In preparing for a first consultation with a new doctor, I prepared for the usual questions. I thought they’d like to know what I’ve done so far to better my emotional/physical health. So I made a list. Turns out, they weren’t interested, but I think a few of you just might want to know some of the paths I’ve followed since discovering I have an emotional link to my blood glucose.
- Somatic counselling: This is a form of mind/body counselling that aims to relieve pent up tension that’s adversely affecting mental/physical health. This is not talk therapy, but aims to go deeper. I lay on a table and relaxed while the practitioner touched my head and body. This is when my chin began to chatter like a child about to cry. I also had dips of glucose following each session, particularly as I walked the dogs. I was disappointed there was no huge release, but some say that’s not the point. I did get some distant memories arise. I stopped going due to the cost.
- Neurosensory course: I signed up for Irene Lyon’s Smart Body Smart Mind course a few years ago and have repeated it since (I only paid once and the subsequent courses are free). It’s a substantial cost for a course you can’t predict on its effectiveness, but in my case it brought a huge benefit…I stopped my glucose from spiking during physical exertion. For years, whenever I worked out (running, hiking, working with a personal trainer) my glucose would rise precipitously during the exercise. Irene’s course taught me to keep my mind present. I realized movement prompted me to drift back into old memories. Once I stayed with the here and now, the glucose spikes stopped.
- Meditation: I learned to meditate through an app on my phone. Headspace walks you through the practice and allows you to set the time for each session. The only previous experience I’d had was in college, when a psychology instructor talked the class through the process. I remember sitting with my hands on my lap, each hand feeling disconnected from the other, if that makes sense. So I shook off the concept that I’m unable to meditate due to a busy mind, and got into it. Odd things happen. My left arm tenses and I get the image that I’m hanging off a cliff. My dead mom pops in with a big smile, and afterward she’s on my computer with that same smile on the day’s memories on Facebook. And then I imagine myself as a baby and her holding me. My glucose dropped from 9 mmols to 7 mmols over 20 minutes. This truly shocked me, so I repeated the imagery and over 15 minutes, brought the glucose from 8.5 mmols to 7 mmols.
- Ayawaska: I tried this South American psychoactive potion on the suggestion of writer Gabor Maté. I was among a few dozen people in a gymnasium who drank the potion (for me tasted like rubber tires) and lay on mats to await the results. The first night I felt nothing but annoyance as guys chanted until after 2 a.m. The second night I decided to meditate to open myself up a little more, and I fell into a frightening hallucination of being spun through the air with neon lights flashing past. I was terrified and kept muttering, “I don’t know where I am, somebody please help me.” The guy next to me heard and was concerned but we weren’t allowed to interfere with each other’s experiences. I found it terrifying and nothing I’d want to do again.
- Memoir: As a journalist I’ve written about many people’s lives. It never occurred to me to write my about my own until I went to a writing workshop run by Shaena Lambert, author and workshop facilitator. It was the first time I ever considered my life had stories worth telling. It was the first time I realized my life wasn’t idyllic as I’d long believed, but had trauma after trauma. I was awake one entire night writing about family fights and the pain they caused. It was a shocking wake-up call. Over the years, I’ve written a dozen drafts. I hired a freelance editor to help me develop a less journalistic, more literary writing style. The book is awaiting its last chapter.
- Blogging: A recent development, and one that’s still ongoing. I am trying to connect with others who may also have emotional links to diabetes. Or at the very least, let people know emotional diabetes exists.
- Genealogy: I dug through old family photos and online records to redefine what Family means to me. There are dozens of interesting grandparents going way back who are part of my DNA. I want to know more about them and I meditate about meeting them.
- Cultivating friendships: I’ve tended to be a loner, since I was raised to be independent. Not having my siblings as part of my inner circle has me looking outside family for emotional support. When someone offers friendship, I’ve learned to follow through and open up. It may last, it may not. The important thing is to learn that reaching out to a like-minded person can reap rewards.
- Talk therapy: I’ve had counselling for decades and while it doesn’t usually help for deep healing, it certainly helps get me back on track through depression, divorce, bad breakups and the deaths of loved ones (dogs) . I find my own solutions once the thoughts get out of my head.
- Wilderness connection: I’ve developed a strong yearning to be in nature and use my attention at staying present when I’m out there. It brings me a sense of calm. I touch trees that are decades old and listen to the call of birds. I know we’re all connected. Human beings have forgotten we’re part of nature.
- Work community: I’ve learned that work isn’t just a paycheque. There are friendships and support available among the work community. I’ve found women my age who take me as I am and whom I can trust to talk about my experiences. They know and understand.
- Extended fasting: Insulin makes people fat. Carbs jack up my need for insulin. The only solution, for me, is a low-carb diet and extended fasting to stave off the weight gain. It ain’t easy.
- Quit alcohol: I used to avoid the topic of booze because I thought of it as a friend. But delving into scientific papers I found that alcohol wrecks your pancreas, the very organ I’m trying to heal. So I quit drinking more than three years ago. It’s not easy giving up a comfort like that, but I’d rather be in the here and now.
- Vegan low-carb diet: Dark leafy greens aren’t everybody’s idea of a fabulous meal but I need to minimize insulin use. I focus on nutritious veggies that are high in protein and low in carbs. I also eat bacon, because — bacon. I also occasionally have eggs and chicken. I do not eat wheat products, dairy, beef, pork or processed foods. That being said, I sometimes need a fuck-it serving of cheesecake and my blood sugars punish me for a day or two.
- Naturopathy. I’ve had cortisol testing that shows my cortisol is out of whack. I take supplements. Physicians are dismissive of things like adrenal fatigue. I don’t know what to believe.
- I’m working on yoga.
- My go-to books to read: When the Body Says No by Gabor Maté and The Obesity Code by Jason Fung.
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