I’m fit to burst! (Which, in general, is not a good thing, but in this specific incident, is amazing. Life is burstworthy!)
Today, I’m thrilled to say that I just keep feeling better.
“You’ve looked different the past couple of weeks,” a friend of mine said to me today. “Your skin, your eyes — you just look really good, really alive.”
I feel it, too.
Between right-sizing my thyroid meds and taking a wee dram of zinc-with-copper (I took it for a couple of weeks and am on a break), I returned to full-fledged healthy humanhood.
But wait, there’s more!
Somehow, in my journeys across the vast Internet Sea, I came across a reference to retraining the brain. In that rooster-announcement post, I mentioned that I’m training my focus (“Good girl, here’s a treat!”) away from symptoms of illness and back onto what I truly love in this great big burstworthy life…
brushonpaper brushoncanvas brushonanything
mysweetierussell beachbeachbeach greenflashsunsets
goodcrunchywords softgooeywords saltytangywords
bbcmysteries longshaftsofsunlight bellyachinglaughter
As I said, everything I love and then some.
All of this feels truly amazing. And, as it turns out, it can possibly heal chemical sensitivities, too.
Holy bovine, Batman.
Remember my life a year ago? Well, no, of course you don’t. Neither do I. So let me refresh both our memories:
I had to give up using my lovely acrylic paints because their barely-detectable fumes were making me sick.
A lot has changed since then. My response to acrylic fumes was a form of multiple chemical sensitivities, where a person has a hypersensitive reaction to tiny amounts of substances that others would not react to.
My chemically-sensitive response to acrylics launched me on a flight of artsy discovery as I searched long and hard for a new painting medium — one that would not make me sick. When I reached the apex of that flight and began to drift earthward, I fell softly in the world of watercolor.
I’m never looking back.
I adore watercolor. I love the mysterious way that the pigments blend and blossom together. I love that the water is as much of an artist as I am, that the liquid is its own unpredictable force, creating a new and unexpected experience with each painting.
I love the way that my art style has changed since watercolor began to possess me. I have drifted further and further from cartoonification, now painting stylized cats and dogs that drip with brilliant color. (But who knows? I think cartooning will make a comeback tour soon.)
Now, when I share my watercolor paintings of animals, I take joy in the quiet look of love that crosses my friends’ eyes.
But wouldn’t it be nice to, you know, be in the same room as a large number of open pots of acrylics — say, in a friend’s studio — without the fear of keeling over and having to be dragged out by my toes? (I exaggerate… slightly.)
This is a consummation devoutly to be wished. But with the brain retraining mentioned at the top of this post, I might just have it.
I’ve been practicing brain retraining diligently — specifically, a form that trains the brain’s limbic system out of fight-or-flight mode of chemical sensitivity and into a feeling of safety, pleasure, and joy.
While it’s too early to definitively tell how well this works, I will say this: I had a good amount of acrylic exposure recently when I used acrylic-based watercolor ground (a treatment that allows watercolor to sink into otherwise-unsinkable surfaces). I painted this stuff on seventy-some-odd sheets of paper to prepare for an art class that I taught this past weekend.
Did I have a reaction? Yes, I did: terrible fatigue, listlessness, weakness, irritability, and generally feeling that everything in all this great and glorious world was pretty damned crappy. In short: The lark was in a sling, the snail impaled on a thorn, and all was horrid with the world.
But when I finally realized that I was reacting to chemical exposure, and that all those symptoms, as oddly psychiatric as they sound, were
merely signs of chemical sensitivity,
I made a mental beeline for my brain retraining exercises. I hopped to those cranial calisthenics and set my head a-spinning.
Within ten minutes of focused practice, I felt really, really good.
Actually, I felt fabulous. I felt like I’d:
- taken a three-hour nap
- had an hour to recover from my three-hour nap
- and tanked myself up on spiced black tea with honey and cream.
In other words, I felt alive, vibrant, and cheerful. I overflowed with love. I felt so joyous and sizzly that I cracked jokes, slung puns, and otherwise made myself a nuisance to my own species. My sweetheart and I were heading out to an event — one that I’d thought I would barely drift through, fatigued and befogged — but I was engaged, alive, and filled with sensuous delight for the whole evening.
That night, I was too high on braininess to sleep! I finally conked out at oneish in the morning, at which point the little gray cells whispered a hearty thank you before they set to snoring.
All of this may sound ridiculously implausible. It does to me, too, except I was there for this entire episode and just so happened to have starred in it. In fact, this took place not just once but twice on two separate days, as I had broken apart my acrylic exposure over several days — thinking I’d be able to reduce my sick-in-bed time afterwards.
Sick-in-bed time? Begone!
This brain training stuff feels very, very real. And I believe that it is.
So right now, I’m hemming. I’m hawing. Here I go hem, there I go haw. I just can’t decide.
Should I share this brain retraining program with you now? While it’s still fresh and new for me? Before I’ve had a chance to test it exhaustively, to determine whether or not I’m sharing something of value? To truly ground myself in its approach before appearing to endorse it through a linky-linky-loo on this wee blog of mine?
Should I share it now before I know — from firsthand experience — whether this stuff really works in the long run, or whether it’s a flash-in-the-pan that will start a dismal and heart-sucking rush on gold that just ain’t there?
Oh, haw it.
In my recent
obsession with research into brain retraining, I’ve discovered that there are lots of people — lots and lots and lots of people — who are suffering with chemical sensitivities in ways that are far more dramatic, damaging, and terrifying than my own.
People who are so sick from chemicals that they don’t merely have to give up paint — they may have to give up their homes. And go live in a tent in the woods. An off-gassed tent in the woods. In a clearing without wifi or mold.
My own sensitivities are so very mild compared to this, a flea bite against a shark chomp. When I think of others suffering through such a health horror, I start to cry.
On the very slim case that someone with such extreme chemical difficulties happens to read this post, I want to make sure that that person has access to the tools I serendipitously stumbled upon. So, despite my hemming and hawing, link-sharing it shall be.
That said, I offer these links with two caveats:
- One, that I’m not professionally endorsing these programs yet, as I am not — yet — prepared to stand fully behind them in the public arena (though I do so in the privacy of my own sweet brain, and I expect that I’ll be able to stand publicly behind them with great confidence in the future),
- And two, that I’m doing more than just a single brain retraining program — I’m focused primarily on one program (noted below), taking tidbits from others, and integrating more healing tools such as shmeditation (meditation with a cat on your lap), good nutrition, and good medical care and therapeutic support.
So here’s the big link-o-rama:
There’s that limbic word again. We’re talking about a specific region of the brain, say, a cranial neighborhood, where the retraining is focused. At this site, you can learn about multiple approaches to brain retraining for chemical sensitivities, electrical sensitivities, food sensitivities, and chronic fatigue. This site indexes several — some that cost money, some that can be accessed at least partially without payment — and the success stories listed are incredibly powerful. http://limbicretraining.com/
Dynamic Neural Retraining System (DNRS)
A brain-based, bright-hearted approach to healing chemical sensitivities, electrical sensitivities, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Many of the symptoms of chronic fatigue, by the way, happen to be the same as hypothyroid symptoms. Interesting, no? This is the program that I chose to try first. I ordered their DVDs, marinated in the material, and voila! The results that you’ve read about above are due to my diligent use of this system. I like. I like muchly. http://dnrsystem.com/
A brain retraining program based in England and available on DVD, this approach is geared toward chronic fatigue syndrome, but people seem to be using it successfully for chemical sensitivities as well. I haven’t had the privilege of reviewing this system yet, but have seen on many forums that it seems to work well for many people, so it’s made the linkworthy list. I’m eager to learn more about it in the future. http://www.guptaprogramme.com/
A Rational Approach, donation-based ebook by Loz Evans
Loz Evans, a writer in the UK, has put together her own program for healing from chronic fatigue (which I believe could help those with chemical sensitivities as well) and outlines it all in an ebook. She has generously made this book available to readers via email, and requests only a donation from those who can afford it. I am currently working through her book bit by bit, and am finding a great deal of wisdom throughout, and lots to integrate into my existing practice of DNRS, described above. http://www.arationalapproach.com
Well, darling readers, I’ve fairly bored you with text, with nary a coconut or mango to lighten this oh-so-wordy mood — and only a couple of animal paintings, too! Whatever is becoming of me?
But let’s be consistent. Words, words, words. In the spirit of loquacity, I’ll close with even more words. Here we go:
Wonder Twin powers, activate! Form of … a story! (Or maybe a pink ice unicycle!)
Sicily, 1939… Uh, Oregon, 2015…
A lone watercolorist treads across the windswept dunes, clutching brush and paint to breast, as the sun slopes hot and hard against her skin. She has beaten the many-headed hydra of hypothyroid symptoms, and arrives, ragged and weary, at the very doorway to her destiny. That destiny: an artsy classroom. The mission: Be bubbly and coherent, teaching watercolor goodness for two whole hours in a row.
Can this art class be saved?
Crowds across the world grasp at their theater seats, craning forward in suspense. Is it possible? Will this hypothyroid girl make it to the two-hour mark with energy to spare? Or will the last head or two of that hydra leap out to bite her, leaving her listless and limp on the couch for days and weeks to come?
She bellies up to the classroom table. Eyeing the hydra across the room, she draws her brush from its scabbard…
And she swashes! She buckles! One, two, one, two, and through and through, the vorpal brush goes snickersnack!
“Nailed it,” she says two hours later, blowing smoke from her brushtip. And she goes galumphing back.
To Translate from the Harmony-ese:
Can all this brain retraining help with lingering thyroid symptoms, like low stamina? Well, let’s see…
On Sunday, I taught (my first-ever) watercolor class to a small group of raucous artists (yes, you are artists!) at my local Unity church. Though dunes were not trudged to get there, I did go through days of painstaking preparation, including several afternoons of exposure to the acrylic watercolor ground mentioned above.
Despite all of this, throughout the class, I felt amazing. I was filled with fizz and pop. Zero symptoms. No fatigue, no brain fog, nothin’.
The first thing I asked the group to do, when the necessary pre-class chatterwauling spun down, was stand up and learn a ridiculous dance. It was laughter yoga, with a bit of clapping, cheering, and yes, even woohooing thrown in. (I adapted this from the DNRS brain retraining program I’ve recently been studying — the laughter yoga is one of my favorite bits — and yup, I credited the program for this.)
To do this silly dance, you have to have one thing: energy. And dagnabbit, I had it!
(Dagnabbit squared: my friend Kimberly caught it all on her phone. Here you have it, for your viewing pleasure.)
I stayed on my feet throughout most of the class, teaching with energy and vitality — a kind of life force that was not available to me just a few weeks ago. I was astounded by my own stamina. I was amazed that my voice carried so well. I was even snort-laughing at my own jokes. In public!
After class, I stayed on, packing everything up in my higgedly-piggedly way while continuing to chatterwaul with friends. I arrived home, had tea with my sweetheart and his truly awesome sister, and continued to effervesce in joy — then we all hightailed it to the beach with the dogs for some serious dune-walking and low-tide slime patrol.
On Monday, the day after the class, I wrote the rough draft of this post. In the past, I would have required nearly a full-day’s rest after an event like teaching that watercolor class. I would have required quietness and solitude, a lack of simulation, and a great deal of peace.
But instead, what did I do that day? Well, I wrote these two-dang-thousand-plus words for a starter — while walking three-and-a-half miles at my treadmill desk. And I fairly frothed with happiness throughout. Callooh! Callay! She chortles in her joy!
This is a remarkable transformation. I credit a great deal of it to the brain retraining, as well as good medicine, good food, and quite frankly a good imagination capable of seeing a bright and brilliant future.
Hold on tight now, folks — I can see that brilliance for all of us. It’s gonna be a magnificent ride.
Pop (and un-pop) culture thanks to:
Golden Girls, Robert Browning (Pippa Passes), Lewis Carroll (Jabberwocky), Batman, Wonder Twins, and the wonderful creators of these brain retraining programs, who probably should have their own sitcom and/or BBC mystery series by now, because I love them all so much.