Wednesday, August 27, 2014

How to Win the War on the Home Front-Ready for Battle

I've had tons of requests since my last post from women who want to know HOW to use natural medicine and essential oils to overcome depression without prescription drugs. Stay tuned, because over the next few weeks, I am going to walk you step by step through the strategies I used and continue to use to truly take back control of my mental, physical, and emotional health.  If you are drowning in the darkness of mental illness, following these steps can save your life. But I want to let you in on a little secret- No matter where you are on the spectrum of motherhood, these strategies are guaranteed to help you up-level your current situation and find more peace and joy in your journey.

Morning Ritual
You are the commander of an army. Every single day, you have to go to battle with absolute confidence that you will come off victor. You don't fight against armed enemies, but your foes are just as daunting. You battle against armies of needy children, oceans of dirty dishes, and mountains of laundry. If you were a general, commanding a huge army, would you wait to be awakened by the enemy at your door? Of course not. That would be sure defeat. Great generals rise early, before their troops, to prepare themselves for the day. And so must you. Enter the morning ritual.

Make a practice of rising before your family and nourishing yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually.

The strategy must start the night before. Turn off the Computer, turn off the TV, put down that awesome book you are reading, and go to bed at a decent time. I have to be asleep by 10pm to be a functioning person.

Set an alarm to wake you 30-60 minutes before your family normally wakes.  

If this seems impossible because you can barely roll our of bed as it is, you need to add Lifelong Vitality to your diet. This has made all the difference in my ability to wake up on time, actually feeling rested and ready for the day. The amount of time is up to you, but you need to have time to do the following:

1. Connect spiritually with your higher power. This may look like prayer, scripture study, meditation, or a combination of all of the above. The purpose of this step is for you to ground yourself in who you really are and ask for divine help with the tasks and trials you will encounter today. Sandalwood essential oil is my favorite to support this connection. 

2. Read 10 pages of something that awakens your mind. Twilight does not count. I use this time to read personal development books. It could be a book about how to process emotions, or how to raise an organic garden, or how to improve my presentation skills. You choose, but it must stretch you and it must make you excited. If you are having a hard time staying awake and alert, consider a drop of peppermint and wild orange on the back of the neck and inhaled.

3. Move your body. If you are just starting, 10 minutes of stretching may be all you can do. Start there. Walking is one of my favorite exercises. Its free and accessible to anyone. The ability to move in a rhythmic fashion while taking in the beauty and fresh air outside helps me think and process what's going on in my life. Yoga is another great practice. It helps you begin to practice mindfulness, which is another key strategy to overcoming depression and anxiety. If you experience any soreness or discomfort, deep blue will become your best friend.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hope Beyond Depression...My story

There's a picture of me in my childhood scrapbook, laying on the floor, hand on the telephone, asleep. I was 8 years old, waiting for a friend to call and ask me to play. She never did. When I look at that picture, I keenly remember the feelings of loneliness. Those feelings were a constant companion throughout my childhood. When I was about 13 years old, I developed a deep sense of hatred for myself and turned to anorexia and bulimia as a slow form of suicide. My parents noticed that something was wrong and took me to see a counselor. She was amazing. I felt heard for the first time in my life. She referred me to a psychiatrist who made a diagnosis of chronic depression, and prescribed Prozac. I took the Prozac and continued counseling. After a couple of months, I felt happier but I was still chronically disorganized and couldn't ever remember to write my name on a school assignment.  The psychiatrist diagnosed ADHD and added Ritalin to my treatment plan. I was now more organized and focused, but I was experiencing racing thoughts and sometimes I felt trapped, like I would die if I didn't get out of a situation. I reported this to the psychiatrist, who added Clonozepam to my cocktail, to treat anxiety. And I was fixed. Or so they thought.

The drastic change in personality from taking those drugs really bothered me. I didn't feel like myself. I was afraid that my conscience had disappeared. So periodically, I would stop taking the drugs....Which triggered withdrawal symptoms....and lectures from my mom.... and conflict at home.  I played this game of medicate-the-symptom for the next 15 years, through marriage and 4 pregnancies. I sought treatment form multiple doctors and psychologists throughout the process.My depression, anxiety, and executive function issues remained a constant factor in spite of the medications. I suffered from severe postpartum psychosis after the birth of each child and felt increasingly hopeless. Suicide was always a viable option in my mind. Whenever life became too hard, I would begin to devise a plan for this ultimate escape.  In what felt like a herculean effort in 2003, I finally sought treatment at The Amen Clinic in Fairfield, CA. I felt sure they would offer the ultimate solution. They scanned my brain and diagnosed PTSD, ADHD, and Clinical Depression and prescribed 2 new drugs. At this point, I also began a battery of supplements including 5 HTP, L-Tyrosine, Fish oil and St. John's Wort.  It wasn't the magic bullet I was looking for. I had gained 100 pounds over the course of 8 years as a side effect of the drugs and the depression. On the outside, I was a great mom. We blew bubbles, and baked cookies, and did homeschool, and took field trips. I made quilts, and planned play dates and taught primary. My husband was perhaps the only person who knew what was really going on.

In 2004, I met a woman who had just moved into our area. I met her at a church activity and she intimated to me that she "used to be" Bi-polar II, but she was "cured". I thought she was crazy. Depression cannot be cured. It can be treated with drugs, but never cured. She was adamant. She had used natural medicine to cure herself. We left the area soon after, but I was haunted by her claim. Could I really be cured? Soon after we moved to Boise, Idaho I found an amazing healer named Dr. Charles Wilcher. He is a Homeopath, Naturopath, Accupuncturist, and Chiropractor. He looked at my symptoms through so many lenses. He used accupuncture needles to open some blocked meridians, prescribed Homepoathic Sepia, and recommended a supplement for adrenal support. I started a program of regular exercise and in under 6 months, I was off all my drugs. I wasn't perfect, but I was on my way.

About 5 years later, I was introduced to another healing modality that would change my life. Essential Oils. This time the stakes were higher. It was my child whose mental health was at stake. It felt like a horrible dream. Deja vu, only worse. Having been through the medication game myself, I was determined that she not repeat my experience. The change for her began with a book called Emotions and Essential Oils and a drop of basil. You can read more about her story here. Suffice it to say that that drop of oil was the beginning of a miracle. Essential Oils have allowed me to support not only myself but many of the people I love through the physical and emotional ups and downs of life. We have dealt with everything from normal grumpy days to severe depression and manic episodes. Click here for more information about essential oils for emotional healing

Its been 10 years now since I have taken a drug. I have continued with regular exercise like a religion and educated myself about the powerful effect of diet on mood and focus. I used the sepia Dr. Wilcher recommended for about 3 months, then outgrew the need. I have used the services of talented therapists and holistic healers when I felt the need. I have been supported by essential oils that have become good friends on this journey. I have maintained my mental health through 4 moves, the loss of a business, loss of a house, 4 ADHD kids, a daughter with Traumatic Brain Injury, and a host of things that could have pushed a normal person over the edge, but I survived.  I have not only survived, I have thrived. I have raised 4 children, maintained a strong marriage, created a school, and built a thriving business. I am bruised, but not broken. I am alive.  My message is that there is hope beyond mental illness and prescription drugs. It requires a strong support system, faith in God, faith in yourself, and a willingness to try new things. It is a choice you only have to make once, but a battle you may fight every day of your life in the thoughts and actions you choose.  For me, for my daughter, and for countless other people who want another way, I am grateful that there are powerful tools at our disposal. There is Hope and there is Healing and there is Cure for those who take control of their own Physical and Emotional health so they can have Peace and Joy in the journey.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Good Enough Mother

Perhaps you, like I, have been caught in the trap of trying to be the ideal mother. I tried to read all the right books, buy (or more specifically NOT buy) all the right baby accessories, sign up for all the right classes, and be present every time my baby needed me. And I trusted that all of these decisions would create the ideal environment for my child to grow and develop into a healthy, happy adult. I was convinced that if I failed to meet any need, that child would grow up permanently damaged. So, you can imagine how exhausted I became.

This isn't really me, but it could be! I was so exhausted and so discouraged that I wanted to give up, since I had probably already ruined my kids for life. Then, My therapist told me about the 'Good Enough Mother". He asked me one day "What if Good Enough was really the Ideal?" It sounded like a paradox to me. I have never aspired to be "Good Enough" at anything. You might as well aim for last place in a marathon or the night crew at McDonalds. Good Enough is lame. Or so I thought. 

The Good Enough Mother was a term coined by a pediatrician turned psychoanalyst named Charles Winnicot in England in the 1950's. He spent his career studying what would be the ideal setting for a child to be raised in. He divided mothers into three groups- Ideal Mothers, Neglectful Mothers, and what he termed the "Good Enough Mother". 

Ideal Mothers need no explanation. They are perfect, They do everything right. They are present 24/7, they never raise their voices, they are 100% happy to meet their baby's needs anytime day or night.

The neglectful Mother is also easy to identify. She never holds her baby, regularly ignores his cries, and provides inadequate food. 

The Good Enough mother is in between the two. The good enough mother provides "holding place" for the child. She is loving and attentive as much as she can be. She bathes and feeds and talks to her baby. She also sometimes hates the baby. She becomes frustrated and sometimes resentful. As the baby matures, (4-6 months), she responds to baby's cries less and less readily. She allows him a few minutes here and there to learn to self soothe. She allows him to gain confidence in the knowledge that he is "other" from her. She may provide a security blanket so he can comfort himself when she is otherwise engaged. She is perfectly imperfect. And she is the ideal mother. 

Isn't that liberating? You don't have to be perfect! You just have to be Good Enough! Once I decided that my aim was to be Good Enough, life became so much more do-able. I felt like I could breathe. The birthday doesn't have to be perfect, just good enough. Their education doesn't have to be excellent, just good enough. My home doesn't have to be perfect. Just good enough. I don't have to be perect. just good enough.

This is such a juicy topic that I would love to hear from you in the comments. What do you think constitute "Good Enough" in your life? 

 Maybe today you are not feeling like you are enough. Here is an oil blend just for you... 

Blend 2 drops each bergamot, fennel, frankincense, geranium and ylang-ylang 
Apply to the core of the body of the bottoms of the feet 
Repeat the affirmation: I love and accept Myself. I am enough.