The arrogance of the healthy

I had stage zero breast cancer in 2014. Because it was “high grade” and for other reasons that indicated a higher chance of recurrence, I chose to have radiation treatment. In fact, my acupuncturist and an energy healer, both women whom I trust deeply, encouraged me to do the prevention treatments and assured me they would help me through it. As they did.

Once you’ve had cancer, doctors have the tendency to be hyper vigilant. After an odd ultrasound, I had a uterine biopsy that was turned out to be benign, but was still very frightening.

I was at a radio interview with one of my clients telling her about the biopsy, when she turned to me and said “Maybe it’s time to change what you eat.” In addition to the blaming nature of her statement, what seemed particularly ironic was at the time she was drinking a large mochaccino with whipped crime in a styrofoam cup. I can’t even tell you how many carcinogens that contained!

The recent internet storm over Marianne Williamson’s remarks regarding new recommendations for screening for post-partum depression (PPD) reminded me of this incident, and many others that happened when I got cancer. There is an arrogance among those that are healthy, and have never known a debilitating illness like depression or cancer.  What makes it worse is I know that before I got cancer, I shared this arrogance.  I believed my healthy lifestyle, my reliance on a 12-step program and other things “protected” me from things like cancer. And people who got it were not processing their emotions correctly, weren’t detoxing their bodies, or a bunch of other reasons that were really just thinly veiled episodes of denial. No one can control who gets cancer, or depression or any other illness. Little kids get these things. They haven’t even learned how to be dysfunctional yet!

I’m sure I said all kinds of stupid things to people before I got sick. But I didn’t have a huge platform like Ms. Williamson, thank god. She is simply spewing nonsense, in my opinion and the opinion of many others who actually know something about PPD.

Now I know that opinions like Ms. Williamson’s and comments like my client’s are nothing less than denial and in many cases arrogance. Meditation and energy therapy helped me handle the side effects of my treatment.  But based on some of the finest minds in medical and complementary healing therapies, radiation was the best choice for me. Some people can treat their depression with exercise and meditation. But for many (and until you experience real depression, you can’t judge this) medication literally saves their lives.

Ms. Williamson is lucky not to know someone whose life would be threatened without medication. Otherwise she would not make such dangerous statements.  My client, despite her intense love of colonics and her supposed perfect diet, is just lucky. Children get cancer. Teenagers in loving families get depression. We could get any sort of life-threatening illness at any time. We must get over ourselves and stop judging people for being sick. It’s just a way to pretend like we will never get it. Which in my case, didn’t work.

Consciousness

consciousnesscon·scious·ness
ˈkän(t)SHəsnəs/
noun
the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.
“she failed to regain consciousness and died two days later”
the awareness or perception of something by a person.
plural noun: consciousnesses
“her acute consciousness of Mike’s presence”
the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world.
“consciousness emerges from the operations of the brain”

Harvard Study Shows Resilience Reduces Healthcare Costs

If you’re a trauma survivor like me, you may be tired of hearing how grateful you should be for resilience. It’s true that we’ve had to develop this life skill (although I would call it a characteristic but that’s just semantics) more so than most people. A new study from Harvard Medical School shows that resilience may not only be helpful for healing from the damaging effects of trauma. It may also reduce our healthcare costs in the future. Here’s the first part of the article and a jump to the rest for your convenience. Enjoy!

resilienceStress-busting mind-body medicine reduces need for health care

This week, researchers at Harvard reported a potent way to keep the doctor away. And it isn’t an apple a day or a new drug — it’s a life skill called resilience. It’s the adult equivalent of crashing into a hedge during your first bike ride without training wheels, shaking the leaves and dirt from your hair, and thinking, “Okay, that wasn’t too bad. Let me try that again.”

People tend to think resilience is something that lucky people have and unhappy people lack, but that’s not true. It’s a skill you can learn. Anyone can strengthen their resilience with practice, starting with the relaxation response — a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as rhythmic breathing, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, or prayer. The relaxation response was first described more than 40 years ago by Dr. Herbert Benson, founder and director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Read the rest of this article here. 

The Honest Guys

I do a lot of guided meditation primarily because my brain is always way too busy. I need help to control it into a meditative state. Maybe that means I’m weak but who cares. This works for me. One of the best YouTube channels I’ve found for guided meditation are The Honest Guys. No clue who they are, but I like the British accent and they do a great job on their voiceover. Here’s one of my favorite ones. Enjoy!

Grief is a wild animal

I don’t think there is any linear progression to grief. For me, it’s like a wild animal living inside of me. Sometimes it’s asleep, at other times just growling. And then it wakes up and feels like it’s going to tear me apart with its sharp teeth and claws.

What is giving?

I’ve written about my narcissistic mother before and how difficult she could be.

My mother died on January 8 this year from lung cancer. She could have treated it but refused, insisting that the “Lord” would heal her. That was her choice of course, but it was a choice that created a lot of tension and caretaking on my part.

It’s an interesting thing to take care of someone who feels no gratitude for your efforts and, as I found out later when my sister discovered my mother’s journals, considers you the enemy. Not only was my mother narcissistic it turns out she also had a strong persecutory delusional disorder and believed pretty much anyone that tried to help her, was out to get her.

Although I got frustrated at times, the strange thing was I did not and do not resent my mother. She was mentally ill and therefore tortured both emotionally and physically, especially in the last six months. Mental illness runs in my family and she was also terribly abused as a child. I can only imagine how awful it must have been to be inside her mind all those years and I hope she is happy on the other side and resting from this terrible lifetime.

Here’s the thing. Continue reading