Coming Back from Panic Attacks: Healing Anxiety & Exhaustion with Minerals
Landing on Panic Attack Land
A few autumns ago, I suddenly got on a chronic anxiety trip. I started waking up in the middle of night having panic attacks and paranoid thoughts. I would wake up dripping in sweat, heart racing, nausea, stomach cramping with thoughts and premonitions of doom and disease. I would wake up with a thought that EMF were causing us cancers and fall into a loop of despair. I felt and watched myself dying of cancer after hearing the story of a friend’s sister, also a mother of two children, dying of a rare brain cancer within a few months of diagnosis. It was all so odd. Like a psychic attack, an out of body experience. I had no control over my thoughts. It would go on for nights and nights in a row, relentlessly. So that I was walking around like a agitated zombie during the day. Though I have seen many of my friends struggle with anxiety for many many years and though I have been called a worrier by most of my closest friends, I had only experienced these anxiety attacks where I would lose complete control over my thoughts and physical responses once before, about a year prior. Because I am a predominantly spring/air and summer/fire elements, my ailments generally come cyclically peaking during autumn season.
After about a month of this happening and hiding it, I called my homeopath. That is when I learned one of my strongest constitutional layers is Phosphorous because one, YES ONE!, dose of Phosphorous 200c and there was immediate hope on the horizon. I had a pretty gnarly aggravation (an expected gateway to the correct direction to healing and because Healing is Not Linear) followed by another dose of Phosphorous 12c and the anxiety was lifted. That's how amazing homeopathy is, gentle and minimal. (Please do not take homeopathic phosphorous if you have anxiety. Phosphorous is my constitutional remedy and is an individualized medicine based on my own specific symptom profile. I’d be happy to help you find your personal constitutional remedy(ies), please reach out if you’re interested.)
Fast a year forward to the following autumn and I’d been making adjustments to my thyroid medication without the supervision of my homeopath anymore. I was certain that the cause for this sudden enrollment in panic attack immersion school was my thyroid medication; the makers had changed the formula and others were experiencing similar bouts of anxiety. I was seeing a regular allopathic physician for my thyroid and we were working on trying new thyroid medications and dosages in response to my first time rendezvous with the world of panic attacks. Read more about thyroid disease.
I had just started a new thyroid medication when I began a high intensity workout program with Shawn T. You know Shawn T of Insanity workouts! I did the workouts religiously for about a month and then one day I woke up really tired. A kind of tired that I thought was more viral, like I was fighting something off. It felt very much like the symptoms of mononucleosis-- extreme fatigue, malaise and weakness; like I’d been hit by a bus. So that week I didn’t work out at all and by Friday night I end up passing out in the street, smashing my face into concrete and breaking my two front teeth. I’m still thanking God that I only lost my front teeth that night! Read How Healing Cracks us Open
The Adrenal Glands -- Who art thou keepers?
I came to find out through my search for a system of medicine whereby I can look inside the human body for specific dysfunctions, that I had a complete adrenal crash and burnout. As it turns out adrenal dysfunction is the main culprit for symptoms like fainting, fatigue, low blood pressure, anxiety, fear, depression, paranoia, insomnia etc. because it is where our stress [flight/fight] hormones are made and regulated. The adrenal glands have several functions but mainly they regulate blood pressure, heart rhythm and nervous system responses.
My adrenals had had it; after experimenting on my thyroid with new medications (the thyroid and adrenals work together and if the thyroid is in dysfunction, the adrenals are too) and adding extra stress with my crazy Shawn T workouts; they tanked and my head hit the floor. It needed to be that extreme; it brought me to the realization that as powerfully healing as homeopathy can be, because it is a non-diagnostic medicine that relies solely on symptomology, simple but crucial things might be over-looked, like my adrenals. The main mineral keepers of the adrenal glands are sodium and potassium and I was depleted of sodium as per my Emergency Room diagnosis the night of my accident.
Now to be fair, I know that had I stayed under the supervision of my homeopath who is also an MD, that she would have been sure to support my adrenals while we adjusted my thyroid medication. It is common knowledge in alternative and complementary health, that adrenal and thyroid health are closely tied. But my homeopath is in Egypt and she’s also a dear friend, so I felt I needed to be more self-reliant and practical about my health needs. That’s a mistake I learned from greatly—even healers need healers. Orthodox medicine does not provide holistic or integrated support, so thyroid support does not automatically mean adrenal support in their estimation. And that’s fine too, I needed this experience to see limitations and capacities of more than one system of medicine and in myself as my own support person. Every modality has its limits, a good doctor, healer, practitioner would acknowledge and honor that. Moving on…
Ok so now I’ve gotten a cosmic smack down and I’m hurled back into panic attack world. All of my guides, healers and support people really stepped up and appeared for me during this time but still something was off. My thoughts would spin out again into the places of doom. I knew this time that though the original disturbance may have been energetic that there was also something biochemically going on, because I had just passed out from dehydration.
Even in the blur of my anxiety induced delusions, I knew that this whole experience had something to do with my work in the healing arts. Everything I’ve ever learned or accessed in the healing arts came to me through my own sicknesses, ailments and healing experiences. My work in homeopathy and in birth were initiated from my own needs, traumas and search for help. I’ve only taken on a new practice, skill or medicine when it was something I found I needed. It is my way of returning the great service and favor of the medicines, to offer back the gifts that were awakened in me.
Again, my homeopath was able to bring my mind and body back into a place of balance so I could begin to ask more reasonable and solution-focused questions about my fainting experience. This time instead of just Phosphorous, she gave me one dose of Calcarea Phosphoricum 1M, (a remedy known for ailments from electrolyte and mineral imbalances). Mineral, electrolyte imbalance?! Calcarea Phosphoricum is a mineral compound with Phosphorous, also a mineral and my constitutional remedy or my deepest remedy resonance. What’s up with all these minerals?! What is Spirit telling me about minerals? Something clicked. And as per my Virgo // Air // Logician tendencies, I began to research and explore intensely.
I had already been looking to learn Traditional Sufi/Prophetic Medicine (Greek Medicine), a diagnostic traditional medicine that I still feel would be a perfect compliment to homeopathy. But my prospects in finding a teacher at that time were still elusive. I needed something more accessible to me in my current time and place. I needed a non-intrusive way to look into the body and assess the state and functionality of certain organ and systems and then to address any imbalances through nutrition. I knew this what I was meant to be looking for and it's what drew me to traditional medicines in the first place. Traditional Sufi Medicine uses the pulse, blood, urine and stool to evaluate imbalances. Even if I have a teacher it will take me years to master this science and art and I needed something now for myself and for my clients.
How HTMA gets to the root causes?
And that’s when I found HTMA (Hair & Tissue Mineral Analysis). It all made perfect sense when I came across it. I had been researching going back to school for some kind Functional Diagnostic Nutrition program but nothing really resonated with me. Most of the schools promised the ability to read blood lab tests and then address dysfunctions through nutritional support but I was somehow intuitively guided away from that, something told me I can go even deeper than blood readings. That blood labs were still quite reductive in their understanding of body chemistry as they often will just indicate a dysfunction of a particular organ but not why that organ is in dysfunction. Thyroid lab results are a perfect example of that. Also, lot of things are not detectable by blood anyway, there had to be another way.
I thought there must be a new, modern technology for observing and interpreting the most fundamental functions of the human body, at the metabolic and cellular level where everything begins. Traditional medicines tend to view disease as arising from imbalances in the temperaments through an imbalance in the humours of the body. These humours are responsible for the metabolization and processing of nutrients, if the humours are imbalanced everything is. I wanted a method that would show me something similar-- what is happening at the most fundamental basic levels of the human body, the first steps of all beginning processes in the body? And in our modern biochemical narrative, this happens at the level of minerals with sodium and potassium as the first and primary keepers of our adrenal glands. Healing with HTMA.
HTMA gives me that lens I need to look into the body on a cellular and organ level. It allows me to see not only if the thyroid may be in hypo or hyper function but why it’s in dysfunction because I can see what is happening with cellular metabolization of minerals and nutrients. It also allows me to see how organ systems are relating and functioning with each other—I can find out how a sluggish liver is affecting the thyroid, the adrenals, the gut, etc and then correct that through nutrition and whole food supplements. It acts as a perfect compliment to homeopathy, which works to bring balance energetically thus stimulating healing from the top down; while HTMA + Targeted Functional Nutrition works from the most basic level (the cellular level) upwards. HTMA is my bottom-up approach and homeopathy is my top down approach and the two together are great for WHOLE healing. Sample HTMA + Sample Targeted Functional Nutrition Plan.
So where am I now with healing anxiety, exhaustion and my adrenals?
Now that I’ve have been successfully nourishing my adrenals with adaptogens and daily adrenal cocktails, I rarely have anxiety attacks, insomnia or that unrelenting sense of exhaustion. However, if I do get a bout of insomnia or an anxiety attack it’s usually due to extreme fatigue or a missed dose or two of my adrenal support. Last month, after 3 days of no sleep due to traveling, I spiraled into an irrational panic. But I knew then that it was because my adrenals were overly stressed and under-nourished; so I activated my self care tool box right away, which includes prayers, meditation, salts, vitamins, herbs, homeopathy, and most of all rest!!!
I’ve also come to realize that because of the constant stress of living in times of violence, conflict and threat regardless of where we are in the world, that our adrenals are challenged and depleted on the daily. And it is for this reason that true and complete healing of adrenal dysfunction (and thus nervous system dysfunction) eventually brings us to deeper emotional, psychological and spiritual healing. I have seen in myself and in my clients that of all the glands, the adrenals can get stuck and need constant palliative support if there are any emotional blocks remaining. The adrenals which also regulate the nervous system through mineral metabolization, can live in a constant state of trauma, or flight/fight, if we are still dealing with unprocessed emotions or trauma. And I would argue, that every single one of us living in this modern world is living with unprocessed emotions or trauma. We are all in need of some kind emotional healing and nervous system reset and reprogramming.
Healing happens in layers. Layer after layer, we uncover more of our true self as we remove physical and emotional programs from our system. I am at the emotional layer now, where I have been gratefully shown what kind of nutrients and physical support my adrenals need thanks to HTMA + Targeted Functional Nutrition. (I'm even intuitively learning what I need when I need it, like if I need more salt or more specific adaptogens). And now that I am able to keep my adrenals stable and in optimal function, my container has been expanded to be able to safely look and deal with the lingering emotional baggage that can continuously throw my adrenals back into dysfunction the moment I stop paying attention to them.
Healing my adrenals has also means a stronger immune system, who's main prerogative is self-differentiation and individuation. So even my immune system is now urging me on to work on emotional self-differentiation and individuation-- boundaries! My theme for my 40's seems to be boundaries, more to come on that too!
This is where I’m at right now, healing my emotional imprints to permanently and completely restore my adrenal (and nervous) system. To heal my tendency for adrenal dysfunction with its subsequent symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, I MUST heal the emotional triggers that are keeping my adrenal glands in constant strain. I am particularly looking at emotional healing through shadow integration and frequency management. Stay tuned for my next piece about the importance of emotional healing.
"As within, so without. As above, so below." ~ Hermes