Oh, the holidays. A lovely, heartfelt and beautiful time of year (mostly).
Gathering with family and friends can be very comforting during the holidays, but it can also be very emotionally triggering!
When you have been chronically ill for so many years, there is a level of burn out within the family and community. What's more, friends and family don’t understand the illness because, quite frankly, WE don’t totally understand the illness either!
Maybe family feels like it’s all in your head because they see you having a good day but then crashing after an emotional interaction. They can then say: “Oh, when you get emotional you start to have symptoms so… it’s an emotional issue." Hmmmm... Maybe... but they are only half right.
Everyone on the planet has a physical reaction to emotional stress. Everyone. Our bodies go into "fight or flight" response with both real or imagined stresses. The difference for those of us with chronic illness and sensitivities is when we go into fight or flight, we have zero reserves to bounce back.
When we experience emotional upset, our adrenals don’t have the same reserves so we cascade downward and our immune systems crash, which allows pathogens to grow and we become symptomatic again.
Family Dynamic Role Playing (listen in!)
In the spirit of our own family experiences and the holiday season, we held a group Huddles call during our "Fall Sessions" last year where we discuss how to communicate with family and friends over the holidays and beyond. I’m sure you can relate to some it!
It’s best to diffuse the possible triggers in the situation by telling family members about how you are feeling right up front. Tell them that you love them. Tell them that you are having a challenging day and that you can take care of yourself.
Ideally something like this:
"Hi Mom, Geez, I am having a really challenging day today. Just want you to know that I may be up and down and if I have a tone, I’m sorry. I love you. I know how to take care of myself. It’s not your responsibility and I don't need you to fix it. Just looking for your love and support. I’ll stay as long as I can. I love seeing you."
Telling people upfront and letting them off the hook before either of you gets triggered can be very powerful. If you need help, be very specific: "Could you pick up something from the store?... Help me vacuum or give me a ride?... etc). Speak clearly and confidently. Stay out of speaking like the victim. That will only trigger them.
If they react poorly, ask yourself what you wished they would say instead. Give that to yourself and walk away.
We have to remember that it can be excruciating to be around a sick person that you love. Our loved ones want us to be better. They miss how we used to be. And they feel helpless because they can’t fix it (and maybe a little bit guilty). You feeling sick is a big loss for them too. Do your best to listen. They have a side in this.
Also, remember that it’s possible that your illness reminds them of their own fragility and health issues that perhaps they are ignoring.
Many people are in denial of their own unhealthy habits, and sometimes they can feel inconvenienced by your special needs. Oh well. Stay strong: "No, I can’t eat gluten. Still. Thank you though. It looks great”
It's a good idea to arrive early and leave early so you don’t dip too much (especially if you're sensitive to groups of people and your auntie's perfume!).
Remember humor— it’s your greatest tool. Keep it light. And obviously, avoiding long discussions about your health and politics would be wise. Try sharing your current favorite funny youtube videos instead.
And finally, if despite all your efforts it all goes haywire, then know you did your best and you can laugh about it with like-minded people. Our 2016 Fall Sessions started yesterday -- you can sneak in here and meet others like you.
If you decide to sit out the holiday chaos, we hope you can enjoy the peace and the quiet sparkle in the air. There is so much to be grateful for.
We recommend spices from Spicely because all imported spices are required to go through a sterilization process before being sold in the United States. Most spice companies sterilize using synthetic chemicals or radiation. Spicely Organics uses a process called steam sterilization, which sterilizes food products without adding any chemicals or hazardous materials.
Chai Spice Mix Directions:
Put all spices into a coffee grinder.
Grind for about 30 seconds - 1 minute until the mixture is a really fine powder.
Once you make this Chai Spice Mix, you can use it in many ways:
Enjoy as a tea with your favorite milk (see recipe below)
2 T. Favorite milk -- dairy, coconut, hemp or almond
Stevia drops to sweeten to taste
Easy Creamy Chai Directions:
Steep a strong cup of tea.
Blend 1 tsp Chai spice, 1 T grass-fed butter or ghee, 2 T favorite milk and stevia to taste.
Blend and enjoy.
Note: There will be spices settled at the bottom. To avoid this... run tea mixture though a fine strainer before drinking.
Way 3: Whole Spice Chai
(This is a simple, one-cup recipe)
Whole Spice Chai Ingredients:
4 cardamom pods
6 peppercorns (optional)
1 star anise
1 inch cinnamon stick
slice of fresh ginger (or more to taste)
1 tea bag (of your choice: Tulsi, Horsetail, Black, etc)
1 C. water
1 C. favorite milk-- coconut, hemp, almond or full fat organic grass-fed milk (if you can handle it--yum!)
Stevia to sweeten
Whole Spice Chai Directions:
Crush spices with a mortar and pestle or back of a knife.
Put water and spices into a pot and boil for a few minutes until it smells deliciously fragrant.
Lower heat to simmer.
Open tea bag (or throw in the whole tea bag) and add milk.
Simmer another 5-7 mins.
Pour through a fine mesh strainer, add stevia and enjoy! Super yums!
What Is Chai Tea? (and healing properties)
Originating in India, Chai Tea is typically a spiced black tea mix. The spices can vary, but it usually contains a combination of cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, cloves, fennel, ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla. The base is traditionally a black tea, but decaffeinated, or herbal teas can also be used.
Each spice contains potent health benefits:
Cinnamon - antifungal, antibacterial, it can also reduce the risk of diabetes — it blocks insulin from getting into cells, and can lower blood pressure and prevent cell damage for diabetics.
Cardamom - anti-inflammatory, it relives muscle spasms, and can treat asthma, and other respiratory ailments.
Black Pepper - antioxidant
Cloves - anti-parasitic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, analgesic, it is widely used to soothe gum and tooth pain.
Ginger - anti-inflammatory, it can soothe upset stomaches and diarrhea, it’s helpful for arthritis and heart disease, and reduces the risk of colon cancer.
Looking back at my time on tour with U2, filming Under Our Skin, and getting in with Dr Klinghardt for treatment, I never let Lyme stop me. In 2005, a year after FINALLY being properly diagnosed... Lyme wasn't going away, but my dreams were. I set out to change that.
July 27, 2005:
After almost a year to the date of being unemployed, I decide to take the job on tour with U2. Here's my answer to the email asking about my availability... (click on the letter to zoom in)
September 13, 2005:
Four days on the road with U2 and feeling the shock... we're not in Kansas anymore!
Oh how truly "unglamorous" touring can be... (click on the letter to zoom in)
November 2, 2005:
Mid-way through the U2 tour and the pain is as loud as the music!!!
Reaching out to my ONE Lyme friend, Shelley... (click on the letter to zoom in)
November 22, 2005:
Email to Andy Abrahams Wilson after our first interview for UNDER OUR SKIN.
(and the band's priest prays for me)...
November 30, 2005:
My plea to get into see Dr. Klinghardt so I can go around the world with U2. Yes, I dream big.
(click on the letter to zoom in)
January 1, 2006:
Happy New Year's!
Coming home from U2... now what?
July 18, 2006:
8 months after my request, I finally get an appointment to see Dr. Klinghardt!
Years of recovery.
June 15, 2013:
7 years later, I spend a week at a meditation retreat praying for my partners
and allies for my next adventure.
Upon my return home, I am introduced to Brent Martin (through email),
and Lyme Less Live More is born!
The Road happened, The Film happened, Klinghardt happened, and so many more amazing surprises, and NOW a Lyme Less Live More community is HAPPENING!
Dana Walsh (featured in the Lyme documentary UNDER OUR SKIN) and Brent Martin, founders of Lyme Less Live More, identified a giant gap while recovering from Lyme Disease -- What to do in-between doctor visits?
Now, with the help of their expert faculty Dana and Brent teach a multi-faceted approach to recovering health that includes self-care, healthy mindset, and conscious awareness.