Saturday, December 10, 2016

We need to move from a culture of shame to one of responsibility and love

I believe we need to move from a culture of shame to one of of responsibility and love, as a step in transforming ourselves and creating the world most of us want.
Shame is so intimately woven into our lives that most of the time we don't even see it. It's in our homes, our communities, our schools, our churches and our government. It doesn't recognize borders, race nor ethnicity. There is research showing that babies, though they may not have the vocabulary, know shame. I suspect that's because they feel and experience it from the mother and also because it gets past down through our DNA.
What often happens when someone makes a mistake, a bad choice, or just screws up...we shame them. More shame...I believe this is worth saying...does not cure shame, nor does it foster growth or change. What it does instead is drive it deeper, causing even more pain and making it that much harder to heal and change.
So how do we go from a culture of shame to one of responsibility and love. I believe it starts with ourselves, or as Michael Jackson put it, “I'm starting with the man in the mirror.”
We need to be able to look into the mirror and take responsibility for our part, and yet recognize that “our part” does not mean the whole enchilada...rather it's the notion that we are all responsible for ourselves, and we all play a part in any given situation.
Our part is a neutral term, not weighted with shame as is often hidden in the question, “Who is responsible for this?”
Responsibility takes on a different meaning through this process. Being responsible for ourselves can help us feel owning it we take the power away from others to use it against is, we begin to feel less like victims, and eventually are able to see how the experiences in our lives have helped us become who we are today. The idea that “we are responsible for our thoughts, feelings and our body”, can become one of freedom, and not one of restraint.
As we begin to embrace this new level of awareness and compassion for ourselves, it becomes easier to do the same for others.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Snake Oil Part II

Why do I share this.  I share this because it’s part of my story.  It helped shape who I am today.  It started me on my path of self discovery, or maybe letting go of parts of myself that needed to be discarded.  I share this because I still have clients coming to me today that can’t get help for their complex issues because they do not fit into our present medical model of health.  I share this because I hope it may be inspiring to others...I believe there are answers if we are willing to look.  I share this because more change is needed.

We are not the sum of our individual parts! We are whole, and the body, mind, emotions and spirit all work together.  The medical model sees us like a car mechanic would a car; replace the muffler or put a new gasket on the manifold, and the problem is solved.

But is it that simple?  Is our physical body that simple?  What about when you add the emotional, mental and spiritual component?  Obviously even the physical body isn’t that simple, and though the medical community has a good understanding of how things work, we have far to go, but when you add the other components it becomes even more complex!

What does this mean, or how can this be applied?  

  • Anything you do on any level will affect all other levels. Acupuncture, a more energy based therapy, affects our physical well being, but it also has an effect on our emotional and mental health. This is also true for Chiropractic, Massage, Counseling and many others.  This simply means that there are many ways to address an issue, and that all health issues need to be addressed from a more holistic approach for true healing to occur.

A simple example of this is someone presenting with a physical health issue with their colon.  The colons function is absorption of water and certain minerals, but its predominant function is elimination.  This can be addressed from a very physical perspective using laxatives, but it may also be related to other digestive issues which could benefit from Acupuncture, which can help the various organs come into greater balance and healthy function. Chiropractic on the other hand can help with nerve transmission to the digestive organs which can also be helpful.  Massage and other bodywork therapies; CranioSacral, Myofascial, etc. can of benefit by releasing restrictions in the area which can cause tension that leads to poor blood supply, muscle movement (the colon is a muscle), and poor function.  Counseling can affect mental health issues related to issues and trauma that the individual may be holding on to and hasn’t been able to “absorb/assimilate/eliminate”; this may even be related to an inability to forgive oneself with regard to past issues and relationships.

I share this with the hope that the medical community begin to listen to patients/clients and their symptoms again, knowing that our measuring instruments are still fallible. I have met many clients other than myself whose thyroid tests come out “normal”, but who have all the symptoms of Hypthyroidism.  And yet if a doctor treats a patient for thyroid issues without supporting blood work they can get into serious trouble with the board.  During my own health struggles I met many Gastroenterologists, but trained as they are no one was able to help me, until I met Dr. Rea, a Thoracic Surgeon, who ultimately performed colon surgery to resection my colon.  Why did the other doctors do nothing?  They didn’t see anything wrong on their tests.  In simple terms, I didn’t fit into their box.  They weren’t able to see the forest for the trees, and basically use “common sense”.

I share this so that others demand more from the medical community.  It is my hope that we kick insurance companies out of making medical decisions, and that we do the same to pharmaceutical companies.  It is my hope that we do what works, not what makes money.  It is my hope that we continue to integrate all areas of healthcare to get to a more comprehensive/cohesive system.

Snake Oil Part I

When I was 23 years old my father drove me from Fredericton NB to Montreal QE.  I was down to 140lbs from my normal weight of 185, and I think my father finally realized he would need to become involved in my condition or else I wasn’t going to make it.  
By this time it had been years since the onset of my health issues.  What started out as as mono type symptoms quickly led to a chronic condition that couldn’t be easily labeled or treated.  I had seen all the local specialists by this time, and started to read up on Complementary Therapies such as cleanses and nutritional approaches with little help.  I was on an elimination diet from trial and error because I learned that certain foods exacerbated my symptoms....

We spent two weeks at the MNI where I was poked and proded by Endocrinologists, Neurologists, Gastroenterologists, and a host of other specialists.  I had a muscle biopsy, as well as an upper GI scope, and yet by the end they seemed baffled.

I remember my temperature being so low that it would hardly register on the thermometer, but Dr.’s are trained to look at bloodwork, not to trust their senses, or listen to the patient's symptoms so I was never put on Thyroid medicine at the time, even though it was obviously low (I didn’t know this at the time).

At the end of this two week ordeal, the doctors all gathered around my bed.  I remember thinking it was like the 12 disciples and basically said this to me … ”There is nothing in science that can help you at this time, but that doesn’t mean something won’t be available in the future, or there may be some snake oil out there that can help you.”  That’s right, they said “snake oil”.  They knew I was eating a special diet, as I said, because it lessened my symptoms, not because I wanted to. To them all of this was just another sign that there was indeed something wrong with me...upstairs!  Well yes there was, because by this time I’d been sick for 3+ years, and chronic illness affects your mental state!  That was a long time ago, and the truth is not much has changed in the medical field.

At that time I could hardly dress myself, because what were once normal movements had become painful.  Laughing and sneezing went from causing soreness to creating tears in my muscles.  I was having severe digestive problems which only became worse till I had to do colonics on a daily basis.  At the worst of it I weighed in at a little over 110lbs, and was worse off then my grandmother who was 85 at the time.  In the end I gave up on traditional doctors and took up the job of being my own health advocate researching non-traditional methods of healing; Acupuncture, bodywork therapies, Energy based therapies, Nutrition, Herbs, and unorthodox medical treatments among others.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Allergies Anyone?

Image result for allergies sneezing

My Approach to Coping with Allergies

I may be a Counselor but I've been involved in Complementary Health for over 20 years with my own health and research. I had extreme allergies and other severe health issues for over six years, during which time I became my own health advocate because not as much was known at the time. I also worked at the EHC-Dallas for two years, a world renowned clinic for Environmental Illness and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities....I say that because I want to take a moment and talk to you about allergies.

So many people suffer from allergies during the various seasons here in Texas. I see it every year in my counseling office...people come in complaining of having the flu, bronchitis, colds, etc. spring season (trees, grasses, weeds), fall season (ragweed), and winter season (mountain cedar).

First, allergies don't have to just look like runny noses and sneezing! Symptoms can range from the obvious ones I mentioned above to digestive issues, neurological symptoms, flu-like symptoms, even fatigue and depression, among others...

So what can you do about all this? Well there are lot of things you can do.
  • Increasing certain antioxidants and anti-inflammatories like vitamin C, quercetin and bromelain. You may want to add other supplements if you aren’t already taking them, such as B-complex (to help your body deal with stress), magnesium (nature’s muscle relaxer and calming mineral which is also involved in over 300 enzyme functions), flax seed oil (besides providing you with essential fatty acids and omega-3’s, it also is rich in vit A which is important for the mucous membranes which line your lungs, intestines, etc. You can’t cook with it, but you can add it to foods such as salads, yogurt, baked potatoes.  HINT. Keep it in your fridge to keep it fresh longer.)
  • Homeopathic remedies for pollen.
  • One of the most beneficial tools I have found in dealing with allergies when they are severe is eliminating all grains. All grains includes not just gluten grains like wheat, barley, rye, spelt and kamut, but also rice and corn and other so-called grasses like buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa. All of these foods can cause cross reactions with the pollens that come out and increase your symptoms. For some dairy is also an issue, but each person is very different, so I’ll leave it up to you to find works for you. So what does that leave? It leaves a lot of things...fruits and vegetables, meat, beans, sweet potatoes, winter squash and potatoes. (Two older, but still pertinent books I’d recommend are, An Alternative Approach to Allergies, by Theron Randolph, and If this is Tuesday it must be Chicken, by Natalie Golos.
  • Environmental changes in your house can also make a difference, but try just starting in your bedroom.  Remove carpeting and installing tile or hardwood.  Get a good HEPA filter.  Get a good barrier cover that covers your mattress that is washable. This will prevent dust mites and pollen, etc. from absorbing into your mattress which you are then re-exposed to every time you sleep. Place your pillow in the dryer on high for 5 minutes once a week.  Take a quick shower in the evening to rinse off any pollen and other allergens before going to bed.
  • Other environmental changes for your whole house can include using safer non-toxic cleaning products, some of which you can make yourself, or by using cheap/safe products like baking soda, vinegar, etc. Look into increasing the efficiency of the filter in your home HVAC system.  Sometimes this can be done relatively inexpensively.
  • And on a final note, I’d like to say a few words about stress.  We all experience it, so learn to take time for yourself, whether it’s an hour with your favorite book, a bath, a walk around the lake, a cup of chamomile tea. There are a lot of very good tools that you can learn and resources/people that can help you with this process.  Here are just a few; books/videos on stress and coping strategies, mindfulness, Yoga, Massage and other bodywork therapies, Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Counseling to just name a few.

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be a replacement for seeking medical advice.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Counseling. What it is. What it isn't.

I went to my dentist yesterday. As I sat in the chair I asked him if I'd be able to see a few clients after this procedure. He said that shouldn't be a problem. I laughed and said that maybe I could just sit there and nod my head and say, "mhhhm."  He laughed and said I could just hold up a card that says, "How do you feel about that?" His nurse then chimed in and said, you could hold up a card that says "What do you think you should do to solve that problem?"

I smiled, but later reflected on this and thought to myself, is this what people think counseling is?

Yes feelings are important, but far more important is how we deal with them, how we process, or if we process and are able to integrate them.

And what is behind these feelings? What is the meaning we give to our experiences, to the events in our lives. What are the stories that we create, and how do they shape who we are, how we see others, and the world around us?

Counseling is the ability to create a safe/healing space where others can allow themselves to let down their defenses, if even for little while. 
Counseling is learning how to listen.
Counseling is helping others unravel their story, gently untangling the threads they have tied and connected together to help them better understand themselves.
Counseling is giving people the permission to choose who they want to be, and then helping them see it's possible.
Counseling is sometimes educational, whether it's sharing communication skills, child rearing skills or stress management skills.
Counseling can be a drama. Counseling can be a safe place to explore parts of yourself you aren't ready to share with the world yet...until you are.
Counseling is...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015's not what you thought

I have people coming to me all the time seeking change. Ask a room full of people, "who wants to change", and you'll get a show of hands. Ask, "who is willing to change, and do the hard work?", and well...

Change is hard, period. If it were easy we'd all be happy, healthy, etc. Change requires integration. Integration of our past, which sometimes includes unhealthy beliefs, behaviors and emotions. Integration of our soul with our body, emotions and mind.

What does that mean, integration with our body. We're here. We're alive. What is there to integrate? What does integration even mean? I believe each one of us came here with a purpose, and to fulfill that purpose we have to remember who we are, and to remember who we are we have to forget what we've been told!

Regardless of what level you're dealing with, what issue you are working on, it all takes time, patience, acceptance, and kindness. Whatever change you make, however small, will make a difference in every other aspect of your that's cool.

So. I want to send a shout out to all of you, regardless of what you're going through, what "change" you're making, what your beliefs are.

Love to you...Be kind to yourself, and enjoy the journey.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Depression; Why is it so complicated? Part I



I recently read news that you most likely won’t hear about, and that is that Robin Williams suicide may have been precipitated by the medications he was taking for both Depression and Parkinsons. The news reports are sketchy, and I don’t know if we’ll ever know what happened, or learn what Mr. Williams was taking, but it is true that for some, antidepressants can cause suicidal thoughts.

Depression is complicated, and the treatment can be too. Beyond complicated it can also be scary to the individual and to the people around them. We receive so many mixed messages about mental illness that some are still too ashamed to admit they need help, while friends and family members may be unsure as to how to help, or simply what to say. Who or what can we trust if even the medications don’t always work, or worse yet sometimes increase the symptoms?

Many times Depression can be traced to what many would simply refer to as lifes ups and downs. Have you ever gone through a lot of changes in your life? Have you lost a spouse, a friend, or had a cat or dog die? Have you ever had trouble finding a job? These and other situations can cause what is often referred to as Situational Depression. Most people would feel depressed having experienced these or other events, but for many the feelings are transient. What causes some people to become so depressed that they feel no hope whatsoever, or feel the only answer is to be take their own life? I believe that it’s often a combination of factors.

There are many causes of Depression, and therefore the diagnosis and screening is crucial. In some cases a thorough medical exam with blood work and other testing may be necessary. These are some factors that can lead to Depression.
1. Trauma, whether from a car accident, rape, sexual or emotional abuse as a child, spousal abuse, war, etc.
2. Hypothyroidism, which can be caused by Hashimoto’s Disease, Thyroiditis, tumors, a lack of iodine in ones diet, a car accident causing whiplash, etc.
3. Poor diet, or more specifically a deficiency in Essential Fatty Acids, Vit D, iodine and selenium can lead to symptoms of Depression. Though a poor diet can also lead to overall poor health, which too can cause Depression.
4. Drug use and alcohol abuse can exacerbate or lead to symptoms of Depression.
5. Mold Exposure and Chemical Toxicity can lead to brain, immune and nervous system dysregulation that can lead to symptoms of Depression.
 6. Stress, genetics and other situational factors like those discussed above can also contribute to the condition of Depression or depressive symptoms.

So if Depression is so complicated where do you go for help? There are some basic treatment options that will be helpful regardless of the cause, so I would start with these. Core treatments for Depression include finding a Counselor that you feel comfortable with and that will challenge you. A good diet and exercise program are an essential part of treating Depression and a healthy lifestyle. Next I would look for a complementary Doctor or a Nurse Practitioner who can do a general check up, and help you rule out thyroid issues, vit D deficiency, etc. Maybe this same practitioner or someone else can help you determine if mold/chemical exposures are a factor in your case. Finally I would suggest cleaning up your life/environment, and general detox. These two will be included in Part II.
#depression #thyroid #antidepressants #diet