Captains log: Stardate -303066.6805555556
There are a few lessons closely to follow
A good intention can still lead to disaster
Discipline is everything
Framing matters,Deploy constructive measures
Good Intentions Gone Bad
Outside of the lessons, this is a deep dive in the last 5 months, which have arguably been the worst months of my Oslo life. What started innocently enough developed into the trials equal to Dante's journey into the inferno. I felt on top of the world from January 2019 right until the middle of June 2019. Those have been without the best months of my life in general AND in Oslo. The highest peaks can have a steep descent, as you are about to find out.
The one health issue that didn't seem to have much impact on my quality of life, at least to my knowledge or experience, was a gut fungus or mold that manifests itself as white patches on my skin. Seeing I felt on top of the world and in my eagerness and intention to heal it I looked into using Wild Oregano Oil (with a pretty high dose). So I covered my what: the antifungal. I didn't cover my how, and missing that very important detail would become PAINFULLY obvious.
Resolved to destroy this fungus I took that dosage heroically daily. The first sign that something was up was that my big meals suddenly felt heavier. Not sure what to attribute that too, I figured I might have caught a bug or just had a bad reaction to something I ate. Then each time I drank water my digestion would get so heavy it felt like it stalled. That was definitely a cue that something was wrong. Unfortunately for me, I had already dropped over the edge without knowing. The following days my digestion basically slowed to such a mind-numbingly slow crawl it felt like I was digesting at all. With all the consequences that came from that. I got anemic.
My energy took a nosedive of epic proportions. What I refer to as my unyielding drive, the engine of my daily life sputtered and died. Quick to follow was my libido. From there my sleep suffered immensely from the stress of trying to digest food, even as I had changed what and how I ate to the recommendations of Dominic Rapson (which was the only thing that helped). The body was in shock. My skin paled, my fingernails were brittle, the skin around my fingernails inflamed, the fungus on my skin flared red, extreme bloating that was very painful, bleeding gums, constipation, anxiety, doubt, fear, insecurity, feeling unsafe, feeling on edge and restless. It felt nearly impossible to structure my thoughts, my creative flow was shut down and my access to deep meditation blocked off. The highest of highs made way for the lowest of lows.
My mood swings were severe and my general mood and state kept getting worse. I got angry, frustrated, disappointed and distressed with my training, with the way I looked, with the way I felt, with my anxiety and borderline depressive moods suddenly engulfing me again. All because my microbiome was nuked by that Oregano oil, my bile secretion had stopped, my stomach acidity had issues. My whole digestive system from bacteria, to absorption, to break down of nutrients was in complete disarray. You know how misery loves company? Or things happen in threes? The universe prescribed that some more needed to be piled on. A project canceled, a project stalled, no new clients, clients returning later from vacation than anticipated. All the while my drive to do and create was nonexistent, whatever work I did have suffered because I was operating in my lowest settings possible.
To further add insult to a very real internal injury, I lost all motivation and joy to train. I couldn't recover from my workouts, but because of my fear of getting fat, I kept pushing on. The water retention, bloating and slight uptick in fat, was already messing with my mind. Not training as heavy as normal,even when that would have been the better and the best decision didn't seem like an option. Everything I had worked for and gained the last 5 months (January to June) disappeared in smoke, turned to ashes right in my hands. Training suffered to the point that even my warm-up felt like a hurdle, something I had to wrestle my way through. Without incoming work, the next thing to die right before my eyes was my financial situation. I was barely staying afloat being able to pay rent and the minimum requirement of food. Seeing I couldn't digest much to begin with some days I only at once which was far from enough to sustain me energy-wise. Eating more was no option either as it gave me pain in my stomach and bowels and disrupted my sleep.
It's not hard to imagine that all this would cause some friction within a relationship. Not hard to imagine from the outside but the fallout from the rest of June, July and August brought my relationship to the brink. Already shouldering a burden I felt was worthy of the heralds of Atlas, the strain on the relationship weighed heavy on my soul. All those factors compounding took me to a state that I have been free of since 2009: minor depression with high levels of anxiety and daily minor panic attacks. Not only wasn't I not enjoying my training, but I also got panic attacks when I did exercise. This is a pretty damn clear signal that I was pushing my body too hard and too far with all the stress, it was already experiencing from indigestion, high inflammation, low energy, low nutrients due to inability to assimilate and the financial stress alongside that which fueled the relationship stress. I've gone through various stress periods in my life post major depression that because of my health and routines had their impacts diminished and thus easier to cope with. Having the health part (digestion) pull out was like the ground dropping out from underneath my feet.
DISCIPLINE IS EVERYTHING
The one thing that kept me sane was controlling what could be controlled and creating order in my environment. Creating order was less creating as much as it was maintaining the order I had built from January to June. Waking up at 04-0430, movement for 30-60 min, meditating for 20-40 min, journaling, and reading. Then any form of training. The evening routine consisted of dimming or turning off lights after sundown, avoiding screens and reading. My bed, lighting candles, prepping the coffee machine and my training bag for the day after, those were all things that created order in my immediate environment that allowed me brief instances of the parasympathetic state (rest, recover, digest) as it is tied for familiarity and thus safety and comfort.
The second thing I did was to go on a full dopamine fast. To create a space of awareness that was untainted by fixes, dependence, crutches or distractions. I didn't want anything to numb me from the thing I was experiencing. This is extremely counter-intuitive to most people, for all intents and purposes I made a hard period even harder. However, it gave me the space and silence to be aware and interpret the feedback from my internal universe. How my nervous system panicked in light workouts, or the anxiety in waking up without any additional news of work or going to bed without getting called in for an interview for a part-time job, or the emotions in regards to my partner's behavior. It would have been inherently easier to repeat the same behavior I have displayed in the past by losing myself in escapism. The only way to break a behavioral and trauma cycle is to break the cycle. Although it added a level of challenge it also added a way for my body to recover.
When things get hard, challenging or even unbearable. That is not time to fold, it's time to clutch onto the structures that create order. Letting yourself go is the beginning of the slippery slope that turns into the negative feedback loop commonly referred to as Spiraling. This is what happens when people spiral out of control. That initial giving up and letting go, leading to eating junk food, poor sleep, overeating, emotional eating, escapism of all kinds, distraction, numbing, taking the edge off, repressing, avoiding and even running away. Although great short term dopamine hits, it doesn't solve a single thing. And that's a major key of what drove me to dopamine fast in the first place: it would put me in a position of confrontation with the need to resolve my situation. Being so keenly aware and seeing clearly my own trauma born behavior, the pull to escapism, the panic and fear of the unknown and uncertainty. It provided an open road to direct contact with my demons and the lessons hidden in those confrontations and conflict.
GROWTH AND PROPULSION.
You might not believe in planetary alignments or anything that is “pseudoscience” or plain voodoo. Follow the EMF rabbit hole and you can share your opinion later. The picture above from Ryan Mintz was the warning shot across my bow. I was already sunk in the struggle, All of October was a wrestling match for sanity, where the prize wouldn't gold or silver, nor life or death: but understanding, growth, expansion, and propulsion. This was the mantra that echoed in my head each and every day when the panic, anxiety, vicious mood cycles or dark thoughts took hold. I kept my mantra close, citing growth and propulsion multiple times as I walked. To me, it carried the power of a better future, but it also holds the proof of my overcoming from past experiences.
Not just proof but the results and constructive coping mechanisms I have created. Which as mentioned in the opening of this post is the third bullet: Constructive countermeasures or just measures. I've used all my experiences for a constructive purpose. I used my childhood and adolescence experiences for my book, I use them in my coaching. The relationship struggles of the past I've used to improve my current relationship. My poor relationship with my father strengthened the one I have with my stepfather. The abandonment of my brother leads to creating a tribe of capable and worthy men as support. All the darkness I experienced, from the suicidal tendencies, wishing for death, loathing myself, hating seeing other happy, the sufferance, the pain, the inability to connect, wanting to harm and harming myself, drowning out the world with drugs and alcohol, suppressing emotion, they all allow me to relay this contrast and often unknown aspect to people in my writing and in my fantasy book.
That is the principle of a constructive countermeasure, or the capacity to ask yourself the question repeatedly: How can I use this experience in a constructive fashion? Unintentionally destroying my gut lead to two constructive measures: 1. Being able to prevent other clients from doing the same, as the Oregano thing has come up quite often. 2. It solidified the gut-brain connection and how psychology/mental health is physical health, the two are one. Whilst my decade bout of depression was fueled by a combination, this minor depressive state was definitely rooted in that inability to digest, absorb and assimilate. This actually brings us to a third: it has proven to me the importance of nutrition in our mental health, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Which is a topic I have taken up arms for. As much as it sucks, hurts, is hard, challenging or subject to suffering, I had to frame this experience daily deep inside the dark in a way that allowed me to see the lesson clearly. If you shut yourself off from the lesson, you are either doomed to repeat or will stay ignorant of the machinations of the psyche. The insights of this period prove invaluable, it was another burning of the phoenix so it could be reborn, another transformation and ascendance of the soul, a burning of the forest to create a fertile ground for the seeds I've been planting. Painful, sure. Necessary: most definitely. Our biggest and most challenging task is to keep that large picture in mind: the lessons, how to use this experience, how to move on from here as you consolidate those lessons.
The interesting part about all this is that I wasn't the only one who experienced 4-5 months of intense hardship. Like someone activated a universal test, seeing who would come out with an ascended attitude and who would crumble and break. I've spoken to many others on the same path, people I know in person, people that live all across the globe. For all intents and purposes this was a universal happening, one that felt not like a biblical test, but more like an opportunity of spirit forging. Another thought that struck me during all this, as biblical as it sounds. We are equal to our Divine Task. Divine Task being the Stoic term for your mission, duty, the ultimate goal in life. All spiritual core archetypal myths in religion and internal philosophies speak of the same type of equation.
“What is to give light must endure burning.” -Victor Frankl
“ Fire tries gold, misfortune tries brave men.” - Seneca
What else is hiding in ancient maxims, stories, myth and oral tradition disguised as folk wisdom? These constructive countermeasures, or using your experience to help others (the gift in the curse) seem to keep cycling back. Alive, anew, in each opportunity for growth and rising above your old patterns, habits, and notions. I've taken this period earnestly in what it could offer as it pushed me to the edge of my capabilities. I felt hopeless, unworthy, fallen from grace, lost my self worth in what was a shadow of my former state and felt weak under the weight of my divine task. In all honesty: I wasn't sure if I could bear the burden. My resolve to keep my business going was tested like it never had been these past 5 years. Obviously, I'm glad I didn't, however, this experience made me appreciate the fine line I was walking and that perseverance is the key to any overcoming. Another daunting prospect. In order to light the way forward for others, my endurance was tested. I feel forged a new, battle-tested, ready to put this knowledge to good use.