No one else has inhabited your brain and body. Nobody knows the details of your life nor the experiences you’ve been through. From childhood on up, each event — good and bad, big and small — has shaped who you are today. These happenings literally influenced the form and function of your brain, mentally and physically, and the health and condition of your body.
We usually think of trained professionals — you know, people with higher degrees and framed certifications on the wall — as being “the experts”. I want to remind you that there’s another important group of experts that are often forgotten. Each one of us.
While I do not mean to diminish the importance of seeking counsel from knowledgeable professionals – they certainly have value and validity, I want to encourage you to consider that they are only one resource you have available to you when facing a big decision or a health crisis.
Trust Your Heart and Your Gut
You have more information coming to you than you may realize. You receive intelligence from all around you and from many parts of your body, not just the brain in your head. Knowing comes from your brain, your heart, and your gut. Intuitive intelligence has been validated by science.
The heart has a second brain. The heart perceives incoming data and sends information to the brain for further processing. Over half of the cells in the heart are neural cells, clustered in ganglia and connected to the neural network of the body through axon-dendrites, just like in your brain. The heart is a specialized brain hooked into the central nervous system, making and releasing its own neurotransmitters.
A third brain, called the enteric nervous system, is located in the intestines, giving validity to a gut feeling. The enteric nervous system consists of a network of some 100 million neurons that line the gastrointestinal system. The enteric nervous system also transmits and receives information from the autonomic nervous system, influencing physical and emotional states. Just like the brain in your head, the gut-brain uses and produces neurotransmitters.
You can develop the ability to tap into the intuitive knowledge from your heart and gut brain. You can find ideas for doing that here.
Become Your Own Advisor
With around 4.5 billion pages of information available, the web has changed our lives and the world radically. Not only can you find a restaurant that will deliver Vietnamese food right to your door and watch any movie you choose whenever you want, you can now research absolutely anything and figure out viable solutions. We have become doctors, therapists, and trusted advisors for ourselves and each other.
When I attempted suicide in 2007 by downing a bunch of pills, I gave myself a serious brain injury. (Read that story here) After a week in a coma, four days in a rehab facility, and ten weeks of outpatient occupational therapy, the neurologist told me, “Well, all we can do at this point is wait and see.”
Right after the brain injury, I slept a lot, lived one day at a time, and rewired my brain with the tasks of everyday life acting as my therapy. Although I improved considerably naturally, I plateaued at around a year post injury with impaired mental processing, unreliable short-term memory, and disjointed thoughts and speech. But I’d recovered enough to find my hard-headedness.
“There HAS got to be something else I can do. If I’m going to live, I AM NOT living like this!”
Like a hound dog with its nose to the ground, I followed every bit of information that might prove helpful. I began doing all I could on my own to improve. I scoured the internet, joined brain injury Facebook groups, and had enlightening conversations with others. It was there that I found some of the most helpful information leading to my recovery.
Even though my neurologist told me “I wouldn’t waste your money on those things,” through such practices as neurofeedback, Brain State Technologies’ brainwave optimization, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, acupuncture, voice therapy, music therapy, cranial sacral massage, visualization, meditation, cross lateral movement, yoga, cardiovascular exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, and more, I made a full recovery. As the mental fog dissipated, the more determined I became, because I saw that what I was doing was working.
The more I did, the better I got, and the better I got, the more I did.
Choose Possibilities Not Limitations
I recently read a book, Who Is Carter, about the infant son of Matt and Emily Abbott who contracted an extremely rare virus at just six days old. The virus, which would cause flu-like symptoms in a mature immune system, became a “worst-case-scenario” for Carter and caused his brain to swell. Carter flatlined and suffered 40% global brain damage.
The doctors told Matt and Emily that Carter would be “impaired for life” and asked them to decide whether to remove his life support. When Matt and Emily decided not to do that, the medical staff spoke of a future of missed benchmarks and limitations.
Matt and Emily’s response was:
…we could sit around and wait and see what would happen or we could take action and create a new path – a path outside of the typical limitations of modern medicine.”
When released from the hospital, Carter thrived at home. In just three weeks, he was nursing again and no longer needed a feeding tube. Over time, Emily also weaned him off of some of his medication which had long-term cognitive side effects.
Just like I did for my brain injury, Matt searched the internet for similar situations, alternative therapies, and anything offering hope. They eventually moved the family to California to be closer to treatment options. Through intensive therapy at the Anat Baniel Method (ABM) Center, with practices based on the Feldenkrais method – an approach that uses movement to create new neural pathways in an injured brain, Carter began to show improvement.
From the stories shared by families at the center, Matt and Emily learned of other helpful modalities. Carter did craniosacral, hyperbaric oxygen, vision, and water therapies. Emily put him – and the whole family – on a nutrient dense, brain-healthy diet.
Matt began to view “the doctor’s opinions as perspectives only, not gospel.”
Unfortunately, Carter died at 20 months of a brain hemorrhage due to the original brain injury. While he never learned to walk or even crawl, he did make progress way beyond what was predicted.
Matt and Emily have since started the Who Is Carter foundation to empower people facing their own tragedies, to encourage hope and belief through creating possibilities and taking action.
It is not my intent to criticize the medical community. It definitely has value and provides a critical service. If I’m in a car crash, I’m not going to consult the internet for alternative therapies to treat my injuries. I’m saying that when it’s appropriate, educate yourself so that you are knowledgeable about an issue and evaluate your options.
As you explore, check in with your gut and heart to see if what you’re learning feels right with you. Just because advice comes from a book by a prestigious author, the mouth of a medical professional or a well-known internet site doesn’t mean it’s right or right for you.
Discuss the situation at length with a someone you respect – even an “expert” such as a doctor or a counselor. But, do not substitute their opinion for your own. Do not forget that you are the best expert on you. Decide for yourself how you feel about the information you’ve gathered and how you want to proceed.Share this article!
So true Debbie, we have to learn to listen to and trust our own body wisdom. i have a scar that is my constant reminder to when I didn’t- if you feel uncomfortable , speak your truth and follow your own inner guidance- it knows. xx
Merci Debbie from Quebec, Canada,
Very interesting and I can concur myself having a childhood PTSD that was reactivated lately.
I’ve read the book from late French neuropsychiatrist Dr David Servan-Schreiber who talk about EMDR and other alternative therapy and it does work.
Good for you, Denis. I’m glad you used your power and expertise to help yourself!
So beautifully written Debbie. I have an unbelievable amount of respect for what you have created here and the hope you invite and encourage others to live into. This undoubtedly took so much courage and perseverance to build these resources. I hope to meet you one day.
Thank you for your kind words, Emily. I have so much respect for you and how you fought for Carter and now seek to help others. When we support and encourage each other, we all win. I have a feeling we will meet one day! 🙂
This is so inspiring, Debbie. We really need to empower ourselves and take charge of our own lives, don’t we! It’s hard to see people put so much faith in doctors, having surgery after surgery, and often feeling the worse for it. As you say, sometimes their recommendations are necessary and even life-saving. But often they’re the routine advice and there are many more options out there available to us.
Thanks, Sandra. Yes, we have to investigate our options and never let someone’s opinion, no matter what their title, drown out our own voice.
I couldn’t agree more with this article! From years of personal experience with the health of my husband and myself and our many furry family members, I can attest to the ability of our own bodies and three brains and the information on the internet to trump Western medicine. It seems the norm that medical advice and prescriptions cause more harm than good. If you want to heal from anything, YOU have to do the work. You can’t outsource it to a “professional.”
I love the statement that you can’t outsource your health to a professional. It is SO true. Often, we have to learn this the hard way, but at least we learn!
Great advice here, Debbie. We are often programmed to listen to the experts and not question their opinions. It is important to be your own advocate when it comes to medical advice. I’ve had a number of friends actually do worse because they are over medicated or their bodies don’t take well to the prescription medicine. Some of the natural remedies are better. I feel in general doctors are overprescribing rather than looking for alternatives.
I agree with you, Cathy, about the medical professionals. In any situation, addiction or injury, we have to educate ourselves and make empowered decisions.
How wonderfully inspiring Debbie. We really do need to listen to ourselves in all areas of life and I love the way the family decided that the medical consensus was an opinion. Whilst it was no doubt based on conventional medical practices, we’ve all heard stories of how people have beaten the odds.
And like Paige I can speak from my own health experiences.
Thanks for your kind words, Elle. I’m glad you found strength and learned from your own experiences. It often is the best teacher.
I truly does take a lot of inner will and Hard headedness to heal from any injury…like you did! So brave…I love how you said, “The more I did, the better I got, and the better I got, the more I did.”….
The one day at a time concept and going with the gut feeling has kept me afloat in many a hard situations…younger brothers sudden death, fathers sudden death, violent ex, divorce, heart break etc etc….
And thank you for bringing out the second and third brain reality here. Much needed!
We live and learn – if we use our challenges as fuel to develop strength. I tell my son all the time to expect pain and hardship -it’s a normal part of life. But so is happiness, love, and good things. We just have to remember to dwell on both. It’s not easy to do but is simple. 🙂