Friday, December 18, 2015

How I Manage Seizures Without Drugs

In January of 2015, I learned I was probably having seizures (see "I didn't know I was having seizures", previous post). In February I had a CT scan, MRI, an in-office EEG, and an at-home 3 day abulatory EEG, along with blood tests. I kept a list of symptoms and a seizure diary. I video taped a seizure, and sent it to my Neurologist.

The follow up visit with my Neurologist to discuss all test results was tense for me, to say the least. I had been instructed to push a button on the EEG belt attachment every time I seized, and I had pushed it over 100 times in 3 days; between those 100 presses and worrying what the brain scans would say, plus the fact that a previous MRI that showed a 1.3 cm cyst on my brain, I was scared.

The Neurologist told me the EEG did not register any seizures- I was dumbfounded. How was this possible? She went on to tell me she had watched my video and I clearly DID have a seizure, it just didn't register on the equipment. The seizures were happening too deep in my brain for the scalp-attached electrodes to pick up. We can do future, more invasive tests to track them. Now, let's put you on an anti-seizure medication, what's your pharmacy?

Whoa. Hold up for just a minute here, I want to discuss my options before we go straight to some of the strongest medications on the planet. I had joined several seizure support groups on facebook while waiting for the test results, and the tens of thousands of people in these groups spent more time complaining about the side effects of the medications than the seizures! Plus, the majority of them stated that the meds did not stop their seizures, just reduced the frequency and severity.

There are people who had surgery for their seizures- worked great for some, partially for others, temporarily for most, and in some people did not work at all. There is a Vagus Nerve Stimulator, or VNS, an electronic device surgically implanted to control seizures, and the reports in the group were about the same success rate as the surgeries. The prescription anti-seizure drugs, all of them, had so many negative reports that I wasn't willing to even consider them at all.

This left dietary and lifestyle changes, or medicinal cannabis. I considered medical marijuana for my seizures quite seriously, and researched it extensively. It helps about 30% of seizure patients- and those 30% it helps a LOT, many stop having seizures entirely. It's important to get the right kind of medical marijuana- there are hundreds of strains and varieties, and what works for one person will not work for the next one. While I was willing to consider this as a possible option for later, I was not willing to move my family to another state for a one in three chance of success.

When I told my Neurologist I did not want seizure medications, that I wanted to explore dietary and lifestyle changes to control my seizures, she casually stated that my blood tests showed I had Severely low B12. The Neurologist went on to state that many people with seizures will improve with B12 supplementation alone. And we have a winner!  I was also told my folate, ferritin, D, and calcium levels were very low.

My B12 levels were so low, the Neurologist wanted me to start on B12 shots, or injections. Due to the severity of my deficiency, and the severity of my neurological symptoms, I was supposed to have a minimum of weekly injections for six months. I was referred back to my general practitioner doctor (GP) and given my first injection. I had been tracking my seizures for weeks at this point- and with that first B12 shot, I stopped having seizures for NINE DAYS. I went from up to 42 a day to none a day for nine whole days- and I felt better than I had in years! I joined a B12 support group on facebook to get further support and education about B12. It's a good thing I did, too- because my GP gave me one more shot, then refused to give any more, ever.

I talked to my GP, told her of the Neurologist's schedule for injections, took printouts of how to treat a severe B12 deficiency with neurological symptoms, to no avail. She had done a blood test to check my B12 after the second injection and my levels were 'abnormally high' and I 'no longer had a deficiency'. I had told her when we did the blood draw that the number was going to be high, because of the injections, and that we should expect that and continue- which is totally safe, since B12 is water soluable. It did not matter. The GP refused me entirely- so I fired her.

My wonderful B12 support group provided me with data and articles and fantastic support, and I began self injecting (SI) at home. This means I buy my own B12 and syringes, and give myself shots. I also learned about all the co-factors that are needed to help your body utilize B12, especially when injecting. I learned that other deficiencies can trigger seizures as well, especially B6 and magnesium.

Thanks to the help of my groups, I am now between one and three seizures a week; and that number would probably be zero if I were able to inject every day, as the correct guidelines instruct (which my Neurologist was not aware of at that time). When I have a supportive doctor who will prescribe my B12, daily injections are probable; right now, it's every other day since I'm paying all out of pocket.

Lifestyle changes: I checked all the prescriptions I was taking at the time (antidepressant, allergy pills, nasal spray, muscle relaxant, pain pills, beta blocker for high blood pressure) and found that all of them lowered the seizure threshold, meaning it is easier to have a seizure, so I quit taking them. I had to taper off the antidepressant over a period of about 6 weeks, and the withdrawal was horrid, causing seizures and psychosis. I learned that sage can be a seizure trigger, and found this to be true for me, so stopped using sage to cook with- I also stopped using sage to smudge with, which was difficult for me, as I really enjoyed daily smudging with sage; now I use frankincense to cleanse my home.

I never injest artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup, I avoid MSG, I no longer microwave my food or drinks, I seriously limit my chocolate and general caffeine intake, I removed major stressors from my life, I meditate regularly, I take Epsom Salt baths, I prioritize sleeping, I drink at least 60 ounces of filtered water a day (and aim for 100 ounces), I get regular mild exercise, I eat regularly so my blood sugar doesn't dip, I avoid processed white sugar, I switched from white table salt to pink Himalayan salt, and I upped my potassium intake (see potassium post).

Here is the list of supplements that I take to control my seizures. Again, this is a vitamin therapy only, no medications or prescriptions for anti-seizure drugs.

  • Multivitamin, "Complete Women's Health" by Kroger (grocery brand)
  • B Complex, "Vitamin B Complex Maxi" by Kroger (grocery brand)
  • Folic acid, 5mg
  • Magnesium, powdered ionic magnesium citrate by CALM (unflavored)
  • Vitamin D, 5,000 IU
  • Vitamin K2, 50 mcg by Solaray
  • Vitamin C, 500mg, by WinCo (grocery brand)
Every other day:
  • B12 injections, hydroxocobalamin, 1,000 mcg
  • Iron, 65mg by Spring Valley
  • Calcium/Magnesium/Zinc combo pill by WinCo (grocery brand)
  • Zinc, 50mg from the Family Dollar store
  • Selenium, 200 mcg by Spring Valley
  • Iodine, Lugol's 5%, 2 drops
  • L-Glutamine, 500mg by Co-Op (grocery brand)
  • Probiotic, "Multidophilus 12" 12 strain formula by Solaray
I also have reviewed the deficiency lists for other vitamins and minerals, and plan on adding boron, taurine, and biotin to my every other day.

The Bcomplex and Magnesium are absolutely VITAL to helping prevent seizures the most. I have continued to track my health and seizures, and there were many days when I did not take one or more of my vitamin supplements; the biggest difference was always with the B Complex and the Magnesium (see magnesium post), which are commonly low in people with a seizure disorder.

The L-Glutamine and Probiotics are to heal my gut- I hardly absorb any nutrients from my food, due to extensive gut damage and permeability. Which is why I'm low in basically everything, because the gut is what absorbs and distributes nutrients- and the gut controls the brain (more on this later). So healing my gut is an essential step in overall health and lifelong seizure control.

My next step is to resolve the overgrowth of Candida in my body, which I think will further reduce the seizures and contribute to the healing of my gut. Candida is present in most bodies, but when it has a population boom, it causes serious damage to the entire body, and it needs to be taken seriously (more on this later). I'm also considering going gluten-free; while this has helped many people with their health in general and seizure control specifically, I want to see how I fare after doing the Candida cleanse before making another major diet change.

**Be sure to also read new blog post "Decrease Seizure Frequency" here**

 Facebook Groups:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Importance of Potassium and How To Properly Raise Your Potassium Levels

Symptoms of low potassium include:
  • Fatigue and exhaustion 
  • Headache, migraine
  • Anxiety
  • Body pain, including muscle or joint pain
  • Weakness, tiredness
  • Cramping in arm or leg muscles
  • Irritability
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Dehydration, dry mouth, thirst
  • Frequent Urination
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping, bloating
  • Constipation, Diarrhea
  • Palpitations (irregular heart beat)
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in blood pressure (high or low)
  • Depression, psychosis, delirium, confusion, or hallucinations

Low potassium, or hypokalemia, is one of the top causes of high blood pressure, stroke, AND heart attacks. So having enough potassium every day is pretty important.

Potassium is very closely linked with magnesium levels, so if your potassium is running low regularly, make sure you're getting enough magnesium. Low magnesium will cause low potassium.

Pressure changes from the weather, and altitude changes (from flying, hiking a mountain, sea diving) will affect your potassium pump. So you will not absorb as much potassium as you have- solution, more potassium. If you're soaking up ten percent, and you have a larger pool to soak up from, you'll get more potassium into your cells (ten percent of 2,000 is 200, which is more than ten percent of 500, which is only 50). I personally have found that These types of potassium drops are best cured by potassium beverages and not foods; the digestive process breaking down the food seems to not yield as much potassium. My go-to is Low Sodium V8 juice, is the highest potassium beverage on the market, 900 mg per 8 ounces. Other good choices: tomato juice, carrot juice, Gatorade, orange juice, coconut water, green juice, smoothie.

Low potassium can be caused by magnesium deficiency, auto-immune disorders, any type of anemia, digestive illnesses (such as IBS, Crohn's, Leaky Gut, Celiac). Treatment with B12 injections can also cause low potassium, because suddenly getting the B12 you need triggers your body to start making new blood cells (among other things), which uses a lot of potassium. If you have Pernicious Anemia and are on injections, it is super important you boost your potassium levels more on jab days.

Now, if your potassium levels have been low for more than a few days, you need to build up your potassium levels. You also need to increase your intake of Good sodium, such as pink Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt, to maintain the proper potassium/sodium balance. Once you have reached a level where your deficiency symptoms have vanished, KEEP IT UP! You need potassium every single day, this is not something you can just up your levels and then stop; you're not inflating a tire. Your body uses potassium for digestion and muscle function- which includes heart muscle.

Here's a list of potassium rich foods that are not bananas- while bananas have potassium, don't you get tired of eating bananas just to get some potassium?

bamboo shoots, beet greens, coffee, black tea, Chinese cabbage, watercress, Swiss chard, cilantro, spinach, mustard greens, radishes, low sodium tomato juice, portabella mushrooms, butter head lettuce, celery, zucchini, fresh parsley, tomatoes, coconut water, fresh basil, cauliflower, kale, broccoli, pumpkin, asparagus, cucumber, turnip greens, okra, eggplant, cantaloupe, pickles, sweet potatoes, tomato paste, yogurt, canned clams, prune juice, carrot juice, blackstrap molasses, orange juice, avocado, cream of tartar, coconut water, dried apricots

You can eat these raw, cooked, steamed, juice them, drink them. 

The average healthy adult needs 4,700 mg of potassium a day. An unhealthy person needs more than that, especially if they are in the process of healing, because the body is repairing and replacing cells and potassium is crucial to that process.

Adults. In otherwise healthy individuals (i.e., individuals without impaired urinary potassium excretion from a medical condition or drug therapy), there is no evidence that a high level of potassium from foods has adverse effects. In contrast, supplemental potassium can lead to acute toxicity in healthy individuals.”

In other words, you can NOT overdose from potassium in FOOD. You should get your potassium from food and food-based drinks (like carrot juice) and NOT from potassium pills. Potassium pills can cause problems.

If you want to know exactly how much potassium is in any given food or drink, click here:

*note if you have known kidney problems, your doctor has probably advised you to limit your potassium. If you feel you are low in potassium, and have a kidney condition, discuss this with your doctor.

© Michelle Mason (aka “Michelle Mason Rocks”) 2016

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I Didn't Know I Was Having Seizures

How can you not know you're having seizures? I mean, seizures are pretty noticeable, everyone has seen a seizure on TV or in a movie. The person falls to the floor and jerks uncontrollably- pretty darn noticeable, right?


There are 42 different types of seizures; the on the floor jerking type, a tonic-clonic or grand mal, is just ONE of those types. Surprised? So was I.

I was very surprised to learn I was having seizures. I was even more surprised, at age 41, to learn I'd been having them for decades.

I was stunned. How could I have had seizures that long, and no one caught it? Not my mother, my brothers, my doctors- and I'd been asking doctors to find what was wrong with me for Years. How did they ALL miss it?

One reason is because we, as a society, are trained to think of all seizures as tonic-clonics. When you say 'seizure', people instantly think of person on the floor, jerking uncontrollably, for several minutes.

One of the types of seizures I have is what is called absence seizures. An absence seizure can last less than one second. One second! All it looks like is that I'm staring off into space. There are no spastic movements with an absence seizure. When I'm having an absence seizure, you can say my name and I won't respond-  'selective hearing', 'wool gathering', 'spaced out' or 'zoned out' are all phrases I've heard related to this. At work, many coworkers just assumed I was doing drugs.

I had migraines for years, and tried everything to treat and prevent them. No doctor ever told me that migraines are co-morbid with seizures.

Sometimes I would wake with a sore jaw, sore face, sores inside my cheeks, or bloody lips. This was because I was having nocturnal seizures, or seizing in my sleep, and my jaw was clenching, I was biting my lips, cheeks, etc. People who have slept in a bed with me have called me an 'active sleeper' and 'a kicker', and mentioned I talk in my sleep; I have slept walk a few times. All those are signs of nocturnal seizures- along with waking with the bed a mess, blanket on floor, nightclothes twisted, and hair looking like it went through a blender. I was told by a dentist I had TMJ, and needed to buy a mouth guard to sleep in so I wouldn't grind my teeth at night; the dentist didn't mention seizures, either.

I've had incontinence for years, just a tiny amount, just enough to bother me. I've done kegels, taken cranberry extracts, drank more water, gone to the bathroom more often, all the things recommended with incontinence. No doctor ever mentioned that incontinence is common with seizures.

Another type of seizure I have is called Simple Partial seizures. A simple partial is where only one side of the brain is affected, and one side of the body. I may drop whatever is in my hand, trip while walking, my finger or hand twitches, my foot jumps. Sometimes I shake from my shoulder up to the top of my head, looking for a second like a dog shaking off water. Lasts a few seconds at most. I always called these 'shivers', my mom called it 'someone walking on my grave'. There is no loss of consciousness with a simple complex- I'm awake and alert, and wondering why I just spilled my drink, again. I've had a lot of cooking accidents over the years, burns and cuts, that never made sense before learning about the seizures.

Simple partial seizures also affect other areas of the brain besides motor functions, leading to: changes in blood pressure, which causes dizziness; bodily functions (always fun when that happens); sensory issues, meaning I will feel bugs crawling on me (which lead to some interesting mental health diagnoses); hear things that are not there (auditory hallucinations; voices, usually sounds like a TV on in the other room I can't quite hear), get a strange taste in my mouth (usually metallic); smell things that are not there (always BAD smells, for whatever reason, like burning rubber or cat pee); and seeing things that are not there (typically manifested for me as 'spots before my eyes'). Also other weird body effects, like saliva suddenly overproducing and pooling my mouth, 'goosebumps', massive sudden sweating in one spot, nausea, vertigo, sudden ice cold hands or feet.

My simple partial seizures originate in my temporal lobe (also called temporal lobe epilepsy), which means they affect my circadian cycle (when I fall asleep, how long I sleep, when I wake) and my emotions. My emotions change often, I have been labeled as 'moody' by most everyone who has ever met me. Doctors labeled me as bipolar. I have lived in fear most of my life; I always assumed it was due to years of abuse, doctors labeled me with PTSD. But even my psychiatrist was baffled at the intense levels of fear, paranoia, delusions, anxiety, and severe depression I was experiencing. We considered the possibility it was schizophrenia, especially when factoring in the hallucinations.

I have had anger issues, and rage outbursts, for years. I never knew why, before learning about seizures in the temporal lobe. I could be absolutely fine one moment, and Hulk the next, over anything, or nothing. This one has caused a lot of pain for loved ones, and destroyed many relationships. I tried so many different therapies and tools to control my anger, none of them ever worked, now I know why. It doesn't undo what's been done, or magically heal old wounds. It does prepare me for the future though; now I know intense sudden anger is an aura, a warning I am about to have a complex seizure.

I have Complex Partial Seizures, which sometimes cause a loss of awareness- for me, though my body carries on with whatever. When I have a complex seizure, I may say or do anything out of character for me, especially things I would not normally say or do. And I will have zero memory of it.  I went to a party at a coworker's home once, and passed out (what I now know was a complex seizure; everyone else assumed too much alcohol); at work on Monday, NO ONE would speak to me or even make eye contact. I tried asking people what on earth was wrong, and got strange looks, and no answers. I've lost a lot of friends, and been fired from a lot of jobs, because of "you know, don't act like you don't" reasons... I never knew. I always assumed I just attracted people who flipped out on me for no reason, because I never remembered doing anything wrong.

After a complex seizure, I am exhausted. I sleep, a LOT, and my body hurts.

I'm 42 years old, and for 20 years, every doctor has told me there was nothing wrong with me, all my labs were fine (I have had SO MANY medical tests!), and labeled me a hypochondriac. My family labeled me a hypochondriac and lazy. I've lost count of the number of coworkers and associates who assumed I was a closet alcoholic or junkie (especially when they saw me walk into walls, trip, twitch, stop to think to remember my name or what day it was).

I do not share these labels out of anger or self-shame. I share them for the same reason I wrote this blog- maybe it will resonate with you. Maybe you have been called lazy, a dreamer, clumsy and will read the other symptoms and have an ah-ha moment.

Having epilepsy is a little scary, I admit. You know what's worse? Having it and NOT KNOWING that you are having seizures. Not knowing really messed with my head, on a daily basis.

The depression, feelings of impending doom, paranoia, delusions, and thoughts of suicide that come with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) can be *managed* when you know WHY they are happening. I am amazed that I am still alive after decades of crippling depression and the severe, almost daily, thoughts of suicide. Add in the lost jobs, lost friends, and never knowing what the hell was going on with my body, well let's just say I had more than one very close call with the exit option. (see previous post, Staying Alive)

And that's really why I wrote this very intimate glimpse into my life and my body. Undiagnosed epileptics are at an extremely high risk for suicide, and much of that is from the not knowing. If this post saves one life, it would mean the world to me, and I would bare my soul a hundred times over to save them.

Further Reading:
Describe your partial seizure
Descriptions and diagnosis of partial seizure
Temporal Lobe Epilepsy symptoms
Auras- list and descriptions of different auras

I Didn't Know I Was Having Seizures

Monday, August 10, 2015

Complete Wellbeing Publication

Complete Wellbeing magazine in India published my article. No digital version yet, but here's some pictures:

A law of attraction success story

Prescription for a Positive Life

Michelle Mason Rocks byline in Complete Wellbeing

Monday, July 13, 2015

Magnesium- Getting it Right

UPDATE: Be sure to read PART TWO on Magnesium

Migraines, muscle spasms, tics, trouble swallowing, exhaustion, poor memory, depression, chest pains, mood swings... all these and more are signs of a magnesium deficiency.

"But Michelle, I take a multi-vitamin every day", or "I eat lots of magnesium rich foods, so that can't be right."

Some clarity on this: when you have been magnesium deficient for a long time (more than a couple of months counts as a long time), your intestines become damaged. Specifically, they become damaged to no longer absorb magnesium from your food or supplements. So magnesium deficiency causes gut damage, and gut damage causes magnesium deficiency. Catch 22. Don't worry, there's a fix.

Any gut damage by itself will also cause magnesium deficiency. What causes gut damage? Any abdominal surgery (hernia, C-section, hysterectomy, etc), auto-immune diseases, gut diseases (IBS, Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, etc), and parasites.

Number One cause of gut damage: ANTIBIOTICS.

If you have ever taken an antibiotic and you did not supplement with probiotics at the same time, your gut was damaged. If you took an antibiotic more than once in your life without probiotics, more damage. If you cannot count how many times you have taken an antibiotic in your life, and you've never taken probiotics, you already know you have gut damage, you feel it every day- and yes, there is still a fix for this.

Magnesium is needed by Every part of your body, for almost Every function. Heart, brain, liver, lymph nodes, intestines- low mag not only causes problems, it has a domino effect by lowering Other vitamins you need as well.

Have you been diagnosed with low vitamin D? Guess what- if you don't have enough magnesium in your body, then you cannot absorb D from food or supplements, and you cannot turn sunlight into D. Does not work. Your D levels will continue to drop until you take care of your magnesium deficiency.

But wait, there's more: you make a vitamin in your gut called K2. Low K2 affects D and magnesium... and low magnesium causes your gut to be so damaged you stop making K2, which then causes low D...

Here is the solution:
*recipes at end
  1. Take your magnesium in through your skin, starting TODAY.

    • You can do this with an Epsom salt bath; full bath or foot bath, just do one Every Day. Buy a BIG bag, as you want at least 1/2 cup for a full bath and it will go fast.
    • Buy or make magnesium lotion*; apply first in a small area, if your skin likes it, apply all over.
    • Buy or make magnesium deodorant*, use it daily

  2. Start healing your gut TODAY.

    • Take probiotics every day. You can do this via probiotic pills, eating live culture yogurt, or make your own* probiotics. Probiotics is a group name; there is more than one type. You want a variety, ideally, so choose several options. At least take one type of probiotic, this is vital! 
    •  Make bone broth*, and take it daily. You can use any bones- beef, pork, chicken, fish- though organic, free-range, grass-fed (etc) is best. There are so many gut-healing properties of bone broth, I can't even list them all. If you can't handle the broth, do the gelatin.
    • Consume gelatin from grass-fed cattle daily. Great Lakes is the best company I know of. You can get some that will dissolve in liquid so you can add it to any drink, or the kind that sets up to make wiggly jello, which you can flavor with whatever you like. You can even use the gelatin to make your own gummy vitamins*.
    • Make homemade fermented foods* and eat them daily. Fermented foods have good bacteria and enzymes, which heal your gut.
  3. Start eating Gouda cheese TODAY.

    Gouda cheese is high in K2, which you need with the magnesium- it is also high in Calcium. You need calcium for magnesium to work, otherwise everything goes out of whack and the mag remains inert. There are other foods high in K2, but my own personal experience has found they do not work when your gut is currently damaged; the Gouda, for whatever reason, does. I believe it has to do with the whole cheese process, bacteria and enzymes and whatnot. Eat 1/2 ounce daily. (the size of a standard playing die or slightly bigger than a sugar cube)
SUMMARY: by the time you are experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency, you need to supplement through the skin (at least for a while) AND heal your gut. 

Magnesium Lotion Recipe
Magnesium Deodorant Recipe
Other Skin Magnesium Options
Bone Broth Recipe
Fermented Recipes: Sauerkraut, Pickles, Garlic, Salsa, Ketchup
Probiotic Recipes: Kombucha, Root Beer, Fudgesicles, Lemonade
Gummy Vitamins

All these recipes, articles, and more are on my Heal Your Gut pinterest board.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How to Have Pleasant Dreams

I have had two types of dreams most of my life: I know it was pleasant but I don't remember details, or vivid 3d gut wrenching horror-filled nightmares that I never forget.

When I was younger, I assumed dreams just happened, it was basically a dice roll what kind of dream you got. I was wrong.

I just recently learned that vitamin deficiencies will cause nightmares. Specifically, low B6 and low Zinc will cause nightmares and restless sleep.  The absolute best route to take if you suspect a deficiency is to see your doctor to get a blood draw to check all your levels. More on this in another blog post.

Here's something you won't read about in sleep studies. I noticed a pattern in my own sleep, my pleasant dreams vs unpleasant dreams. The pattern is this: I only have unpleasant dreams (nightmares) when I sleep on my right side. I only have pleasant dreams when I sleep on my left side. I have tried to pre-program both types of dreams to go on the opposite side- i.e. I tried to have a nightmare on my left, and tried to have a nice dream on my right- didn't work.

I am right-handed. I do not know if this has any bearing on this matter. I suspect it does not. I think this is entirely related to veins/arteries, nerves, and muscles. Stimulate the ones on the left of the body by the weight of laying on that side and you stimulate the happy dreams. Or perhaps it is remove the pressure from the right side of the body by not putting weight on it when you lay on your left.

I tend to move all around during the night, and have woken on my back and stomach also. I have noticed I feel dreadful when I wake on my stomach, and have usually just had bad dreams when stomach sleeping. I don't tend to remember dreams when sleeping on my back, and usually wake refreshed on my back.

Summary: poor quality of sleep and nightmares can be directly related to a lack of zinc and B6, and possibly connected to sleeping on your right side. Lab work can verify levels, and sleeping on your left may help to prevent nightmares.

Sleep well my friends.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Crushing the Comfort Zone

What is a comfort zone? It almost sounds nice- soothing, pleasant, somewhere to snuggle up with a good book and a soft blanket. Mmm. Comfort.

Reality: Comfort zone is the area that you are totally familiar with, all the old things. Staying in the comfort zone means there is no room for growth, or change, zero chance of improvement or achievement. You would have never walked if you had stayed in the comfort zone of crawling.

Comfort zones keep you at the job you hate, where every morning you just try to make it until 5pm, and every day you dream of Friday. Sunday nights are depressing because you know the next morning you have to return to the job that you're pretty sure is giving you an ulcer.

Comfort zones keep you in a bad relationship, while you rationalize that it's not 'that bad' to yourself and others. You make excuses for the other person, apologizing for their behavior, explaining it so it doesn't seem that bad.

Comfort zones keep you stuck crawling. You're still smoking when you want to stop, you're still eating crap when you want to eat healthy (at least in theory). You don't accomplish any of your goals, you laugh about how you've made the same New Year's resolution ten years in a row. You guess you could do better, maybe, but you're just so damned tired and annoyed and overworked all the time.

Many inspirational leaders encourage people to "step outside of their comfort zone." I say to hell with that- Crush it! Absolutely crush that comfort zone. Demolish that comfort zone. Grind it down to powder.

Get out of that comfort zone job and launch yourself into a career you love. Work at doing something that motivates you, lifts you, inspires you. A non-confort zone job is one where you look forward to going to work every day. Doesn't that sound great? A job where you think, "I would do this for free it's so wonderful", yet you get such a bountiful compensation you don't have to live paycheck to paycheck.

Crushing comfort zone relationships means you will truly like and enjoy every person you allow into your life. Every person, relatives too. The relatives you don't like, the ones that always make your anxiety kick in, they go stay over there in comfort zone land. Those ones do not follow you into the wild, where people love you without question or doubt, support you even at your worst, and help you to thrive as you help them thrive.

Demolish your personal comfort zones and accomplish your goals and dreams. No, don't just accomplish them, surpass them. Raise the bar again and again and dazzle yourself at what you are capable of, which is limitless amazing phenomenal success.

Start by holding conferences in your bathroom mirror- that's right, talk to yourself. Look yourself straight in the eyes and state "I am worthy. I am brilliant. I am beautiful. I am awesome!" Say it every morning before AND after you brush your teeth. Without fail, do this every single day, spoken out loud as you look at yourself.

Then go out and crush that comfort zone.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Back in the Saddle

Took a few months off to address my health.

As of today, it has been:

3 months since I had coffee
2 months since I had a cigarette
1 week I've been off of high blood pressure pills

I am officially off of ALL pharmaceuticals. Six months ago I was on 6 different meds in orange bottles, now there are none. This is so much better for my health.

I have lost 28 pounds as well!

Many people have asked me, how did I quit the coffee and cigs, so I'll share.

Substitution, patience, and distractions are what helped me to quit (along with a burning desire to be healthy).

I quit the coffee first, and substituted herbal teas and lots of water to compensate. I made sure I always had *something* ready to drink in the morning, usually by preparing it the night before. Some days it was apple juice, some tomato juice, some days Gatorade. But I didn't go to bed without making sure there was something there in place of the coffee first, so it would be available to me in the morning when I woke. Did you know that apple juice is more effective at waking you up in the morning than coffee?

I waited a full month after going off coffee to quit smoking. For me, coffee and cigarettes were so linked together, I don't think I would have been able to successfully quit smoking if I hadn't quit coffee first. I certainly tried to quit smoking several times before- I had smoked for 27 years! Like many former smokers, I had said "I quit" dozens of times, and always relapsed. Here's what worked this time:

1. I removed habits linked to it first (coffee).
2. I was mentally ready to quit and sincerely wanted to quit for ME.
3. I did not set a quit date; instead I looked at the supply I had on hand and said, "when that's gone, I'm done" and did not buy any more. Wound up running out at about 11:30 am and was okay with that. Previously, I looked for a magic quit date and magic quit time- if I had run out mid-morning I would have bought another pack, "Just to get through the day", with the intent of the last one before bed being the LAST one. Of course, this never worked.
4. I drank lots and lots and lots of water.
5. I distracted myself with lots of TV and movies. Any time I felt a craving, I distracted myself with something else. I didn't focus on the craving, I just gave my mind something else to be occupied with, usually a new series that I marathoned on Netflix.
6. I never talked about it. I think this one right here made the most difference. Previously, I always told people I was about to quit, that I quit, that it was 2 days since I'd had a smoke, etc. I finally realized, all that did was serve to keep it on my mind, to keep bringing my attention and focus back to cigarettes. So I didn't talk about it at all, to anyone. No one knew I had quit until it had been six weeks. By then, I felt secure enough in my non-smoking state to bring it up and discuss it.

That's it. No gum, no patches, no switching to a vape or e-cig. After struggling to quit smoking for over two decades, we did it. Oh yes, WE. My husband quit too- and he had smoked for over 40 years, Marlboro Reds 2 packs a day.

We're both happy with our new bodies, our new taste buds and sense of smell.

I'm happy that quitting smoking lowered my blood pressure enough I was able to quit the beta blockers I had been taking for over a year!

Now that I am feeling better, expect to see more posts.

I hope this post gives you hope. We are 42 and 51 years old, if we can take charge of our health at this age and break habits that have ruled us for the majority of our lives, YOU CAN TOO!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Kidney Stones- Natural Treatments

Natural treatment of kidney stones is possible. By natural I mean non-pharmaceutical.

My husband had kidney stones a few years ago, and I researched and used these remedies for him, which worked. Hopefully you'll never need this, but if you do, here's the list:

Nettle leaf tea
Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother
Corn silk
Lemon water
Castor Oil packs
Heating pad
Stone Breaker herb
LOTS of water
Cranberry pills

Nettle is a very mild good herb, I have studied it and used it for many years with zero problems. No known interactions, but use your common sense- if you have serious medical issues or take lots of pharma, check it for interactions before taking. Steep 1 teaspoon (or tea bag) in 1 cup boiling water, covered, for 10 minutes. Drink this every 2 hours. NO SUGAR. Nettle leaf tea is around $4 a box.

Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother- clear ACV is useless, you want the cloudy, sediment-filled vinegar that will say on the label "with Mother". The mother is the cloudy sediment, and it is THAT which provides the benefits. Shake the bottle well before using. Dosage is 2 tablespoons every 2 hours. If you can't handle the taste straight, you can add the 2 tablespoons to 8 ounces of water. I buy Bragg's Organic Raw Unfiltered ACV- it runs about $5 a bottle, vs $3 for the clear useless vinegar.

Corn silk means those threads you find on an ear of corn that needs shucked. Simply buy a single ear of corn; there is enough silk on there for an entire treatment. Pull off about 5 threads and steep it like the Nettle tea; drink one cup every two hours.

Lemon water is just taking a lemon (organic ideally) and cutting a slice of it, rind and all, and putting it in warm water. Let it sit for about 10 minutes then drink the water. Cover the lemon in wrap or put in Tupperware to save for the next round. Drink one cup every 2 hours.

Castor Oil packs and Heating pad go together. This one is messy. Soak a washcloth in the Castor Oil, and apply to the kidney that hurts. Cover in some plastic wrap (or a plastic grocery bag), then some cloth you don't mind ruining (an old t-shirt, a hand towel), then put the heating pad on top. Leave on no more than 30 minutes. Repeat every 2 hours. The Castor Oil penetrates with the heat and helps stones pass; the heating pad also dilates all passageways making it easier to pass stones.

Stone Breaker (Chanca Piedra) herbal tincture. One dropper full (about 10 drops) under the tongue, every 2 hours. Can reduce the size of stones and helps them pass. May lower blood pressure. If you have high or low blood pressure, proceed with caution. Tons more info here.

Water, water, water. Dehydration can Cause kidney stones, plus extra fluid helps you pee more which gets the stones out sooner. Yeah it hurts to pass them, but the real pain comes from having them stay in your body.

Cranberry pills, NOT juice. Cranberries are GREAT for the entire Urinary Tract in a lot of ways. Cranberry Juice, however, has a lot of sugar because cranberries are bitter- and sugar feeds bacteria. If you have stones, odds are there is some infection too, and you don't want to feed the little buggers and increase their numbers.

Garlic, organic, raw. Again, if you have stones you probably have infection. Organic garlic is unsurpassed at fighting infection and killing bacteria. I chew mine raw, which tastes as bad as it sounds- I chase it with the Apple Cider Vinegar, which cuts the burn immediately. Hey, 30 seconds of bad taste to heal my body, I can live with that. Chew one clove every 2 hours.

You may have noticed just about everything says "every 2 hours". Stagger it; chew the garlic and chase with the ACV, then slap on the Castor Oil/Heating pad. Thirty minutes later take your cranberry pills with the Nettle Tea. Thirty minutes later have the corn silk tea, and so on. In between, drink water, lots of water. Plan on being chained to the bathroom for the duration. When I used this protocol on my husband, he passed the stone within 24 hours.

Why so many different things? Well, there are FOUR types of kidney stones. Each is made of a different material, caused by different factors, and requires different treatment. Irony- until you pass the stone to have it tested, you can't know what kind you have. So, this covers the three types you can treat at home. The 4th type is Genetic kidney stones- if you have this, you've had it your whole life, starting passing them in childhood, and you don't pass One stone, you pass Many, and it usually requires hospitalization. There's no way you reach adulthood with genetic kidney stones and don't know it- so if this is your first time, you've got one of the other 3 types, and this protocol should help.

Disclaimer- I am not a registered or licensed anything, I am not recommending or promising anything. Just sharing what worked for my husband, and what I'm using currently.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

I Am Eyelash

I am eyelash
I am toenail
I am nose
I am cuticle
I am taste bud
I am hair
I am belly button
I am elbow

Sound silly?

How about: I am fat

Think about this for a minute. Realize that saying "I am fat" is just as silly as saying "I am eyelash."

You have eyelashes as part of your body: kneecaps, fingers, and lungs as part of your body. Yet you don't self identify as those body parts. I've never heard a group of women saying "I am earwax."

Fat is simply a part of your body, another body part like teeth or bones. Every human being on the planet has around 20 billion fat cells- EVERY human. We also have 35 billion skin cells, and 100 billion neurons; again, I have never heard someone say "I am skin" or "I am neuron".

You have fat. It does not mean you are fat. Understand the distinction, because it is important.

The next time you start to say, to yourself or others, "I am fat" stop and mentally replace it with "I am eyelash" and see if you still want to complete the statement. Even better, identify yourself as something besides a body part. You are so much more than that.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Staying Alive

Sometimes you need a set of instructions. Especially when you are depressed, a guide on what to do can really help.

How I Survived 41 years

I have been depressed more often than I have not. I have felt suicidal thousands of times. My official diagnosis is “Severe Depression, Recurrent,” so I know a little something about the subject.

Factor in far too many deaths of loved ones, every form of abuse, unemployment, poverty, isolation, various forms of trauma, PTSD- statistically speaking, I should be dead, many times over. Yet here I am.

So why am I still here? How did I stay alive, time and time again- what did I do differently than so many?

  1. I go to therapy. I make it a priority. I’ve fired 5 therapists in search of the 2 good ones I’ve been blessed to know. Once I have found a therapist I am comfortable with, I am honest with them. I listen to their advice, and gratefully accept and use the Tools they give me to function. At times I had no insurance- I still made therapy a priority. With no money and no insurance, I called every social agency in town and asked to be directed to *someone* that offered free therapy; I always found it. I was searching on craigslist for barter therapy at one time; had I been in a larger city, that option may have worked. (I bartered for one session of EFT training so I could treat myself; today find free Emotional Freedom Technique (aka tapping) on YouTube). Don’t accept the word “no” when it comes to getting counseling, it’s essential if you are suffering from depression. Today there are online therapists, there are medical ride shares to get you to a therapy appointment, there’s so many ways to get therapy. Make it a big priority to start, and attend regularly- you are worth it, you really are.
  2. I joined support groups online- on Facebook, specifically. I used the ‘groups’ search to find groups I thought I would like, joined several like it, then narrowed my choices based upon the ‘feel’ of the group. I belong to a mom support group, parents of angels group, several Autism support groups, depression support groups, health groups, positive thinking groups, and various others.  I love being online, it allows me to be social in a setting I am comfortable with and understand- so I get my support online. Get yours somehow, somewhere, in whatever form or fashion works for You- it’s super important, even if you’re just talking to fellow Elvis fans.
  3. I drench my world in positive messages. They used to be written on index cards, but thanks to Pinterest, now I have beautiful posters. I searched for every meaningful, inspirational, uplifting, motivational quote on there, and pinned them to save them. I downloaded the ones that really spoke to me, resonated on a gut level to speak to my soul, saved them to my jump drive, and got them printed at Kinko’s. Color is 49 cents a page, and I print batches every time I have ten bucks for it. In my bathroom, in my bedroom, on the doors, on the refrigerator, by my front door, in the hallways, next to the thermostat, in my car, in my purse- they are everywhere. Some I read out loud, every day- this is very powerful and makes a Noticeable difference. These words tell me how important it is to keep going, and how, and why- and since I picked them, I remember, “this is important to me, this is a message I want to give to myself.”
  4.   I don’t own a gun. I don’t care what your policy is about the 2nd Amendment, hunting, your rights, etc, all of that has zero to do with this. If I had owned a gun, had it available in my home where I could have had the instant access to pick it up and used it when I felt my worst, I would have shot myself several dozen times. HALF of the suicides in the United States are committed by gun; it is the most common method of suicide in the US. By not owning a gun I also protected my children, keeping that option out of their environment. I’ve lost 4 people to suicide- all 4 used a gun. If you get depressed enough that you think of dying, even once, you’re much more likely to stay alive if there are no guns of any kind in your home. If you have one, move it, now.
  5. I address areas of health that contribute to depression. Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide. It made sense to tackle the cause of the whole problem, so I started doing things that would improve, alleviate, or remove my depression. I researched what can cause depression, and found that internal parasites can cause/worsen depression. My symptoms fit, so I did an herbal parasite cleanse. I stopped feeling so incredibly suicidal after completing this cleanse, it was my first life-changer and hope that I could improve. I took probiotics to improve my gut, as gut health is directly tied to mental health, the brain, and suicidal thoughts and feelings. I’ve also been treating high metal toxicity, mold, yeast, fungus (all with food grade edible dirt), low vitamin D levels, low magnesium and low zinc levels. I don’t think any one of these things is solely responsible for the crippling depression and suicidal thoughts; I think they each contributed. As I remove them and correct them one by one, I notice improvement. I don’t get as depressed, as often, for as long. A blood test discovered my low vitamin D, after 25 years of depression. No one thought to look at my blood for what is considered an emotional or mental disorder for decades.

    Health issues that can affect depression, in no particular order:
    Living within one mile of large power lines- like these thyroid disorders, lack of sleep, dehydration, diabetes, hormonal imbalances (due to pregnancy, birth, contraception, menstrual, medications), poor nutrition, grief, trauma, surgery, mold exposure, candida yeast overgrowth,parasite infestation, undiagnosed seizures, metal toxicity (mercury, lead, copper), pesticide exposure, fluoride, Lyme disease, heart disease, Sensory Processing Disorders, food allergies and intolerances, Medications: birth control pills, diabetic medication, blood pressure medicines, even acne meds- if you take a script, see if depression is a side effect. If it is, and you’re depressed, consider stop taking it. Study HOW to stop taking it- some medicines are Extremely Dangerous to quit Cold Turkey; Call your Pharmacist.
  6. I seek relief from every source I can. In addition to the health changes above, I bought a special blue light bulb that is for Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), which cost $5, and installed it in the lamp next to me that I use daily. I drink an anti-stress tea called Tension Tamer (which works!) that I’ve found in every grocery store in every state. Hematite stones are used in stone healing to reduce stress; I own several and carry them in my purse and pockets, and wear hematite jewelry. I meditate, sometimes quietly by myself sitting, sometimes a ‘walking meditation’, sometimes I listen to a guided meditation on YouTube. I listen to classical music, which is known to affect moods and improve brain function- when severely depressed, I put classical music on the TV, turn it to low, and sleep on the couch with it running in the background all night. I burn frankincense in my home as often as I can; smelling the smoke from frankincense decreases depression. I carry an herbal tincture in my purse that is for stress and tension that goes under my tongue. I carry an aromatic scent blend that I like that improves mood in my purse and sniff as needed. I recently discovered Sound Healing, and listen once a week to an hour long Sound Healing session on YouTube (with headphones). I got my eyeglasses tinted Smoky Rose as this color soothes me and helps avoid visual Sensory overload, especially in grocery stores. I take warm baths with Epsom salts, use lavender sachets in my pillows, give myself scalp and head massages (learned how on YouTube), and imagine myself on a beach at least once a day. I studied Mindfulness and began practicing it regularly. I researched breathing techniques and perform the ones I like. I learned how to do a few key tapping points using EFT that help- 2 minutes of tapping helps enormously.  I learned visuals like putting all my worries in a big bubble that I’ve blown up with my breath, and then push the bubble away. I watch hypnosis videos that help rewire my brain. I recommend EMDR, it gives really great results for depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks and PTSD. I take Melatonin at night to help me fall asleep and stay asleep, since sleep is vital and poor sleep causes depression. Anything that can help with stress management, relaxation, changing thought patterns, I study it and seek out and add the ones that suit me.
  7. I avoid bad news. I don’t read the newspaper, in any form. I don’t go to news websites, I don’t watch news video clips, no RSS feeds or newsletters, and I don’t watch the news on TV. In fact, I don’t watch TV; this removes all the commercials, special interruptions, upcoming previews of the news, and so on. I only subscribe and ‘like’ positive sites on Facebook. Friends and relatives who post a lot of ‘tragic news’ and rants get edited; I spend time clicking ‘hide all from channel 5 news’ instead of ‘hide all from Emily’ so I can still see pics of their kids and congratulate them on their promotion at work and things of that nature. In the checkout line, I only look at the recipe magazines. This prevents me from seeing who in Hollywood is getting a divorce, got caught cheating, is dying of cancer, got robbed by their accountant, got fat, got secretly taped having sex, and all other negative messages just repeated with giant headlines and photos. I work to avoid these things, because I’ve noticed it really makes a big difference in my life. I feel better, think better, and handle my own stress better when I’m not inundated with the stresses of 7 billion other people.
  8. I made a conscious Choice to Live. Not just to Not Die, but to Keep Living. There’s a difference. Once I figured that out, I decided I wanted to keep living. Prior to that decision, I had just been Not Dying every day. I decided maybe people could be right, that it is Possible to Feel good and want to live. I realized I could stop being in pain and be Capable of feeling peace, relief, joy. When I took that step and decided to actively Choose to Live and not just keep existing, I started finding Answers. I suddenly changed doctors and the first thing the new doctor did was order the blood test that found the low D. The comment of a friend led to me finding support groups on Facebook, which led to me learning about the myriad of issues I didn’t know I had that were damaging my health, and keeping me sick and miserable. Once I chose to live, things that would ultimately help me live healthy and well came into my life, all the time.
  9. I seek out happiness. One day, after months of very deep and dark intense depression, I decided to make a list of things that I enjoy, when I’m capable of enjoyment- my list of things that make me happy. Eating good chocolate, dancing, coloring with crayons, helping others, taking long baths, listening to music, writing, looking at art, and walking in the woods were some of the things on my list. When I was done with my list, couldn’t think of anything else to add, I stopped and thought, “how often do I do these things?”. I realized the answer was Never. I did not do one damned thing a day that I liked, not even for a few seconds! No wonder I was miserable. The opposite of happiness. There was no happiness in my life. I guess I expected it to just show up on its own. I realized I was mad at myself, that did so much ‘stuff’ in my life but never did Any of the things I liked or wanted, never did anything to put a smile on my own face. I started doing the things on my list. I started living a life I actually wanted, down to small things like buying the coffee creamer I really like. I began seeking out people to help online, since I wanted to help people but was crippled by anxiety and social fears- I found a way around those problems by going on Yahoo answers, answering people’s questions that came up in their lives. It helped. I started to feed my soul.  I look at the Louvre online, and I visit people’s art collections on Pinterest to find new art styles I like (shadow art!). I visit YouTube and now I’m listening to music every day, and it makes a difference. I quit worrying about being 41 and went and bought the deluxe box of Crayolas and sat and enjoyed coloring. I started doing at least one thing a day every day that made me happy in various areas, from hugging my child to watching baby animal videos.

    Happiness is a verb; when you don’t act that verb out you create a vacuum which misery fills. Suicide follows misery because ongoing misery feels so hopeless and pointless. Figure out what makes You happy and Feeds Your Soul, and go Do Those Things.

©Michelle Mason Rocks 2015. This work is a FREE SHARE. You may share it for free anywhere with anyone, in print or digital format. If someone has charged for this work, please notify me at Available for download on Smashwords.