By Tarilee Cornish, CNP
Many so-called physical illnesses are caused by and/or affect our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Our minds, bodies, and souls are all connected and must work together if we are to recover completely. Of the three of these, the soul is often seen as the wisest. Some spiritual teachers believe that the soul guides us towards experiences, including illnesses that will help us to heal in the way that we need to. While this reality may be very difficult to see while one is in the midst of struggling with an illness, many people who have recovered from a serious illness express gratitude for the experience because, in retrospect, they can see that their illness led them through an essential healing and learning process.
Candida Related Complex (CRC) can involve such intense emotional upheaval, alienation, depression, fear, and forced change that it is more likely than your average illness to stimulate this sort of spiritual introspection. Faithful attentiveness to oneself during CRC recovery also has the potential to open up our consciousness to a supremely sensitive level that brings with it deep revelations, insight, self-awareness, and newfound strength.
The experiences of those who have lived through and healed from serious illnesses, teach us that if we choose to open up to the truth of what we are learning from our suffering and change our lives accordingly, even seemingly hopeless circumstances can bear rich fruit in our lives. We learn to accept our experience and integrate essential self-care into our daily lives. We learn about our body and how it works and what it needs to be well. We learn to recognize the impact that emotional stress has on our health. We clear our bodies and minds of the negative impacts of past trauma, turning those experiences into wellsprings of wisdom. We learn new skills in communicating our needs to others as we practice asking for help. For some of us, these are all brand new skills that not only help us to survive, but also enrich our lives forever.
IS THERE A LESSON FOR YOU IN YOUR CRC?
Many people who have recovered from CRC report that the illness taught them how to truly take care of themselves. Many of us, in fact, spend our whole lives taking care of others and putting the needs of others before our own. Is CRC present in your life to teach you to honor your own needs and learn to accept your limitations? Has it arrived to help you begin practicing the self-care that you need to insure a long life and the fullest possible self actualization?
Every crisis brings with it a gift of discovery. Perhaps through feeling the extremes of vulnerability that can accompany CRC, you will discover your true strength for the first time. Or maybe through following your path in the presence of criticism from those around you, you will learn confidence and self-reliance. Or maybe you'll discover the power of acceptance without shame during a period of weakness in which you need to ask for help.
When we make a commitment to accept that our challenges offer us gifts even when we can't see what those gifts are, we can flow through our trials with less resistance. We begin to discover within ourselves an openness to seeing something new that is bound to bring new insight and growth. Resisting, fighting, or denying the experience slows this learning and our recovery.
THE DIET AS A TEACHER OF SELF LOVE
Your ability to stick with your healing diet can be seen as a valuable feedback mechanism to keep you connected with how convinced you are of your self-worth and your commitment to healing. When you are struggling hard with the diet, chances are you are struggling with something in your heart as well.
The more times you "fall off the wagon" and hit the ground hard, the more chances you have to commit to your own self-care. The quick worsening or reappearance of symptoms caused by dietary "cheating" is a rude reminder that we have just chosen a self-destructive impulse over a self-loving one.
Most of us have to feel pain (repeatedly) before we develop the resolve to take care of ourselves. The seesaw-like process of changing how we take care of ourselves is just like strengthening a new muscle. If you've never valued your needs or listened to your body before, it will take some practice to learn how to do these things consistently. Remember that with every fall, you are just preparing yourself to succeed.
Remember also that the extreme sensitivity your body and mind are experiencing right now demand that you tune into subtler and subtler aspects of your own needs. Learning to listen to your body is great practice for learning to listen to your soul, learning to listen to others and learning to listen for spiritual guidance.
EMOTIONS AND CRC
Most people find that during the recovery process, the mind/body/soul connections we've been discussing here become hard to dispute. When you are forced to navigate the extreme immune sensitivities as well as the food and inhalant allergies that often accompany CRC, you learn that foods and chemicals can disrupt your emotional balance. This understanding quickly drives home a lesson about the mind-body connection.
Emotional stress has a "cause and effect" relationship with CRC. Stress reduces your immune power and produces stress hormones, including cortisone; a compound that, when produced by the body in excess, interferes with normal tissue healing and repair processes. Being stressed will thus leave you more susceptible to the destructive power of Candida yeast. At the same time, Candida-related toxicity creates stress through its destabilizing effect on blood sugar, the nervous system, and brain chemistry.
RE-ESTABLISHING EMOTIONAL STABILITY
Understand the chemistry of your emotional symptoms
In order to maintain some objectivity while you are experiencing emotional symptoms, it can be helpful to remember that Candida yeast actually releases toxins that affect your mental and emotional states. Ethanol and acetaldehyde are two of the main byproducts of Candida albicans metabolism; both are neurotoxins.
They can actually cause depression, brain fog, and anxiety. Knowing this will help you to maintain a strong offense against the yeast while helping you rationalize the temporary emotional upheavals. Sometimes you will have to work very hard to remind yourself of the toxic component of your feelings. It will help to remind yourself that as your body becomes stronger, so will your emotional balance.
Once you can look at your intense feelings more matter-of-factly, they may still be frightening but they seem more time-limited and less like a part of us. It will be easier to just feel and observe the emotional ups and downs if we accept that they are there as a natural part of our illness and that they are temporary. Sitting and feeling our emotions, even when they are dark and frightening, can also lead to some wonderfully liberating revelations, as we discover truths brought to our attention by our extreme feelings.
Theodore Roethke described his belief in the power of the darkness to enlighten us and inspire change when he wrote: "In a dark time, the eye begins to see. I see my shadow in the deepening shade."
CLEANSING THE LIVER TO LIGHTEN THE EMOTIONS
Liver congestion is also directly linked to heavy emotions such as sadness and anger. Candida illness and Candida detoxification can place great demands on the liver and this workhorse organ will sometimes need support as a result (i.e. cleansing). I highly recommend a little book by Benjamin Hobbs called "Natural Liver Therapy". It lists a variety of herbs and food substances that support liver function. The old expression "liverish" actually referred to a state of feeling irritable and dark. Cleaning out the liver will lighten your mood and lift your energy.
BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
When you have CRC, you become much more sensitive to blood sugar imbalances. This means that low or quickly changing blood sugar levels can leave you feeling shaky, weak, panicky, irritable, short of breath, and anxious. Try to eat small, frequent meals and choose carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index scale. Avoid caffeine, dairy products, and foods you don't tolerate, as all can produce blood sugar swings. In the case of severe blood sugar imbalances you may want to explore the use of chromium or Gymnema sylvestre - natural remedies to help balance the blood sugar. Eating high fiber and moderate protein meals will keep you steady as well by reducing the speed at which sugars enter your bloodstream.
AVOID YOUR ALLERGENS
Food allergens, airborne chemicals or molds can all produce dramatic mood-altering effects. For example, in CRC sufferers, wheat can cause fatigue, confusion, brain fog, anxiety, and depression. Mold can cause heart palpitations, dizziness, irritability, panic, and confusion. Chemical exposure can cause confusion, anxiety, panic, depression, dizziness and many other symptoms as well. Be aware of your emotional shifts when tracking reactions in your health diary just as much as you are observing physical changes and you will likely learn a great deal about which foods and substances trigger emotional reactions.
SUPPLEMENTS TO EASE EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS
Some herbs and nutrients are known to assist emotional balance. You may want to research the following:
• For Anxiety - Passion Flower, "Herbal Sleep" or "Herbal Nerv" type combination formulas, calcium/magnesium or the homeopathic remedies, Gelsemium, Aconitum, or Magnesium Phosphate.
If some of your symptoms are caused by allergic reactions, consider Dr. Ron's Ultra-Pure Buffered Vitamin C,(available from Whole Approach) and Dr. Ron's Ultra Pure Querceten with Bromelain. Bach Flower Rescue Remedy and the other thirty-eight Bach Flower Remedies can also be wonderful adjuncts to any emotional balancing work when used appropriately (see the book recommendations below for information on flower remedies.)
DON'T FIGHT YOURSELF
You have a struggle going on in your body. It's your immune system and your anti-fungal strategies working against the yeast. The emotional instability that comes with CRC can sometimes lead you to blame or criticize yourself for the ups and downs in your recovery. If you have lost a battle with a sugar craving for example, it's easy to get angry at yourself for not being stronger. In order to maintain objectivity, it helps to think in language that reminds us of who our opponent in this struggle really is. You need to remember to blame the Candida, not yourself. Otherwise your self-blame can start to view your own body as the opponent; a situation that is definitely antagonistic to healing!
LEARN FROM YOUR ILLNESS BUT DON'T INTERNALIZE IT
We've all heard it, people calling themselves an "asthmatic" or a "diabetic" as if these terms somehow define who they are. You've also heard people "own" their illness in possessive language as if the disease has convinced them that it belongs. They say things like "my cancer", "my atherosclerosis", "my Candida." Don't buy into this.
Your choice of language (both internal and external) can have a powerful impact on how you view your situation. If you get too comfortable with a definition of yourself as someone with this illness then it's almost as if you are giving the illness permission to make itself comfortable too. If you keep the boundaries between you and your illness in place through care in the use of language, you maintain a self-definition that embraces wellness. Referring to "the CRC" is much more empowering than saying "my CRC".
RELATIONSHIPS AND CRC
Don't try to do this alone, ask for help!
It can be overwhelming to try to heal from a lonely place, but some of you will be forced to rely, at least initially, on your own strength to overcome both CRC, as well as the criticism and lack of awareness of those around you. Sometimes those closest to you will end up hurting you deeply just by not understanding your illness.
The alienating effect of experiencing life and food in a way that is so completely different from those around us can create distance between us and those we love. It is up to you to stop this from happening. You will have to work consciously to bridge this distance by communicating about what is going on with you and by letting your loved ones know how they can help. The key is to be specific. You will have enough challenges dealing with doctors and bosses and waiters who don't understand your condition. Do your best to make sure that your loved ones do understand. Don't isolate, educate.
We'd also like to invite you to visit the WholeApproach Online Support Forum to join in conversations with those who share your interest in regaining health. The WholeApproach Support Forum is moderated by Tarilee Cornish, Certified Nutritional Consultant. Tarilee answers nutrition/program/product related questions on Monday and Thursday afternoons. The WholeApproach Candida Support Forums contain more than 18 years of Q & A, searchable by keywords or phrases. The WholeApproach Support Forums also contain hundreds of Candida Recipes from around the world. And now you can also join us on FACEBOOK!
ASK YOUR LOVED ONES TO PARTNER IN YOUR HEALING
CRC can create brain fog, volatile emotions, allergic reactions, and often severe fatigue and/or illness. When one is living this reality, it can be very, very hard to maintain a logical, well-organized approach to deciphering symptoms, food reactions, diet strategies and treatment approaches.
Ask a close friend, family member, or partner to help you get through this. They can help you make decisions by offering a clear mind, unaffected by the subjectivity of your daily inner struggle. This support person can provide objectivity and a sounding board for you while offering loving understanding. This will speed your healing. There is no better medicine than to have a loved one truly join your healing as a full, whole-hearted partner.
One of WholeApproach's forum members, "Happy Dways" has shared his supportive observations of his wife's challenge with CRC:
• "She fights things in a deeper way than I could ever be aware of. And it often touches her own value as a person, feeling helpless and a burden, depression, fatigue, having to run uphill the deluge of temptations to give up and feed what's destroying the body, damaged self-worth, guilt regarding the money issue because she has to buy fresh food and often to keep it fresh and it costs more money, lack of energy for stuff catering to the diet."
• "Our wives need us. We have to build them up as they are forced to make changes in their diet and lifestyles. That's what love is about. That's what life is about: becoming better people. Trials do that to people; they break you and call for reconstruction. Many things in life force us on the path to change. This is one of them."
If you are having a relationship challenge and would like to share more of Happy's understanding insight with your partner, please search out his post on our forum page called "To all husbands" and share it with your beloved. Search the rest of the site with him or her too. Let your partner see that others are struggling with the same things you are. This will help him or her understand CRC better and they will be better able to understand you. As a team, you can pull through this thing and become closer than when you started. Again, CRC provides an opportunity; in this case, the opportunity for both of you to grow and strengthen your relationship.
Richard Bach, a novelist, commenting on embracing personal choice, change and growth: ..."Know that ever about you stands the reality of love and each moment you have the power to transform your world by what you have learned."
Additional Recommended Reading
The Emotional Immune System, by Tarilee Cornish, WholeApproach Newsletter archive. Many people who have successfully recovered from CRC or who are on the road to recovery have found the following books to be very helpful guides for initiating the emotional, mental, and spiritual growth that CRC recovery so often demands.
Bach Flower Therapy, by Mechthild Scheffer
Women's Comfort Book, by Jennifer Louden
Dealing with Depression Naturally, by Sid Baumel (also deals with anxiety issues)
Heart Math Solution-Quick, easy, clinically proven stress-buster methods
Homeopathy for Emotional Health, by Rima Handley
Why People Don't Heal and How They Can, by Carolyn Myss
Conscious Loving-The Journey to Co-Commitment, by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks
Tarilee Cornish is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner with a special interest in immune and digestive recovery including general detoxification and recovery from food allergies and candida overgrowth. She is especially passionate about pure healing food choices that have a democratic, ecological and compassionate production and distribution chain. Tarilee is a moderator on the WholeApproach Support Forum.