The Health Dance

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For a moment, I thought about creating (once again) a separate space for a health blog, to differentiate between my dance and health worlds. And then I remembered that I’m working to bridge those worlds ever more, and one really isn’t separate from the other for me. But the health posts I’ll be writing may have less of the ‘positivity’ or focus-only-on-the-good of my dance posts, as the truth of the matter is that I have my ups and downs with my health, both mental and physical.

For a long time, I believed that I couldn’t really show those truths as I offered up a life of play and fun and strength through dance. But the reality is, both truths are, well, true. I get all of that – play and fun and strength – through dance, and hopefully my students get that most of the time they are in my dance classes too (not to say sometimes we aren’t challenged, and that being challenged ISN’T good for us). But I also sometimes contend with what has long been a part of me – adrenal fatigue, a sluggish liver, bouts of depression and loneliness and a deep belief that no one really understands me, or wants to (chalk that up to being a four on the Enneagram or having my moon in Scorpio or both, but it is what it is).

I know that people can heal and change. All of the things I just mentioned are ones that struck me (down) on a daily basis for much of my 20s, and now, at 37, I can go months and months without experiencing any of them. I’m proud of all of the work I’ve done on myself over the years to make this a reality; I’m proud that I didn’t end up taking antidepressants to get here (I’m in no way calling out anyone that does take them – I know many people that they’ve helped tremendously, and I even recommend them to friends that can’t seem to move forward. I’ve just always had a gut feeling that they wouldn’t be right for me, that I had to slog through my stuff in a multitude of ways to come out on the other side); I’m proud that I know how to climb out of the pits of my despair on a much straighter path in less time than I used to. I have and use tools that I can only wish I knew about as a young adult.

Having said all of this, is still SUCKS when the old stuff comes up.

It does for everyone, doesn’t it? That’s why we use alcohol, or drugs, or sugar, or food, or work to look at something different than the pain that is bubbling up. I have no doubt in my mind that emotional issues underlie physical symptoms, and that different personalities approach this in different ways. Many people like to ignore their physical symptoms as much as possible, hoping they will go away. Others overdo it with their zeal for healing the physical, becoming obsessed with every healing option out there (at times, I’ve fallen clearly into this second approach). Rarely do we dive deep into our psyche (and don’t get me wrong – that can also become too obsessive and we can get stuck in that broken record). I don’t know the magic bullet answer, but I’m fairly certain that it falls somewhere in the thick of the middle.

* * * * *

I’ve been drinking Essiac tea for the last couple of weeks, along with eliminating alcohol. I’d been having horrible hangovers after just a couple of drinks the last couple of months, and occasional pangs in my upper right body, directly underneath my ribs (that’s where your liver and gallbladder reside, for those that don’t know). Essiac tea is known as a great cleanser, and is controversially touted as a cancer cure. I won’t dive into the latter, but I do know it can work wonders as an overall body detox.

Unlike a lot of people, I enjoy the taste of most herbal concoctions, and I quickly moved from taking a small amount in water to drinking a couple of gulps straight from the jar (several no-nos all thrown together, if you go by the directions in all Essiac tea boxes/bottles). I noticed a bit more intense pain in my side on Thursday, but chalked it up to detox that would pass by the next morning. Whether it was straight detox, or my body sending me an alert because it knew what I planned to do the next day, is hard to say.

What I planned the next day was to take what I – and most of Asheville – considers to be a REAL snow day: I would imbibe some mimosas, and probably a couple of other alcoholic beverages. All in all, over the day and night, I had maybe five or so drinks. Not an excessive amount of alcohol for a lot of people (though I understand it is for others), but as the headache kicked in that evening before I even stopped drinking, I knew I was in trouble.

Two EmergenC’s, lots of water, and a couple of ibuprofen (and yes, I know ibu also works your liver) aside, I still felt mildly headachey the next morning and the pangs in my side were more intense. But it just got progressively worse throughout the day. By mid-day, I was employing coffee enemas, castor oil packs, tons of water, and only simple foods in order to bring down the throbbing pain in my liver. Every time I turned or laughed or coughed, it brought an intense amount of pain. I kept this up the rest of the weekend, which helped, but I’m still dealing with some dull pain and foggy-headedness today.

I went through the probably customary emotional roller-coaster of feeling scared for my body and what this could mean, promising myself I’d make the changes that I’ve done before, even though I didn’t want to go through ‘that’ again, being pissed that I couldn’t be ‘normal’ and consume alcohol occasionally without it making me go through this, wondering if things would always be this way, how my feeling bad would impact my work, being sad that I was alone with no one to take care of me, being angry that no one was reaching out to check on me and what kind of friends do I really have, telling myself to get over it since there are so many others out there with worse health/no warm place to live in this snow/no one to call and so on. Ah, to be human.

With a little research, I figured out today that the Essiac tea was probably seriously detoxing my liver, and then I added alcohol to re-toxify it at the same time, and it was in super overdrive. But I have to believe there is a deeper purpose for experiencing this, and the rooted emotional pain that came up with it once again. I believe we all have our root issue that we play out over and over again in our lives in order to heal it. A therapist friend noted to me recently that for all people, it comes down to either feeling deeply inadequate, or that we don’t belong. I fall pretty seamlessly into the latter category, which triggers both my emotional and physical symptoms, including jealousy, being judgmental, and anger (guess what likes to reside in the liver?).

I long for deep, real connection, where I am seen and accepted for all my shiny parts AND my flaws. I know that underneath it all, this is true for most everyone. How we work out that desire is individual, how our body’s respond is up to our body. But I thought I’d share what I do to ‘pull’ myself up out of my depression (and yes, that is what it is). Because I know so many times over the years, I’ve read the words “just be in it” or “just let it go” and always said to myself GIVE ME SOMETHING SPECIFIC, DAMMIT*. This may not work for you, or it may work for you down the line, but at least it’s something you can try:

Physically (for liver, stomach disturbances, intense headaches or body aches):

– Castor oil packs. These can also be used for sore muscles
– Epsom salt with eucalyptus essential oil baths
– Coffee enemas (an integral part of Gerson Therapy) and chlorophyll enemas (mineral rich and good for your system)
– Hot water with lemon
– Minimal food that’s easy to break down. I ate lentil soup, bananas, well-cooked eggplant and onions
– Lots of filtered water
– No caffeine
– Went for walks when I could

Mentally:

– Listened to my favorite visualization a couple of times. Added new ones
– Went to check out my favorite EFT guy, Brad Yates, and did a couple of applicable videos
– Listened to RISK!, which viscerally reminds me we all have our personal struggles
– Took naps
– Looked at my dream board and added a couple of things to it
– Wrote some of my frustrations in my journal
– Gave myself sometime to be pissed, frustrated, and claim to my cat that changes were gonna be made
– Relied on the work that I’ve done to understand this is part of the process and it isn’t forever
– Laid on couch and watched movies

Things I do consistently that help:

– Listen to visualizations
– Meditate
– Try to recognize when I’m triggered, even if I don’t do anything about it in the moment
– Not drinking alcohol GREATLY levels out my moods, as does removing sugar (I know this one is a broken record, but it is BEYOND true)
– Dance
– Be doing in my life what moves me and forces me out of my junk (sometimes, it’s really helpful to have to go/do work)

It’s extremely helpful to believe you can heal yourself, to whatever extent and whatever level that means to you. For some, it may be a physical turnaround. For others, a mental one. Often, it can mean accepting your ailment or issue, and understanding it is a dance that you will partner in for the rest of your life. That’s one view our detox-it-in-10-days culture often doesn’t want to face, but I believe humanity can be found in the rhythm.

*This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The statements contained on this web site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information provided on this site is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional.

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