It's not something that should be lightly dismissed. I would know. I, myself, was on the fast track to an auto immune disorder. How is that exactly? Well, cortisol is the stress hormone. When it is present in your blood stream too often your body will start to get allergic to it.
In January of 2012 I was under extraordinary stress. I ought not go into great detail on the nature of my stress, but suffice it to say: we had just bought a new house, were starting a new business, juggling FIVE different houses while trying to relocate two different households, trying to get zoning for my mother amidst massive neighborhood opposition. Add into that mix the family chaos that involved a 100 pound television falling on top of my three year old shortly after we had moved (a miracle it didn't kill him, but when I walked in and saw his feet sticking out from underneath a pile of "rubble" I really thought it was a possibility)... among other things. Anyway, the point is: emotionally and physically I was tapped out.
My reactions were both external and internal. Different parts of me would swell up. Sometimes my eye lids would swell. Sometimes my lips. Sometimes I would break out in hives all over my body. I took pictures of myself during some of the more horrific episodes, but when I started breaking out in hives on a nightly basis...additional pictures seemed rather redundant. The only one I showed them to was my husband. So...ugly pictures of myself weren't high on my priority list.
This is a picture that I have used as my profile picture on Facebook.
This is to give anyone who may not know me a little bit of context of how I normally look. Well, on a good day and with some makeup on. But you get the idea.
As I was preparing some of these next pictures last night, my sister-in-law was looking at them over my shoulder. She would gasp at each new one, whispering, "I had no idea". Well, not many people did know. Similar to the hair loss post that I shared a few days ago, my personal problems are not something I like to broadcast to the world unless I simultaneously have a solution to present for those who may be experiencing a similar problem. I'm not looking for sympathy here. This is me trying to bless anyone else who is going through this and doesn't know how to fix it.
It started with just my lips swelling up. If my lips didn't swell I would break out in hives. If it wasn't hives, my eye lids, facial tissue, or hands would swell up. Like I said before, it was happening on a daily basis but I didn't take pictures every time. Here is a sampling:
I look like I've been beat up, attacked by bees, or am suffering a stroke. Nope that's just the stress manifesting on the outside.
The hives and swelling wasn't limited to my face. I broke out in hives everywhere. On two occasions I could feel internal organs start to react in a similar manner, but doctors were dismissive because they couldn't see anything happening.
The first time it was my heart. I felt like I was having something like a heart attack. Everything was going in slow motion and my heart felt, for lack of a better description, swollen. It wasn't a heart attack, since I didn't have any other symptoms like the numbness in my left arm. But it was something. And for me it was scary.
The second internal swelling happened past 10pm one night. It felt like my lungs had swollen and were foaming up. Again, there was nothing external to clue that anything was happening. But I started coughing to the point that I was coughing up blood. I coughed so much and so hard that my voice became hoarse within 10 minutes. We called my dear friend Mindy who immediately came over to stay with the children so Michael could take me to the Emergency Room. I took a dose of anti-histamine which kicked in and eliminated all of my coughing by the time that we arrived to the ER. The doctor listened to me, and upon hearing my raspy voice declared that I was a hypochondriac who had a cold.
I was disgusted. However, to be fair, this doctor probably had already been through 100 legitimate cases of people over-reacting to cold symptoms. The only solution they could have offered me was to diagnose me with something horrible and prescribe ongoing prescriptions to manage the condition.
My brother got married in Utah late December of 2011. While at the reception one of my children started throwing up. I went to assist him in the men's bathroom and found the situation very embarrassing especially when other wedding guests would walk in and see me standing there holding my barfing child's head over the toilet. Being in new social situations, for me, adds to my stress. I'm not an extrovert and being around strangers stresses me out. Being around strangers while my face is swelling is even more stressful, so it was a really ugly cycle: Embarrass. Swell. Embarrass. Swell.
To this date, my lips have never gotten so big as they did that night. The tissue on the inside of my mouth split in multiple places, unable to handle the sudden volume, and is still, 4 years later, permanently damaged from the swelling that night.
I showed a doctor some of the pictures from that night and she prescribed to me some knock-you-on-your-butt medicine that made me a zombie and went through my breast milk and made the baby loopy. I didn't like taking it. On days when I felt overly stressed I really had to weigh my options: zombie vs. hives. I eventually dumped it all out down the toilet.
The bottom line was: the medicine didn't FIX the problem. It "managed" the symptoms. I use air quotes because I can hardly qualify what it did to me as managing. No spank-you.
So, the solution.
The FDA has declared that people who are selling homeopathic remedies cannot discuss specifics of what certain approaches do. They cannot make claims. They cannot give specifics. I, do not, however SELL essential oils. So, I can tell you all about it.
I showed my friend Denee one of my more recent pictures of my horrific ugliness and told her that I was breaking out on a nightly basis. She had just been introduced to DoTerra essential oils and signed up to be a distributor. She rubbed some essential oils on the back of my neck (and at the time she said what they were, but I honestly don't remember now what it was). She probably used lavender, or Balance, or Serenity.
I never had another full horrific break out after that. Just like that.
No more lip swelling. No more hives.
Essential oils took the mess that I was and basically calmed my system that was swinging so wildly out of control and just simply and quietly brought everything back into alignment. I mean.... I didn't even have to use them over a long period of time.
Now, I have had moments where I get stressed. I will put Balance on the back of my neck or rub Serenity over my heart, and it helps.
Here's the advantage. I was never formally diagnosed as having an autoimmune disorder. I didn't have to use nasty zombie-inducing prescriptions for the rest of my life.
If I'm feeling particularly overwhelmed, I will take Valerian Root which helps me relax and sleep well during the night. It smells like stinky feet, but it's natural and it REALLY works. There are no weird side effects. I get to feel like myself.
I am still allergic to my own stress. How do I know this? One particularly stressful day this past October or November I went to bed without doing anything to address my stress from the day. Neither Valerian Root nor any of my essential oils. At 3am I woke up and the white of my right eye was red and swollen. It was itchy and bulging past the iris like a juicy boiled egg.
I didn't take a picture of that one, but you can google one to give you an idea of what it looked like. It's gross.
My first connection that any of this was connected to an auto immune disorder was THIS symptom. I did some research and swollen whites along with all of the other nasty swelling, hives, etc. were all textbook identifiers of autoimmune disorder.
And just so I would know that they weren't kidding, DEATH is one of the complications.
Stress leads to death. It's no joke.
We have come a long way in the medical field. No longer are we giving leeches to people to drain the bad blood, or going from patient to patient without washing hands. But something very effective and essential has been lost along the way. The natural remedies that our forefathers depended upon were lost. Fortunately they are making a comeback in a BIG way. Why? Because they work. And rather than masking symptoms they actually fix the problem. I'd say that's a much better approach, any day of the week.
I have much more to say concerning Essential Oils and all of the amazing ways they have blessed my family, but I wanted to focus on stress in this particular posting.