I’ve been seeing a holistic doctor, masquerading as a chiropractor…

I guess that’s what you have to call yourself in a small town, if you don’t want to scare away all your business.  You can imagine my surprise when she began to align my chakras instead of my spine.  

My decision to see this particular chiropractor was made after reading the book Brain Maker by David Perlmutter, MD.  (You can purchase it, and read reviews here.)  Actually, we listened to it in the car on a family road trip this summer.  I know what you’re thinking, “How fun for the kids!”  They were thrilled!  (insert sarcastic tone)  At least I was thrilled we listened to it.  It convinced me, the next step in improving my health was taking a probiotic.  (This is the one I’m taking.) (This one is worth trying.)  Having attempted to navigate the probiotic world before, I knew the vast array of choices would lead to confusion and ultimately giving up my search.  When I heard there was a doctor so close, in my very own tiny and extremely rural community, with similar ideas about nutrition, seemingly recommending supplements; I called for an appointment.

I must admit, I was expecting to walk in, get an adjustment, and walk out with a bottle of probiotics.  In reality, while she did spend some time adjusting my joints, she also focused some time ”balancing” my chakras and working on my emotional health.  This was quite a leap for me, being so deeply rooted in traditional medicine.  Sometimes it was hard not to laugh (or at least smile).  Like the time she told me that I needed to ditch my sunglasses for the sake of letting light into my third eye.   More than once, I left her office with all the make-up cried off my face.  She couldn’t have asked me to do anything more uncomfortable than discussing my emotions.  My mammogram appointment was looking like a day at the spa in comparison.  Though I decided, that if I was going to give it a go, I was going to go all-in.  I put my favorite sunglasses away (Okay.  Coincidentally I lost them, but I would have put them away, if I knew where they were.), and I stopped myself from cancelling appointments when I knew I would have to talk about my feelings.

In the end, my trust and effort weren’t misplaced.  I have learned a lot about myself and my health.  Given the choice, I would much rather be on this side of my health journey than before I stepped in her office.  My greatest “Ah-Ha”s follow. 

Yin and Yang

Those words seem appropriate when describing the need for balance, between western and eastern medicine.  I have sat across from many medical doctors that have basically told me, I have no control over my health.  In their words, I may make choices that could “modulate” my symptoms, but certainly not cure or change the course of my illness.  What a breath of  fresh air it was then, to sit across from a doctor telling me that EVERYTHING I do changes the course of my health, for better or worse.  How refreshing to hear that, in her opinion, all my efforts in diet, exercise and eliminating toxins were not fruitless.  

On the other hand, I couldn’t entirely turn my back on modern medicine either.  It turns out, photosensitivity in autoimmune disease is very much a real issue.  I guess my third eye wanted to see a little less light after all.  I have the rashes and migraines to prove it.  Listening to my MD would have saved me the trouble of learning the hard way, more than once.  

I am grateful for all the advanced testing my MDs have done, that help them slow the progress of my symptoms and prepare for the future.  However, I will refuse to believe that I have no control over my health, and all my answers can be found at the pharmacy counter, in a handful of pills.  I will believe, right or wrong (though I think I’m right), that what I put in my body and how I treat it have at least as much to say about my health as my bloodwork.

Don’t Be Afraid to Cry it Out

Both eastern and western medicine have told me that stress is terrible for your health.  They told me this.  What I heard when they told me this was, “You’re too weak, because you don’t know how to deal with stress.”  “You’re not really sick.  You’re just stressed.”  My choice instead, to say stress had no place in my life.  I wasn’t being fake, but I wasn’t ready to be self-reflective either.  

I kept the same practice for my emotional trials as well.  Don’t get me wrong here.  I have much more to be grateful for than I ever thought possible, and I experience sincere happiness every day.  I have a joyful life.  That doesn’t mean I’ve never had problems.  I focused all my energy on being positive, refusing to even acknowledge the negative, let alone give it any lip service.  Rationally, I knew that denying these problems exist doesn’t make them go away, but that practice was so deeply woven into my character, that I refused to do anything else.

I’ve learned, through experience (I usually have to learn the hard way more than once), that mental and emotional stress can cause physical illness.  Denying their existence, refusing to talk about them, doesn’t actually make them go away.  I’m beginning to see it like the law of conservation of matter – matter is neither created or destroyed.  So it is with stress, sadness, grief, fear, anger, resentment, shame, embarrassment…you name it. Acknowledging it doesn’t have to mean it consumes you.  It can be just the opposite.  For me, acknowledging the emotional and mental stresses has begun to free me of them.  It didn’t make them go away.  They will always be there, but now they aren’t hiding in the dark corners of shame and embarrassment.  They are somewhere useful.  Hopefully making me stronger and eventually helping others do the same.  I’m not completely free of my old demons, and new will certainly arise.  I am trying though, to be a positive person who also acknowledges all the aspects of her life.  I am trying to deal with them in the moment, rather than let them fester into giant, gaping wounds that take years to heal.  I am trying to trust more and deny less – to not be afraid, ashamed or embarrassed to tell others these bits of matter that can never be destroyed, if they want to listen.  I even took a moment the other day, to go sit on my bed and cry it out, and I think it helped.

All this I learned in a modest, pseudo-chiropractor’s office, in a tiny, rural town, on my way to get probiotics.  I’m so grateful I did.