I saw this sign while out shopping: “I’m on a new kind of diet where you eat everything and pray for a miracle.”
I so relate to that sign.
The various health issues that came alongside the PTSD and anxiety disorder have caused me to be curled up in tears from very real physical pain; many times; praying for a miracle of healing.
I work with a family doctor who has known me for years; and knows my story of abuse recovery. He has seen me at my best and worst. In the early stages, he suggested psychotropic medication to help manage some of the physical effects I was suffering through. But we both decided against it. With cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as talk therapy, journaling and stress reduction in general, I have continued to see great improvement in my physical symptoms. I have also seen great improvement in the anxiety disorder and PTSD.
I was recently back at the doctor for another health issue. He told me which psychotropic medication would help that condition, and said something he has said prior to me, “that is always an option if what you are doing isn’t working. BUT. You have shown such improvement through your therapy process and through other lifestyle changes you have made, I do not want to prescribe this to you. Get back into whatever you were doing prior. I think you went into maintenance mode over the summer. Pick it up a notch again and you will be fine again and this symptom will pass as the others have. I know it.”
He was right. I had not been journaling as much as prior. I had not been doing daily containments to control the worry (it had subsided so much; I took a break from the intense mind retraining I had been doing).
Personally, I believe the physical symptoms I originally developed were all related to my body being in a state of ongoing, chronic, distress. That’s just my take, for my body. I don’t want to opine on what anyone else’s journey is about. I am not against medication for depression and anxiety. I just know it wasn’t for me. I tend to have every side effect listed on the pill bottle; as well as some reactions which no one has ever seen before. A common over the counter medication once landed me in the ER.
When another physical set back hits: I pray. I hope God removes it. But, after a day of being depressed about it in bed, I start to google ways to help myself. I tweak my diet. Again. Diet, in some ways, is my drug. The grocery aisles, my pharmacy.
I have personal experience with GAPS, gluten free, FODMAP, dairy free, interstitial cystitis diet, Fibromyalgia Diet, Food Combining diet…
Honestly: I believe each one benefitted me at the time I tried them. My body was able to heal by avoiding certain things, and adding other things I had been missing, into my diet. I have avoided and still do avoid certain foods, for nearly a decade now. I don’t think you could find high fructose corn syrup in any product in our cupboards or refrigerator, for instance. I also strictly avoid artificial flavorings, gluten, and most forms of dairy.
I wish, sometimes, that I could eat anything I wanted. That I could say a prayer and be healed and go back to filling my grocery cart with whatever I wanted (without reading ingredient labels) AND: also feel well doing it.
It’s expensive to not eat the standard American diet. Crazy expensive. It’s misunderstood. You get labeled for reading all those labels. You make unlikely friends and connections in natural food store aisles. Others, who can eat the standard American diet, often judge me for it. One friend recently told me he’s never known anyone to be on as many strange diets as I have been on. He didn’t seem awed by that realization. I could almost see his fingers forming a cyclone motion over his ear in the ‘she’s crazy’ gesture that was so common in my childhood.
By the grace of God, I am able to afford it, though. And so I avoid many offenders to my body and I add things to my breakfast like powdered Bromelain, or Moringa powder from an organic California farm.
The Book of James tells me that what I am doing, in undergoing these health trials, is testing and building the endurance of my faith. Indeed. I’m not sure if it was the measure of self-control and self-esteem I gained knowing I could feed and heal my body by changing what’s in my cupboards–all by myself, or the actual food changes themselves, which caused me to improve so much.
The prophet Isaiah shows me the real point of fasting. Going without bread myself, at a restaurant, makes me far more likely to give the homeless man I meet on the sidewalk after dinner– enough cash for a decent meal. I know what it is to watch others eat something that looks so very lovely while you yourself cannot. I didn’t have that level of understanding and empathy before I started needing to restrict my own food.
The writer of Ecclesiastes tells me there is a time for everything. He doesn’t outright mention feasting; and fasting. But I think he meant that too. Besides, finding ways to still feast while fasting is actually fun for me. I love challenges. Figuring out new recipes and new ways to still have all my favorite foods; remade with unoffending ingredients. Cheese out of cashews? I’ll try that. Salad dressing without vinegar or citrus, mayonnaise, ketchup, or any other fruit besides pears? Hmm. How about blending some fresh basil, canned pears, honey, salt and garlic infused olive oil. My BHH said the resulting green mixture was pretty good over sliced cucumbers.
All in all, God is giving me a miracle. He’s just letting me in on the process. At any time, I can eat whatever I want, it is an option. But I don’t want to suffer anymore. So I don’t.