Social & Emotional Aspects of Healing
Miraculous healing from unsolvable illness has the potential to give lives new meaning. However, getting there usually means going against social norms, even against medical norms, often without any emotional support. Friends, family, colleagues, and even doctors may give up on the chronically ill. This is the time to find inner strength. These tips, tricks, responses and ideas hopefully offer some emotional and social support to those on a healing path.
Social & Emotional Challenges on the Path to Health
This is super hard stuff. Giving up sugar will make you crazy. Parasite medications, if they’re working, will make you very sick. Ozone injections? Worse than childbirth. Watching your child’s behavior / autism get 10x worse? Heartbreaking. Eating a whole foods diet? Time consuming. Doing enemas, skin brushing, myofascial therapy, sauna treatments every day after school/work? Exhausting.
Worst of all, it is usually very hard for others to understand what you are going through. They will say you’re making it all up in your head. What you’re doing will never work. My uncle had Disease A and took 10 days of antibiotics and was fine, why aren’t you? Some doctors will say you have to do it their way, nothing else will work. Some will say your children will rebel when they’re teenagers because you’re restricting their diet too much. I’ve even been yelled at by an MD who thought I was giving my children too many pills. I’ve heard it all and I’m sure anyone who goes through conventionally-unsolvable health issues will too.
I’ve had to make plenty of decisions that go against what practitioners, family, and friends have said. In some cases, these practitioners have admitted years later that they are amazed by our outcome and are telling other patients to follow a similar path. Sometimes friends and family surprise us years later by asking for advice on diet changes or other health issues. Some want to have nothing more to do with us. Ever. Again. Namaste.
What do the Professionals Say?
Before I delve into my experience, opinions, and lessons learned, I want to highlight some of my professional heroes in the field of healing. First off is the amazing work of Dr. Kelly Turner. She studied late-stage cancer patients who were sent home to die. These patients miraculously healed, and their stories have been unstudied and unpublished before her work. Kelly published 9 hypotheses , or common themes, of how these people healed themselves. Here is a short summary of her list:
- Strong reasons for living
- Taking control of their own health & healing
- Social support
- Diet – all slightly different but generally reducing wheat, sweets, dairy & meat, lots of veggies & fruit
- Herbs & Supplements – in 3 categories : detox, digestion, immune boosters
- Releasing suppressed emotions
- Increasing positive emotions
- Deepening spiritual connection
I defer to Dr. Turner’s recent talk and her book, Radical Remission, for more details on the above list. Oh, how I wish we had this list when we first got sick!!! Our family ended up going through most of these items on our own over many years. I had to dig down deep on #1 when I almost died after dental cavitation surgery. We spent many years and hundreds of thousands of dollars implementing practitioner solutions before we figured out #2. We had to lose most of our friends before we found the true ones to support us in #3. Implementing #4 turned our social life and routines upside down. We now actually practice happiness (#8), and meditation (#9).
My other professional hero in this space is Christine Carter. Her book, The Sweet Spot, and her website have lots of tips for living a meaningful life that is conducive to healing. I am an avid reader of her newsletter. Our family actively practices her happiness and gratitude tips.
When our oldest child first got sick, I was angry, frustrated, and bitter. Would I ever get back to my real job? Why did I get a PhD from MIT if all I was doing was carting a child around to the doctor all the time? I couldn’t give up on my child and am now very thankful that I didn’t. The skills I learned at her expense saved my life later, and the lives of the rest of the family.
The first thing I did when I found out that I had Lyme was go to my shrink. Yup, shrink. I am thankful to have a good one! She gave me a great piece of advice – don’t let this illness define you. Keep working or doing something you enjoy, even if you are only well enough to do it for an hour a day. Do not let illness define who you are.
We ended up losing about 50% of our ‘friends’ just from changing our diet alone. This number jumped to about 80% after Lyme, parasites, and more health debugging. Friends couldn’t understand why we needed to eat differently. They couldn’t understand why we couldn’t achieve health from antibiotics that their practitioners prescribed. No practitioner able to help us? Impossible. We must be crazy.
Conventionally unsolvable health issues were an opportunity for our family to find inner strength. I had to learn to really not care what other people said or thought about me. I had to learn to think for myself, trust my intuition, and get up quickly when I failed.
Emotional Clearing Techniques
Some people have amazing health despite having multiple chronic infections. It must be the body-mind-spirit connection, with the mind and spirit overcoming amazing illnesses in the body. I have observed that these people usually have a very positive outlook, sometimes unrealistically so. I am definitely not one of those kinds of people….
Along the way, I have found a few emotional clearing techniques that have been helpful. The best part is that these are free and easy to do at home. I figure worst case I’ve wasted a small amount of time, and who knows, it might just help!
- Lee Cowden’s ‘raging’ process was really helpful to me, especially for resolving lingering resentment and anger. The instructions are on p.6 of this article: “Dr. Cowden finds that emotional issues are significant in almost everyone with chronic illness. He suggests thinking about who causes you anger, frustration, bitterness, resentment, or rage and then going to a quiet place with no disturbances. Close your eyes, visualize the face of the angering individual, and do a “shouting out loud” about all the things that person may have done to you and how it made you feel. Emotions are often released which leads to healing. Fear may be released through trembling. Sadness may be released through crying. Choose to forgive. Holding anger does not hurt anyone except the person holding it. Once emotional issues are released, organ systems function better and detoxification pathways open.”
- I also use some techniques similar to Neuro-Emotional Technique on family and friends with surprising success. These are free and relatively easy to try at home. Here are two instructional videos demonstrating the technique and how I use it:
For ideas of what emotions might be related to various teeth and organs, this chart is the best I’ve found. If there is a dental problem, or a problem with a specific organ, I look it up on the chart and try guessing to find weakness related to some of those emotions. Sometimes I have to dig even deeper than just clearing ‘anger’; I may have to guess the root cause of the anger, or a time range in that person’s life where the anger occurred.
I had a chiropractor notice weakness in my gallbladder and he couldn’t clear it up with any of his normal ‘tricks.’ He tested anger, resentment, blaming, manipulative, and found some resentment from when I was 13. What happened to me at age 13? Nothing that I can remember, just normal teenage years. I can say that the clearing seemed to help – I felt stronger and had more energy. On my following gallbladder-liver flush, I excreted more ‘items.’ (Details about the ‘items’ can be found inGallbladder Liver Flush.)
This may all sound a bit hokey, I agree, but I have found in practice that it can sometimes help. Worst case, I figure, I’ve spent some time with myself, a family member, or friend.
Tips and Tricks for Maintaining Sanity While Healing
A few random tips and tricks I learned for maintaining sanity while healing:
- Do something I enjoy every day
- Meditation / prayer every night
- Practice presence every day – notice breath or trees or something you are thankful for
- Practice gratitude every day – we often go around the dinner table and say what we’re thankful for
- Walking is great, even when I’m sick and even if it’s just around the block. If I’m feeling well, moderate exercise is a great emotional and physical release.
- Don’t allow others to break my rules in my house. This applies to diet, sleep, exercise, TV, etc. I hold fast to my rules in my home, and those who can’t be respectful aren’t welcome.
- Be prepared to lose friends / family. We lost a lot of friends around the issue of food alone. We are tolerant of whatever people want to eat, but others feel self conscious watching our kids eat broccoli at the park while their kids have a tantrum over goldfish crackers. Things also shifted when I couldn’t drink alcohol because it was too hard on my liver. Slowly, some of our ‘friends’ didn’t want to hang out any more. Our cancer friends didn’t want to hang out anymore because they didn’t want their child to get parasites from us. This one was especially baffling. We know Dr. Simon Yu has had some success treating cancer patients with parasite medications.
- Keep a ‘health’ calendar where major changes in health are documented. For example, an entry might be: “Crawling in legs re-appeared, testing well on extra Burbur and Parsley” and then later “Crawling resolved”. This helps me remember when and how things happened. It also helps me emotionally let go of whatever is happening. I find it helpful to go back to previous calendars from years past; this helps me be grateful for how far we’ve come. ‘Calendaring’ is useful both for the practical and emotional benefits.
Responses to Crazy Questions
When we first embarked upon a healing journey that did not involve taking a magic pill, we got lots of funny looks and crazy queries. These are not always easy to answer in the moment, so I’m sharing some of the more classic ones below.
Q: This illness is all in your head. You’re making this up. There’s no science behind energy testing.
A: I hope you are never, ever sick enough that you need to understand any of this. I hope you never have to learn these skills. (Note: there’s no way I’m going to change anyone’s mind, so I choose to validate their opinion. I honestly didn’t believe in much of this either until I was forced to learn.)
Q: My uncle took 1 round of antibiotics and was cured of Lyme disease. Why didn’t this work for you?
A: That’s great for your uncle. I wish my system were as strong and healthy as his. In my case, I have multiple co-infections, parasites, heavy metal toxicity, and dental infections that my body has to deal with to heal. (BTW, chances are the uncle still has Lyme. Let’s see if they come back and ask for help down the road.)
Q: When can you eat bread again?
A: I feel and function better when I don’t eat sugar and carbs. If you can feel well and function well eating those things, then that’s awesome. (Note: Stole the gist of this answer from Sarah Fragoso’s podcasts)
Q: Have you had your flu shot / vaccine?
A: I like to read the label and look at the studies before I make a decision to vaccinate or not. I also read the full label of any vaccine that we do receive. Based on my research, I have chosen the vaccines that make the most sense. (Note: The best book I could find on this topic is Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent’s Guide)
Q: If your kids don’t watch TV, what do you do with them all day long?
A: If you don’t want to spend time with your kids, then why did you have them?
Q: I would never get my kids to take a nap on the weekend, eat broccoli, help in the kitchen, sit quietly in the office while I work, etc.
A1: Why is the 5-year-old making the decisions in the house?
A2: Why do you give them the option?
Q: How do your kids get enough sugar to grow? (Note: this one is really sad – that our society thinks sugar, instead of nutrients, are an essential food group)
A: There are plenty of sugar and carbs in modern vegetables, as most of them have been bred for taste with disregard to nutritional value. We think nutrients and minerals are much more important for growth. The proof is in the pudding: Our oldest child was 2% on the growth charts with failure to thrive before we changed our diet. After we stopped eating sugars and carbs, she is now 50% and looks radiant.
Q: If you restrict your kids diet now, they will rebel as teenagers and everything will unravel.
A: My kids actually don’t want sugar because it makes them feel sick. Once you break the sugar addiction, you realize how sick you feel. Coby Fragoso wrote an interesting blog post about a teenagers perspective on paleo.
Blessings from Chronic Illness
Lyme, parasites, heavy metal toxicity, autism, phimosis certainly don’t sound much like blessings, no matter how optimistic you are. I never thought I would think that major or chronic illness would be a blessing. It seemed like the opposite – some of the darkest and most depressing times of my life. I kept trying to convince myself that this must be happening for a reason. In hindsight many blessings have become crystal clear.
- Family Bonding – There’s no better bonding opportunity than a family enema. We’re all in this together – we eat the same diet and do the same therapies. What one person goes through, we all go through as a family.
- Gratitude & Presence – We met a guy in the park once who asked how old my daughter was. He said that when he was 6 years old, he had polio and was told he would never walk again. As he hobbled by us, he said “Every step is a blessing.” I now wake up every day and go to sleep every night so thankful that I am still alive. Every day is a lot more precious to me than it was before I became very ill. I have learned to savor moments, where I used to bustle around to stay on schedule.
- Friends – The time of chronic illness is when we found out who our real friends were. In hindsight, focusing our time and energy on them has been a real blessing.
- Prevention – After visiting Simon Yu’s office in St. Louis, I have to wonder how he has such a successful practice. I don’t know the statistics, but my sense is that the bulk of his patients are cancer patients. He often treats them with many of the topics listed on this site, including parasite medications, dental work, & chelation therapy. I believe that finding and correcting the root cause of symptoms has prevented potential bigger issues that may have been lurking for us down the road. For example, my mom had bunion surgery, knee replacement surgery, cancer and diabetes. The first two I think I may have prevented with the Bunion reversal exercises, the cancer with the parasite and chelation work, and the diabetes with the diet changes. My husband had back issues, heart, and cholesterol problems on his horizon. His back issue resolved with the dental infection, and his heart and cholesterol problems hopefully will never surface with the parasite clearing and diet changes. Hopefully we have also helped prevent some of these issues with any future generations of our family too.
- Physical & Mental Development of Children – We don’t have to worry about academic achievement at school. Our children aren’t high on sugar or drugged up with allergy, ADD, or behavioral medications, so they are able to focus and learn. Their gut function and nutrient-dense diet keeps them growing and developing normally. I may be biased, but I have yet to see children who behave and look as healthy as ours. An amazing prize for a huge amount of hard work.
- Marriage – The initial illness of our oldest was definitely a stress on our marriage in the beginning. We had to learn to communicate and work together like we never had before. Now that I saved his genitals from the chopping block by debugging his Phimosis, he loves me even more!
Emotional & Social Tips for Kids
The issues my children faced ended up being like therapy sessions for our whole family. By simply changing our diet, our kids learned what it really means to be different, self confident, free thinkers. They now readily stand up to their peers and say that their food is healthier. I get emails sometimes from other parents asking for recipes so their kids can have the same foods as my kids. The children often tell us that so-and-so can’t behave because they only eat sugar, or because they don’t drink water, or that their teacher is a mouth breather.
Part of our job as parents is to model and educate healthy habits, both physical and emotional. Here are some of the things we’ve learned along the way. This is another list I wish I had 8 years ago!
- Lifestyle – Sleep, good food, and exercise are a huge part of the emotional health of our children. We still took naps on the weekends up to ages 5 & 8. Schedule is also an important piece for us. We do not overschedule the children or ourselves – maximum of 1 extra-curricular activity per day, and maximum of 1 activity (sport, music, etc) per child at a time.
- Talk at the Dinner Table – We use the dinner table as a chance to connect and release emotions. We go around the table and say things like “What was good today? What was bad today?” The person who is talking gets to pick the next person to talk. Some days we say “What are you thankful for? What are you looking forward to?” This gets the children talking and asking questions. One of the most important lessons the children seem to be getting is that us parents also have bad things happen, often complete failures. They learn from how we deal with them. This “dinner talk” was inspired by Christine Carter.
- School – We tell the school that the children have food allergies and they are only allowed to eat foods packed from home. Schools do not understand what carbs and sugars do in our body, let alone gastrointestinal dysbiosis or gut microbiome, so why bother? We also do not tell the school anything about our health issues, and it is not required by law. There is a lot of mis-information out there about Lyme, parasites, and autism in particular, and we don’t want the children to be treated any differently than anyone else. (Heck, other kids at school have Autism, Lyme and parasites but aren’t even diagnosed!!!)
- Meditation –Meditation with kids sounds like an oxymoron. I’ve found it’s a powerful tool for children to feel connection and control in this world. We rotate our pre-bedtime meditation depending on what is going on. Sometimes we chant, sometimes we sing, sometimes we meditate about our day or our difficult situations. Here are a few examples of us singing, chanting, and talking about what we’re thankful for:
Another favorite is Christine Carter’s Loving Kindness Meditation. The short version:
May I be healthy and strong
May I be happy
May I be filled with ease
We often substitute “I” for “you”, then for a friendly person, a difficult person, and even “all beings”
- Intellectual Independence – Our children have listened to us talking about what practitioners say. They hear discussions of our theories of what is causing a particular problem. We brainstorm and think – in front of them. We now find them coming up with their own theories, and sometimes they even energy test us to see if they can figure out the problem.
- Social Independence – The children have watched us lose a lot of our friends because of our health issues. They also watch us cherish the friends that we still have.
- Supportive Statements – The stress on our oldest was apparent both because she wasn’t feeling well and because she was always being pulled out of school to go to practitioners. In a moment of inspiration, I looked her straight in the face and said “I won’t give up until you feel better.” This statement alone seemed to alleviate some of her stress.
- Behavior – We found that pretty much all behavior problems resolved with dietary changes. Our youngest has a very head-strong personality but has never had a tantrum.
There isn’t much out there in terms of overall emotional and social support for debugging your own health. Here are ideas for some support groups that might be helpful:
- Diet, Lifestyle – Everyday Paleo / Jassafit podcast. There are lots of classics in here, everything from dealing with cravings to exercise tips.
- Parenting, Overwhelm – Sarah Fragoso and Christine Carter. Subscribe to their newsletters.
- Parasites – Bottoms Up Facebook Group. The moderators do a great job of keeping this group very positive and supportive. Lots of people post pictures. These pictures helped me not feel so weird when all kinds of crazy things started coming out!
- Lyme – Better Health Guy’s website and Facebook feed. He posts helpful articles and conference summaries. I’m obviously not a fan of his incessant ‘consult your practitioner approach.’ I wish we had practitioners around with enough pieces of the puzzle to help coach us through Lyme disease!
- General – Any special interest, hobby, or work I could get involved with helped get my mind off of identifying myself with health problems. I worked every day, even if I was only able to work for 15 minutes.
 Carter, Christine PhD. “The Sweet Spot,” Ballantine Books, New York, 2015.
 Turner, Kelly PhD. “Radical Remission Surviving Cancer Against All Odds” 2014.
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