Are You a Head Case?

Once, my high school softball coach called me a  “head case,”  which kind of hurt my feelings.  Hard stop.  Pull up short.  Take a quick 15 second life review.  In no way, shape, or form did any decision of my utterly responsible, conscientious, sixteen year-old life seem to deserve this condemnation.  Coach, I’m a head case?  How could you declare this?

Sure!  I wear my heart on my sleeve probably unlike anyone else you know–on happy days as well as sad days.  (As well as mad days.  I’ve always proclaimed that this openness keeps me from becoming a head case.)

Sure!  I was the starting pitcher and some days I pitched strikes–and other days I didn’t. (Okay.  Some batters I pitched strikes to and others I didn’t.)

Sure.  Okay.  Maybe sometimes my head did get in the way of my already horrible pitching.  But, dang, coach.  I wasn’t a good pitcher, and I didn’t want to be the pitcher if I wasn’t a good pitcher.

The pitcher’s circle.  Who put me there?  I didn’t ask to be there.  And what a place to be.  All eyes on you.  Throw strikes consistently from inside a circle drawn in the sand.  Everybody else standing or sitting and watching…

And judging you to be a head case.

Strike three!  Success.  Ball four.  Take first base.  Failure.

Head Case and Health

I’ve been thinking about this head case stuff as it plays a role in health.  Back when I played softball, I could never tell if it was going to be a good pitching day or a bad pitching day.  (Poor Coach.  Poor team.  Poor Terri.)  Just couldn’t tell.  Despite being perfectly capable of pitching strikes, something unconsciously interfered with my ability to do so many times over.  Trust me.  I didn’t like standing in that circle walking batter after batter after batter.  I wanted to pitch strikes!  So, I’ve been thinking about Coach’s words from so long ago and chewing on the idea of “head case” (and also “psychosomatic” and “in your head”).

I’ve come up with a temporary, evolving idea for “head case” (and “psychosomatic” and “in your head”) which I think will apply to health matters too:

Head Case, Psychosomatic, and In Your Head:  The conscious brain cannot undo the activities of the unconscious brain no matter how hard it tries.

No matter how hard I tried consciously, I just couldn’t throw strikes.  Now the thought has been (and was) ever-present that overall, I was simply a bad pitcher.  Period.

But then why, some days and innings, could I be a “good” bad pitcher?  And other days and innings a “bad” bad pitcher?  Why can a headache calm down when you lie down?  Why does rheumatoid arthritis sometimes have good days and bad days?  Why does a Morton’s neuroma sometimes hurt and sometimes not?  Why can’t the brain always modulate success?

Am I a Head Case?

Fast forward.  No matter how hard I try, I haven’t been able to budge my food sensitivities and gut issues and strange stuff keeps popping up like joint effusions.  (I’ve been evaluated by doctors and tests, and so should you be.)  I don’t like suffering body and brain aches and pains.  I don’t like to run kids around with a headache.  I don’t like restrictive diets. I don’t like the taste of my magnesium supplement I have to take.  I don’t like wondering if today will be a good day or a bad day for my head because I ate eggs and nuts yesterday.  I’m stuck.  Despite eating right.  Despite trying certain supplements.  Despite gratitude journals.  Despite yoga.  Despite prayer.

Am I a head case again?  Do we all have a case of head case?  Do we all have symptoms where our awesome, magnificent, all-powerful, all-knowing cerebral cortex (the conscious brain) cannot override unconscious activities that lie deeper in the brain no matter how hard it tries, short circuiting health and normal function?

I’m not sure.  I’ve been super impressed with the significance of food in health.  Definitely my family’s experimentation with real food tweaked for food intolerances has been highly successful.  But what about using the untapped power of the murky brain (unconscious or subconscious) that lies under the brain that I call me (the conscious) to control health?  The part that controls my heart rate.  My sweating.  My gut motility.  My blushing.  My sleep.  The part that responds to and generates fear and anger.  The part that has deep, primal memory that I’m not consciously privy to–that honestly, maybe I don’t really even want any part of.

Can a person gain health by exploring their mind?  By trying to recognize “thoughts” that you don’t really think?  By appreciating how many times a day you squash yourself down when you didn’t even realize it?  By trying to intercept subconscious thoughts and remodel them and nurture them for good, thus allowing the biochemistry and circuitry of the brain to actually change?

“La, la, la, la, la–I’m not liiisssst-uh-ning…”

I know what you’re thinking, “No.  My pain is real!  My symptoms are real!  These are not in my head.  I’ve got tests and X-rays and MRIs.  I’ve tracked everything.  It’s all objective.  I see you’re headed for whack-o.  This is your final leap.  I’m going to stop reading now, thank you very much, Terri.  Appreciated the brewer’s yeast, iodine, and butyrate posts you wrote–but I’m not going where you’re going anymore.”

Well, I’m impressed you made it this far.  I hear you!  I have many, many memories of working-up patients with headaches and stomach pains and joint pains and finding nothing!  Nothing!  The patients would feel so disappointed because they KNEW something was wrong!  Something HAD to be wrong!  This couldn’t just be an “in my head” issue.  But everything was saying, “There’s nothing wrong.”

Because I saw this particular, discouraging clinical situation often enough, I had a standard spiel for it.  It went like this:

“Hey.  Look at me.  It’ll be okay.  You’re okay!  We know there’s nothing BAD there that’s going to kill you.  That’s important!  That’s good!  It’s not cancer!  I know you have pain!  It’s real!  This doesn’t mean something won’t turn up eventually, so you have to watch out for us!  Anything new or different, you get right back in here because that may be the clue we need to figure this thing out.”

Honestly, not much ever turned up.  So I have never been surprised when my own tests come back inconclusive.  Colonoscopy for severe, unrelenting constipation–negative.  Specific antibodies for celiac and rheumatoid arthritis–negative.  Blood tests for premature menopause–negative.  Lymes–negative.

Following a strict food plan with some basic supplements has kept me decently controlled from whatever it is.  It’s a tight diet though, and I want to share, if I can, good, healthy foods with my daughters, husband, mom, sisters, and friends.  Perhaps I should just let food go, and I will if I have to, but if I can move forward from this place, I’d like to.

So mind-body digging it is.  I’ve got some posts (about four) typed up about what I am learning and what I think about this mind-body disco.  They’re not scientific posts.  But if I have success, I’m going to be thrilled to dig up the research like I did for food and some supplements and eventually get them posted here.

Stay in the circle, pitch after pitch after pitch.  It’ll be okay.



45 thoughts on “Are You a Head Case?

  1. myjourneythrume

    As you know Terri I applaud this so much, so please keep digging! I look forward to reading your findings. I was very skeptical about all this too – corporate lawyering not so open to mind analysis- but my experience shows me time and time again that there is much to it. Doesn’t stop me from feeling like a crazy person when talking about it with others, which is why I like talking to you so much 😊 And one final thing, I am incredibly open too, heart very much on my sleeve both good and bad days. Jess

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author


      Well, I’m learning it takes one crazy to know one. (Smile. Joke. 🙂 ) (You know, that projection stuff…)

      Anyhow, yes. You know you are the inspiration behind this. It has been on my mind ever since you used mind-body strategy so successfully. And with all honesty, I think that “the wearing my heart on my sleeve” is something that, although I like about myself, also makes me very internally uncomfortable and creates some inner anxiety I never perceived before, perhaps leading to some of this body stuff. Strength becomes a weakness. (Now becoming a strength again with awareness.) I don’t know. But life is good.


  2. barbara

    I use Dr. Carolyn Dean’s ReMag for magnesium supplement. It is a liquid and you add it to water. Absorbed in the small intestine, it works MUCH better than any pills because it is readily absorbed. She also has developed a mineral supplement to be used in conjunction with the magnesium. She developed these supplements because she could not absorb enough magnesium with the products available. Google her name to find out more. I feel the difference when I use something else.

      1. barbara

        The magnesium and the other minerals do not cause any laxative effect. They do work their magic! Your muscles are relaxed and not stiff or crampy. You place a 1/4+ tsp. in water and sip it or put it in a smoothie. Your peristalsis movements become normalized so your bowel movements are normalized. Her book, The Magnesium Miracle is well worth reading. Her explanations are easy to understand and the benefits of absorbed magnesium are rather amazing. Remember that we don’t get much magnesium from our food or water because of pollution, depleted soil and chemical additives. When you use Dr. Dean’s ReMag, the body absorbs it and there isn’t any excess which causes the loose stools. She explains how various formulations of magnesium are absorbed at very small percentage rates (like magnesium oxide) which aren’t really sufficient for your needs.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Well, I’ll keep that in mind. I agree that magnesium is important and studies DO show that many of us are deficient in daily life. I’ve tried several formulations, but I always come back to the Mag Calm because otherwise my motility just doesn’t happen right.

  3. Cynthia

    Interesting topic! I’m wondering if you’re going to have something to say about EFT/tapping…. I’ll be watching for future posts!

  4. didee

    Hi Terri,

    Please don’t give up or feel down, and definitely don’t give up on the blog or the food thing! You’re saving lives out here and at home! I feel like you’re the only person talking about something that is soo debilitating that it affects every waking moment but yet we don’t really talk about it, even with family.

    I really appreciate your blog and want to tell you how your fabulous, interesting and intelligent posts are very much anticipated & appreciated. I suffered from unrelenting, painful, nonstop constipation too, and thought that it would actually be what finally killed me, from a stroke or something, as I sat straining, with feet up on a squatty potty .

    I have a very old solution that felt absolutely miraculous at first – it really works!!

    1 teaspoon of Vitamin C powder (heaped)

    ¼ (+/-) teaspoon of magnesium

    ½ +/- teaspoon Enos fruit salts (basically bicarb soda)

    Stirred into a glass of water. Take twice a day but if not possible then just increase the C and the Enos.

    Also take quite a large amount of omega-3 fish oil, morning and night, together with vitamins D & K.

    Recently however, I’ve found what may possibly be my underlying problem (possibly others too). It’s a genetic mutation that sometimes never shows symptoms but can be chronic – one of the symptoms is constipation. It is also very much affected by food and other things. The version of these gene problems I think my family possibly have, is called Porphyria Cutanea Tarda. I’m sure you know of it Terry, but some of the other genetic heme disorders also have constipation as a symptom, because they affect neurons – but it’s so infrequent I’m thinking one might not think of it readily. They are difficult to diagnose and supposedly rare (but also very underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed). Have you ever considered any of these possibilities Terri? Constipation could be the only symptom that shows. They don’t always involve the skin (I can see that yours is lovely) even though that’s what people first think of when you mention porphyria.

    With this possibility in mind, and doing my own experiments, I also found that I was extremely affected by the amount of protein I ate. I was trying to eat ‘paleo’ and that was part of the problem. Little/no protein was better, and vegetables and frequent small meals with lots of liquids was almost a cure. I do have some skin & other symptoms, as well as the constipation – but they’re all so much better I can hardly believe it. I am going to try to have the genetic test (outside the insurance system) though as I think my children and grandchildren need to know definitively how to best protect their health going forward. These problems can be life threatening occasionally and certainly affect quality of life if you’re at all symptomatic.

    Wishing you good health Terri and with much, much gratitude for your wonderful blog, your honesty and openness and your wonderful generous spirit that shines throughout.



    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Wow, Didee! Thanks for your comment. I, of course, have never tried that exact combo you mention. I have tried high dose vitamin C in capsules to no avail. For your “go-to,” do you refer to liquid magnesium or a magnesium powder? And I had never heard of Enos–had to Google that one. Looks simple and safe enough!

      It has been a long time since I brushed up on porphyria! And, no, I had no idea that constipation was an issue. I remembered the sun and blisters and skin changes. Good medical board question. 🙂 I am very excited that you found a way to control your constipation. What ever tipped you off in that direction? I’d love to know! I’d definitely want to know if I had the genetic type so my kids could know! Your protein, water, meal discoveries are good points in how we can manipulate things to see what suits us best.

      I really, really appreciate your nice, encouraging words. And thanks for coming on and saying what works well for you and what you’re finding. I mean, I don’t think porphyria and constipation are on most doctors’ radars together! So that is something to keep in the back of our minds for some of us.

      Take good care! And thank you.


      1. Didee

        Hi Terri,
        I use vitamin C (ascorbic acid) powder, it’s so much easier to get to bowel tolerance and beyond, than with capsules. The magnesium I use is Calm natural magnesium powder – (not the one with calcium, as I find that any added calcium, in anything, can be very constipating – so no dairy). I don’t use more than a small amount of magnesium (1/4 – ½ tsp) because I don’t want to upset that cal/mag balance. Substituting bicarb soda for the Enos works just as well (but doesn’t taste as good) because it’s the salt that does the trick to draw water into the bowel. The large quantity of omega-3 I think just helps things slide through mechanically (not to be too gross but It felt like my gut was being excoriated every time there was any movement). Also helps tremendously with the skin. The vitamin K is not just because its healthy, but to help balance the bleed/clot factors alongside the big amounts of omega-3 I take.
        Enos is a very old fashioned remedy that almost everybody took for ‘regularity’ in the far away country I grew up in. Either that or bicarb soda was the remedy for constipation – not too many pharmaceuticals available back then. Every family had a big jar of it in the pantry, and at boarding school we all had our own individual giant jars, took a teaspoon of it every day in a big glass of water, and had arguments about the best time of day to take it, morning or night (depended on family tradition). You can tell it was an incredibly long, long time ago, a very simple time, no TV’s or cell phones and nothing much exciting to do except talk! Unfortunately the company that made Enos doesn’t do the big jars any more. The only caution with taking this (or bicarb soda) is that, because of the sodium, you can’t overuse it, especially if you have any kidney problems. My rule of thumb is no more than a heaped teaspoon in any 24 hour period (and that could be less for some people).
        I had forgotten about all this old fashioned stuff, but as you note in your blog, constipation generally gets worse, not better, with age. Mine had become completely impossible to live with and was not only uncomfortable and painful (to sit even!) but contributing to unwelcome weight gain. Finally remembered it all – and my mother not budging in the morning until she’d taken her teaspoon of bicarb soda in a giant glass of water. Putting all the little remedies together (in one dose, so to speak) really did work like a miracle for me.
        The only other thing that I occasionally use (mainly if I’ve been away or have run out of ingredients) is a Polish herbal tea ‘Herbapol Figura 1’. It’s very mild – doesn’t work immediately and does not cause cramps (for me) even though it contains some senna leaves. It’s reliable though and it’s good for travelling (just pop a few tea bags in the pocketbook)! There is also a Figura 2 version but it doesn’t work at all for me and doesn’t taste as good. I generally think most OTC herbal laxatives are quite dangerous to use (too much stimulation) so I never take them, apart from this old fashioned tea.
        Another thing that’s handy for travel is Alka-Selzer Gold tablets. They’re basically just sodium and potassium and a bit of magnesium in a fizzy tablet, each two individually wrapped. They’re easy and pleasant to take in a big glass of water, but I need to take it twice (in a 24 hr period) for any action – its a very mild gentle action. Once again, a caution about the amount of sodium, especially with any kidney problems.
        I’ve had to give up grains and lentils too as I notice that eating any at all gives me instant constipation (same with dairy) and I don’t know why, as I’m not celiac, although they do contain lots of protein too. Once I got my head around the fact that eating like a ‘normal’ person made me sick, and finally embraced the old fashioned, real food, veggie (but not vegetarian) thing, it became much easier to accept (though I’m not a saint in that regard and still eat meat and eggs even though I finally found out recently that the protein (not another thing!) might be part of my problem – I just try to not eat much of it now.
        An interesting fact about any of the porphyria disorders is that alcohol can be a major trigger, and so I’m thinking that presumably an evening glass of wine could possibly be causing a constipation problem. That seems a really way out connection also, and another one that might never, ever be linked.
        To answer your question Terri about how I came to realize what my underlying problem might be – I had my 23and me genetics test done and was trying to find out how best to get help to interpret the data. (It’s way more difficult than you can imagine). It took a long, long time, trying seemingly all of the available online programs. I found out quite a lot of interesting stuff (e.g. I’m homozygous for the A1298C methylation mutation) but that didn’t seem to be ‘it’. I tried a program called Livewello and eventually just kept running my data through, when I had time, for any and all the diseases they list and then looked up the symptoms. Finally found that the symptoms for some of the porphyrias matched! Most websites listing these disorders make much of the very extreme symptoms, with pictures and descriptions that only affect a very, very few people. They were so extreme (and some completely crazy AND FICTION based) that at first glance I was appalled and didn’t think they applied to me. It was only after dismissing the fictional bits showing online, and trying to be analytical about all the subtle, more common symptoms that I realized that the possibility was kind of undeniable. Also, I keep finding new info that makes it even more than a possibility in my mind. As you know Terri, self diagnosis is a dangerous thing, but a definitive biochemical test means that I would have to deliberately make myself sick again (only way to show a positive result on the biochemical tests) and I just can’t bear to do that right now. It’s taken me such a long time to get control of my various symptoms and as I read I find out that some of these symptoms (e.g. nerve damage) are irreversible! I just don’t want to go backwards. Which leaves a genetic test. Thankfully they are now available because of all the wonderful research physicians and scientists are doing – how wonderful and lucky is that!! The difficulty is that each family seems to have a different genetic variation which also means that the variation in symptoms is myriad and possibly all of the whole eight genes would have to be analyzed – an expensive proposition. I’m currently trying to do a spreadsheet so I can narrow down the most likely variation and contain the cost. My current list is PCT(f) followed by VP or HCP. Wish me luck!
        Sorry for such a long reply Terri but thanks once again for your great website, it’s very much appreciated.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Wow! That was a lot of information for me to absorb. I had to read it a few times. 🙂 For me, I find it hard to believe that less than a teaspoon of any of those would improve my motility! BUT, maybe in synergy it would!? Because I, too, worry about mag/calcium disruption.

        Thanks for all the information. Where is your native “home?” You mentioned the Polish tea; is it Poland?

        I have not gotten to really learning about the readily available genetic tests yet. I did read about gut bacteria testing, and it just is so difficult to interpret. Sounds like you run into the same things with the genetic tests. You get the info–and then figuring out what to do with it is tough! (And expensive.) As time passes, I think we’ll have more (hopefully) on how to use and interpret these.

      3. Didee

        Yes, definitely synergistically Terri, and I find the oils are important. Once took a heaped tsp of magnesium and didn’t feel too good afterwards, so that’s why it’s such a seemingly tiny amount. I guess the ‘right’ amount varies depending on the individual and their other supplements.
        I was born in ‘a land down under’.

      4. Didee

        Hi Terri,
        I just wanted to let you know that anxiety, etc. is another symptom. Forgot to mention this.
        Diana – or Didee (nickname)

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Oh, no! I hope my post didn’t come off as downer! It’s not! Life is good! Just in November and December I started getting really bad headaches and dizzy/vertigo, and I kept having to fall back harder and harder on keeping my diet “clean for me.” My GI was doing better, and I was so shocked! My GI good–then my head started acting up? What? Shouldn’t it all go together in the same positive direction?! Since it wasn’t, I was referred to this medical doctor’s work by the name of Sarno. After reading that, I thought, wow! This is a deeper avenue than I’ve covered in this area. I think I need to read up on this and try it! It has been so fascinating and helpful. I’m lovin’ it! Now, go snuggle your bean pillows and enjoy that kicking sensation that is so much fun! 🙂 XO

  5. Lesq

    I can’t believe I am reading this post today. You and I have the same problem unfortunately and our symptoms are the same and our constant research and over analyzing a problem that has ruled us for years and robbed us of peace just never goes away. I live in the exact same mag you do and despise it. This hordes my thoughts constantly. I am an attorney, researcher by nature, and have a father whom was in medicine and a major researcher so I have always been well read. I went recently to another dr–I have been to many some very well known and she sent me to a research study at a very prominent NYC hospital. Your topic is right on target. I would love to speak with you. It could be beneficial for us both. If you so desire, shoot me an email and we can arrange it. You might find it helpful and interesting in your own pursuit. Thanks for all your posts on this. It kinda motivated me today to plug forward with what I have recently discovered even though I knew it all along. Peace!

  6. Simple Days Making for Exciting Adventures

    yes, yes. Can I tell you how often I work with people on breathing for pain? Many look at me like I am crazy. However, when you have back pain without any “reason” it still hurts. Thus, we work on how to work through the pain. Many times people are amazed at how much a deep breath or alternate nostril breathing helps their pain. So I look forward to your search into the mind-body! I keep learning more and more about it. I am amazed by it all the time. Our brains are fascinating.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Super fascinating! I didn’t know PT taught that! Did you learn about these techniques (alternate nostril/deep breath) in school or in continuing education? Or pick them up on your own and incorporated them?

      The closest I ever came to learning about any of that in med school was when I went to a little class they had on stress management, and the lady counsellor had us do that alternate nostril covering. 🙂 But it’s never to late to learn, right!?

      1. Simple Days Making for Exciting Adventures

        They don’t teach that. I started on the yoga journey prekids. I had terrible, terrible pregnancies and I think yoga breathing is what kept me alive-literally. Then I started noticing amazing things with people in ICU and in comas when we worked on breath work (obviously, I was a little more hands on there). I did take several classes on yoga for physical therapists, and breath work is a huge part of it.
        Isn’t it sad that your class on stress management was small-when that is probably 70% of the reason why we all have health issues? We, as in the medical community, have so much to learn. It’s a journey.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        The stress class was something the campus counsellor put on for us, and yes it was sad that it was so small, probably about ten of us. Funny, I remember once remarking to her how isolated and lonely I felt in school, and she said, “Oh…[sad sigh]…there are so many of you like this [I see]…if only we could get you all together.” People just don’t like to admit things, do they? And ask for and seek help and communion.

        Yes! We have so much to learn, and the stubborn donkeys won’t move. (Okay. Sorry. Had to get that off my chest so I can be positive again.)

        Well, I just think that’s neat about the breath work. That you learned it and used it. Lucky patients. Have a good homeschooling day (or night).

  7. Christine

    Terri, I’m so glad to see you looking into this. We hear so often that we need to listen to our bodies, what we don’t hear often enough is that our bodies listen to us. It’s a conversation, and there has to be trust, something the conscious, ego-self isn’t great at. We’re given the message that our bodies are at best, flawed, at worst, just plain out to get us – which is silly when you think about it – and so we keep looking for what’s wrong, or is about to go wrong.

    Seek and you shall find, of course. So what I’ve found most helpful is to look for what is going right. It’s a subtle thing but somehow it sets the tone and opens the conversation between the layers of the self (and there are many!).

    re PT, I would say the one health care provider who ever did me any real good was my physiotherapist. It was through her work in helping me to release tension, (she also does acupuncture) that I began to discover how much of my pain (which appeared then to be fibro) was left over crap from childhood trauma. As the tension released, up came the memories. I won’t say it was easy but it was good, you know? She also taught me that most useful of mantras: “the body remembers”. Not only does it remember the pain, it remembers how to be well. We can learn a lot from our selves.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      “…what we don’t hear often enough is that our bodies listen to us.”

      I love this! This is big! Totally. It puts into words so nicely what I’ve been thinking. This is what I’ve been practicing. My body listens to these little thoughts all day: “I’m so tired.” “I just can’t do this.” “I’m no good at this.” “I’m afraid of this.” “Why did I say that; that looked stupid.” All day long! Ouch! I’ve just now become conscious of these perpetual thoughts. I knew they were there, kind of, but not really. And I NEVER stopped to think about the chemical milieu they responded with which would completely affect the rest of my body. And this has been going on for 40 years (okay–subtract out some years from baby-hood).

      John Sarno, MD has been just so fascinating for me to read. He suggests talking to the brain, so I do. Agh! Like you suggest, I point out what my body does so well to the brain to tell it great job. (Out loud.) LOL! That’ll be in an upcoming post. But, for me, I’m a words of affirmation kind of girl. And I never made a point to give my own self words of affirmation. (Thank goodness for my hubby who always kept them coming for me.) With external words of affirmation, I’m like a machine, happy and joyful and energetic. Why doesn’t it follow that if I learn to give myself these words, that the chemical milieu will respond just as well and much more regularly and appropriately. It does follow. But we’re taught that giving yourself pats on the back is prideful. Pride is bad. Therefore, I’ve short-circuited my physiology due to consciousness. Maybe. Whatever. We’ll see.

      On the childhood trauma, I did explore that as John Sarno suggests. Of course, I have some. I didn’t linger too long here other than to use it as a way to accept what I am and how I do things better. I feel like the trauma I had is SO mild comparatively that I’d just be spinning my wheels and dragging myself down if I hung out there. But it was valuable to me.

      Anyhow. Thanks for the comment. I loved reading it. I love talking about this stuff, and my poor friends and family are always my guinea pigs–and listeners. So they’re happy I have a blog outlet to interact with other people, I think!! 🙂

      Have a great week!


  8. Jackie

    Stress definitely affects our body, whether it comes from inside or out. There was one particular stressor I had never recognized, yet someone pointed out often came before my body got so out of control, I would wind up in the ER. I went to therapy to learn how to deal with and think about that stressor, and now it doesn’t affect me as severely.

    I have been reading journal articles about the connection between the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems. Did you know lymphocytes have andrenergic receptors!?

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      What I found strange as a new discovery for me, though, is that my own intrinsic personality creates stress as it interacts with life as it happens. I don’t think I would have come to that conclusion on my own. Discovering that traits that I like about myself and that those who love me like about me—like my loyalty and honesty–are also huge stressors for me as I go about life! So strange. I mean, I get that moving or a family member having cancer or visitors in the house is stressful! That makes sense! But just the sheer fact of who I am is stressful, even things I like? And so affecting my ability to manage headaches and also perhaps affecting the milieu of hormones/transmitters to my gut? Very, very interesting idea….I’m glad that you were able to make a connection on something that seemed to affect you! That’s awesome! So glad that you (or someone else) was able to identify a pattern. Yay!…I think this brain stuff is very big. Like food! I think it affects every single cell in the body. 🙂

      1. Jackie

        My Mom says people’s best quality is often also their worst. (I think she always corrects “worst” with a different word, but that’s the gist.) 😊

  9. Anonymous

    Just want to say hi! and I love your blog. I am on my own journey of figuring out my health. I think there is such power in Sarno’s work. It is amazing once you boil it down, how much those constant voices in our heads = to something bigger. I saw this on a yoga poster at Starbucks “Our issues get into our tissues.” So very true! I will check back here regularly to see where your journey goes!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      “Our issues get into our tissues.”

      Wow! At Starbucks. LOL! Where most probably go to help drown out stress and woes!

      But I think it’s right in a big way. (Of course, the mochas may get into the tissues too…HA!)

      So pleased I ended up reading Sarno’s works. Thanks for stopping in to comment and giving nice words. I appreciate it.


  10. kemkem

    Awwh! I really hope you find the magic potion for you. Sorry that you’re having such a tough time, but glad you keep your chin up through it all :-).

  11. katpotter

    What a well-timed post for thoughts I had been thinking to throw in your direction, Terri. This all-in-your-head thing doesn’t sit well. Obviously we are experiencing physical distress and symptoms so there is a biological manifestation in some way, even if it’s beyond the disease label database the doctors have to choose from and look for. We are not making up our pains. But, I’ve been getting into this idea that the mind might be able to actually alter our biology. Think the placebo effect. This actually happens. People have real diagnosed diseases, physically observable in doctors’ tests. and yet even though they are only given a sugar pill or the like, a significant number of people have actually biologically improve (or are cured) just by the placebo effect and the power of their thinking. I’m not an expert on this yet, but I’ve started looking into this guy Dr. Joe Dispenza, and am starting into his book “You Are the Placebo.” Basically getting into the idea that you can consciously control your biology, just like the placebo effect, even in awareness– though not easily, with a lot of hard work and focused attention– and also has built up guided meditations to help with this. Here’s his TEDx talk for a quick hello:
    He started all this because he was in a major car accident, destroyed his spine and was told he would never walk again, and then spent 3 months laying on his stomach in the hospital with nothing to do but turn his thoughts towards this idea and directing his mind toward the process of healing, and there you go, 3 months later he can walk. The case stories at least are impressive.
    Anyhow, this direction I was going seems to be where this post of your seems to be going– with this role of the mind in controlling our biology. His previous book was “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.” I said, ‘Hell, yes.’ I am a head case too.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      If we were live, we could have a lot of fun with this conversation–jokes included. But humor often loses its humor with loss of intonation. 😦 Bummer for my kind of mildly sarcastic humor. Oh, well. BUT–

      Yes! I have been reading LOTS of books like this and have a stack of more to read. When I didn’t believe that intense diet could make a difference in many illnesses and health, I read everything I could get my hands on. Then, I put it to the test. I was very impressed. So I had to sing a different tune. Now, here I am in this. I will do the same. This is a little harder, though, because I feel I’m not in a good place in life to be able to do the work it requires; there is no quiet time in a homeschooling house of four kids.

      But I’m disappointed. How DOES medicine explain the placebo effect? Why aren’t we going after this like we know there’s gold in that buried trunk? How does medicine explain this guy’s back? And Phil Parker’s cut nerve? (He does The Lightning Process and has written books on overcoming chronic illness with the mind.) This is hard for me. I really don’t want to be “weird,” (forgive me, whoever may be offended by that) but truth has always been important to me. So I will read as many of these ideas as I can to find the common themes, like I did for food. I’ll add Joe Dispenza to the stack. 🙂 Thanks for the heads up.

      Please, I’d love to know if you find success helping your physiology! I felt like I had some motility success lately, then life got crazy again. I suggest that mothers of young children are just destined to have their health issues exacerbated (nursing, no time to eat properly, extra busy-ness, less time, unpredictable schedules/nights, more mess). 🙂


      1. Didee

        Hi Terri,
        Been thinking about what you said about the ‘head stuff’ and the search for everything to feel alright at the same time – that is how it’s ideally supposed to be, isn’t it.
        The thing is, most of us probably are living a far from ideal life. Maybe, for the stress hormones to be low and everything to function optimally, we should be surrounded by our larger kin group, sitting under a tree, sisters, aunties & older kids, helping & playing with the younger children, in between actively foraging for real food (let’s leave the hunting to the men). Of course it’s not possible for us now, but to me it sounds pretty ideal, even given the occasional, short term stresses – especially when I remember back to the absolute shock of isolation in suburbia when we moved there when our kids were babies. There is a lot of absolutely continuous ‘giving out’ (we do it mostly in solitary too, I think) with young children. The wonderful stays just as just as wonderful as they grow, but it’s much easier to have ‘down’ and also ‘me’ time later. I remember also at that time, estrogen (in the pill – higher dose in those days) had a major effect stress-wise and gave me headaches, among other things. There are just so many different things that can affect our well being, especially at that time when our babies are tiny and lack of sleep can be soo overwhelming.
        There is no doubt that the mind influences the body, and vice versa, in a major, major way – it’s like a continuous feedback loop, and there are so many studies to back this up. It’s just a fact. But sometimes, even finding the time to read it all is hard and creates extra stress.
        In the search for ‘why’, sometimes family history can help, even with things like headaches or anxiety. I did look at mine, but it was only with it AND the genetics lead that I found a possibility. Anyway, in real life sometimes it’s the environmental factors (food, stress, toxins, dehydration, hunger) that count for more than genetics. So please don’t give up on all you’ve learnt about food and how it affects you Terri. It is, maybe, just a part of the puzzle. We are all a biochemical soup really, don’t you think, and what we put into our mouths, how micronutrient dense, how low in anti-nutrients, comprise the health potential of the soup (our health). Some of us have a bit of an advantage through education, family food traditions and economics, or maybe a genetic advantage, so our bodies handle the environmental inputs/assaults a little better. In others of us, the environmental factors are occasionally just too overwhelming for our particular genetics and the pathways don’t work quite as smoothly to clear toxins, etc., and we get symptoms.
        For instance, – (and there must be lots of different conditions in which the environment affects the genetic expression so extensively) in some porphyrias, symptoms don’t show until the enzymes are overwhelmed by the adverse external environmental factors (most of the time everything is perfectly fine). I don’t see how anyone can possibly diagnose this condition in any normal medical setting unless presenting with absolutely extreme symptoms AND the physician was already an expert in that field! Especially because the symptoms range from non-existent to extreme, and are also inconsistent, varying from one person to another AND can be very fleeting (isn’t that all just too weird – however, it’s a ‘real thing’). Certainly in my extended family there are a couple of examples of each of the symptoms, but no one with them all and some have none.
        Dehydration is a major trigger of lots of symptoms, including headaches, and it’s certainly easier to get dehydrated taking any laxatives. But, sometimes we just don’t drink enough, especially when our own needs end up low on the totem pole – easy when you’re the caretaker and babies take priority! Sometimes also, it is possible to confuse thirst for hunger and eat instead of drink (I was guilty of that)! Headaches can be a definite symptom of dehydration and the pain (any pain actually) can be incredibly debilitating. I hope yours go soon Terri!
        Wishing you the best

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Knock on wood–headaches controlled as of late… And I’ll always eat in this whole, real food way! It’s just that I’d like to be able to eat eggs, almonds, chicken, coconut, select dairy products, and grains properly prepared (not dead-set on gluten coming back in).

        Hey–did you notice that the sun had ANY worsening effect on your symptoms?

        And, yes. I think that the childbearing and early child rearing years must take a toll on the body. For years I took a birth control pill with NO problems. Then, after my third, they gave me fits! The doctor and I tried so many different ones but no good! So my body had changed. And I felt like my food sensitivities were gone just before getting pregnant again the last time (fourth child) and came back full-force in pregnancy and fighting them since. Don’t know. Tried to research it, but like you said (and I laughed about), finding time to research can be stressful!

        We’re good here. I hope you are too! Have a great weekend!

      3. Didee

        Hi Terri,
        So glad you’re feeling better.
        Your problem foods list is interesting though.
        Dairy and grains are on all the ‘most COMMON ALLERGENS’ lists (eggs also) and they are very high in LECTINS (almonds and eggs too). I think that strictly avoiding grains and dairy could possibly be a large part of the immediate benefits people say they have on the paleo diet. Obviously that diet didn’t work very well for me in the long run, but it was handy in helping me eliminate foods such as legumes, getting back to basics and boning up on things like lectins.
        Also, coconuts and almonds are, I think, very high in SALICYLATES and coconuts also have quite a detergent effect – maybe not such a good thing for the gut microbiome. We also noticed many benefits when we tried Feingold (low salicylate) diet for one of our children way back in the 70’s. Also there are allergens like carrageenan in the processed coconut milk.
        AND they’re ALL high protein foods (even coconut)! ….. HISTAMINES or OXYLATES could also be a part of the problem, but I’ll shut up now!!
        It’s all too much, isn’t it? My kids called me the food police for a while and that was bad (my low point) – I reformed after that and try not to talk about food so much. It’s just that I’ve come to think that one has to LOOK AT THE FOOD GROUPS YOU EAT MOST ON A DAILY BASIS FIRST and forget all the rest – it can drive one crazy!
        I like the ‘overflowing bucket’ theory (alternatively sometimes called a rotational diet). It means you don’t have to give up anything (unless you find it affects you adversely), even grains or dairy, just space them way out (rotational diet repeats too frequently), don’t eat too much of any one thing at any one time and concentrate on foods with high micronutrients (veggies and leafy greens), then just listen to your body and the signals it is sending. Because kids get so attached to their favorites though, I think the switch could be quite hard with children initially. I came across this great article last night that I just have to share with you, as I think you’d really like it:
        I wish I’d had wisdom like this all these years ago. We tried so many different things and its been such a long journey. We all did best when we tried a mostly raw diet but that one is very hard to maintain (for us at least) in winter and without any group support – e.g. from the Natural Hygiene Society (now long defunct) who had a monthly magazine, meetings, contact lists, live in multi-day seminars and a lot of members. That, to me, seems to be to be the most whole, natural and healthy diet (we felt really great on it) and I notice that people who eat mainly raw, maintain their health and their looks into old age. I hope to get back to that.
        Re the sun: Yes, absolutely, although its taken decades and decades to find out that it might possibly be part of a bigger, underlying problem. I always thought of the constipation AND the skin as solely my own embarrassing issues. I don’t think anyone else in my family is affected in that particular way. I thought it was part of my fair skinned Irish heritage and more of a nuisance and an embarrassment. It was the other things that puzzled me more and it’s only recently that it all clicked together. Looking back, I’ve been mainly affected whenever we were in a place where I had to establish a new garden (we moved a lot), or did projects outside (the last time though, there were no skin symptoms that I remember, I just thought it was dehydration that I couldn’t seem to recover from), but even in between I had mainly milder issues (not always so mild though), especially with driving in summer, even with protective sleeves, or big shirts and hats and slathering on the sunscreen.
        Anyway Terri, I feel like I’m unburdening myself on you (hope you don’t feel burdened)! Just thought I needed to possibly join in a little with the conversation as I get so much out of your great blog.

      4. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Dear Didee, It took me some time to get back to your comment. I read them as soon as they come in, but I like to reply properly. If I even reply something like, “I’ll reply to this soon.” and then approve the comment, it disappears from my “in box.” So I just save any comments until I can address them like I like to (well, at least somewhat like I’d like 🙂 ). But, yay, I made it back to do so!

        My daughters and I read the article you linked to together, my oldest two and I. It was good conversation for us. I’m glad we got to read it together! Thanks! I want my kids to have HEALTHY relationships with food!!!!

        I wrote an article somewhere on here about possible reasons why one would not feel good even after undertaking a whole, real food diet, like Paleo or GAPS or Autoimmune Paleo. It read like your list up there: histamine, oxalates, salicylates, and more. So, yes! I totally agree that these things are problematic for some. And if they’re identified and taken out–whammo! People can feel great again! I made sure to kind of tick through those myself. [I’m just kind of stubborn. I think that if I’ve done the right things in majority (nothing in life is perfect), I ought to be able to move forward in general since I’m “healthy.” Sure, maybe one or two things might stick around to deal with; but I refuse to accept (yet) that I have to have such a limited diet forever. I’ve always been a “foodie.” Again, if it comes to that, hey, I’ll step up to the plate!]

        I am happy to say that using this Sarno stuff for two months now, some positive affirmation type stuff, catching “defeating” thoughts in my life (demanding towards myself and others; feeling overwhelmed by juggling four kids while homeschooling and maintaining whole, real foods and a couple extra activities I like–and not feeling like I’m doing well at any of them anymore; using the words “always” and “should”; and so on…), and using some other techniques I’m picking up on to help my “inner brain” (subconscious; unconscious; whatever whoever wants to call it)–the main symptoms from foods that bothered me most I can control. (Knock on wood. At least for the last two months.) My slow motility, well, I’ll keep trying!

        I’ll always keep your diagnosis in the back of my mind as you describe your experience. One never knows when one will see things again and remember that niggle of someone mentioning something like this before! (I feel off the hook as I can’t really match those many symptoms. The sun always makes me feel great. I’m a sun addict. Put me by the sea!)

        Well, I think I addressed most things. Maybe I missed some. But, ah, heck. I don’t feel burdened. 🙂 I just take my time.

        Your Irish skin sounds lovely!


      5. Didee

        Hi Terri,
        You are so sweet, and many thanks for your thoughtful response. I remember reading and loving the post you mentioned and thinking what a smart cookie you were, but I just forgot about it when I dashed that off. Mea Culpa!
        I love that you read that article with your daughters – they’re such lucky girls! What did they think?
        I’m back to square one now unfortunately. The routine that was working so well, gut wise, fell apart recently when I broke off a tooth eating nuts and had to get it extracted (with a saw! and they accidently broke the adjacent tooth off at the same time! I had to stop all the omega-3, felt miserable, and my routine completely fell apart, so I’m back to feeling stuffed up and sore all the time. Constipation is the pits isn’t it!
        Re the sun sensitivity Terri, I think with steps 2 and 3 (ADP & AIP), there is no sun sensitivity at all. I think AIP mainly affects the nervous system, abdominal pain as main symptom.
        Absolutely agree that positive self-talk and optimism and avoiding negativity is really vital. I really needed to practice it big time the last couple of weeks too.
        Regards, and all the best to you and your family, Terri.

      6. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Oh, no! Not back to square one! And your poor teeth! That doesn’t sound good at all.

        The ADP, AIP–that makes me think too hard. 🙂 Like being back in med school lecture. 🙂

        One daughter expressed that there were times she worried too much about food. So we talked about it. Sounds like a good post when I get time to explore it and write it up properly. I think it’s important.

        Screaming toddler. I’m off…

  12. Pingback: The Difference A Mind Makes | The HSD

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