Wellness journeys suck.

Fair warning, I’m feeling like there may be strong language in this post. If that offends you, you might want to skip this one. If you can’t look away from the train wreck, then push on with me into the discomfort.

Okay, so train wreck sounds negative and stronger than the point I am trying to convey. Think of this one as a train conductor that knew he was approaching a break in the track, would most definitely derail, but ended up having enough time to slow down to nearly a stop before leaving the tracks. It was tense enough to cause you some major stress and make you face your current state of existence, but no one was physically injured in the end. That’s how I have been feeling these last few days.

I am on day 9 of a free 21 day meditation series found on chopracentermeditation.com. It’s entitled, Shedding the Weight: Mind, Body, and Spirit! Let me tell you, it’s bringing up some serious shit for me. I’m grateful for this, but it’s not easy. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over time, it’s that my perception is my reality. While working through these meditations, which always come with a daily centering thought, I have realized how much I don’t like some of my perceptions. How limiting they have been, how much bullshit I’ve allowed in my life, and how many times I have let living my best life fall away because I bought in to the insanity. And how LONG I’ve been carrying some of this weight around.

Okay, so some history. I grew up learning that it was expected that I would be the best at everything. I needed to be the best at the sports I played, know all the answers to everything (always), which would translate to straight A’s and being favored by teachers and coaches and adults in general. I needed to be the prettiest, the fittest, the nicest, most polite, etc. This was supposed to make me successful, well liked, and make things “easy” for me. Do you know what it actually did? It made me always second guess myself, compare myself to everyone else on absolutely every level, hold back on things I had great passion for, and become disconnected from others and retreat into my own little mental world. And scared. So, so, fearful. Of everything.

Oh I was able to perform, don’t get me wrong. When the spotlight was on me, I was the best at the sports I played, got good grades, won singing contests, was the anchor of the class newscast, and was quiet, reserved and well spoken. For God’s sake my 4th grade teacher wrote in my signature book that I would be the first woman president of the United States! That should tell you something!!

I never stepped out of line, never broke any rules, never developed any sense of self. I became what others told me I needed to be. I was so afraid of breaking the rules that at the end of one school year (I think it was again 4th grade) they were giving out obsolete text books to anyone who wanted them. I took one. Perfectly legit, right? I was so worried that I had taken something that I wasn’t supposed to have and that my parents would be disappointed in me, that I hid it and gave myself horrible anxiety until I confessed to what I had done. All the while in tears, waiting for the condemnation and lack of acceptance I was sure was coming.

Why do I share this? Not because I want to blame my parents or the other adults in my life, I don’t. I am 100% sure that they were doing what they felt would give me a better life than what they had. And they did that! And I am grateful. I share this, because what I have realized is, this is some of the heaviness that I carry around with me every day. Not physical weight, but emotional and mental heaviness. Not only am I shifting my perspective to realize that experiencing and releasing those old emotions is allowing me to move forward toward living my best life, but it is also giving me the opportunity to share with you that there is hope of experiencing joy, even in the face of other adversity. I may have physical pain, and things that are not yet restored to balance in my immune system, but I am not defined by those things. My perspective is my reality. I am choosing to see things in a different way. The very essence of who I am, is not connected to that pain, nor limited by the body, or my thoughts.

So, why do wellness journeys suck? They don’t. That’s my old way of thinking, but I find myself wanting to fall back into that old pattern of limiting behavior. Of being so afraid to disappoint someone, to not be accepted, to not be right or good enough, that I make sure that I fail before I even get to the point that someone else could point out that I failed. When I found myself feeling scared of the fact that I was being vulnerable by starting this blog (which by the way is about the 4th try at blogging – in the past I always found a reason I couldn’t keep up on it and quit), that I was falling behind in the expectation I had set for myself with physical activity to try to best this fibromyalgia, and feeling impossibly isolated and alone, my first thought was; “Wellness journey my ass, this sucks!” What I am grateful for today, is that I was quickly able to turn that around and realize that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. That the rain has finally stopped for a bit, the sun is out, I have two daughters I love and get to experience their wonderful spirits, and I am enough. One step at a time y’all. Thanks for reading.

In warmth, Bobbie

 

 

 

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I’ve tried everything – now what?!

If you were with me on Tuesday, you read about my ever so enjoyable, recent doctor visit. I promised today that I would expound upon the bit of wisdom that I gleaned from that visit – dopamine levels are important – especially in people with autoimmune issues. When I get potentially valuable info, I tend to be the type that immediately throws myself into research about whether there is more than one source to support the theory; and if so, how best to implement the change. This makes me feel like I have read SO much about the conditions I have been diagnosed with that I have “tried everything.” Keep reading and I’ll share what I have learned about dopamine, what I’ve been doing to increase it, and the results I have seen for myself.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects multiple systems in the body, including the nervous and immune systems (2 systems that contribute to most of my Fibromyalgia symptoms). As well, there have been recent studies that support healthy dopamine levels have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body. Inflammation is an indicator looked at when diagnosing autoimmune disorders, and one that my doctors have attempted to regulate with medications, with my personal conditions. So, it stands to reason that the good doctor was on to something, and I want to make sure I am producing dopamine optimally. How can I do that naturally? Read on.

MEDITATION. I know a lot of people get put off when they hear this word because it has a connotation of being intangible, unreachable, and maybe even pointless to some. Hold on a minute though. There is not only research to support the overall positive effects of meditation, but even that it has a positive effect on dopamine. I had trouble getting started with meditation, as many of us do, because my brain was so active with constant thought. There was an endless list of “to do’s” that would play over and over in my head. Meditation helps to quiet those thoughts, allows you to center yourself and be mindful, focusing on the now and releasing all the self defeating feelings of failure, inability, lack, and negativity. I have become able to connect to the energy of nature and my surroundings and feel a sense of calm, peace, and joy. There are multiple free guided meditations to be found on the web to help you get started. I also find that it is helpful to play soft music (my personal favorite is Tibetan singing bowls) and to diffuse essential oils to enhance the feeling of calm and tranquility. I typically use a blend of Frankincense and Lavender.

EXERCISE. Duh, right? Everyone knows that exercise is good for everything. However, I have been walking the line between trying to find how much exercise I can do without hurting my self more (even small amounts of activity can cause fibro flare ups for me), and giving me positive results. My answer has been yoga. Not only does it go right along with providing me time to be quiet and reflective, when done in conjunction with a moderate amount of activity, I don’t have as much pain and I am finally noticing some increased flexibility. For instance, I have been using the treadmill, walking at a moderate pace for 3 minutes and then jogging at a bit faster pace for 1 minute bursts, for a total of 20 minutes (including a warm up and cool down) three times per week. I also do about 15 minutes of yoga everyday. I still have the challenge of being much less flexible than most, and don’t have the stamina for a full yoga class, so I choose online instruction. Dailyom.com has a very affordable 21 day yoga body course, and Yoga with Adriene has tons of free instruction on her YouTube channel, just to name a couple I use. Also, if I find I am having extra muscle stiffness, there is an essential oil blend containing blue tansy that when applied topically, gives great relief.

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FOOD.  While I have very specific thoughts about food and the way it affects chronic illness, I am will save that for a future post. Here I will stay on task and talk about it only as it relates to dopamine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps the brain synthesize dopamine. Protein rich foods like meats, dairy, nuts and seeds contain tyrosine. Almonds and avocados are also good sources. Oregano oil not only helps to produce dopamine, but it is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties also. Good quality oregano oil can be added directly to your foods to reap the benefits, and potentially curb cravings. Abstaining from foods that contain additives and other toxins will also support your body in producing more dopamine. Cutting out refined sugars is a major player in this as well. I have reinvigorated my commitment to eating a modified Paleo type diet. I prefer to limit my meat intake a bit more than most Paleo eaters, and increase my nuts, seeds, and protein rich veggies. Having been back to this for only a couple of weeks, I’ve noticed less visible swelling in my face, hands and feet, and less intestinal distress.

Again, I don’t feel like I have all the answers, but I do know that I have spent hours researching things that will help me on my road to wellness. The things I have laid out here, have had an astounding overall effect on my day to day life. I feel lighter, happier, and like I am moving toward a place of better health.

Email me if you have any questions (oilinmyhands@gmail.com) or as always, feel free to leave a comment.

Blessings, Bobbie

Please note: Products mentioned in this article have not be evaluated by the FDA. The products and information on this page are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult your medical doctor regarding your medical care and never use information obtained from this site as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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Take Your Medicine!…or not?

Last Friday I visited what was probably the 10th “specialist” that I have been referred to through my primary care provider, in hopes of finding a better way to deal with my Fibromyalgia, Arthralgia, Chronic Fatigue, Migraines, IBS, and other general malaise. Previously I’ve either seen or been referred to a  Hematologist, a Rheumatologist,  an OBGYN, an Acupuncturist, a Physical Therapist, a Pain Diversion Clinic, a Doctor of Naturopathy, a Chiropractor, Massage Therapy, and a Certified Nutrition Specialist practicing Contact Reflex Analysis. There may be more, but these are the ones I specifically remember. Friday’s Doctor only deals with pain management. I was told this was a newly opened clinic that seemed to be having “good results” with their Fibro patients. Okay, why not try again, right? So, off I go. The conversation went something like this:

Doctor: “What brings you in today?”

Me: “I think my Primary Care Provider doesn’t know what else to do for my Fibromyalgia, so we’re trying this. I do prefer a holistic approach and not to be on tons of medications.”

Doctor: “I practice Western Medicine…EVIDENCE based medicine. You should see a Naturopath.”

As you can imagine I wasn’t thrilled with that response, but I think he quickly realized how abrasive it had sounded and spent the next ten minutes trying to explain why his way is right. Telling me things like the forums where I had read posts regarding negative patient experiences with drugs like Duloxetine and Pregabalin, along with their long list of side effects, are nothing to worry about – the medications are safe, and he “does this for a living.” I’m sorry, I realize I should use proper grammar and not make this look like a text message, but…ROFL! I did manage to keep myself from launching into the science (and evidence) behind more holistic therapies, as I’m sure he couldn’t have cared less.

He continued to make assumptions about my lack of knowledge and understanding of Fibromyalgia and even physical activity, at one point telling me that beginning an athletic regimen would cause me some discomfort. Are you serious? I had no idea! I mean, after all being a Portland Marathon finisher and multiple other distance races, certainly isn’t athletic or require any training of any sort. Please! Plus, there is not a single person I know that has dealt with a chronic or autoimmune illness for any length of time, that hasn’t done some research or learned quite a lot of the specifics of their condition. It’s a must – it impacts every moment of your life!

I’m sure this is not a unique experience for those of us that have pain or chronic illnesses, or potentially even just more standard visits. What I tried to do was take away any nuggets of wisdom that I could from this visit, and there were two. One, he shared with me that one of the things they find lacking in Fibro patients is dopamine, which is why they want to use nerve related medications (I’ve been prescribed Nortriptyline, Gabapentin, Venlafaxine, Pregabalin, etc). Secondly, he shared that studies have come out as recently as last month saying that moderate activity is extremely important, which is what led to his insulting comments about my current lack of fitness. I mean, he’s not wrong about it, but his assumption that I never been an athlete wasn’t cool.

So in summary, it’s worth it to keep going and keep listening to the Doctors, even when I don’t necessarily agree, or find great results with, their treatment plans. It keeps me connected to all types of medicine and research (because I firmly believe all information is valuable), and that some of the things they prescribe can be helpful. I walked out of the office with a prescription for yet another medication, but also aquatic therapy (good stuff) and some more knowledge in my arsenal to fight Fibro. Come back and read Thursday’s post, where I am going to explain how I am upping my dopamine levels naturally, and the positive results I am already getting!

In Warmth – Bobbie

Ahh, spring! (achoo)

Lavender Essential Oil in Clover

I love the Pacific Northwest. The green trees, the rivers, lakes, and ocean. Nature. It’s all around us here and it is breathtaking. Literally. For those of us with allergies, the beauty that spring brings can also usher in sneezing attacks, watery eyes, itchy ears and throats, coughing, asthma, and [insert your allergy symptom here]. These things can make it difficult to sleep well at night, to focus, or…breathe. Also, if you’ve got additional autoimmune issues, as I do, allergies can trigger flare ups which make bad symptoms even worse.

Well, since today is St. Patrick’s Day and I’m a good portion Irish (born a Sullivan), I’ve decided to share my lucky remedy with you! Okay, maybe it’s less lucky and more about science, but I feel lucky that it works. Lavender essential oil has given me a “spring” back in my step. There are several ways you can use it, and I take advantage of all of them. I’ll break it down for you.

Diffusing. This can be in your handy diffuser (which can be purchased all over the place online or in stores, but look for info at the bottom of this post for how you can find one like I use), or in your actual hands. Add a few drops of Lavender to the water in your diffuser and use it alone, or blend it with Lemon and Peppermint. Lavender has a natural antihistamine effect, Lemon cleans the air and toxins from your system, and Peppermint has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being invigorating. If you have oils and no diffuser, simply put a drop or two in the palm of your hand, rub both hands together and then inhale the aroma. You can rub any remaining oil on the back of your neck.

Topically. Lavender is generally well tolerated by most people when applied directly to the skin, but for infants or highly sensitive individuals, you can always dilute with fractionated coconut oil, or another carrier oil of your choice. Apply across the tops of your ears, the back of your neck, or bottoms of your feet.

Internally. To be clear, you should never ingest essential oils that aren’t CPTG (Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade). My choice of oils is doTERRA, as they are third-party, triple tested for purity. You can brew a “tea” of sorts by adding a drop or two of Lavender to a mug of hot water and drinking it. It also tastes great to blend 3 drops of each Lavender and Lemon, and 2 drops of Peppermint into a porcelain teapot of hot water. I actually put a drop or 2 in a Mason jar and enjoy it cold. For a particularly bad allergy moment (like when I woke up sneezing at 3am a few nights ago), I put a drop on my thumb and apply it directly to the roof of my mouth for a few seconds. I always get relief within a matter of minutes. As with many other homeopathic remedies, you can use a drop or 2 under your tongue as well. If you have trouble with the taste, you can always blend it with honey, or add to a capsule.

The bottom line is I get relief, and I am not taking a chemical laden pill of any sort. Please keep in mind that I am sharing my experiences and can’t guarantee results, but have seen this work for many. I also don’t have medical training, just my own trial and error with years of failed doctor suggested treatments. Please make sure to care for yourself in the way that works best for you.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

If you have questions about oils, want to find a way to purchase oils or a diffuser, or just want to connect with someone who can relate to what you are going through, please leave me a comment, send me an email (oilinmyhands@gmail.com), or visit my doTERRA site http://www.mydoterra.com/oilinmyhands

 

 

I’m about to lose it!…want to watch?

Stress. I have lots of it. I have a gorgeous teen daughter who looks like she’s twenty, a self proclaimed hippie twenty-two year old daughter who tends to live on people’s couches all over the world (or share a condo with 5 others she’s never met while working a seasonal job in a city she’s never visited), and a job that I am on disability leave from due to my fibro body telling me its had enough. The funny thing is, none of my stress is coming from these things.

Okay, so it’s a little stressful that adult men look at my 14 year old, but she thinks it’s creepy, and I’m grateful for that. And maybe I would be worried about my nomadic daughter if it wasn’t for the fact that I know I did my best to impart any wisdom I may have had to give her, and she’s choosing to be happy. Who am I to tell her to stop? I’m also not worried about my job. It will either be there when I am better, or it won’t. That is if I get better. And that’s where the real stress comes from.

As a divorced woman somewhere a bit over 40 (I always forget the exact number), with a child I’m still raising, one that hasn’t completed college, and no college degree of my own, learning that I have an autoimmune condition was not good news. Like many who have dealt with the long process of getting a diagnosis of why you can’t sleep, why you sleep all the time, why you can barely eat but still can’t lose weight, why you have pain for no reason and it’s never the same pain, why you can’t remember anything, can’t focus, and why your body literally changes overnight – I felt like I was going to lose it until the day came that they decided to call it Fibromyalgia. Since then a few more diagnosis have been added: Arthralgia, Chronic Fatigue, IBS, Migraines. Not to mention difficulty absorbing Vitamin D, Iron, Potassium…the list goes on and on.

So what does that mean? It means 3 years of trying different drug therapies, trying pain diversion techniques, seeing tons of specialists, and literally crying myself to sleep sometimes. Yes, this is my stress. How do I work a “normal” job when I can barely roll myself out of the bed some days? How do I make people understand that while I look fine on the outside, my pain level is at a fairly constant 8? This is what I am referring to as what I am “about to lose.” I’m letting go of the need to live up to the expectations of others at my own expense.

This opportunity (which is how I am choosing to look at it) to be on leave and focus on repairing the damage of not listening to what my body needs and what my limitations are, and how I can heal myself without prescription medication, is what I want to share with you in this blog. That may mean ranting about pain one day, sharing a recipe for Paleo chocolate chip cookies the next day, taking a 3 day meditation break, and then telling you how my essential oil therapy is managing my allergies a few days later. Whatever it looks like, I hope that you will come along on the journey. I encourage you to connect with me and share your thoughts and challenges. It can only help us all increase our awareness.

Cheers!