This is part 2 of Julia Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Recovery story (MCS recovery story) where we discuss Julia's brain training approach for MCS recovery.
We talk about how she faced triggers despite knowing the consequences, how she dealt with the setbacks along her MCS recovery journey and what life is like after Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) recovery.
Warning: This interview includes discussions around suicidal ideation! _______________________________________________________________________
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|Introduction to Julia's brain training for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) Recovery||0:00:00|
|Julia talks Brain Training and Chemical Exposure for Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS)||0:03:10|
|Deep dive into brain training for Multiple Chemical Sensitvities (MCS)||0:03:55|
|Detailing how Julia approached exposure therapy Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS)||0:08:10|
|Julia talks about being convinced and having goals||0:11:11|
|Dabbling vs mastering our recovery approach - understanding motivation||0:11:51|
|How to do Exposure Retraining for Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS)||0:19:02|
|How Julia dealt with breakdowns and setbacks||0:23:56|
|How long it took for Julia to recover from MCS & how she stayed the course||0:33:14|
|How did Julia increase her activity with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCS)?||0:40:41|
|Why Julia held of going public about her Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCS) recovery||0:42:20|
|Julia's unique Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) recovery meditations||0:42:59|
|Julia talks about the unique ANS REWIRE approach||0:44:25|
|Dan asks Julia about addressing trauma during Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) recovery||0:45:52|
|Final advice to people with MCS||0:49:13|
|Life after Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCS)||0:50:10|
Dan Neuffer: Welcome to part two of Julia’s multiple chemical sensitivity recovery success story.
In this part, we take a deep dive into brain training for multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome or MCS and how this forms part of a multilateral recovery approach that has to be tailored.
There is no magic panacea cure, but as you will hear, using a range of treatments for MCS certainly makes recovery possible.
In part one of this interview, we spoke about Julia’s history. We discussed what might have triggered her experience of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) as well as her traumatic hardships and turning point.
We also took a deep dive into diet. I encourage you to check that out first.
Besides the multiple brain training strategies that Julia’s learnt from the ANS Rewire program, we also discuss her physical activity approach which many people would identify as a combination of pacing and graded exercise therapy.
As you might know, it’s a fine balancing act, and we try to give such physical strategies a context here with how this is combined with brain training for recovery from MCS.
Whilst there is a special insights portion of the interview in the program around some of the brain training techniques which need the context of the education program, I wanted to share as much as possible in this public portion to help you all gain insights and possible treatments and strategy ideas. Hence, the length of the interview.
Please note this interview with Julia refers to suicidal ideation. If that’s not appropriate for you to listen to, please check out one of the other multiple chemical sensitivity recovery stories on the channel. Just visit the homepage and look for the playlist.
I hope you are inspired by Julia’s descriptions of brain training for multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) in her recovery and the other treatment approaches that she shares.
Just a short but important message regarding the content of this podcast.
The ideas, concepts, and opinions expressed in this recording, website, and associated media and products are intended to be used for educational and information purposes only. Nothing presented is intended to replace your physician nor are they a substitute for medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment.
This podcast is provided with the understanding that the authors, guests, speakers, and publishers are not rendering medical advice of any kind.
Let’s get into the interview now.
What else? What’s this brain training stuff? What are you doing with the chemicals? How do you move forward?
Julia: When my body was fine again and I started to get strength, I realised, “The whole story is over. My body is getting well. My gut is feeling good.” Now, I am still getting reactions when I go into chemicals. That’s where the neurological rewiring comes in.
I realised that I’ll have to get exposure to tell my brain, “You’re fine with it. Now you can work with it again.” My brain has basically been trying to rescue me from the danger. Back then, it was danger, and that traumatic moment of chemical exposure and of other trauma was a danger.
Right now, my body is fine. Now, I can tell my brain to get well again. Therefore, I have to be exposed to chemicals because I can’t tell my brain to get well to a chemical it doesn’t have.
Dan: This sounds like crazy talk, Julia, if you know that it’s going to make you sick. You have been severely sick. In Uruguay, you were gravely ill. Let’s use that term – gravely ill. Then, spending years in Germany, you were bedbound and housebound.
Every time you smell something, you get terribly worse. It’s not like you’re imagining it. In fact, you didn’t even know that the smells were a problem for a long time. You only worked it out later on. Clearly, it’s not imagined.
You get a little bit better with the diet and some of the other strategies in ANS Rewire – obviously, some of them you had already done before ANS Rewire like the diet, but you finetuned it and all this with the blood sugar and healing environment and meditation.
You were somewhat energised. You had a little bit of energy, and you say, “Now I’m going to expose myself.” Aren’t you thinking, “I’m going to expose myself and it’s going to make me worse,” because it’s always made you worse.
Julia: That’s the logical thing about it. You need to overcome that in the first moment.
If you think about it logically, your body is now in a state that can handle those things. You just have to make it aware to yourself that you can handle those things again. If you go into that situation without rewiring because you think, “No, I’m feeling a bit better. I’m going to be fine.”
If you think that, and you don’t do your rewiring, you’ll get back to the same effect because your body – as soon as you get into the fight or flight reflex – your amygdala gets into the mode where it has to push the resources into the direction that goes away from detoxing, away from digesting, away from those things that you actually need to keep running.
You actually have to go into the situation and tell your brain, “Now, you don’t go into fight or flight because we need to detox. I know you can do that. I know you can detox. This is not a scary situation.”
Because I’m saying this is not a scary situation – very good thing – you have to figure out how to talk to your brain because your brain doesn’t know negations. It doesn’t understand not. It just understands the problem. If you say there is no problem, it understands problem.
Dan: Of course, that’s right.
Julia: You’ve got to learn to communicate with yourself because at all times we are in a certain communication with ourselves. We have to get in there.
While our system is used to being put on auto-pilot in certain situations – and we love auto-pilot because it’s so easy – we have to now upset our body because usually I used to go into situations when I needed an exposure. I needed to see a friend every once in a while.
I went into the exposure, pushed away all the symptoms in my thoughts, concentrated very much on that friend and that situation. After two hours, Chris would come to me and say, “Hey, Julie. Your lips are getting blue. We’ve got to go,” because that was a very clear sign.
Now, I actually had to switch. I’m observing my body. “What does my body do? What are my reactions to this right now? How do I reverse it? How do I speak to my brain? How do I make it clear to my brain that this is not a dangerous moment anymore? We are past that.”
I think that was one of the most helpful and most important things to end this whole process. Otherwise, it just goes down again.
Dan: Yes, absolutely.
You’ve done a fantastic job – to take all those lessons onboard. I often talk to people about how important it is to be ready to take those learnings on.
Did you do exposures on purpose? Would you say, “I’m going to expose myself by smelling something or meeting with someone with smells” and what was your first experience like? The first time you did it, were you like, “I’m doing this, I’m going to get sick,” then when you smelled it, how were you feeling the moment that smell hits you?
Julia: Basically, we had a neighbour that just moved in. She was wearing heavy cologne – lesbian, real manly man cologne that blows you away from when she enters the property. She did not wear perfume, but obviously perfume was all over her. I invited her into my apartment.
I discussed this with her. I told her, “This is a training. I’m doing this retraining.” She was with me onboard. Now, she is a friend. She’d come over. We’d sit together. We’d have a cup of tea, and we’d have a conversation.
During that conversation, I was basically correcting myself – correcting the system, taking the auto-pilot out of breathing, body structure, facial expression, and thoughts.
Dan: You did a perfect job. Good on you. Well done!
Julia: It was tough, man! It was tough having a conversation running and next to that, saying you are doing the right thing. It was not easy. I was really tired in the beginning. I was sleeping a lot because of all the brain work. It’s real brain work.
Dan: Obviously, all these things that happen – whether they are mental, psychological, or physiological. Obviously, we use all of the mechanisms to retrain the nervous system to change that exposure. That’s a lot of stuff going on. That happened automatically.
You’re trying to have a conversation. You’re getting the smells. Then, the fear comes up. The body is changing. The thoughts are changing. This is hard work. Were you freaked out? Were you fearful? “Oh, my god, I’m going to do this, and maybe it’s going to make me really sick.” Was that front of mind?
Julia: Dan, you’re talking to an adrenaline junkie.
No, actually, I was not afraid. I was like, “I’m going to do this now.”
Dan: Because you felt convinced, I guess, by the underlying explanation and the tools.
Julia: I knew I could do it. I knew. That’s the one thing.
From the moment I got diagnosed with MCS, I always knew that I was going to heal myself. That is what my mind was set on because I have things to do in this life, man. That was very important – things to do in my life, having a goal, having dreams. All this time I was lying there, I spent a lot of time meditating on my future, building my future which I am now living!
Dan: Yes, it’s fantastic!
I’m hoping people are really listening carefully. It’s one thing having all the tools in the program that we talk about – all the physical, neurological, mental, psychological, all the rewiring, the exposure therapy, the physical strategies, and all of this stuff – but it’s not like taking a pill.
It’s a bunch of stuff you’ve got to do. It’s a bunch of stuff you may not like to do. It’s a bunch of stuff you don’t want to do – maybe changing your diet or doing things. The fear – overcoming the fear.
Julia: Not eating chocolate. No coffee. Yes, it’s things you don’t want to do. Of course!
Dan: Complete un-German. No coffee. I’m surprised they didn’t chuck you out of the country.
I remember when I was a scientist. In Australia, when you’re a scientist, you go into a laboratory, and there is a cup from the 1960s, and a kettle from the 1940s. I was still working in a corner of the laboratory, and you make yourself a cup with instant coffee.
In Germany, you go into the laboratory, you sit down, and you have the cup half the size, but there was a whole jug of coffee. I’m like, “Who’s coming?” “Just the two of us.” I’m like, “There’s enough coffee here for half the laboratory.” Anyway, I digress.
Julia: First of all, it’s not instant coffee. It’s coffee!
Dan: It’s proper coffee. I understand. Don’t worry! Coffee culture has come to Australia now.
Julia: When I was doing the consulting, that was actually one of the main problems – people wouldn’t commit 100 percent. I liked the way you said it. Don’t be 100-percent strict; 99 percent is fine, but that 99 percent has to be there. A lot of people say, “But I do need my marmalade bread in the morning.” I’m like, “Cutting down on sugar – not eating sugar is very essential.”
You’ve really got to put your mind and your heart and your ass to it because healing from that is hardcore. It’s not easy.
Dan: There comes this point where you say, “I have to do it. I’m going to do it.” Everybody says, “I want to look like a bodybuilder. I want to fit in the perfect bikini.” Well, I don’t want to fit in a bikini, but you know what I mean. Everyone has got these ideals, but people don’t actually do it.
In order to do something that is hard, we need strong motivation. Now, getting away from the illness is a huge motivator, but is it enough?
Julia: The illness has to be severe enough.
It appeared to me sometimes that the suffering isn’t big enough. Even though MCS takes away everything from you, the suffering is not enough for some people to commit 100 percent and say, “Screw it! For three months, for six months, for one year, I’m not going to enjoy certain things. I’m going to put my ass into this. Afterwards, it’s going to be lovely, and I can enjoy those things again without symptoms and without all this.”
Dan: I think what you’re talking about here is a really key thing. Why do we do this?
The truth is, Julia, you’re the same; I’m the same; other people are the same. We think we’re different, but we’re not. We’re all the same. What is the gap between “I’m going to do it” and “why would you not eat the marmalade toast in the morning?” What is the transition?
The transition is the education. It’s the same reason why you didn’t absolutely freak out. You had all the signs, all the education, and all the tools. You look at it and say, “This can work. This will work. This makes sense. This must work. Therefore, I can do it.”
But if I think this is all just a bunch of stuff I’m trying like a fairy tale, “I can’t recover. This is psychosomatic,” or something like this, then why are you giving up the tiny thin thread of joy that’s all that’s left in your life? Maybe if I don’t have that tiny bit of joy that I’m clutching onto, I’m going to be well in a year. It makes no sense.
It makes no sense to do it unless you actually believe that there will be an outcome.
Sometimes, even the knowledge doesn’t bring people there. Most people, as long as they understand it, they will follow it, but you always have those two or three patients that are in a state of mind and in a place that they cannot be helped anymore. That is very sad, but that is a fact – there are some people that cannot make it anymore.
Dan: But I have seen people turn it around from the worst of circumstances. It is not about how sick we are or what circumstances we are in. It is about finding that resolve in ourselves.
I hope that people are listening to that because we often think, “But I didn’t live in an MCS-friendly house next to the forest. I’m living in the city with toxins and with somebody who is giving me a hard time.” You know what? I have met people who were in that situation and also recovered.
Dan: Of course! But they found in themselves the strength and the personal power to create changes in their lives when everybody would look at them and say, “It’s not possible. How can you do it?”
Julia: Have you met an MCS patient that has been in an abusive home that recovered?
Dan: Yes, but they didn’t stay there.
Julia: Okay. Now we’re getting there.
Dan: Yes, they didn’t stay there, but the point is you say, “How can you get out? If you’re so sick, you can’t look after yourself. How can you leave?” The point is they found a way.
They found a way to do the impossible.
Julia: That’s the thing with MCS. It is very seldom that people still have someone like that. The patient that I was talking about was lonely.
Dan: Yes, these people are usually on their own. Everybody is usually on their own. Once you are sick long enough, you don’t have friends. You don’t see them – not everyone, but many people.
Anyway, let’s move forward.
You’re doing this. I imagine it still makes you feel uncomfortable. Maybe you’re not freaked out, but you must be uncomfortable at the idea of exposing yourself to these things.
Julia: Of course, I know they are toxic. It doesn’t do me well, of course.
Dan: You’re doing it, and you’re doing your retraining that you’re learning at the same time as the exposures. Then, what happens? Do you get sick again? Do you have worsening? Do you have little mini flareups? How did you deal with that?
Julia: I did have mini flareups in the beginning.
Dan: Isn’t this really tricky? Because you already know. “I get exposed, then I get sick,” then you say, “Now I’m going to do retraining, then you get exposed, and you get sick again.” How do you deal with that?
Julia: It’s part of the healing.
It’s part of the healing process. It’s like in the beginning, you get the first strength, and I took a crazy walk. I was out in the forest, and I could walk and walk. Oh, my gosh. I had to walk. Then, I got home. I still had (20:10 unclear) left, so I did a little painting.
I did a little something here, a little something there. Then, my husband stepped in and he was like, “Julia, don’t you think this is a little over the top?” I was like, “I am just going to finish this quickly.” He was like, “You’re a grownup. You’re going to know.”
Yes, of course, I was down the next day. I was lying down for two days again, but then I was like, “Okay!” That’s the next thing that you said which was really helpful. I started resting. I didn’t lie there and reminisce about what I was not able to do anymore today because I did something yesterday or what I could have done or what I would have done.
I just rested. I meditated. I stayed calm. I did things that soothed my soul. I told my body, “It’s fine now. You can heal again. Sorry. It’s been a bit too much, but I’m going to get you back on track. Tomorrow is better again.” When the next day wasn’t better, I did the same thing for another day.
Dan: Resting – I’ve got to interject here with the listeners’ perspective.
They’re like, “She’s lying in bed for years – hardly getting out. Now, she’s going to start resting. What have you been doing? You’re lying in bed. You can’t get out. You’ve been resting for years.”
Do you want to help people understand what the difference is between resting and not doing anything?
Julia: Yes, there’s a huge difference, actually.
You wouldn’t imagine it’s so big, but it’s actually tremendous. It’s huge.
I used to lie there for years, thinking and stressing myself. You can lie there completely with your muscles semi-relaxed and stress yourself because of the things you can’t do, because of the friends you can’t meet, because of the life that’s going down the drain.
Dan: The bleak future.
Dan: Because it’s such a bleak future too, isn’t it? It’s not like this is happening for two days because I’ve got a cold and then next week I’ll be back at work. It’s not like that. It’s like, “This is how it is. This is it.”
Julia: You get into negative thinking patterns. That goes down. That is not going to give your body any recovery, and recovery is actually what your body needs. Like I said before, the marathon and the night of heavy drinking afterwards, what your body needs is rest where you are loving your body.
I started hating my body. I hated my body so much because of what it was doing to me, because it wasn’t functioning. The machine was just not working. I had to change that thinking to “you’ve been through a lot, and I realise that trauma – physical, chemical, and all of that – so now I’m going to be loving and peaceful.”
“I’m going to give you meditation. I’m going to give you good thoughts. I’m going to give you (23:32 unclear) which builds your future, which educates you. I’m going to give you peaceful sleep. Sleep is really important, but you can only get to the sleeping part if you get into the relaxing state of positivity first.”
Dan: Do you think you have always been a positive person?
Julia: Yes, that’s what people say about me. I’m crazy and I’m positive.
Dan: You didn’t find it hard – even after years of illness? You probably had eight years of illness as a child, then another 12 years of illness, and then another year or two of being bedbound. Now, you’re being positive. What’s wrong with you? Don’t you realise it’s all terrible?
Jokes aside, did you struggle with being positive? You must have struggled after all those years. Did you find a way to become positive?
Julia: I did have breakdowns when my husband and I returned from Uruguay, and we were living with my brother in his one-room apartment because he was the only person willing to live toxic-free.
Of course, I didn’t see any future anymore. Of course, I did have moments where I didn’t know if I was going to choose death. Of course, I did have dark places in my mind. I had horrible times, but I have always been a very mindful person. I’m like, “What does this bring you right now? It brings bad moods to you and your partner.”
It doesn’t bring you anything positive into your future because your thinking makes your future. I’m one of those people that thinks, “What you think is going to happen.” I have been learning to not believe every thought I have and to prove my thoughts then decide which thoughts I am going to have. Of course, I am a very sane person. “Come on. I’ve white. I’m privileged in this world. Look at the world.”
I was raised in Africa. Of course, I get up and I’m happy in the morning because I don’t even think of worries like – well, I did have problems with MCS – where didn’t have a roof over my head, running water, a washing machine that I could use, and all those amenities that are just natural. From the point on that I had those things – all those amenities – just focus on the positive.
It’s a choice. Every day. Every moment. Every second. It is a choice.
Dan: I appreciate this is a common theme. What we are talking about here is really important.
People think it’s about the treatments or the training or the approaches or the diet. Yes, those things are all important, but if you look at the ANS Rewire program, many of those things don’t come until down the track. In the beginning, it’s all about the education and the science.
We have this coaching component because, when you are so diminished, how can you do anything? How can you even make a different food choice? I have had people who couldn’t even get food.
Dan: You’re in such a bad state, and you’re having all this suffering – so much for so long – and there seems to be no hope, so we go to these dark places, and you talked about really dark places. You even talked about suicide.
Julia: Very common, yes.
Dan: It’s very common. We’re there because we go, “We can’t live like this,” and we’re suffering, but when you’re in that moment, what do we clutch onto to lift us? It’s nice talking about the positivity, challenging your thoughts, and all of this.
I think maybe those things are more available to us when we’re not in the best state but not in the worst state – somewhere in the middle or maybe even towards the bad state, but reasonable function. You can access those resources in yourself and say, “Let me challenge this thought. Is this sensible? What choice do I want to make?” Try and get that discipline. But you know that feeling when you feel so powerless and so diminished and so exhausted physically and mentally?
Julia: You do have those moments where you need something from the outside.
When you are broken emotionally – I call it “emotionally broke” – you need something from the outside to come give you power again. That’s why it’s so important to have a person that assists you with it.
You need music, for instance. You need vibrations from the outside that are positive. You need someone that loves you and cares for you. Cats are also cool. Cats and dogs.
Dan: Yes, as long as you don’t have allergy problems with the cats.
Julia: Exactly. Otherwise, maybe you’d rather get a hamster or a guinea pig.
Dan: See? We’re making a joke here, but it’s not a joke, actually.
I tell you that you can’t get the cat. Immediately, boom! There’s a hamster. The point is, when we don’t find a solution, when we don’t have a solution, we can’t do this because blah blah blah, what else? Find something different.
“I don’t have somebody who loves me; I’ll find someone different. I’ll love myself more. I’ll connect with someone who likes me.”
What were the things that lifted you up when you had those dark moments when you were really struggling? Because getting away from pain isn’t enough. Tell me, what did you do in your mind? How did you pull yourself up?
Julia: I was imagining the future. I knew that once I had a goal, I could. I always had my goal set. Maybe because I’m a Capricorn, but I set my mind on that goal, and I lived and I felt the moment of the goal which is actually part of meditation.
If I couldn’t concentrate on that because my mind kept going back to bad places, I used music a lot. Music is good.
Dan: What kind of music?
Julia: Dan, I listen to a lot of music.
My happy music is reggae. Sometimes, more calming, some classic or some jazz. Vocal jazz is also good for high vibrations. I also like some Spanish music – like Taimane, for instance. Music that’s uplifting.
There is music when I’m really angry at someone, I need the friend music. I need metal. I need new metal. I need someone who screams it out for me because I can’t scream.
Dan: I love it. That’s so true.
Julia: I listen to all types of music. You just need to figure out which type of music it is right now.
An MCS patient who is on the way to healing now which I am not that much in contact with anymore, unfortunately, his name is (31:29 unclear). He is creating healing sounds. Sometimes, healing sounds also help.
If you are in a really dark place, you need something happy, I think – not something relaxing, but something happy.
Work with the emotions as well.
Dan: I’m curious. In ANS Rewire, we talk about strategies like that. We talk about specifically music and changing the physical acts of transforming your mental state and all of that, but I’m wondering, were you already doing that before ANS Rewire? Or did a lot of these strategies come in during ANS Rewire?
Julia: Partially. Some of the strategies – for instance, getting my emotions set – that’s what I did before. Like dancing – I grew up in Africa, so dancing is part of our way to get us happy again.
It’s easier for us to get back into positivity because of the mental state, I think, but there are certain techniques that I applied to rewiring the system. Like when I’m in the middle of the exposure, I don’t start dancing. There were a couple of techniques that you give the people that you use in the situation.
For instance, watching your posture, watching your facial expression, and a couple of other things – like thinking patterns that you do. Those are things that I learned through the ANS program which was obviously easier to combine if you were already working with your emotions. It’s easier to handle the dragon if you’ve ridden once before.
Dan: Absolutely. That’s so true.
Now, your recovery took about a year as I understand, right?
Julia: It took six months until I was feeling fine again, then it took a year to full boost. I didn’t know what it felt like anymore.
Dan: The thing is, between 10 and 18, you probably had some idea of a normal health, but the gaps in your life must be weird. “Am I well? I think this is well.”
Julia: Exactly. I didn’t know what well was anymore because I didn’t know what that muscle feels like.
Dan: That’s right.
Julia: Like opening bottles that are not easy to open and being able to open them. I forgot what that was like. I thought it was normal to ask your partner for help. Our mind finds strategies to cope with things.
Dan: Your coping mechanisms – that’s right. We augment our reality.
Dan: You were doing this, but you did also have some very positive feedback very quickly – within six weeks of doing that neural training from the program and the exposure therapy and all the other stuff. How important do you think that was in terms of keeping you motivated – that this was working?
Dan: How do you think it would have gone if that hadn’t happened?
Julia: If I would have had success later, it would have been harder to carry on, of course. The longer you do something without results, the harder it gets, obviously. If you’re not getting something out of it, why the hell are you doing it? Especially with MCS, it is important.
I see patients that have consulted for quite a while that are still working the things that I’ve given them. I’m glad they continue because it takes a lot of patience sometimes to get better – depending on the state that you are in or the situation that you are having.
Sometimes, patients – even in a nonperfect environment – can get back on track. It just takes a bit more time. It’s important to be patient, I think.
Dan: If you listen to your story, we’re talking about the six-week period after you started the program where you went from essentially pretty bedbound or housebound to suddenly being able to get out – not well, but what percentage recovered were you after a couple of months? Maybe 50 percent? Is that the ballpark?
Julia: Yes, I’d say after six weeks, I was 50 percent there. Now, I’d say a good 95. There’s still five percent that I can do on my power.
Dan: Maybe you can check out some extra weights there.
I’m wondering, when you first had it, was it after a week or two? Were you confident that you were getting back? Were you going, “Maybe I’m imagining it”? What was going on?
Julia: Yes, there was a while when I was thinking, “I’m just pretending to be fine. Am I just pretending to be fine? Or am I fine?” Of course, I had doubts because I have been ill for such a long time.
But as I said, keeping your mind hygienic is very important – serving your thoughts, seeing them, correcting them, and leading them into the right way. That’s why I was tired.
Actually, in the beginning of the program, I was really tired. I slept a lot because my brain was working so hard every moment because I was trying to be conscious with everything that I do and I was trying to be conscious of every thought that comes. But, of course, I was insecure at the beginning.
When I did the first exposures – the first long exposures like going to a friend’s house that lived completely conventional, using fabric softener and all of that stuff – I did feel a bit nervous, but it was really important to be aware of that and to calm myself down because that nervous feeling doesn’t really help my nervous system.
Dan: The thing is we are so vulnerable. We can’t afford to have a negative outlook because you have got to be as resourceful as you can to try and do something to move forward. You can’t afford it. Sometimes, that’s enough for people to find that resource.
I guess one thing I want to say is not everyone obviously has that experience in the first six weeks, but I think one of the things that maybe people can hear – whether they are in the program or not – is the fact that you hit the ground running because you’d aligned all your ducks in a row, so to say.
You were in the right environment. You were fully convinced by the program. Before you even got the education in the program, I think you were already onboard that this was a neurological disease and so was the physical stuff that goes on. I think that is a really important reason why you had that.
When people don’t experience that, the thing is it’s not like it isn’t working for them, but they need to get that increment so that they can engage in all the strategies like you did from day one.
Julia: Yes, absolutely.
You have to engage 100 percent into it. Trust the process. That’s a very important part, I think. If someone else had told me everything you have told me – a doctor or a naturopath or whatever – I might not have taken it the way I took it. It was you, Dan.
You had it. You had been there, done that, got the T-shirt. You walked that path by yourself. I think people should trust that. I saw that it was working for you.
I didn’t even speak to other people that were working with your program. I spoke to people that were working with DNRS and Gupta. I knew what it was about. As I said, there was a component missing for me there. But, yes, you’ve got to have your mind set to it.
Trust the process. Once you start the process, trust it 100 percent.
Dan: Follow through until you really get there until the end.
Dan: I see some people who take three to six months to get to a point where you started – where they are getting the strategies in place because they couldn’t even make a change to their diet, they couldn’t even get out of bed, they were really diminished.
It takes a while to be able to go and have a meeting with someone. That’s all progress. You’ve got to keep building progress upon progress.
How did you go with your physical activity early on? Did you get a lot of negative feedback from increasing? How did you balance that?
Julia: It’s difficult in the beginning to get it started from such a low energy level to even get it up a bit.
Of course, it’s hurtful. It’s like building up muscles. It’s not comfortable. I did have setbacks. I did have flareups in the beginning when I started – of course, because I went overboard once again.
Then, next time, I tried it less, and that worked, so I tried a little more, and that worked as well, so I did that for two or three days, then I did a little more than that. It’s basically like building up condition. It’s basically like that, but you have to start very little.
For instance, people that are bedbound, in the beginning, you start with only doing yoga poses in your bed. You sit up and you do a yoga pose. Then, you’re like, “I did it!” and lay down again. Applause because you did that.
Dan: Yes, feel good about your efforts and your progress.
Julia: Exactly. Appreciate the progress. It’s really important – every little step.
Trust it and believe that it’s not just that day because the reason why I haven’t gone public with my healing until now – until today – is because people are telling me I’m just having a good day, a good year, or even a good one and a half years, and it’s going to come back. That’s why I distance myself.
Of course, it’s going to come back if I feed my brain bad information.
Dan: You have to be very mindful about your expectations.
Dan: Is there anything else about the rewiring or the meditation that you think was really important? Any other insights that you think you would have gained during your experience that perhaps other people could benefit from? Something I forgot to ask perhaps?
Julia: Since I did a lot of meditations, I actually switched meditations. I didn’t only use your meditations, but I also did other meditations. For instance, one of the meditations that I really like – and it might not be everyone’s cup of tea – is the “fuck it” meditation. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but it’s awesome.
Dan: No, it sounds funny.
Julia: It’s a swearing meditation. “Fuck it and let all the shit go.” Swearing can be very good for the system. It can be very good for our nervous system and for our body. Swearing can be very good.
Dan: Because you’re expressing your emotion that strongly.
Especially if it’s something that’s so fucked up – pardon my French – you sometimes need something that’s a bit more hardcore. Sometimes, it’s like, “Fuck it!” and let it all go. Let all the shit go. I like doing that meditation in-between. Otherwise, actually, Dan, I’ve got no suggestions for you except for that.
I’m really grateful for your program. It’s awesome.
Dan: Thank you for saying that.
Julia: It’s complete. It’s one whole program.
What I really appreciate about your program is you saying, if you’ve got that and that problem, go check out a doctor or neuropath. If you have that, go do something else. You don’t only say, “This is my program, and this is the way you go. You do that 100 percent. You do nothing but that, that, and that. That’s it.” That’s what I really appreciate because we need to take more things into consideration.
Julia: Different people have got different paths of healing. Every individual has got a bit of a different way of how they got to MCS. Now, how could it be the same solution of solving it? Of course, there are the four big steps.
Julia: The fundamentals that you need, but in between those, there are a lot of differences. A lot of people need different things. For instance, one person needs more hugs; the other person needs more distance in their lives with their people.
One last question I would like to ask, you mentioned some trauma in your life, when you started the program, did you then engage in any kind of therapy to let go of those traumatic events or any negative emotions perhaps?
You’d have had lots of negative emotions if you have been sick that long. Did you have any therapy? Or was it mainly the processes in the program and the meditations? Or did you do anything in addition?
Julia: Apart from your program, you also suggested to get a therapist to work with. You know Pat – actually, working with Pat because we’ve become friends.
Dan: Pat Gurnick?
Julia: Yes, Gurnick. She’s an angel.
Dan: Yes, great!
Julia: She’s been helping me with some of the emotional trauma and going into that spiritual side of it.
Apart from that, I’ve been working with EFT – the tapping – which was very helpful. I think that it is important to also work on trauma – to solve the issue constantly, to have it gone forever. I also think it’s not bad to see a shrink for that, if you ask me, because a shrink is not solving it on a good level. The mental level and the physical level are one thing, so you’ve got to treat it as one.
Dan: Your work with Pat – was it talking therapy? Was it somatic? How did you get the trauma out?
Julia: It was somatic. I was basically shaking it off.
Dan: You like the shaking technique – guided and with somebody who is connecting you with your experience as opposed to in isolation.
Dan: Did you start these mental therapies after the program? At what stage did you start them? Did you have to be well enough to start doing this?
Julia: Yes, I started after your program. When I finished your program, that’s when I started talking to Pat because I realised that the MCS had also left a big trauma in my life because being homeless in Uruguay, losing your home, losing some friends – thank God I didn’t lose all of my friends. I had a lot of friends that stood by my side through this, but it was traumatic.
That’s why I decided to start talking to Pat about it. It was very helpful. I think it was also an important step on the way of staying healthy because the mind can overcome a lot of things, but if there’s still a scratch on the soul, it will always bring you down again. It was really helpful.
If you have trauma, resolve that in a sensible way.
Dan: Well done for taking those steps. Congratulations on your recovery!
Are there any final words you’d like to say to the people out there with multiple chemical sensitivities as we wrap up?
Julia: It is possible to heal!
If lots of people keep telling you that healing is not possible,” “there’s only remission,” “you’re never going to get over this,” “you just find a way to cope with it,” “live in isolation,” and “distance yourself from all those things,” don’t believe them!
Please keep going for healing because come on, people! MCS is no life. We don’t have any life quality. It’s torture. It’s not life. It’s torture. I will tell you, there is life out there for us. I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to Ghana and enjoy life teaching little kids.
Is there one experience you’ve had since you recovered where you went, “Wow! I can’t believe I’m doing this!” It’s probably lots of things, but is there one thing that’s stuck in your mind?
Julia: There were a couple of moments. There was one that I remember very clearly. I visited my brother in the beginning after my recovery. It was a real hard choice – going to my brother and staying there for a night – you know, (50:46 unclear) town, lots of smells, really horrible.
We were walking down the street. I was walking through a cloud of fabric softener because someone was having their dryer vent to the street. It blew right at me. I walked through it and it smelled like fresh laundry. I was like, “Whoa! That smells like fresh laundry.” There was nothing to it anymore.
There is this moment where you can’t taste the chemicals in the back of your throat anymore. It’s just a smell or a scent. It actually stays a smell and doesn’t become a taste and a fog. I was going through it and I was like, “Oh! Laundry!”
Dan: That’s awesome. I love that moment.
Thank you so much for sharing that today, Julia.
Thank you for sharing your journey!
Julia: Yes, it was my pleasure.
Dan: Thank you.
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