As a child, I suffered from numerous ear infections. According to my mother, there was one year when I was on antibiotics so frequently, I had almost constant diarrhea which made my skin raw. During my childhood, I estimate that I had at least 30 rounds of antibiotics before age 18. Knowing what I know now, this amount of antibiotics severely damaged my gut flora (healthy bacteria in the gut) and probably contributed to a lot of what I am about to discuss.
As a teenager, I experienced extreme anxiety and began experimenting with alcohol and drugs. I struggled through my teenage years and early adulthood and developed an addiction to alcohol; it was the only thing that made me feel relaxed.
Around 2005-2006, when I was in my late 20’s, I started developing even more anxiety, mostly because my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and I didn’t know how to help him. I felt very out of control and helpless. That was when I started really abusing alcohol.
At first, alcohol was a way to cope; it numbed me and felt good to escape. It helped me avoid dealing with life. It started out just on weekends and slowly, my drinking increased to an everyday occurrence. This went on for a couple years.
I didn’t like who I was becoming and there were numerous occasions where I tried to quit, but I just couldn’t. Sometimes I would justify my drinking because I was functional; I went to work, paid my bills and my child was always taken care of. I tried to convince myself that because I did what I was supposed to do, it was ok to numb it all away at night.
Then, in 2008 I started having extreme panic attacks. They mostly happened while I was drinking so I took that as a sign that I needed to quit. I knew that I was doing damage to my body, and in hind-sight I probably should have checked into the hospital for detox, because the withdrawal period was almost unbearable, but I managed to push through it on my own.
A few days after I quit drinking, my thinking became foggy and I started getting depressed and extremely anxious. I was sweating profusely and sometimes I would get dizzy and see spots, and I had constant diarrhea. I went to my doctor for help, and right away I was put on an anti-depressant and given an acute medication for the panic attacks. Not once did the doctors test for blood sugar problems or for any nutritional deficiencies, and they certainly never talked about diet.
I was on the anti-depressant for less than a month because I couldn’t handle how bad they made me feel, but I continued on the acute medication for over a year. This medication helped take the edge off so I could at least function on a daily basis but it made me groggy and my head was “fuzzy” every time I took it. It was almost like I had replaced alcohol with prescription medication. I was very aware that this medication could be addictive and luckily I was very careful with how I used it and never developed that addiction. I think that it was my determination to get healthy that kept me from abusing it.
In the weeks after I gave up alcohol, I went to the emergency room a few times because my heart was pounding and racing so fast and hard, it felt like it would burst out of my chest. They found some irregularities in my heart beat, so I wore a monitor for a few weeks and also had an echocardiogram (ultra sound on your heart). Luckily it turned out that my heart was very healthy and they said the irregularities were related to my anxiety. In retrospect I believe it was due to uncontrolled blood sugar levels and the beginning of my food sensitivities developing that was causing the anxiety.
I started practicing relaxation techniques and bio-feedback: like posting positive sayings around my house, making a conscious effort to change each negative thought into a positive ones and doing activities to create new habits. Also, I started seeing a therapist to help with dealing with the anxiety and she turned out to be a lifesaver. At one of our meetings she suggested I listen to this Saturday morning radio talk show called “Dishing Up Nutrition” mostly to help my son, Blake, with some of his problems but also for my anxiety.
I listened to the show and started applying what I was learning. Right away, I started noticing positive changes in both Blake and I! It was very exciting and this is when I began my Nourishing Journey.
Along the way, I began developing food sensitivities and allergies due to leaky gut from all the damage. (Leaky gut is when your gut develops small tears in it and allows food particles to penetrate through into the blood stream which can cause many problems some of which are food sensitivities and allergies.)
In the fall of 2010, a cyst ruptured on one of my ovaries and caused a rash on my face that lasted for about 8 months. This was very frustrating and due to all of the other issues I had I decided to make an appointment to see Wendy Cates-Dancer, a nutritionist at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, because Blake was having such positive results on his journey. With her guidance I was able to tweak my diet and do some additional things to help my body heal. She has been a crucial part of my healing and I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.
Since then, I have learned that I have adrenal fatigue, reactive hypoglycemia and, I suspect low thyroid function, too. Because of all of this I have been on a rotation diet and GAPS diet since March of 2011. I do other daily things to help nourish and cleanse my body as well, such as yoga, meditation and practice positive thinking. Everyday gets a little easier, especially since I eat foods that nourish my mind and body. This is all part of the journey, I have a lot of damage that needs to be undone, and healing the body takes time.
My hope is that some of what I am learning on my Nourishing Journey can help you heal too, or at least open up doors for a healthier lifestyle. I have been sober since January 5, 2009 and by using real food and some basic supplements I now finally enjoy life and can think clearer than I ever have and I feel good!
In my blog I will recommend products that I have used, resources I turn to and a lot of other information that I think may help you too!