This 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.
 
Q. 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 diet.

Perhaps you feel better or worse after certain kinds of meals.

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 fighting plan.

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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