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

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