month’s expert is James Gordon, M.D., founder and director
of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C.,
a non-profit educational organization dedicated to reviving
the spirit and transforming the practice of medicine. Dr.
Gordon is author of Manifesto for New Medicine: Your guide
to Healing Partnerships and the Wise Use of Alternative Therapies.
I’ve been tired all over, depressed and “out
of the loop” for more than five years now. Although
I am greatly encouraged by my recent discovery that
my symptoms are most likely caused by yeast overgrowth,
I’m overwhelmed by the magnitude of what I must
do to get well. On one hand, I desperately want to get
well and on the other hand, I’m so tired I don’t
know if I have the energy to do what it takes.
Dr. Gordon’s response:
It’s crucial for you to understand that you can
do something about your condition. Too often the conventional
medical approach to a problem leaves all the work up
to the physician. There’s a growing body of research
that shows us that people who are more engaged in their
health care actually do better, probably because they
have some control over events in their lives.
Fortunately, you can take a great deal of the healing
process into your own hands, but you don’t have
to do everything at once. I’m reminded of the
old saw: How do you eat an elephant? The answer: One
bite at a time. Take it as you can—just keep moving
along at a steady pace.
In mind-body medicine, we take the approach that you
can begin with the simplest things and find your way
back to health.
My approach to chronic illness is to ask you to notice
what’s happening to you. Are you anxious? Are
you stressed? Are you depressed?
Take another step and explore what makes you more anxious,
stressed or depressed. Your answer may range from the
food you eat to your relationships to your work environment.
It’s stressful in itself to have a chronic illness,
especially when you don’t know what’s wrong
or what you can do to remedy your situation.
For those of you who have suffered without a diagnosis,
I encourage you to use your powers of observation and
intuition. Think (and write) about what might be wrong.
You may get a sense there is something wrong with your
Perhaps you feel better or worse after certain kinds
Maybe you connect your illness with the time period
shortly after you carpeted your home or began a job
that requires you to work with chemicals. Perhaps you
feel better after you‘re away from your newly
carpeted home for a few days to perhaps you feel better
when you‘re away from the chemicals at work for
a few days.
Spend some time with this. Keep careful notes. Take
quiet moments to tap into your intuition and you’ll
start to find answers.
The answers may involve dietary changes, like those
recommended in the Yeast Connection four stage yeast
Answers can also be found in stress management techniques
and exercise programs. Each of these has a particular
therapeutic benefit—but the biggest therapeutic
benefit of all is the very fact that you can do something
to help yourself.
At the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, we’ve found
many techniques that help relieve stress and get back
on track with their health programs.
Among the most effective techniques for those who are
grappling with the enormity of long-term illness and
finding their way back to emotional and physical health
are biofeedback, guided imagery meditation, self-hypnosis,
journaling, art therapy.
I think group support is a highly effective way of coping
and motivating yourself.
In closing, let me urge you to empower yourself. Fatigue,
depression and other symptoms are all treatable. It
just takes your own determination to take that first
step. There are many of us out here to help you on our
journey back to health.
For meditation techniques and more information on
programs offered by the Center for Mind Body Medicine,
go to www.cmbm.org.
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