conscious personality-based self thinks it wants.

For example, I once wanted to live with my ex-husband in harmony forever. If I had been told that my future lay in challenging this relationship -- what I considered to be the very foundation of my safety in the world -- I would have run away screaming. Yet through having no other choice and by following my inner promptings and facing my innermost fears I learned that my greatest dreams depend on me finding and learning to depend on my inner strength instead of depending exclusively on someone else alone. I'm not at this point sure where my future lies but it is clear to me that the painful changes John and I had to make in our relationship have made me stronger, more self-assured and capable of being an equal partner with both him as a friend, with Paul as my new partner, in my business relationships, and with whomever I choose to be with in whatever way in the future. It had to happen and the benefits outweigh the pain.

When we embark on a process of healing we often believe our goal is to relieve our physical pain or limitations so we can get back to living the status quo. It's a rare human being who relishes the thought of challenging belief systems we have based our whole way of life upon. Yet, that is exactly what the healing journey entails for many of us. It's a call to awaken to our full potential. It's a call to heal not only our physical selves but our emotional and spiritual relationship with All That Is, everything that makes up our individual lives and beyond. If our lives are based on a limiting belief system that squashes our soul's ability to express itself to the fullest extent possible, a healing crisis may call upon us to change choices we made based on those beliefs. We might expect to make changes in what we eat, how often we exercise or other lifestyle-related habits. What we don't usually anticipate is the requirement to change jobs, move across the country, get divorced or change our current circle of friends.

Caroline Myss, in her book Why People Don't Heal and How They Can, says that fear of upsetting the status quo keeps us from making healing choices and understandably so. Making the kind of life changes I was just talking about is akin to jacking up your house to replace a bad foundation. Having done just that after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, I know firsthand how disruptive such an experience can be. If you're not lucky and extremely careful you can lose the whole house in the process. If you are lucky there's still an enormous amount of structural and cosmetic damage that has to be repaired. It can take years to do this kind of work and it requires a lot of emotional fortitude and support.

But, of course, the process isn't always about disrupting your entire way of life. To be honest, frequently it just feels that way because we interpret the need for change as a major big deal. It usually isn't. Most of the time we have to come to accept some aspect of reality as it is and learn to work with it more skillfully. For example, learning through divorce to live and let live has allowed me to let go of issues that in my old relationship with John seemed like the kiss of death. Now I see it differently. Those issues still exist in the life I've created on my own. (Damn!) And I can't blame him for it now. It's up to me to accept things as they are, and to believe through noticing the example of people who have been through similar experiences and succeeded (my ex-husband luckily happens to be an example) that continuing to follow the trail of what really matters most will carry us along.