Category Archives: neck locked up

June 15, 2010 The Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) and Allergies, Food Intolerances, and Stress-related Illness

Hi everyone.  I hope you are enjoying the summer!  I am.  I am thoroughly enjoying the warmth that is finally here.  I am not going to complain about the heat and humidity here in the midwestern United States. That’s right, I am located in the midwest and as I get older I had been longing to move south… but no longer!  I realize that although it is colder than I like for 5 months out of the year (November through March) it is pretty wonderful the rest of the time.   And the holidays are more enjoyable now that I am free from the toxicity of our Families of Origin (FOOs), so it isn’t until mid January that the weather gets kind of unbearable for me.  Last year a trip for 1 week to the Florida Keys in mid February did the trick!  One week out of the year made the entire rest of the year look so much better. Going somewhere warm in February every year is now officially a must!

Now that I am a happier person and able to be in the moment and appreciate being alive on the planet, I am able to see the beauty in my life as it is.  When my mother would visit me she would point out all the negatives about my life, the way I decorate, the paint colors I chose, why did I do it “that” way… Ugh!  I was so used to this point of view, I didn’t realize I was always seeing things through her eyes.  I now know she was jealous and all those things weren’t true.  I have the most beautiful backyard with a pond and trees and privacy.  I used to have allergies so I couldn’t enjoy being outdoors so I didn’t appreciate it (remembering now it was the reason we bought this lot in the first place.)  My mother never noticed or commented on my backyard so I didn’t feel like it was special.  But it is very special and it recharges me on a daily basis!  I am so happy that I am able to see things with a whole new perspective now.

How did I get rid of my allergies you might be wondering?  I was treated by a holistic doctor who specializes in energy medicine and in a technique called Nambrudipad’s Allergy Elimination Treatment (NAET).  It is very New Agey and it is hard to describe it to you, but it WORKS and my husband and daughter were also treated.  (Google it for more info.–it works similarly to accupressure and has to do with energy blockages in the body).  We all used to take claritin and sudafed year round and now we don’t take anything at all and can enjoy the outdoors.  My husband used to be lactose intolerant and now can eat dairy with no problems. It is really amazing.  I heard about this doctor from the wonderful folks at my local health food store.  I highly recommend a trip to your local health food store for a wealth of valuable and helpful information if you are having health problems–my life is completely changed because of support from these people (I have found it is often fellow HSPs who work there).  I didn’t even realize how much my health had improved until I was talking to my NEW chiropractor, who uses a gentler and massage-type method of  alignment rather than “jerking” my spine back into shape.  Anyway, when I was talking to her I realized that I “used” to have so many health problems and they have almost all gradually been or are being resolved.

Here is a list of the health problems:  Spinal misalignment due to stress (my neck was locked up for 15 years which seriously affected my immune system and my ability to sing–all of which I was completely unaware of because  there was no pain just poor posture), Chronic Fatigue, Ovarian Cysts, Chronic systemic Candidiasis, Symptoms of low thyroid (I felt cold all the time), Severe PMS with low back pain and severe fatigue for 2 days at every Ovulation, Fibrocystic Breast Disease,  Multiple Food Allergies with intestinal symptoms, occasional Migraine headaches, and Seasonal Allergies to early tree pollen that left me so fatigued in early spring that I was taking 3 hour naps daily!  All of these things were like a vicious cycle because you just can’t get done what you need to get done and so you are constantly beating yourself up mentally saying to yourself,  “What’s WRONG with me?”

What was wrong with me?  Nothing!  I am a highly sensitive person and so I must treat myself more gently!…Not change myself to be more tough as my mother would have liked but to change my expectations of myself to meet the special circumstances of my being.  I am sensitive for a reason! Don’t compare yourself to everyone around you!

A “specific carbohydrate” diet was the first step to wellness for me and this is how I found it:  Back before I was the least bit spiritual, I can remember throwing a coin in a wishing well at the mall and asking sincerely for the answers to my health problems that had crept up on me slowly and were now dragging me down–I felt like I was constantly swimming upstream and getting nowhere.  Within a week my wish (or prayer) was answered and I was drawn to buy a local magazine  that I never ever read.  Inside was an article on the exact symptoms I was having:  fatigue, intestinal problems, and bloating.  The diagnosis was Gluten Intolerance and the cure was to remove gluten from my diet–grain in the form of wheat, oats, barley, and rye!  I was very excited to figure this out!  Where most people would have been devastated to give up pizza, bread, and at that point what seemed like everything good, I was ecstatic to have found what I hoped was the answer to why I  was sick all the time!  I was so sick of being sick!  I also felt my prayers had been answered and so was feeling very loved and blessed by…could this be that God really existed and cared about me after all?  Yes, I believe it was so…because I’ll never forget that first day of removing gluten from my diet on September 25, 1995–I did not need to take a long nap as usual and felt like a new person with a new-found energy and a relief from the fatigue!  Hallelujah! 

I had known since 1992 that I had multiple food allergies (eggs, rice, milk and dairy, sugar, and yeast)  but with guidance from my friendly folks at the health food store, I found out that the gluten causes the initial damage that causes all the other food sensitivities.  The book Breaking The Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall was a godsend as well because it provided a “specific carbohydrate” diet that heals and repairs your digestive tract so that after a period of time you heal your other food sensitivities so the only thing you need to eliminate from your diet is gluten. ( I can provide more information on how this diet works at your request.  Please just ask.)  

Gluten Intolerance is now much more widely diagnosed and talked about than it was in 1995 with many more prepared food choices available and whole Gluten Free sections available at grocery stores now. (Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View has it, talks about it and even wrote a book about it).  Gluten Intolerance has completely different effects on different people and has a range  of  severity.  Most severe is the genetic Celiac Disease  (or sometimes called Celiac Sprue ) where even a spec of gluten can cause an immune system reaction of extreme fatigue, diarrhea and blood in the stools,  and a stomach ache until the digestive tract heals again. This happens because of genetic inability to digest the protein called gluten and the body reacts to the offending grain as if is a poison.  Occasional cheating is forbidden because you may be producing scar tissue that will make the digestive tract unable to heal even the other food allergies and you may be left irreparably  unable to digest many foods at all and with a condition called malabsorption which can lead to extreme weight loss and even death.  So this condition should not be taken lightly.

But most people probably have a milder form of gluten intolerance that develops as we age and encounter stress in life like parenting small children and balancing work and home.  Studies show that 40% of women over 40 may be sensitive to gluten and not know it.  I believe that, if you are a highly sensitive person and over 40, you should definitely try avoiding gluten if you are having intestinal irregularities such as alternating constipation and diarrhea and/or unexplained fatigue and bloating.  The improvement to the quality of your life could be phenomenal.  And if you are like me,  feeling good again is worth the sacrifice… after all it is just food!  Food is supposed to be fuel for the body–why put something in your engine that makes it run so poorly!  It takes 2 weeks on the Elaine Gotschall “specific carbohydrate” diet (meats,   fruits, vegetables, nuts, and some cheeses–no limit on quantity) to get the carb cravings out of your system and then you are home free and no longer even want any carbs or sugar.  You feel so healthy and fruits and vegetables taste so much better like your taste buds come alive. Finally you can concentrate and get things done!   And I lost 25 pounds being on the diet for 4 months.

For 11 years my daughter and I ate completely gluten-free (but not carb-free) and I never knew if I was Celiac or not but had to avoid every spec of gluten because I would get symptoms if I accidentally ate some–I did think that both of us were Celiac.  One and 1/2 years ago though when I was first treated by my new holistic doctor with the NAET Technique, he treated us both for gluten “allergy”.  I was skeptical from what I had read online and my doctor admittedly said he knew very little about Celiac Disease.  Online I had read that NAET cannot treat Celiac Disease and is for people who have a gluten allergy only.  I was very nervous about my daughter eating gluten again since she had stopped eating all gluten in 1997 at age 7 with a complete recovery from ill-health and fatigue and intestinal symptoms (although different from my symptoms).  I insisted on a blood test be done for her to rule out Celiac Disease, and sure enough she tested negative for it and since then has been eating gluten with no trouble ever since.  I have heard that there can be a remission of sorts for Celiac in the teenage years and that she can temporarily be without symptoms only for them to return later in life when stress enters her life.  She is 20 and is also a highly sensitive person and is on the lookout for symptoms recurring but so far she is fine.  I on the other hand waited a year after NAET to even try gluten again and the few times I tried, each time, I felt a stress on my immune system and ended up getting an upper respiratory virus.  However, I was in the throws of Adrenal Fatigue at the time so once I completely heal from my Adrenal Fatigue, which I am determined to do, after a blood test I am going to try eating gluten occasionally now and then.  But for now I avoid it except in small hidden quantities and I feel great.

My Adrenal Fatigue condition has greatly improved  by taking many vitamin and adrenal supplements and hormonal replacements that were depleted by stress over the years (especially the no-win situation of being unappreciated and manipulated and stressed by a Narcissistic (N)  mother).  This holistic doctor who did the NAET treatments also ordered saliva testing for my hormones and the results showed that I was low in DHEA, Testosterone, and Progesterone  for which I administer cream supplements daily from a pharmacy that specializes in bio-identical hormones (all arranged through my holistic doctor). I also take a special iodine supplement for low thyroid symptoms (feeling cold all the time and especially hands and feet and fibrocystic breast soreness and swelling monthly–all so much improved I actually forgot I used to have these symptoms!).  I also take an adrenal rebuilder, and something called Cortico-B5 and B6  because the saliva testing showed I had high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the evenings.

I have been on this Adrenal Fatigue Treatment plan since January 2009 and all along I did not feel much different because the healing is so gradual.  But compared to January 2009 when I had so much exhaustion I could not exercise at all without extreme fatigue the following few days, I now realize I am 10 times better health-wise! I still do struggle with some things like:   my sugar and yeast allergies keep coming back when I am under stress and I go back for more NAET treatments on these 2 allergies only.  I still pick up viruses easily because my immune system still is not as strong as it should be yet, and I still have some mild PMS symptoms.  I still cannot exercise to the extent that I would like to and must continue to take it easy.  To keep my weight under control I eat only specific carbs Monday through Friday but then I can eat whatever I want except gluten on the weekends which is awesome and gives me a fun weekend to look forward to. (At 5’10″ I stay around 140 lbs.)  With these adjustments, I am feeling great and on the road to complete recovery!

I feel better now at 48 than I did in my 20′s!  Part of it of course is also the following:   believing in and learning to love my self, avoiding stress and negative or toxic people, ignoring the “should” requirements of others and listening to my own heart and desires instead, expressing my truth in journaling and then discovering my gifts of writing, songwriting, and empathic coaching skills for helping others,  being able to be in the moment and learning to relax, unblocking my creativity, believing in and being grateful for God and the magic of the Universe and the Law of Attraction, believing that being highly sensitive is an asset and a gift and that it is only a liability in the eyes of others who are judgmental,  and narcissistic (and although they are entitled to their opinion and way of life, are people I choose not to be around for the sake of my health).

Who knows?  When I get even stronger and even healthier, I may be strong enough to be around even the most negative people because I know how to release the negativity and recharge by getting time alone and through the elements of nature, and to ask for guidance from above.  I feel I am living proof that God really does answer prayers. 

For more information on the health issues mentioned above, please see Christiane Northrup’s book entitled Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom.  It was this book that I first heard about the NAET Technique and Adrenal  Fatigue and actually many of my health problems.  In a future post I will write about how I made my Ovarian Cysts disappear to the amazement of my Ob.Gyn. (and myself!) with the knowledge I gained from this book and Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life.

Writing all this has made me realize how amazing it is that I have recovered so much in so many ways.  I also have overcome many compulsions (shopping and overspending, hoarding certain items, organizing and cleaning,) perfectionism, procrastination, and basically the inability to enjoy my life.  I no longer feel “compelled” to do any of these things.  Yay!  Until I wrote these things down to share with you, I really did not realize how my life has unfolded for the better in so many ways.  Thanks for reading. I will be writing more about how I overcame  these issues mentioned above if there is interest so please let me know.  I hope I have inspired you that there is always hope and you can heal your life too–one step at a time.  Just keep believing and knowing that as a highly sensitive person you are sensitive for a reason and that even the most difficult obstacles can be overcome!  You can do it!  I care and I am here for you.

Love, Elaine

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Feb. 12, 2010 Overcoming the Guilt From Standing Up To a Narcissitic Parent

Hi everyone.  I have some great news.  I went to my chiropractor and for the first time in a long time my neck is not locked up!  He said, “something is different!”  and was really surprised.  I’m thrilled but I am not surprised.  I knew that stopping contact with my family of origin (FOO) and the no-win situation it provided me with would improve my health.  But I am a little surprised at the guilt that is hanging around me again.  Yeah, that old black cloud is back but I am trying to ignore it.  I’m sure that ignoring it is the right thing to do.  Narcissistic mothers are masters at inducing guilt if it works and being a highly sensitive child, it worked on me.  See, I tried this whole no contact thing with my family before. At the age of 23, my mother seduced my husband and I to move back to my hometown–we had moved many states away after college and my mother was being so nice!  Plus, we had both gotten some counseling, and both feeling really confident in ourselves, naively thought we could handle anything and really wanted a good relationship with my parents.

I thought it would work!  It didn’t.  As soon as we signed the papers buying the house nearby my parents, my mother changed back. And the negativity began.  I didn’t know what hit me.  Every time I was around her I ended up feeling like I’d been run over by a steamroller.  I found a counselor to talk to in the town and after a few visits she told me for my health I need to move away from there.  Long story short, we had lived there a total of a year and a half until my husband found a new job and I sent her a letter.  It was a carefully written letter saying I loved them but I needed time and space.

In that moment I went from being the Golden Child to the Scapegoat.   And I didn’t really address what she had done to upset me–you can’t ever accuse a person with narcissistic personality disorder anyway without getting your words twisted against you.  At that time in my life I couldn’t really stand up for myself and say exactly, “you did this and this and this” anyway. (Now I know that being back there I was constantly triggered to feel my unresolved childhood pain.) But, I knew my counselor’s advice made a lot of sense and my husband agreed it had been a mistake.  So we packed up and moved to another state with our wonderful baby one year old who was the joy of our lives.  We hadn’t even sold the house yet and were living in a tiny apartment.  But we didn’t care.  We were happy and together and free.  It took about 5 months for the house to sell and then we were literally home free.  I remember it was an exhilarating time but I also remember the guilt started to creep up on us both.  For a couple years though, I have wonderful memories of us in that tiny apartment and the new friends we made that understood why we left and were very supportive.  The guilt started happening when I’d see people my parents age or if I’d be friendly to a stranger and think I am being nicer to them than I am my own parents.  If I only knew then what I know now I wouldn’t have let myself feel guilty about that.

It had been a few years with no contact and my two brothers had visited me with little judgement on their parts back then (times have changed) so everything was all right.  But this nagging guilt was causing me some anxiety so I sought out a counselor.  The wrong counselor!  He was good at some things so, not trusting my instincts, I trusted him and he convinced my husband and I that we had “thrown the baby out with the bath water”.  Boy was he wrong–he had no compassion or knowledge about how important it is to detach from parents with narcissistic personality disorder in order to fully heal.

Anyway, feeling no support for my pain and just more added guilt I called my mother and we reconnected.  What I felt as a relief from my guilt I now realize was the loss of living my truth and I lost a piece of myself that I now have regained finally at this new decision for no contact!  I am no longer living a lie and it feels so good!  My relationship with my mother triggers painful feelings in me from early childhood to come to the surface and pretending to get along with her sucked the life out of me.  By the time my last child went to college, I had a severe case of adrenal fatigue.  But since this Christmas, my energy is better!  I can deal with the guilt, let it hang around and follow me but I am not caving in this time!.  I deserve to be free.  I am free!

Have you heard the saying that guilt is anger turned inward?  That is very helpful to me sometimes because if you can get angry at that guilt feeling and say “No I don’t have anything to feel guilty about” you can use the energy that the anger provides to get strong, exercise, and get things done for your own life.  Use it to get up and do all the things you’ve been wanting to do now that you are free.  That’s what I have been doing with this nagging guilt hanging around from childhood.  I  don’t feel tired and sickly anymore!  It’s like the monkey is off my back and now I can move freely.  Just don’t let the guilt change your mind.  Stay strong.

It’s easy for me to say because I’ve been through it all and now at 48 I can look back and say I shouldn’t  have taken them back in my life.  But I think, in some ways, I had to go through a lot of the pain along the way to finally see my inner strength and who I really am.  I have to look at it this way–48 is right in the middle so the second half of my life is going to be awesome.  The first half was pretty fantastic raising these two wonderful kids and my husband and I literally grew up together and found ourselves  and each other in the process.  We used to be co-dependent on each other and have overcome that as well.  My hope is that I can help a few others that are suffering in their relationships with their parents by helping them ignore the guilt and fear and childhood pain that will come up when you try to make a stand and get free.  It’s so important to understand that YOU CANNOT WIN when dealing with a person who may have narcissist personality disorder!  It’s important to your health to get free so you can heal!  And the people who truly do love you need your energy for them.  Don’t waste it on the energy suckers.  (think of those with narcissistic personality disorder as energy vampires!–but that is a different post for another day).

I need to say that another thing I needed to go through to make this final step happen was  grief.  I had to grieve and be sad about all the “potential” I saw in my family.  That’s what makes it so hard for highly sensitive persons (HSPs) to leave unhealthy situations.  We always see the potential of others and give them the benefit of the doubt.  But we are quick to blame ourselves and say maybe it’s me.  It’s not you!  It’s them.  But you still have to grieve about your loss of what “could have been.”  And then you have to accept that they don’t want to change and never will.

In some ways I had to feel like I tried everything.  As my children got busier I had to be more assertive to my mother about my time and that’s when the punishments got worse.  The negative comments to undermine my confidence, the guilt-inducing threats about who is getting what in the will.  I had to grieve about the material things.  When I realized how horrible it is to do that to your children, it was easier to let it all go.  I don’t want that “stuff” anyway, let my siblings have it all because it all kind of turns my stomach anyway.  My Mom knew I always wanted her grandmother’s quilts but when I couldn’t come to a reunion because one of my kids had a concert she told me she was passing them out at the reunion. Over the next week my feelings took over.  The rage I felt at first shocked me and then the grief–I grieved for those quilts.  And then finally I accepted it–I no longer even wanted those quilts.  Those quilts don’t represent love–they represent control and meanness.  My greatgrandma was mean anyway.  I can buy my own quilts that mean more to me than those quilts anyway.  Then I wrote 2 songs “This Too Shall Pass”  And Help Me to Forgive” .  I’ll never forget it.   And then I really felt stronger and freer knowing I could start making more boundaries for my mother without fear of getting kicked out of the will–I no longer cared.

Please  don’t feel bad if you can’t take the plunge at freedom just yet.  You have to be strong enough on your own and ready and that takes time.  Be nice to yourself about it.  Just know you have an ally in me and this blog community when the time comes to move on.

Another thing that kept stopping me from no contact was my dad.  But I had to get in touch with my anger at him too.  All the times he took her side and used his threatening “Don’t upset your mother!” really let me down!  It hurt me so much more than I allowed myself to realize.  My feelings never mattered to him either.  It doesn’t matter that he never manipulated me the way she did or said mean things.  He was never there for me as a child and he still isn’t today. I now see how I was very much afraid of his rejection and rage if I wasn’t obedient and sweet and quiet.  Back then I felt guiltier about him than her but getting in touch with the denied anger at him helped me get over that.  You have to fight for the right to be free from the negativity and control.

I have become more spiritual because of all the pain that I worked through and I resolved that I know I’ll see my parents in heaven and they will understand why I did what I had to do!  My mother has everyone fooled with her brilliant performances being the victim of my so-called cold and heartless acts.  One thing that helps is, in the last few years, I’ve shown my true self and my songs to a few relatives and it’s clear they are too enmeshed with my mother to let me in their hearts but I’m glad I tried and I know I touched them on a deep level.  So I feel good about that.

So for any of you out there who are struggling with guilt for wanting to be free from your needy, controlling, guilt-inducing parent–there is hope!   The guilt is a not a voice you should listen to–it is childhood pain to help you:  get clarity about the truth of what happened to you as a child, get in touch with the repressed anger about being manipulated with guilt, use the anger for positive action for your own life, allow yourself to grieve that you never received unconditional love, comfort yourself through it, see your true essence, establish new healthy boundaries for yourself, release the past– layer by painful layer, and open up to the love and light from above that has been there for you all along, then ultimately feel empowered about being free to be YOU!  Writing out your feelings in a journal will help you get clarity about the repressed emotions.  This takes time but you can do it!

With love, Elaine

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