Monday, September 29, 2014

Yin and Yang

The other day, I took my youngest daughter to a class at the library that was geared specifically for homeschoolers. While we were there, I ran into an old friend, several years younger than me. She was trying to hold a conversation with me while simultaneously answering questions from  her three elementary aged children, chasing a toddler, and holding a 14 month old baby. We chatted for a few minutes as we walked to the parking lot and she asked:

"Do you really miss this?" 

"All of my friends tell me that I should enjoy it now, because I will be sad when they grow up. Do you miss when your kids were little?"

I thought for a few moments  before I replied...

Yes and No.

 I absolutely miss snapshots in time. I miss the smell of milk breath from a newborn baby.

 I miss reading "Madeline" to a chubby preschooler. 

I miss fall park days filled with screeches of delight to "push me higher mommy!"

I miss sun soaked summer days at the river dripping with the smell of Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen. I miss pirate themed birthday parties and snuggling at night. These are the best gifts of motherhood. The reality is, they don't come alone.

They come mixed in with sleepless nights when I thought I would die if I didn't get just one solid hour of sleep. Arms and shoulders so tense and painful that they may fall off if I have to pick up one more toddler. A constant nagging fear that one of my babies will be drowned or kidnapped at the busy pool.  The temper tantrum when I said no to just one more popsicle.  The suffocating emotional intensity of so many people needing all of me all the time so that sometimes I wished I could just disappear. These are part of motherhood as well, and they in no way diminish the beauty of the gifts. 

I have been learning a lot lately about the Yin and Yang. So many times is life, we want things to be black or white. Right or wrong. We see the theme everywhere around us. Either children are good or bad. Smart or dumb. Marriages end in either divorce or Happily Ever After. Families are happy or broken. People are rich or poor. A favorite song from childhood talks about "Brown paper packages tied up with strings" and that's just how I wish life could be served. Wrapped and tied neatly in a box. But that's not reality. Reality is that happy families have disagreements. Successful marriages have good days and bad. Kids have strengths and weaknesses.  

A man I deeply respect once said:

"There seems to be a superstition...that Marriage is a cottage surrounded by perpetual hollyhocks to which a perpetually young and handsome husband comes home to a perpetually young and beautiful wife. When the hollyhocks wither and boredom and bills appear the divorce courts are jammed."

"Anyone who imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he has been robbed."

"Life is like an old time rail journey--delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed."

"The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

Now stick with me as we explore another aspect of this journey we call life. I especially want to speak to those of you who have a child who is "Special needs". What comes to mind when you hear that term?  I imagine that a long time ago, someone wanted people who experience life differently to stop feeling like they were less than others. To feel valued and included. And so they assigned this euphemism - special needs. I am the mother of a child who fits this label. I cannot speak for all mothers. I can only speak as the mother of my child. I want to share some things that may be uncomfortable for you to hear but need to be said. Every child is special. Some children are different. I do not believe that the difference is either good or bad. It is simply different. When we use the term "special" it creates something of an unrealistic expectation for the entire family. The child isn't sure what to think, because everyone is calling them special, and they feel anything but. They feel broken and frustrated and crazy and more than anything, they wish they could just be NORMAL. Whatever that means. I'm going to use the term "different needs".

As a mother, I love this child just as passionately as I love my other children. Perhaps more fiercely because I am accustomed to fighting for her needs to be met. But I also wish sometimes that we could just be normal. The reality is that life with a different needs child is exhausting physically, emotionally, and mentally.

The needs are relentless and there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth from both parents and children. There are endless support programs for the child, but no one tells you that the one will change the whole in ways you never imagined. The marriage will be strained. The siblings will be affected. Nothing is ever easy. And there is no medal at the end. But there shouldn't be, because I am no hero. I am totally imperfect in my efforts. And that's okay. I still love her to the moon and back. 

Today, my goal is just to create a space where we can open a dialog about the fact that life is full of good AND bad and everything in between. They co-exist. We are not perfect or failures, saints or sinners. We are all human. Yes, motherhood is beautiful and amazing. Its also smelly, exhausting, and overwhelming. And i'm perfectly okay with that.  Perhaps if we could be more open and honest about our reality, we could all experience more authentic relationships where we feel safe sharing things as they really are. Lets stop pretending like everything is supposed to be perfect. Let's stop photoshopping our lives.

 Lets share them - dirty dishes, screaming children, burnt cookies and all. I would love to see those on Pinterest! The older I get and the more I learn, the more I love the Yin and Yang. I believe with all my heart that if we could accept this duality of existence, it would go a long way in allowing us to heal ourselves, our families, and our world.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Essential Oils Smell Gross

Essential Oils smell gross. It's the single most common objection I hear from people who don't want to try the oils. Some of my friends will adamantly disagree and rave about how they are drawn to cypress and how they can't get enough of Frankincense. I've got a little secret to share here if you promise not to tell any of my oil loving friends- I disagree.  Many essential oils smell disgusting (especially geranium) and to me, Frankincense just smells like a really old tree. So why on earth would you pay $100 for a tiny bottle of ancient tree smelling liquid?  As I spent some time pondering this, it occurred to me that healing often comes in ugly packages. Stick with me as I elaborate.

I've shared my story with you before. My life was hugely impacted by severe depression. I struggled with confidence, body image, trust in relationships, faith in God and a whole host of things as a result. I was blessed to be swept off my feet by a kind, romantic, handsome guy who loved me with his whole soul. That was powerful in deed. But the true key to my healing came in the form of an incredibly difficult birth which produced a screaming, back arching, refusing-to-nurse baby girl who turned my world upside down that day and every day thereafter for more than a decade. I don't mean in a pretty way. I mean in an oh-my-gosh-what-was-i-thinking kind of a way. She has been the source of my deepest pain, but as it turns out, also the key to my greatest healing.

We love to read as a family. It has been the main source of education for each of my children-the reading of great books. When they were younger, we would frequent the thrift stores in search of good books. I was generally on the lookout for those volumes that looked "nearly new' or "gently used".  My oldest son, however, repeatedly brought me books that were on the verge of death - tattered spines, darkened pages, and frequently smelling of old age. "Not that one", I would say, "that one looks too worn".  He looked at me, perplexed, and then he taught me a lesson I would never forget, "I know mom, I look for the oldest books because then you know that someone really loved it. That's how I know it will be good." We made some of the most amazing discoveries thanks to his unique approach. We have acquired rare editions of classics like Make way for Ducklings, Hans Brinker, The Little Prince, and Heidi to name just a few. He inherently understood that those things that look unappealing on the surface often contain that which is most precious.

This past week, I had the opportunity to hear and see a woman named Stephanie Nielsen speak about her experiences as a victim in a plane crash that burned her over 80% of her body and left her in a coma for 5 1/2 months. She shared the feelings of despair, hopelessness, anger, and self loathing that accompanied her long recovery. She acknowledged that her appearance was drastically changed by what she went through. Some may find her less beautiful now than she was before the accident. She also believes that because of what she went through, she can share a unique message with all who suffer or are hopeless or in pain. She shares the message that you can overcome hard things and come out better and stronger on the other side. That many times life gives us beauty for ashes.

And so we come back to the oils. Do I love the smell of frankincense? Absolutely not. Does it look like something that is "worth" $93? Heck no. But what if I told you that it had the power to dispel clouds of despair, soften a troubled relationship with  your father, support your body in producing healthy DNA,  amplify the effects of other oils when severe infection is present, support memory in old age, and level unstable mood swings. Would you be willing to overlook the package in order to have all those benefits right at the tip of your fingers or in the pocket of your purse? Me too.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

When Mom Explodes

I am going to be really vulnerable here and share a moment that was definitely not one of my finest. Hopefully you can laugh a little and learn a lot.

First I must set the tone. Our school life is complicated. I have 5 kids attending 4 different schools/programs, none of which offer bussing. Half of those children are home every other day, so we also home school. Basically, I am either driving or helping with school work all.the.time. So,I was a little on edge yesterday when I went to pick up the two youngest from their mutual first day of school.

I planned to zip across town in the same 12 minutes it took to get to school when we visited over the summer. I imagined they would skip to the car with huge smiles on their faces, weeping tears of gratitude that I had provided such an amazing opportunity for them at great personal sacrifice. We would have stimulating conversation all the way home about the things they had learned and I would glow with pride. The reality looked a little different.  I exited my subdivision and entered a parking lot. They call it a highway, but really it was a parking lot. It took me 35 minutes to make the 12 minute trip. I pulled into the parking lot 20 minutes late and the kids were nowhere to be seen. I had to go find them in the building and they were both sitting looking pretty angry.

As soon as they saw me, it began.

"You're late!"
 I'm sorry.
"I'm starving"
 I'll bet.
"Can we stop at Taco Bell?"
 No, that's junk.
"Can I make popcorn at home?"
 No, It's dinner time
"What's for dinner?"
"I'm exhausted!"
 Me too.
"Can you buy me some chips?"
 No, that's junk.
"Why do we have to stop at the store?"
 For your sister's project.
Will you buy me orange chicken there?
 No, that's junk.

It went on just like that for another two hours. Nonstop. All the way up Chinden road, through Garden City, inside of Wal-mart and the whole time I was making dinner. I am generally a pretty patient person, but I could feel the adrenaline rising inside of me; my chest tightened, my fists clenched, and then the moment arrived. I had had it.

My 12 year old daughter is typically a delight to be around. She and I are buddies. She does what I ask and tells me I'm wonderful and it's all good. Not on this day. She was the whiner in blue and now, two hours later, she was texting on her phone instead of doing the chores I had asked her to do. So I requested that she give it to me. She declined. I demanded. She argued. I grabbed the phone. She argued....and then I snapped. And I threw her 5 year old hand-me-down iphone 4 across the hardwood floor and it shattered. And the whole family saw, and then ran for their safety.

Since we have a pretty good relationship, I went and talked to her and we patched things up. I realized that I was probably in need of a time-out since I really had nothing nice to say to anyone. Once I retired to my room, I regained enough sense to realize my emotions were out of control and I could probably use some oils. I used my trusty Zyto Compass to see what oils might be helpful for me at that moment and made what I think is a pretty groundbreaking discovery. The Back to School blend for moms. Here is what I scanned for:

*Fennel-Supports the individual who has a weakened sense of self. The individual may feel defeated by life's responsibilities. It teaches that life is not too big or too much to handle. Through attunement with the body's actual needs, fennel curbs cravings for experiences that dull the senses. (Facebook anyone?)

*Basil-The smell brings strength to the heart and relaxation to the mind. Basil oil supports those who are under a great deal of mental strain. It addresses emotions of anxious, weary, overwhelmed, tired, drained, and exhausted.

*Cypress-Cypress encourages individuals to cast aside their worries and let go of control so they can enjoy the thrill that comes form being alive. Cypress shows how to have perfect trust in the flow of life.

Are these not things that every mother needs to transition Back to School? Do you feel defeated by traffic and homework? Do you need to flow with the never-ending stream of projects and volunteer requests? Of Course! I applied a few drops of each oil massaged into the bottoms of my feet and after that I truly felt much better. I took several deep breaths and rejoined the family for the evening.

There is a humorous postscript. The owner of the broken phone came into my room after I had oiled myself and asked to be scanned as well. She scanned for Geranium-The oil most useful for restoring feelings of love when trust has been broken, especially with a mother or father. Guilty.

So, here are my words of wisdom. Get the oils in the Mom's Back to School Blend and apply them BEFORE the crisis occurs. If you forget to apply, be sure to have geranium on hand to repair the damage.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Antidepressants Don't Work

At least not the way you have been led to believe they do. When I was first prescribed Prozac, I was told by my psychiatrist that I had a genetic predisposition to depression. It was purely a chemical deficiency in my brain. Seratonin is the neurotransmitter that promotes positive feelings and my brain simply didn't make enough of it. So, following this logic, the drug wasn't changing anything about me; it was simply supplying a chemical I wasn't capable of making on my own. If you are taking Prozac, or Paxil, or Effexor, or any of a host of mood altering drugs, you've probably been told a version of this story and bought it hook, line, and sinker.  But it isn't true. Its actually been disproven several times by the very scientists who used the theory to market antidepressant medications. You can read the nitty gritty in the book "The Emperor's New Drugs" if you want to know, but I don't want to dwell there now.

I've said before that I felt that Prozac saved my life back then, because I took it, and my depression improved. That means the doctors were right, right? wrong.  The chart above depicts the findings of a huge meta-analysis performed by Irving Kirsch Ph.D. of the drug companies' own results from the clinical trials they used to gain FDA approval for their drugs. Based on their own data, both antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy produce a significant improvement compared to doing nothing at all. That is well documented. What came as a surprise is that 75% of the drug improvement was actually placebo effect. In other words, the Drug was only 25% more effective than the placebo. This was not an isolated study. This was the compound result of 3000 studies done by the drug companies themselves. When results were sifted further by omitting patients who "broke blind" during their trial, the difference between drug and placebo is even less. (Breaking blind means that the patients in the placebo group figured out that they were receiving the placebo due to the lack of side effects. Since they determined that they weren't receiving the active drug, the placebo effect was eliminated.) Their final conclusion is that drugs are 17% more effective than placebo for those with the most severe depression. For those with mild to moderate depression, there is no discernable difference.

Back to Prozac and the placebo effect, it turns out that Lilly (the manufacturer)  knew all along. In the official Summary of Product Characteristics for Prozac, it states that "in the fixed dose studies of patients with major depression, there is a flat dose response curve, providing no suggestion of advantage in terms of efficacy for using higher than the recommended doses" (more is not better). But in the very same document, they make a recommendation that if patients do not respond to the 20mg dose, doctors may increase the dosage gradually up to 60mg per day. Why would they recommend such a thing? Keep reading.

In a separate study reported by Otto Benkert at the University of Mainz,  Depressed patients who failed to respond to antidepressant medication were given an increased dosage of the drug, following which 72% of them improved significantly by showing at least a 50% reduction in symptoms of depression. The catch is that the dose had only been increased for half the subjects. The others only thought the dose had been increased; in fact it had not. Yet the response rate was the same 72% in both groups. So a patient whose dose of the drug is increased may indeed show more improvement, but this effect may be due to the patient's knowledge that the dose has been increased, rather than to the chemical effect of the medication. In other words, doctors are advised to increase the dose (and the likelihood of troubling side effects) as a means of strengthening the placebo effect.

I hope you are disturbed. Very disturbed.  Doctors, Psychiatrists, and medical journals were all shocked by the meta-analysis. Guess who wasn't surprised at all? The drug companies. They were fully aware of the relatively small difference between the placebo and the drug. The "miracle" of anti-depressant medication was one of the most successful marketing hoax's of modern medicine. Who perpetrated the hoax? The pharmaceutical companies were not alone. They were aided and encouraged by none other than the FDA. The FDA receives 40% of its funding from fees charged to pharmaceutical companies to approve their drugs. If the FDA keeps approving drugs, the drug companies keep inventing new ones and paying fees and everyone is happy. It seems like a victimless crime, right? Unless you consider the thousands of people (including myself) who have suffered needlessly with side effects and the billions of dollars spent in treatment and prescriptions with little to no value. I highly recommend that you purchase the book and read the whole thing so you can join me in educating the world.


If you are struggling with depression and you need tools that can help, contact me!

If you are ready to get off the prescription antidepressant side-effect roller-coaster, be sure to seek the support of a competent medical professional who is knowledgable about alternatives and supportive of your decision. The withdrawal symptoms of the drugs (unlike the therapeutic benefits) are quite real. They generally involve dizziness, sweating, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts, racing heart, and a host of other ugly things. But they are not permanent and there is another way. 

Quality supplementation and CPTG Essential Oils have provided real benefits for our family and so many others.  Here are the products that are most helpful for supporting stable, healthy mood and energy. The tools that I have found most useful are a grounding blend, an invigorating blend, an uplifting blend, and a calming blend. You can learn more about specific oils and purchase essential oils on this website.