My friend Cheryl was recently diagnosed with cancer. She has undergone radiation treatment but is supplementing that with a boon of positive thinking. Cheryl sent me links to some podcasts and videos on the mind-body connection, and I listened to a doctor discuss how the power of positive thinking may be a factor in unexplained recoveries from cancer and chemo side effects.
However, positive thinking was not quite a boon for me. My health crashed at the end of 2017, and I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease and adrenal fatigue the following April of 2018. But I had hope. Knowledge is the first step of empowerment.
Traditional medicine has no cure or treatment for Hashimoto’s, but I was fortunate to find a doctor of functional medicine. I was put on an intense diet, fasting, and, supplement regimen to heal my gut and resolve my confused autoimmune response, which was destroying my thyroid gland. I believed that at the end of the program my body would heal itself and my health would return. I possessed the power of positive thinking—not because I was thinking about being positive, which can be a state of denial, but because I solidly believed the program would work. After all, evidence and testimonials from people I knew had validated this program.
My functional medicine program/regimen lasted from April to October of 2018. I no longer contracted colds or flus every two months and took three weeks to recover from them. My immune system had improved, and my environmental allergies were reduced about 70 percent. But I have not parted company with my fatigue and inflammation. Yes, I can last up to six hours now before my body systems crash and I succumb to bed. Yes, the all-day body aches now only overtake me if I physically push myself too hard. But I am still debilitated, and I still feel like a partial invalid. I’m still that woman who uses the electric carts at Wal-Mart, who only goes to stores that offer wheelchairs for the disabled.
What happened to the power of positive thinking?! After watching Cheryl’s videos of doctors touting the miraculous effects of the mind-body connection, I was deflated. Discouragement wrapped itself around me and squeezed until my chest physically hurt. I believed! I wanted to shout back at my computer screen. Was it my fault I wasn’t well? Was the power of my mind just not strong enough? Why was I still so weak, both mentally and physically?
It’s been three weeks since I viewed those links, and I’ve had time to contemplate this wave of awareness about the powers of the mind. Do I agree with it? Absolutely! I look back and see how I’ve been afflicted with this disease for a long time. Though my symptoms were not severe until my health crash of 2017, I now recognize how, through sheer force of will, I remained healthy enough to get my children and myself through my first abusive marriage—and then finally out of it. I can now see how this power of will and mind brought us through a painful reconstruction of our lives. And then, as I pondered this, it dawned on me: the complete equation.
I believe that the power of positive thinking is only part of the equation. I compare my health to a campfire. I blazed through my youthful years. I managed to keep the fire burning through my middle years. But now, in my late middle age, I’m lucky to keep the embers glowing. And you know what I’ve realized? All the positive thinking and sheer willpower in the world will not reignite a dying fire.
I like the Harry Potter movies as much as anyone, but if I were out camping and the frost of the night started creeping in, I would not whittle a wand and point it at the firepit. I like superhero movies, and yet I would not try to imagine the fire back into existence. What would I do? What would a child do? Get more wood!
How can my mind repair my body without the physical substance that it needs to reconstruct my damaged cells, synthesize my hormones, and generate the biosystems my body needs to live? My health improved because my belief was the spark. But supplements and a drastic new and healthier diet are the fuel to facilitate the healing.
So why am I stuck at only 40 percent improvement? *Sigh* I have two theories, both of which may be correct. The first is that I am 57. Though I didn’t know it, I have had celiac and Hashimoto’s disease for most of my life. And I am mortal. There is simply a limit to how much a powerful mind and potent supplements can do in the face of inevitable aging. I have come to accept that time and trauma have compromised my health, and that the “circle of life,” as taught by wise Mufasa in The Lion King (thank you, Disney, for putting that in my head), is real.
The second theory is a bit more promising. My functional medicine doctor carries his own brand of supplements, which have helped me. But he doesn’t carry Standard Process supplements, nor is he trained to dispense them. In 2019, at a follow-up visit, he recommended two Standard Process supplements for my thyroid dysfunction because one of his patients swore to him that these products “saved his life.”
I have been on these Standard Process supplements for several months. As I look back, I can see that I’ve had some additional improvements. I fade at 11:00 a.m., wilt around 12:00 p.m., and need to lie down around 1:00 p.m., but my painful, system-wide “crashes” are less frequent. I have a renewed hope with this line of unique products. (And I have my daughter to thank for this discovery. Help and health are a process.)
I believe in the story I heard many years ago about a terminal patient who watched comedies and literally laughed himself back to health. I believe positive thinking and emotions promote a happier body—and therefore a healthier one. But I also temper this philosophy with the daily needs of the material word: the metaphorical wood to the fire, or the nutrient-laden foods and high-quality supplements I need for my health.
“Time heals all wounds.” So the saying goes. That is true for both emotional wounds and physical ailments. I am positive that through the process of continued and consistent good attitude, good diet, and good supplements, I will find my healing.
Images from iStock/AntonioGuillem (main), Nattakorn Maneerat (woman holding vegetables).
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