A Psychological Reflection on Autoimmune Disease’s Effects on the Body and Psyche

That’s a long title up there and living with autoimmune disease feels like a long road. I am writing this blog in the spirit of sharing my personal journey to inspire you if you are also on the path of living with autoimmune disease.

I have lived with an AD since I was eleven but I did not know it was an AD until three years ago when a doctor causally said, “Oh you have Hidradenitis Suppurativa,” while giving me an exam. Before that, I only knew that I had some skin curse with no cure. I lived with it by ignoring it even though I was always dealing with it. Denial is strong.

My particular disease is ugly, insidious, painful, and a fucking cross to bear. I have immense compassion for anyone bearing the cross of AD because whichever one you have tends to be incurable and wreaks havoc on the body and psyche.

My disease caused me to feel shame my entire life. I have worked through shame by feeling it with love and letting it go. I am free of it now and it wasn’t easy to release but I did it.

In my mind, I tell myself that we all bear our crosses, all bodies are imperfect, ugliness is an aspect of life, and that being a brave advocate who knows my beauty is what can bring myself and others inspiration. I rewrote the shame story into a story of empowerment and acceptance.

I could not release shame and rewrite the story of living with AD until I got mostly in remission. Remission of my symptoms led the way for the healing of my psyche.

I say mostly in remission because I still go in and out of remission but overall I would say I am in 90% remission and it is completely connected to food and going on the AIP and ketogenic diets as a lifestyle for the long term.

I am no longer a “normie”, a term addicts use to classify those who can use alcohol or drugs in moderation without being addicted. I feel there is a big of a distinction when living with AD.

The first year I knew I had HS, I ignored it. Denial is powerful. I was in grad school and my mom was battling the cancer that would kill her a year and half later. I had no room in my psyche to face my disease. But then I did have room. I was ready in the summer of 2018.

I looked up HS online and found blogs, forums and a lot of people finding remission by going on the autoimmune paleo diet or AIP for short. I started this diet the very next day. I was desperate because my flares were so bad I was willing to try anything.

The AIP diet eliminates all sugar, grains/rice, nightshades, caffeine, seeds, nuts, alcohol, and dairy. Basically everything but organic meat (grass fed and free range), fruit, and vegetables. I switched my diet in one day, eating only chicken breast, apples, carrots, greens, and a fruit smoothie to start me off the first week.

Being a genuine food addict my entire life, I battled not having “my foods” on very deep levels, much deeper than somebody who is not addicted to food. Every day for a year I felt despair, anger, and every uncomfortable emotion yummy food had been stuffing down. I also felt isolated from my friends because I could no longer eat out or have a few drinks and I was used to doing that most days of the week.

What gave me strength to stick with it was that I went into immediate remission within weeks of staring the diet. It was a sheer miracle!

The remission did not last and new flares appeared but far less flares cropped up and they were far less severe. Remission from the severity began and has stayed with me since I began the diet and so began my journey of figuring out all of my trigger foods.

I went to a naturopath to get some help and started the journey of learning I have a huge yeast allergy and needed Vitamin D, along with other aspects I won’t get into that have helped me to deepen remission with healing the gut.

To make a very long year and a half journey short, I learned that yeast, nuts, seeds, grains, dairy, sugar, beans, fruit and many vegetables are trigger foods. I learned that I need to not only do AIP but I need to go ketogenic because insulin is a trigger. I need to cut out all fruit completely and keto adapt so my body uses fat instead of glucose as fuel. This has greatly improved remission.

I reintroduced alcohol the night my mother died in the beginning of 2019. I learned I can drink hard spirits with nothing added but I cannot touch beer or wine. I learned I can eat eggs (so far). I can also have coffee in moderation.

I tried nuts and bacon but after a few months they became triggers. This happened with avocado and broccoli. Some foods cause immediate flares while other foods build up and then cause flares. The journey is constant and never ending.

I learned that lectins, phytates, and oxalates are poison to my body and this is why vegan foods harm me which is another aspect I have had to grieve. I have the heart of a vegan. I spent many years of my life eating vegan and vegetarian unknowing of how sick it was making me. Now I am a carnivore. I had to let go of my treasured belief system so my body could be healthy.

I have grieved and continue to grieve the loss of food as addiction, celebration, and comfort. Emotional eating is over. Eating out with friends is over. Eating to “treat myself” is over. Normies say that all the time, “treat yourself”. But if I treat myself with food I get a huge flare and it’s just not worth it. The treat is poison.

Those of us with AD who go AIP, keto or both to heal cannot treat ourselves with food because it makes us feel like complete shit. I tell myself that food is fuel and nothing else. This is my new story.

Don’t count me in when you make celebratory food plans. I have no desire to celebrate Thanksgiving because I can’t eat the food and from now on, I am done thinking I need to partake of any holiday with food. When I travel food will not be part of the adventure. When a partner comes into my life he will have to live with food being only fuel for me too.

I like the foods I can eat. I like eggs in the morning, salmon, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, chicken breast, coconut milk, burgers, steak, and arugula. I am satisfied when I eat even though not a day goes by I don’t crave cheese, bread, hot pepper, beer, tacos….I mean, the grief is real and the loss is daily. I compare myself to an addict in sobriety taking it one day at a time.

What feels amazing is being mostly in remission all of the time. My body is healing on deep levels too, beyond just remission of symptoms. I am healing my organs, gut, skin, bones, losing weight, and all anxiety is completely gone. Within a month of the AIP diet all anxiety left my psyche as anxiety truly does live in the body. Within a month of being keto and AIP my ability to focus greatly increased and my energy levels began to even out. The healing continues.

I love that I eat like my ancestors. I feel that how I eat connects me to them. I feel more rooted to the earth. My sleep is pristine and I no longer suffer from insomnia. I have become strong and disciplined in every aspect of my life. I exercise five to six days a week. I do what I say I will do in terms of my daily and long term goals. I can handle anything, is what it feels like.

I have no anxiety, no procrastination, no split in the psyche where what I want and how I behave are out of alignment. I have come into a much more profound sense of self love, ease, and integrity. My psyche has never been healthier and more at peace.

Funny, how each day I feel loss and cravings but each day I feel at peace with myself.

I no longer respond to loss and cravings with fear or resistance. I have learned the power of surrender. I accept loss, pain, and my AD. Grief is not something I need to avoid anymore. I am no longer in denial of the dark side of life. I am at peace with my limitations, the ugly, and all that is hard.

For now, I have whisky, mezcal, and coffee with coconut milk as pleasures I can still indulge in. I cannot overdo it so I drink in moderation and I am also willing to let these drinks go the moment my health needs it.

I have become so emotionally strong that I no longer depend on any food, drink, or substance to keep me feeling ok or to enjoy life. I cannot stress what a big deal this is as I have been a food addict and hedonist my entire life, always using food as comfort and enjoying the party. Now, I can find comfort and enjoy the party in a new way.

I am in the process of learning how be a hedonist in new ways that are good for my health. Sexual expression is something most people never explore fully and is one of our greatest gifts as human beings. No shame. What possibilities exist to explore and merge with another soul on a sexual level and experience deeper levels of pleasure, replenishment, and love?

How can my body express through any form of movement that brings heightened pleasure? Dance, hiking, sky diving, fire walking, floating, strolling….

There are many possibilities.

I find hedonistic pleasure in essential oils, incense, crystals, flowers, the beauty of nature, fashion, putting on make-up and dressing up. I find hedonistic pleasure in gazing at art, listening to music, and reading books. There is so much to imbibe and indulge in that is not food and drink. I also feel immense satisfaction when I paint, write, sing, and express myself creatively.

AD has transformed me for the better.

I know in my heart of hearts that AD is connected to multigenerational trauma. Interesting that my mother and father both had the same AD as me.

My mother had it killed with near lethal amounts of antibiotics from a certain doctor in Vegas who had his theory. I believe this treatment destroyed her gut and led to many health issues to follow. She eventually got colon cancer. I do not follow in her footsteps with my AD and for very few has antibiotic treatment worked. My father said he stopped having flares in his fifties and that it just went away. I can only hope for such a healing to happen to me. I cannot count on it.

For now, I must eat keto/AIP to stay in remission but I am thankful for this diet beyond being in remission because I am healing my body completely, healing multigenerational trauma, healing completely from anxiety, and healing food addiction all while transforming into a stronger, more centered, disciplined, equanimous, and poised individual who is no longer dependent on “the cookie”.

It has taken a year and half to get to this place of love, strength, balance and health that is not static or fixed. Like I said, I still get flares and have to figure out why. I still feel loss for food and cravings rise up all the time (though going keto took away 80% of all food cravings). There’s always work to be done and progress to be made in body and mind. Just like in a yoga pose, you need a constant focus to stay balanced.

If you are reading this and have AD, I hope to provide you with some inspiration from sharing my story. Food truly is the biggest culprit of many if not most of AD symptoms.

AD seems to be rooted in generational trauma passed down through the DNA and from diet. The AIP diet works and for some of you, keto will also work.

Western medicine still looks down upon all holistic routes but go ahead and let them. If you dedicate yourself to trying the diet for 30-90 days you will experience the results for yourself. You can reintroduce certain foods after the initial period and begin cultivating the exact diet that works for you.

Will power gets easier over time as you adapt and your body feels better as it adjusts too. Anxiety will diminish and you will become more disciplined and emotionally independent.

Grief is real for no longer being a normie and getting to eat what you want but there is liberation in no longer fearing grief. Life is suffering, Buddha said. If we face the suffering with an open heart, willingness, and a mindful approach that does not resist limitation, pain and loss then suffering will transform your soul from a mud ball into a pearl and your body will be a sanctuary living with illness.

 

 

 

 

How to Connect with Loved Ones in the Spirit World

This blog is inspired by the death of my mother. We all go through the journey of saying goodby to our mother or a dear loved one when they pass on.

Per usual, I disclaim this blog by prefacing that I will write it as if it is truth. It is my truth. Maybe it is your truth too. If not, no worries, mate. Carry on. There are many aspects of grief, death and dying to explore. This blog will be about making contact with loved ones on the other side.

On a side note I would like to mention that as I type these words I am bathed in my mother’s favorite perfume because I bought it yesterday when I spotted it at the drugstore. It was the last box of L’air du Temps left. Means “The air of time. ” How appropriate on a metaphorical level. Wearing her scent brings me comfort and also helps me to feel her soul in my soul.

When you die your soul travels to the other side of the veil. We can have no literal concept of the other side so we must allow the imagination and intuition to give us pictures and concepts that are a metaphorical version to help us understand as best we can. The key is to feel the other side and this is done through creative visualizing and feeling the intuition.

Imagination is not an empty thing that is pure make believe. There is a make believe element but imagination is how we communicate with the layers of existence undetectable through the five senses.

Intuition is the feeling of knowing we all have and the other main faculty that helps us access what cannot be detected by the empirical senses.

It is what is is. I don’t want to convince you of my truth. There are many layers of consciousness beyond the five senses. To claim the five human senses are the only detectors of the vastness of existence is very limiting though you may still not believe or feel what I am sharing as the truth. I honor the differences.

This blog is for those who wish to understand and contact their loved ones on the other side and who resonate with these words. Trust yourself.

Souls do different things when they pass on. Existence is vast and not a factory where every soul goes through the exact same process. Most earth bound humans, upon death, do spend time resting (especially if the death was sudden, severe, or the life before death very trying) and then they have a period of life review. Read “Journey of Souls” to delve deeper into this process.

The rest and life review part of the journey helps the soul metabolize all that happened in the lifetime, without the limitations of the human suit.

The human body is a suit of emotional heaviness and density. All stories we tell about our life and all feelings live in the body not the soul. Betrayal, abandonment, depression, despair, rage, suffering,  fear, hatred, resentment (etc etc) are all based on attachment to what is right and wrong, painful and pleasurable, and these dichotomies and attachments do not exist in the spirit world.

The spirit world soul tells a different tale and knows that earth is a school to learn how to love as a separate being and work out the karma that builds up as a result of being an individual body.

Karma is the emotional residue we collect through lifetimes when we don’t let go, forgive, accept and free the soul of the stories and feelings that attach to it from the human experience.

On earth the soul takes on a body and is able to play with being separate, able to cause hurt and being hurt by other separate individuals. Same goes with causing joy, pleasure, and every emotional experience. This is a big deal because once the soul enters the spirit world it is no longer an individual.

I mean, it is to a certain extent. The soul holds on the art project of being a singular being for growth and experience’s sake but the soul experiences true connectedness to all of life from being an aspect of a soul group all the way to being an aspect of oneness.

The more the soul ascends the more collective it becomes, all the way until it returns to oneness. As the soul descends, it takes on the costume of being one individual to experience, learn, grow, and play.

Both ascension and descension of the soul are equal in the evolution of the soul because the soul is an aspect of oneness descending to play the part of being embodied to evolve through the journey back to itself as oneness. Forever this goes on like the infinity symbol demonstrates.

Once we die on earth we lose our human suit, rest, review our life and see what’s next.

Some souls have a choice about what is next and others are sucked back in to the next life with no choice. The ability to choose has everything to do with how conscious the soul becomes in a lifetime.

The more conscious and aware you become during your lifetime on earth, the more you have the empowerment of choice to create your destiny. You can say no to what comes your way or not allow what hurts you to take all your power and you can use your inner source of power to create your life as best you can in the circumstances you are given. Those with little awareness live by the whims and patterns of external fate.

This process is the same when the body dies and the soul travels to the other side of the veil.

The more self awareness, love, and letting go we achieve in a lifetime, the more choice we have on the other side. Those who live unconsciously die unconsciously and those who live consciously die consciously.

Nature is being nature here as life never truly dies but always transforms and changes based upon the living experience.

There is no static place called heaven or hell that you go to forever based upon the judgement of an external god. That is a story of the mind. If you believe in that myth that is your right and this blog is not for you.

Once the soul has rested and reviewed they either choose what they will do next or they are magnetized into the next lifetime by the power of their attachments, to work out their karma.

But this process is not linear. Linear time does not exist in the spirit world. We cannot literally conceptualize the vastness of the other side of the veil. A soul can exist in the spirit world and reincarnate at the same time. A soul may choose to become a spirit guide and stick around the earth plane while also reincarnating. A soul may have several individual bodies on the earth plane and not all of them human. The variety is endless.

Communication with a soul on the other side is almost always possible if the soul is not in a deep sleep or has left this universe completely.

The deceased soul may be trying to reach you too.

A soul on the spirit plane may have a hard time contacting a soul embodied on earth because we create energetic blocks with our thoughts and feelings.

If you are still in the stage of grief where self pity, depression, anger, bartering, feeling abandoned or betrayed are still active stories and feelings, it will be hard for the soul to make contact. These dense feelings and stories are like a thick wall for the soul on the other side. This is not always the case because anything is possible and no judgement for being in whatever stage of grief you are in for however long you are in it.

Acceptance is a process of grief with its own sense of timing and all of our feelings are valid.

Souls on the other side often make contact through scent, electronics, and dreams.

We used to get the strong scent of cigarette smoke when Grandma would visit. Toward the end of my mom’s human life we smelled it a lot. My mother expressed fearing Grandma was coming to escort her into death (even though she was also ready to go).

Death is such a huge transformation from the human perspective because we’ve lost our memory of the connectedness and infinite continuation of soul life. This makes letting go really hard and scary for both the dying and the living.

Electronics may reveal a visit from a loved one. My father has received calls twice on his house phone from his own cell phone. He still has my mother’s cell phone active on his plan. This could very likely be a visit from his wife. I know it is a visit. But usually we doubt because we are conditioned to need more proof externally to tell us what is really occurring.

Dreams may be easier to trust if the soul visits clear and strong but often the dreams don’t come or are strange and muddled. It all depends on the deceased soul’s ability to enter a dream as well as living dreamer’s openness. Both souls still have a relationship ongoing where communicating is a skill to learn.

We are not conditioned in culture to understand the continuation of the soul as a natural process of existence because religious dogma has turned the cycles of nature (nature is spirit) into a mental spiritual belief system. Science as the polar opposite narrow extreme has discredited life beyond the five senses because it cannot be measured empirically.

Truth cannot go away because belief systems try to sway the human mind away from it.

To contact a loved one on the other side you want to train yourself.

The first step is learning how to still the body, detach self from the thoughts and feelings, and begin to go within to develop the intuition and imagination.

This needs to be a practice. Just hoping you suddenly can be skilled at contacting the other side is the same as expecting to lift a fifty pound dumb bell when you have never lifted weights in your life and your arms are weak. Skill is the key, not how evolved or awake you are.

To develop the intuition and imagination it would be a good beginning to meditate for five minutes twice a day and also to spend time taking journeys within. The meditation will develop your ability to detach from thoughts and feelings so you can let go and travel. Taking regular journeys within will build your concentration, focus and imagination. This is how to meet your loved one.

You also need to learn to still the body. This prerequisite may require yoga, stretching or maybe all it takes is setting time aside to do nothing but sit and stare out the window. Don’t do, just be.

Be. Meditate. Take journeys. Be consistent about these three aspects. Practice regularly. It does not need to be hours. Five minutes of meditating. Ten minutes to take a journey. Half hour to sit and be, doing nothing.

Journeying to the other side of the veil has a basic structure to it. First, you relax the body completely by focusing on breath and scanning all your body parts, consciously relaxing each part.

Once relaxed, visualize yourself at the bottom of a staircase and walk up the steps slowly, noticing what the steps to the other side of the veil or upper world look like, feel like, smell like and any other details. Trust what your imagination shows you.

When you arrive at the top you will find yourself in the upper world sanctuary that appears before you. Trust what you see. This is a big aspect to learning how to journey. Trust what you see without question. After you have taken a few minutes to explore your upper world sanctuary, paying close attention to all you see, touch, smell, taste, and feel….call the loved in to enter.

They will appear. If they do not appear, they are resting or busy and the time is not right. If they do appear, allow the connection, dialogue or whatever is meant to happen….happen.

If you are not able to focus enough to journey, work on stilling the body and meditating. You will get there.

After six months of grieving my mother, I came to a deeper acceptance of her death and of my dad’s fate to be left alone. I was ready to journey and begin a regular practice.

In my imagination she shows me an image of her that is easy for me to connect with. Souls will appear how it is best for you to see them.

In my first vision, she let me know she is done with her life review and that she exploring much more of the universe than she ever knew existed. When I asked her about the details of my life she gave me a big message. She said each lifetime is so short in the scope of the vastness of the soul, that it truly does not matter if we get what we want, find success, fail, lose, or never get what we want and suffer as a result. She said that the point of each life is the experience itself and not how this or that it was (good or bad, mistake or success, etc).

Vivian was filled with bliss and joy as she shared this message with me. I felt my mother’s bliss palpably and I was filled with joy too. I received her message on a feeling level that changed me instantly, freeing me of some of my karma and helping me see the fear I was carrying. Powerful!

I share a bit of my own tale to model what this process looks like and know that I am very skilled at connecting with the other side and I have always had a natural inclination that’s made it easier. Don’t compare yourself.

If you practice, you will get more tuned in at the pace that is right for you. I long to be at the level of a practiced medium but it’s not my time for that yet and I trust the timing. The pace is important and your loved ones are available for you no matter what your skill level.

In another vision my mom said she has chosen to become a spirit guide. She is very busy learning and exploring as a result and she shared that we need to call to her if we want a visit from her. Mom said she will visit whenever we call. I was comforted and I felt immense happiness for her liberation.

I make journeying to visit my mom a regular ending to my yoga/mediation practice most mornings now. Repetition increases lucidity and strength. I also enjoy getting the tea on what she is up to.

In the last journey we shared almost no words. It was a visually intense and rich experience. My mother opened her mouth and thousands of turquoise butterflies came flying out. I was enthralled and found I could receive the message better through the image than with words.

Don’t want to share any more from my journeys as it is too personal but I want to demonstrate how journeys can shift from day to day. Anything is possible in a journey.

You may meet other loved ones or spirit guides. You may meet yourself on the other side! Remember, time is not linear over there so as we live in the body on earth we also live on the other side. It’s a trip for the logical mind to grasp which is why we need visuals and journeying to truly connect.

Vanquishing doubt and building the skills of trust, body stillness, focused imagination, detachment from the thoughts and feelings is the process. It may also be a process to learn how to play and be the magical child when journeying.

You can connect with your loved ones on the other side of the veil through intention, dedication, and practice if you so desire. It is your birthright.