Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Box-shaped Heart

"There are times when we should put our hearts in a box, so that we are not immobilized by it's desires." -Anatomology

I have been attempting to sell some of my clutter problem on eBay, and had some success, i.e. I've sold 3 pairs of shoes. I also sold 12 books on Amazon, which unfortunately I can no longer recommend as a book selling tool. They have increased their rates and decreased their shipping credit. I'm not sure exactly how much I've made after subtracting shipping costs, but I know it's not much. (I am behind on my personal number crunching.) So I've listed some books on eBay to see if I have any success on non-shoe sales. So far, my selling percentage on eBay has been less than stellar- 50%. It is kind of fun though, sort of in a trying to figure out which lane on the freeway, and combination of lanes, will get me home faster during rush hour in L.A. There's a lot of people popping on and off, and you're trying to predict the human behavior of a diverse group with a lot of different aims. I've speculated with my co-workers that L.A. freeways are a giant experiment on human behavior, and I could make the same argument for eBay. It's a fascinating and somewhat unpredictable place.

I'm sure the current economic climate is not the best for selling unnecessary stuff. The real struggle is with myself though. It's hard to let go, both of stuff and behavior. For example, I tried to sell the shoes pictured above, going so far as to take lovely pictures in natural settings and start a posting on eBay. While describing how great they are, I waffled. The picture doesn't do them justice. They are British punk rock boots made into heels. Now, I'm not a fan of heels. I think it's kind of a crazy concept to wear shoes you can't walk significant distances in and that cause poor posture and mess up your feet. That's why I quit ballet at the end of 8th grade. But my job pretty much requires me to wear heels, and these shoes are beautiful. I just can't quit them.

After going through my books, filling two packing boxes of ones to sell and filling an entire bookcase with unread books that I still intend to read, I resolved to stop buying books (at least until I read all the ones in the bookcase). I have a book addiction. I am perfectly capable of whipping through books at lightning speed too, although the PTSD and abuse books are definitely more slow going. The siren call of Borders was too much for me though, because I found myself casually perusing through the discount books before my therapy session last week, and walked away with "feeling fat, fuzzy, or frazzled?" by Richard Shames, M.D. and Karilee Shames, Ph.D., R.N. Not particularly obvious from the title, the book is about addressing too low or too high thyroid, adrenal, and/or reproductive functioning. Ah, self-help. You have ensnared me again!

To explain my draw to this book, in the late 90's I had a lump in my thyroid. Nothing unusual came out in my blood tests, and the lump was non-cancerous, but it was quite large. You could see it, and definitely feel it, so I was put on thyroid medication. The medication did nothing. I asked what the point was, but I was told to keep taking it and it would work. I went to a homeopathic doctor about my migraines. (This was about a year after my brother's death and I was having debilitating migraines.) He gave me something to take, and a week later, the lump in my thyroid went away completely, never to return. The migraines didn't go away, and the homeopathic doctor was stumped. The doctor prescribing the thyroid medication didn't believe me. I stopped taking it. About a year later, I was suffering from even worse migraines, exhaustion, panic attacks, uncontrollable vomiting and searing stomach pain almost every time I tried to eat anything. I was taking about 6 different medications for anxiety and depression, and none of them seemed to be working. I was at the end of my rope, completely miserable, when I talked to a friend who was in acupuncture school. She recommend "Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions with Modern Nutrition" by Paul Pitchford. This book changed my life. I learned that I could feel better by eating better. This is when I verified that I had issues with dairy. I quit taking all the drugs and focused on improving my health. Later I discovered my problems with gluten, and I've always done better with very limited meat eating (although I get iron deficient very easily if I go off meat entirely).

Flash forward to present day, dealing with the abuse memories straight on, taking anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication for PTSD, feeling exhausted a lot of the time, stressed, migraines, not sleeping well, nightmares, feeling nauseous, using coffee and sugar to try to regulate my energy levels with limited success, etc. It feels very familiar. So a couple weeks ago I started trying to get health again. I pick up this book 5 days later, and I'm thinking I've had thyroid problems in the past, and the adrenals are what regulate the stress hormones that are involved in fight-or-flight and PTSD. If those aren't worn out after the life I've had, I'd be completely shocked. So I power through the book, take the quizzes, come out with low thyroid and low adrenal functioning (no shocker), and note these recommendations:

Thyroid:
-Get enough sleep and rest
-High fiber, low calorie diet
-No meat or dairy
-Do eat fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, sprouts, avocados, and olives
-Avoid fluorine and chlorine

Adrenals:
-Reduce stress
-Avoid sugar, simple carbs, food additives, chemicals, preservatives, caffeine, alcohol
-Eat complex carbs in small meals
-Don't avoid salt

Besides that these are very similar to the things I did before to get health and feel better, there's a lot of random things that I had no idea was connected to my thyroid or adrenals, like migraines, low blood pressure (mine is so low nurses think I'm the walking dead), noise and temperature sensitivity, trouble waking up in the morning and going to sleep at night. Plus, the vitamins they recommend are a lot of vitamins (and amino acids) recommended by other books I read and have had some success with in the past. It all comes together.

I discussed this development with my therapist, and my personal observation that it takes a lot of effort, time, research, luck, and various types of doctors and other professionals (who need to be open-minded and sympathetic) to try to figure out how to holistically recover from child abuse trauma. Most of the PTSD literature out there mentions child abuse but doesn't really get into how repeated, long-term trauma from primary caregivers during one's formative years and not knowing any other reality presents additional or different challenges to recovery than trauma that happens to you as an adult and is not a condition of your childhood. I have never seen any mention of the adrenals, but it stands to reason that chronic trauma and the stress of child abuse would be expected to burn the crap out of anyone's body relating to stress response. Long-term trauma during childhood causes emotional damage, but what about the damage to one's thinking and physical responses. I have had serious sleep problems for as long as I can remember. This is a physical problems. I have a multitude of physical problems that are generally tied to stress- migraines, digestive issues, panic attacks. (I even wake up with them. I did this morning.)

Not to whine, but it is a pain in the ass to try to compile information on recovering from all the things child abuse does to you. Hell, I was WIRED differently because I grew up this way. I still don't know if it is really possible to rewire myself to be a post-trauma being. I don't know how much of this I can change and how much I will just need to adapt to in a more healthy way. Thinking is probably the most changeable, although it is persistent. What about the way my body developed? What about the stress responses that are baked into me by now. Why the hell isn't there a book about that? A book with the current science, and also other options that go beyond conventional medicine and take a holistic mind, body, and soul approach. If I wrote a book, that's the book I'd want to write.

1 comment:

Morgan MacIntosh said...

Have you spoken to NiankhSekhmet about Acupuncture treatment yet? I think you should. Western medicine seems to focus on the symptoms whereas Chinese Eastern Medicine seems to focus on fixing the problem. For thousands of years Chinese Medicine treated individuals successfully, then Western Doctors come along and completely much things up with their analysis and Freudian concepts which just really confuse the issue. It seems to me the point in Western medicine isn't so much to cure you, but to make as much money off you as possible. I myself have taken many medications for depression and wondered if my western lifestyle was somehow responsible for my pain. Consider that in the Western World, girls hit puberty at a much younger age than they did a century ago. Whole Vitamin D milk seems largely responsible for this as it contains steroids originally given to the cow to make it continue to give milk long after it would have stopped lactating. Girls are developing breasts as early as age 8 now, whereas it used to be 17 years of age. Coincidence? Goat's milk is closer to what human breast milk is, try that. many people who are lactose intolerant can drink goat's milk just fine as goat's milk doesn't come from huge farms, but rather from family owned businesses. Our western diet is slowly killing us and the FDA doesn't give a crap so long as they and their friends make money.