happiness

SIBO sucks

I swore I would be completely honest about this SIBO journey, but damn it was a lot easier to be honest when things were going well. Things are not going well at the present time.

I haven’t really been sleeping well for the last couple of months, and if you know me then you know that sleep is probably the most important thing I do to look after myself. If I’m not rested I can’t function. And in the last couple of weeks my sleep has been getting sooooo much worse. The last few nights have been maybe an hour or two of shut eye – and not very good rests even during those puny amounts.

I’m a disaster.

I’ve talked with my naturopath and we agreed it was likely that some of my anxiety was seeking attention – because I also had started feeling more and more anxious – something that always happens when I’m not getting enough sleep. However, in the last few days I noticed some of the body aches were back, my head is throbbing, and I basically just felt really unwell.

It’s the SIBO. Something I’ve been eating has to be aggravating it. Which in turn aggravates me because my diet has been SO restricted. So, while I was lying in bed last night at 3am cursing up a storm about how I was never going to sleep again I decided to go back to the basics. For me that means my “hamburger soup” which is essentially ground beef, tomato paste, beef bone broth, and kale made in the instant pot. Yum. But when get discouraged I tell myself that there are literally millions (maybe billions) of people who would love to eat what I’m eating so I shut my mouth and remember to be grateful.

Another thing I am super grateful for is our local butcher shop in Cochrane “The Butchery Block” because that is the place where I have been sourcing all of my beef. I’ve found most grocery store meat makes me feel nauseous, but their stuff is fantastic – it’s like how I remember beef tasting when I was a kid. They know where they get it from (a ranch in southern Alberta) and their prices are pretty decent. I’m really grateful for that little shop.

Further, this time I’m grateful I didn’t just chalk all these symptoms down to mental health issues. SIBO makes me anxious, it bring up trauma like feelings, and leaves me exhausted. But it doesn’t mean that I’m failing at caring for my mental health, it means that there are some physical issues that need to be addressed. I mean, Im always working at my mental health – but sometimes there are physical issues that can be the source of mental health like symptoms, and I think it’s very important that we remember that.

Fingers crossed that things start to get better over the next couple of days while I enjoy my hamburger soup!

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happiness

SIBO and Anxiety

I have always been an anxious sort. I was a kid in the ‘70s and anxiety wasn’t really a thing back then – or if it was I certainly didn’t know about it. I just felt like I was always afraid of doing things – and then pushed myself as hard as I possibly could to prove to myself and the world that I wasn’t a total chicken.

But while I struggled, I didn’t really encounter debilitating anxiety until the beginning of 2007 when I discovered that my husband had been cheating (I found his online dating profile – actually I found the bill while going through our visa and then found the profile). I didn’t handle it well. If I could go back in time that’s the moment I would have walked out of the marriage. It would have saved me and the kids years of trauma and pain. But I didn’t – maybe I didn’t know how to. He dismissed it as nothing and blamed me for overreacting, and we were getting ready to move from Quebec to the States. So I put my feelings on the back burner and carried on.

SIBO can be caused by many things: antibiotics, low stomach acid, food poisoning – but also stress, anxiety and trauma. So being someone who has a history of pushing my feelings waaaay down deep really came back to kick me in the butt (or the small intestine in this case).

I went through the last years of my marriage often barely able to function because of the anxiety I was struggling with (which was also PTSD and trauma – it all kind of got mixed in together). Some days were better, some were terrible. I was not living an authentic life at all, in fact I had become completely disconnected from myself. I used to say that my superpower was my ability to disassociate completely from my body and my life as it was the only way I could handle my marriage. Unfortunately it’s a pretty shitty superpower to have and one that is taking me a long time to retrain myself from.

After I left my marriage, I still battled my anxiety (and trauma) demons on a constant basis. But I didn’t just dance away from an abusive relationship. I returned home to help care for both of my parents as they were dying, I almost lost both of my children to their own traumas, and I found myself in a very nasty divorce situation. So I continued to have reason to feel anxious to say the least.

Then I started studying psychology and slowly I felt my understand of myself beginning to change. I learned that there were ways to train my brain to think differently, and that I could change my perception of who I was. I began working diligently on my mental health and really saw some huge changes.

But that damn anxiety would just pop up out of nowhere. I would work and work, see massive improvements, and then BAM out of nowhere I would literally become debilitated by my anxiety. And for no reason. Nothing had to trigger me, I could be sitting at home happily watching a show on tv, out with friends laughing, or driving down the road singing along with some music. It left me feeling really frustrated. What was the point in working so hard on myself if this anxiety was just going to keep popping up and interfering in my ability to function?

Last summer (2021), I noticed that my joints became much more painful when I ate anything with gluten in it. At that time I had no idea that pretty much everything I liked had gluten in it. I cut out the obvious; bread, pasta, that kind of thing. Then I had sushi and got sick – so the discovery was made that of course gluten is in soy sauce. I slowly learned how to better avoid gluten and started feeling a bit better. I was still anxious, but the joint pain lessening made life a lot easier.

Then around Christmas time (2021) I discovered that certain foods I was eating gave me anxiety. Dairy was a big one (sob), but also weird things like mustard or anything with garlic in it. So I started cutting all of that out too. Essentially I was living on oatmeal, rice, chicken, ghee, and zucchini. Bleh. Still random bouts of anxiety, but not as bad.

So when I went to the naturopath and explained to him how I was feeling after eating certain foods he tested and diagnosed me with SIBO. Holy crap. What a revelation! So my constant battle with anxiety wasn’t just shitty mental health, it was a physical reaction to a physical issue (plus my regular anxiety).

It has been an up and down journey these last 5 months. But in general my anxiety is decreasing all the time. I’m still on a super restricted diet – but nothing like the one I was on before I started with my naturopath. Hardly any carbs, no grains, no dairy, no sugar. Lots of meat and certain vegetables, and egg yolks. Along with all my supplements. Not the most exciting diet, but I’m seeing so much improvement that it’s absolutely worth any sacrifice. Plus the hope is that it’s short term and eventually I’ll be able to enjoy a larger variety of foods.

I went to see my naturopath about a month ago in tears. After a few weeks of much lessened anxiety I was really struggling again. I was really mad at my SIBO, and then even madder at my naturopath when he suggested that we needed to address my trauma so that we could help my body heal. Who wants to hear that? I didn’t want to go there at all. But he was right (he’s been right about everything so far). I’d described to him how when these feelings of intense anxiety bubble up in me from nowhere it reminds me of how afraid I was those last few years in my marriage – where the kids and I lived in constant fear that he’d make good on his threats. And how that would just push me right out of myself. I was really mad at the SIBO for making me feel that way and that’s when the naturopath gently suggested we address some of the trauma. And he was so right.

I’m still on some SIBO stuff. I’m taking iberogast (which some days I swear is nastier than the Tincture of Death, but it’s effective, Allimax, bio-break nasal spray, ashwagandha, and turmeric. But I’m also taking mimulus and oak flower remedy, and gaba-t sap. I noticed a huge change with the gaba I can feel the stress seeping out of my brain after I take it.

It’s funny. I have spent so long really resenting this SIBO condition – even before I knew I had it and could put a name to it I resented it. But in some really weird way it’s a gift. It has forced me to stop and address some really big issues. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life walking around anxious, scared, traumatized and angry. And I now realize that unless I seriously follow this new way of being that I will not only be all of those things but also so freaking sick with SIBO: all the brain fog, upset stomach, bloating, depression, anxiety, joint pain, and whatever else it brings. So I am grateful that I have the opportunity to really dig deep and change some fundamental things about myself and how I see the world.

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happiness

Being authentic

I’ve been really struggling over the last week as to whether or not I should take a blogging break. I’ve found a moment of happiness every day for almost 3 and a half years – even when dad died, when I got divorced, when he left us without money, when we have struggled, when mom died.

But right now I just don’t want to. I feel like I’m not being authentic talking about a trivial moment of happiness in days that are by far the worst I’ve experienced. And I can’t talk about that, so I can’t share the sad or the happy moments.

For right now I’m craving quiet. I don’t want the noise of social media. I need time to try and reconnect with a God I’m not sure I believe in at the moment. At the very least I feel abandoned by him. Don’t bother sending bible verses – I need action and miracles, I’ve lived on words and promises for long enough.

I know this too shall pass. I’m not sure how or when but it will. My plan is to take a break until the weekend is over and then reassess where things are at.

What I will say is that recovering from trauma is fucking hard and it’s taking every ounce of strength I have to pull my kids through this.

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happiness

Letting the mind chatter go

I met with one of my amazing healers today. What I love about these sessions is I never know what is going to happen, it has taught me to let go of any agenda and just let what is supposed to happen happen. It’s a good lesson for me to have in the rest of my life as well. Things usually go so much better when I relax and allow instead of trying to force things to go the way I think they should.

CST does some amazing stuff to my nervous system and it helps release a lot of trauma and other yucky things that are stuck in there. Today I had a few instances where I would have a huge rush of very loud mind chatter, then a flash of a bright image, then my body would twitch and jump, then my mind would go completely quiet. The weird thing is each time after I had no recollection at all as to what the chatter or the images were. It was like my body was bringing up feelings, ideas, or events that it was ready to let go of and in a huge surge of energy would just purge them from my body.

So weird and so cool.

Happiness is having this supportive group of healers in my life, happiness is being open to healing and growing -that part took me a long time to open up to.

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happiness

A quiet spot

For the first time in ages we didn’t have anything to do this evening and enjoyed a quiet family night at home. It was kind of nice for the three of us to relax and just visit with each other. The kids have expressed (to my dismay) how stressed they are feeling because of the nonpayments from Mr. X. We talked about it a bit tonight and I assured them (as my mom has assured me when I have had my own meltdowns) that we are safe, we are loved, we are cared for – whatever he chooses to do or not do is on him, but our lives will go on. I think they feel a bit more secure, I know I feel a lot better knowing there are people here who love and care for us.

Happiness is found in all kinds of moments. I have to choose how I am going to handle this present situation – I am making it my mission that we will come through this stronger, more loving, and happier than before.

I don’t know what I would do without my family – my kids, my mom, my sister, and my extended family. I can’t imagine how we would have ever done this if things had fallen apart while we were away and I’m so grateful that God brought us back to our tribe. In a dark storm, that is a bright rainbow of happiness with a pot of gold at the end.

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happiness

Dad’s ice cream

I have had some significant challenges presented to me courtesy of Mr. X in the last week or so, and have had to spend some time figuring out how to deal with them. It’s essentially been the culmination of my greatest fears, and now I have to decide how I am going to proceed.

I want to scream, hide in fear, cry, and yell about the injustices. But, I have realized a few things: he does not care, he becomes happier knowing he causes me pain, my pain does nothing to aid my healing, and one last thing that I read about today:

There are but two directions you can take, while time remains and choice is meaningful. For never will another road be made except the way to Heaven. You but choose whether to go toward Heaven, or away to nowhere. There is nowhere else to choose. (A course in miracles)

I continue to work hard on the forgiveness, faith, and healing stuff. And I have massive challenges thrown in my path that force me to chose which road I want to take. For a long time I wanted to take the road to God, but was so fearful, angry, and lost that I would fall off the path. But, it’s true – there are only two choices – either I chose to continue to heal and learn to forgive, or I don’t.

So, I’m going to walk ahead in faith.

This is how I walked towards Heaven today:

I thanked God for my mom who without a word stepped up, stepped in, and helped me

I read

I prayed

I meditated

I talked with girlfriends in my tribe

I hung with Drishti

I thanked God we are here and safe

I ate Dad’s ice cream

Dad used to make us his favourite dessert when he was alive – it’s one of my yummy childhood memories. I’m stuck between Dad’s ice cream and Grandma’s cinnamon toast for happy comfort food memories. Dad would take vanilla ice cream, put on real maple syrup, and then add some salted peanuts – fancy right? But, like the cinnamon toast the magic was in the simplicity and the love that was behind the treat.

And I sat with the feelings of insecurity and fear I am experiencing. Then I looked around. We are all safe, we are home, my daughter is playing with her cousin, my son is running around in his Chewbacca onesie laughing, I have them, I have my family and friends, I have Drishti, and I have developed this entirely different relationship with God.  All of that is happiness. Real happiness that comes from within, that comes from the Divine.

And it’s springtime in Alberta which reminds me that there are possibilities of new beginnings, new ways of doing things, and that miracles happen all around us.

This is one of my Dad’s photos from the year before he died of our “springtime flower”.

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happiness

healing from the concussion

It’s a long road for this poor girl and her concussion. I’ve been so impressed though at how well she seems to know what is best for her body, and how she’s honouring that. As the child who never wants to be left out of anything, and the one who is always trying to get us outside to play, it’s been interesting to watch how she is just wanting to rest. She seems very aware of what she needs and how to best look after herself. She has mentioned that she does not want to do anything that turns her brain on, and has been pretty content to just lie around in the dark or, lately as she’s been feeling a bit better, get up and draw or paint quietly.

My awesome massage therapist also does cranial sacral therapy, and he mentioned that often there was some success seen with healing concussions from this work. He shuffled things around for us and got Jenna an appointment today. She was a little anxious about going – she’s never even had a regular massage and didn’t know what to expect – but went because I kept telling her how awesome it was going to be.

It was awesome for her. She said it felt like it took a bunch of pressure and stress off of her brain. She’s been smiling and although quiet, much more like my regular Jenna than the quiet, pained girl of the past 10 days.

I am so grateful for the community of healers who have surrounded my family. The support and resources are amazing and it humbles me that we are blessed in this way. It brings gratitude and great happiness. Extra happiness as I am finally starting to have hope that my girl will be well enough to enjoy the Christmas season – her favourite time of the year.

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