I reached out … now what?

Asking for help has never been easy. It means I owe a debt, and it’s not always a debt I’m sure I’m able to repay, so it’s only when I’m truly desperate that I do what I feel is grovelling to others to request help. If I’m able to repay the favor, then it’s not hard to ask, but without having that balance I struggle with the request.

Experiences can be humbling, can’t they?

I am at what might be my most humble. I’ve had to ask for help before, but not quite like this.

This year has been a struggle, and we’ve kept many details to ourselves. During yoga teacher training I wasn’t able to keep up well with sales so much, as there was so much going on with trying to finish training as well as my aromatherapy certification. There was also a side project underway where a new company became incorporated, and so much effort had been put into getting this endeavour underway. It was ready to go, and we were just waiting for our financing to come through. It would have been so good for us, but that’s when things started to go wrong. That’s when I could no longer make sense of the things happening. That’s when I couldn’t focus on any of the tasks I was working on without making silly mistakes. And that’s when I had to admit that I couldn’t move forward with the company we incorporated, because it was completely a team effort and we were both needed in order to move forward with it.

We cancelled all plans with the incorporation. We still own it for the time being, but nothing has progressed with it. We wanted to wait to see what would happen.

I am short of my yoga teacher training certification by 10 hours because the worst of my symptoms came up during the retreat, where I found out just how much I was affected by the sun and heat. 

I couldn’t finish my aromatherapy certification because of the brain fog, which has made it nearly impossible to not only read, but to retain new information.

I moved my products out of the house in case they were the source of my issues. This makes them difficult to sell.

All of my plans and income sources had to be put on hold because I couldn’t focus on them. Whenever I tried, I made mistakes, or forgot, and I couldn’t stand the idea of disappointing anyone. So that’s when I made the hard decision to temporarily shut down Bohemian Alchemist, with hopes I could pick it up again soon.

But I couldn’t. My inventory was stored offsite, and trying to sell it was difficult to do when I had a hard time managing the inventory. I couldn’t offer services or products out of fear of making a harmful mistake. I was making mistakes, and it was only a matter of time before I made a mistake I’d regret and hurt someone. Thankfully, they were all minor, but they were enough to make me realize that it was time for me to stop. I did the responsible thing by keeping my clients safe, rather than pushing myself further beyond my limits in order to keep everything operational. I was already beyond my limits, which had changed so, so much from the beginning of the year.

Closing was hard. So much harder than I could ever express. I love my business, and I love the products I’ve made, and I loved the direction I was heading with it. But mostly, I loved the connections I made with people. I worked hard to start and maintain it (not without help – I’ve had so much help from so many people!). I found that hanging off of “maybe”, “possibly”, “one day” and “eventually” wore on me so much, and I couldn’t answer people who wanted to know when I was opening again. The encouragement from others was well meaning, but brought my attention continuously to the responsibilities waiting for me. I felt horrible anytime someone wanted a custom order and I had to refuse. I felt inadequate, disappointing and that I was letting people down – but the one that mattered most was my husband. I have not been able to contribute to our income. He has been ever the encouraging, supportive person he always has been, but this is an insecurity of my own that stems from old, deep hurts and experiences that are difficult to keep controlled when I’m at my most vulnerable.

Everything was shut down. I found ways to keep busy and to keep my flare ups moderately controlled. The more controlled my symptoms are, the more productive I am, which is how I’ve been able to reasonably maintain our home. It hasn’t been ideal, but we’ve made it work.

But our expenses added up. Medications and supplements and specific clothes that helped reduce symptoms, fuel to get to and from appointments, window replacement, so on so forth. I’ve listed some of our expenses previously. They continue to add up.

And then our hot water tank decided to die on us right after my surgery. The nerve of it, I dare say.

What do you MEAN money isn’t everything? We are a bank!

And it’s been a struggle since then. 

I hit a low point a couple of weeks ago, which I also shared part of. But not in entirety. I had cabin fever in a bad way, and I was unsure of everything. We had been thinking about getting a service dog to help with certain things in order to get me the support I needed to function better in the day, but I wondered if maybe this was too extreme. 

And so did a few others. A few people have mentioned that they believe I may be bipolar, or that perhaps I need to find God, or meditate more, or to “just relax”. It has been implied that my symptoms are imagined and that I’m a hypochondriac. Perhaps I am just looking for attention.

These comments come from very few, select people, but they hurt, more than they could ever know. I believe they had good intentions, and truly believe the things they say. There were harmful, hurtful words regardless of intent, however. They made me think that, maybe, they weren’t wrong. They made me feel insecure. They made me feel that I was sharing too much about our situation, and that perhaps I should keep it more to myself. I found engagements with people to get less and less, and I wondered if I was believed at all or not.

To be fair, when people see me they see that I’ve lost weight and am rocking a fairly normal body size for the first time in a decade, see me walking and talking  and my clean house and see my rosy red cheeks, unaware that the redness is part of a flare up. What they see seems healthy.

What they don’t see is everything else I’ve previously mentioned. The crippling fatigue, the numb cheeks,  the thick brain fog and confusion, the double vision. I’m functional, but very carefully. They don’t see that. They don’t see the little leg pump I do before I stand up, nor do they realize why I stand up so slowly. They don’t see my balance as that bad. They don’t see me avoiding bending over to avoid passing out. It’s hard to believe, sometimes, if there’s nothing to see.

It’s there, however, if you pay attention.

For the most part people have been kind, caring and supportive. Several have offered help, and have stepped up to help where we need it most. Right now, what we need most is financial. Bad timing, I know. Our bills are paid, the animals are fed, but we’ve been maxed out in all accounts since early fall and we have been just barely getting by. The prospect of catching up hasn’t been promising – which also means no possibility of a service dog. I will not commit to getting an animal that I am not able to afford to care for.

So I  reached out.  I asked for help, as so many people have encouraged if I needed it. And I need it. I presented my case. I made a post on my Facebook page. People asked me, “What can I do to help?”

“Share my page post,” I responded. I don’t expect anyone to buy things they don’t want or need, but sharing my post would help get the word out, and perhaps reach and audience that could help. It costs nothing and is easy to do. But then, I always seemed to follow it up with, “If you can’t, then I understand.”

I don’t understand. I don’t know why I  ever said that. To be nice? To give them permission to ignore it? To make them think that we weren’t in as tight of a situation that we are? Or maybe I’m just an idiot. I really don’t know why I said it that way, but that’s what I do.

When I went to see my psychologist and he asked me how I was, I said, “I’m great! Thanks! How are you?” – which I then had to admit that I lied. When he asked why I said that if I didn’t mean it, I admitted that it’s a trained response after growing up in a place that didn’t admit to weakness. I believe working retail also encouraged said response. Customers don’t want to hear how great you’re not. They’re there to spend money, and that’s all. It’s just what we are trained to respond with in order to maintain courtesy, and I’m trying to retrain that response. It’s not an easy thing to stop doing, especially when my defence mechanisms are locked and loaded at the moment.

Anyways, Some people shared my post.

And some people never responded, and never shared it. I see so many people share things supporting other events and complete strangers, but have not supported me where I need it most. Sometimes with excuses explaining the reason of their lack of support – which I appreciate, since at least I know where they stand. Most often the response was silence, however, and it’s the silence that hurts most of all.

And that hurt contributed to my downward spiral, which also caused worsening symptoms and an emotional meltdown, which made my spiral even worse. I spoke with my internist. I was so tired. Frustrated. I was falling apart. He assured me that he believed there was something happening and that we needed to push through just a little longer to try to find some answers. He brainstormed some ideas, agreeing that I needed a break. He prescribed something to help me sleep – something I do not get nearly enough of – and agreed that a service dog would be beneficial to my case. 

This helped alot. The reassurance from both him and my psychologist made me realize that I was spiralling down the hole of other people’s perceptions and expectations again. They told me that I’ve been holding myself together so much better than many other people might in my situation. I don’t know how true that is or not, but I hung onto it. It’s been a source of strength for me to keep pushing forward.

During one of my appointments, I was asked what I would do if I had all of the power in the world. 

I answered that I’d give it away to someone who would use it well.

Then I was asked what I would do if I had all the agency in the world.

I had to think on it, but eventually I answered that I’d use it to become a better person.

Thinking on this…. I HAVE all the agency in the world. That’s not something anyone can control, change or take away from me – only I have the power to do that.

Which gives me all the power on the world to do what I said I’d do. And that’s not a power I’ll hand over to someone else, regardless of their intentions.

I need to stop giving away my power. It’s the only thing I can truly control when I keep it as my own.

I needed that challenge. And I was able to use that to find my calm once again. And my power to become that thing I want to be.

I let things be. Kept my post up, and just gave it over to the universe. A friend of mine told me, “The universe gives you only that which you can handle.” I responded that the universe has more faith in me than I do, but there was an important point in that, and one that I do agree with, even if I struggled with in that moment.

And then the most amazing thing happened. Or, rather, person, and things seem to be progressing in a way I never though I’d see.

I had asked for help, and held unrealistic expectations of others. It was never about them, however. Those expectations were based on my own disappointment in myself and my situation. Once I let go of that disappointment, as well as the expectations of others, things have changed quickly. People have taken my call out seriously and I have found myself surrounded by more support than I had hoped for. There are still those in my corner that hold silence, which is disappointing, but I hold no grudge towards anyone. No one can possibly know how the situation truly feels, and I hope they are never in a position to fully understand – which would mean being in my situation. There are those that do understand it, because they’ve been through a similar experience already. And I have never held more compassion, empathy and understanding for them than I do now.

It’s hard to accept help. Harder than asking for it, especially after the disapproval of some people. But people find themselves in situations, sometimes, and need a leg up. This time, it’s us. Now that help has been incoming, I find myself wanting to offer things to pay them back – knowing full well that we’re not able to. It’s been difficult to say “yes” to the help offered – but I have been. I’m breaking out of old habits and routines, and finding a new way to be.

And once I’m able, I’ll find way to pay it forward again.

The universe knows my gratitude, my fear, my uncertainty and my feelings of personal failure. And I’m learning to trust it to catch me with grace as I’m falling, so that I can later catch others with that same grace and help them back up.

It feels similar to performing the “Angel Walk” at the end of the YTT training during graduation. I may have been short 10 hours from a signed certificate, but I graduated in so many other ways than I ever could have expected.

I reached out for help. And now, I’m learning to accept it with gratitude, and no expectation.

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Not OK today.

I got up this morning to use the little girl’s room. Nearly fell over. No reason – just lost my balance. This is “normal” for me, these days. Took my meds. Grabbed a hard boiled egg from the kitchen and poured the salt on it. Filled up my water bottle and dropped the fizzy tablet of electrolytes into it. Warmed up my heat packs and went back to lay down with everything in tow. This is my morning, every morning. A heat pack for my belly to help get my guts active, another for my eyes to fight the chalazion on my eyelid (it’s unrelated to everything else going on. Just one more thing to deal with.) The meds to keep my pain levels in check and to reduce heartburn. The egg to get a protein boost to help fight off the brain fog a little. The and electrolytes to help retain body fluid, which helps reduce the dizzy spells a little. They all have to be finished before I get up again. If I don’t finish these things, I notice it.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

I’m not feeling strong today. But it’s the same as yesterday, and it’ll be the same tomorrow. This is my thought. Normally, I go through the motions with no problems. Not today. I’m especially frustrated today, and I muffle a sob from under my eye pillow so I don’t wake up my husband and cry quietly to myself. It feels good to release.

He worries about me. I know he does. I feel so bad asking him to stop certain things he’s always done. He does this strange head bobbing dance which is just goofy, especially when he needs a haircut and his hair bounces all over the place – but he sometimes gets in my face with it, like he did last night (or, was that the night before? I’m honestly not even sure) and it’s overwhelming in so many ways. Too much motion, my eyes can’t focus, which causes them to hurt, which causes me to flare, which causes my body to heat up, and my face tingles, my head hurts, I get light headed and dizzy and he hasn’t stopped because he thinks I’m playing around but he gets it quick when I snap at him to stop while my vision gets darker and my legs get weak.

Instant regret. He was playing and having fun, and I was the fun-killer. The look on his face is mixed with the sting of getting snapped at and concern.

That happens alot, lately. Or it seems to. He says I’ve been really good about it. But I can’t help but feel horrible to have to resort to snapping in order for the over-stimulating things to come to a stop, because I’m just not able to make the words come out gently. I just need things to stop, sometimes, so that I can find my balance, brain, and and sight again. It’s not that I’m angry or annoyed at the actions themselves – I just can’t tolerate them for some reason. One thing gets set off and creates a domino effect in my body, and I have absolutely no control over it.

Breathe in. Promise to do better next time. 

Breathe out. Let it go. No point dwelling on it.

Wipe my tears. Find some pants. Brush my teeth. Take the dog out. Brush her fur – my arms are tired really quickly, and it’s a short brush out. I’ve vowed to do at least a bit of grooming every day to try to cut down on the hairballs in the house. She finds her toy and wants to play, so we do! By the fourth or fifth toss, though, my arms feel like they’re going to rip off with each throw. It’s a good thing she’s old and tires out quick, too.

Come inside, wipe here paws, perform her pre-meal games with her, grab a yogurt, fill my water bottle again and go sit down with my feet up to build up some more energy again.

This recharge will give me the most energy I’ll have in the day. After two bottles of water and a couple of small protein snacks, I am normally ready to get some things done. Some days are easier than others… but today isn’t one of them.

I wander in a few circles in the kitchen, trying to remember what I went in there for. Dave asks if I’d want some pancakes if he made them. Yeah, that sounds great. Thanks, baby. Hey, what did I come in here for? He looks at what’s in my hand. Heat bag? Oh, right. I need to do my eye mask again. Thanks, baby. He asks if I’ve been getting my steps in every day. Yes, except for yesterday. I’m not always getting outside for my walk, but I’m getting my steps with cleaning and housework and general pacing when I can’t remember what I’m doing. He suggests going to By the Lake Park after pancakes. I know it’ll be exhausting, but it sounds lovely. I miss being outside.

I heat it up and go sit on the couch again, the weight of the eye bag spreading a comforting warmth through my eye sockets. I sigh. I remember to check my pelvic floor – yep. Tense. As always. I relax my legs. Relax my pelvis, my abdomen, my arms. Relax my face. Let myself sink into the couch, remembering one of the mantras I learned in yoga teacher training. But my mind drifts badly today, and I can’t keep focused on the mantra.

I want to do things. I want to read these books I have piled up (but reading seriously hurts, and takes away from the story I’m trying to read.) I want to walk around By the Lake Park (but I’m SO bloody tired, even though I just woke up, and even two blocks is exhausting and my legs feel heavy by the end.) I want to watch my husband do dumb, harmless, fun shit (but it’s entirely overwhelming for my senses, sometimes.) I want to go on vacation (but we’re broke from meds that aren’t covered by benefits, eye tests, appointments that can’t be direct billed or aren’t covered, hotel stays for Dave while I’m in procedures, the new hot water tank we had to install…. it all adds up.) I want to be healthy (but, well, I don’t seem to have any control of that no matter what I do.) I want a treatment plan (but there are still tests to be done to rule out diagnoses and the treatments may not work without knowing what it is we’re treating.) I want to scream (but my head hurts.) I want to visit people (but even the ride out to them is exhausting, and I’m done before I even get there.) I want to be happy (but, sometimes, I’m just not, and I can’t help that, but it drives me crazy anyways.)

Dave comes and sits next to me and holds my hand.

“Hi baby! What’s up?” I ask. He doesn’t need to know how bummed I feel today.

“Nothin’. I just wanted to cheer you up.”

Damn. He knows. I sob again. “Why’s that?” I say with the best grin I can manage, which I’m sure is more like a grimace, my voice cracking, my eyes tearing up. “I’m just fine.” Heh. I’d like to nominate this Grammy award to…. anyone except me. I’m not good at acting through my personal Swamp of Sadness, even with the heat mask hiding my wet eyes.

He knows and feels my frustration. We do everything together. We used to wrestle all the time. I’d get hurt everytime. Usually because of something dumb I’d do. It was fun. But we can’t do that anymore. He can’t dance silly around me anymore. We can’t listen to loud music anymore, have bright lights, do many activities we used to do. He’s picked up alot of the tasks that I used to do, because I haven’t been able to keep up. We don’t go out to eat nearly as much, because I have to be so, so careful with what I eat. We don’t eat together at all anymore either, because I have to graze. I can’t handle meals anymore, and I can’t handle most of the things he eats at all. I’m in bed by 8 or 9 most days feeling ready to crash, even though I struggle to actually fall asleep until 11 or 12.

Everything is different, and neither of us really like it.

Neither of us is at all upset at the other for it. It’s something we can’t control. But that doesn’t help. I still feel guilty. I feel insecure. I feel inadequate. I’m not able to keep up my end of things. I’m watching TV while he’s at work. I mess up the budget. I waste ingredients making bread that doesn’t turn out because of something I missed. I forget to do things while I’m on the way to do them. I tell him I’m going to do something and then forget. I forget to finish tasks because I forget what I’m doing while in the middle of it. I’m so tired by the time he’s on his way home, and it takes everything in me to create a passable meal for him for when he gets home. He doesn’t except me to do it, but I want to. And all of the old insecurities about working (or, rather, not working) and not getting along with people come rushing up at me again, and I suddenly wonder if I had just agreed to wash the staff dishes at the PCN maybe they would have liked me better and if I’d still be working there.

What. The. Actual. Fuck. Where did THAT come from? The people that hired me there seven or eight years ago were narcissists and played a gross little mind game with me, in hopes that I’d quit, because my supervisor admitted that she told me too much and she didn’t want me to accidentally let anything slip. That, and they wanted to hire part time help in order to save the cost of providing benefits, and I wasn’t impressed with what they were proposing. They asked, and I gave them an honest, fair answer.

I was devastated when they fired me from that job for no real reason, and the reasons they did fire me for were unjustified and undocumented. Not to mention outright lies. It was a huge blow to me at the time. So why was this coming up now? Why do I care about something that happened so long ago?

Insecurities and anxiety are the assholes that work together to bring you lower than your current low. If I’m going to be down, and no one else is around to kick me, I need to do it myself. Old habits that you think are hard to kill sometimes don’t actually die at all and just go into remission now and again. So is the case here. Old stuff that has no place in my life anymore. Especially now.

Dave kisses me on the forehead and goes back to pancakes. I love when he does that. Some say lavender can cure all things, but clearly, they’ve never had forehead kisses. They are the concentrated version of anti-depressants in quick-release form.

I destroy my pancake with peanut butter. Did you know that “natural non-separating” peanut butter only doesn’t separate because it needs to be refrigerated? Keeping it cool also keeps the oils from going rancid, of course, but that’s the trick to making it “non separating”. Which means that it’s stiff when it’s cold. Which also makes it “unspreadable”. We got a giggle of my mashed pancakes, but they were tasty nonetheless.

It’s chilly out today, but nice enough for a walk. I bundle up – I know I get cold easily. Always have. I figured I’d have little problem at -2C, but I feel the bite of the tiny breeze and wish I would have worn a scarf. Oh well. I draw my hoodie around my face more, and be grateful to be outside. The breeze bites a little, but it’s fresh and relieving. We chatted about those kinds of things we chat about – a new puppy which is guaranteed to enter our lives at some point, our old dog we can’t take out in public, the graffiti on the gondola half way around the path, the new updates to the park since I’ve been to it (which has been awhile), what I can see clearly (and not – like the deer he tried to convince me were in the distance. I saw slow moving snowballs.) I tried to explain what I saw… and got frustrated again, because I don’t know how to explain how my vision is wrong. It just is. The colors are wrong. The depth is wrong. The hues are wrong. The outlines are wrong. Everything just looks wrong, and I don’t know how to explain it.

I felt more alert than I have for a long time, but my legs grew quickly numb and my feet started to drag. My legs were so heavy by the time we got around the circuit. It’s not a long walk. But – I got around it. Personal victory! We had a couple of stops to make on the way home to hot chocolate and my fuzzy blanket. 

And now I’m exhausted. I want to go to bed. I struggle getting to sleep at night, however, and I worry that having a nap will result in poor sleep overnight. Not that it much matters, mind you – I’m exhausted no matter what, anyways. With limited energy, though, I also don’t truly want to nap and miss out on more the day than I already miss out on. There are things I want to do. A cat to snuggle. Crafts to make. Plants to care for. It’s not even that anything HAS TO get done – they are things I enjoy doing, and I just want to do them. And it’s frustrating that I can only do a sliver of a fraction of what I used to do, and have no idea how to get that life back.

Or if I can.

And this is the way that thoughts spiral out of control, and this is what leads to despair and depression. And that’s a dark, scary place that I don’t want to be in again. That hole keeps getting bigger, and darker, and deeper, and the edge keeps coming closer faster than I can run away from it. Today I’m on the edge. Tomorrow, hopefully, I can get ahead of it again.

But not so much today. Today is a bad day. Today is dark, forlorn, lonely and resentful. It’s easy for someone to say “Hey, Krys, snap out of it! You’ll be fine!”

But I’m not fine. Not today.

One of the things I’ve really started to do this year and last is focusing on “now”. Living in the moment, in the present, instead of dwelling on the past or focusing too much into the future. And I’m tired of the moment. Right now, things suck. Right now, I feel like shit. Right now, I would be willing to do almost anything to get a restful night’s sleep, or to have my mind back, or to be able to have normal vision again, or to have a relieving shit without having to coax it out even with stool softeners and “detox” teas. I don’t like the current moment. Not in this body, anyways. And this adds to my frustration, because I feel so ungrateful for everything around me, because I want more and feel like I’m not happy with what I have. The rest of my life outside of my body is amazing. I want to enjoy it. I’m enjoying it most days in the ways I’m able…. but today, I’m struggling with that enjoyment. Today, I want to yell at whoever is responsible…. 

But really, that person is ultimately me. If I had taken care of myself better before, maybe things would be different.

But I didn’t. And they’re not. And yelling at myself won’t do any good.

So today is a down day. And tomorrow I’ll be ok again, until the next day that I’m not.

This isn’t the kind of day I share often. And probably won’t much. But they happen. And if you happen along my blog because you find yourself in a similar situation or place, know that it’s ok. You’re not alone. And you’ve got this. It’s ok to be on edge, it’s ok to be sad, or angry, or resentful. It’s ok to need to step back or do what you need to to stay sane. Keep yourself together in whatever way you’re able.

For me, those things that ground me most are chilly walks outside, hot cocoa and forehead kisses.


Little changes can be bigger than they seem

My days are plugging by, with me plodding along an old, worn path I’ve never been down and I’m taking in the scenery as I go. I have no idea where I’m going. I’m just going, and wherever I end up…. there I’ll be.

It’s really not such a bad thing, most days.

Other days, I’m struggling. I get frustrated, sometimes, especially when the brain fog is thick and my eyes are tired. Have I mention I wake up exhausted? Sleep doesn’t help, and getting through simple tasks takes all of the energy I don’t have. I’ve been a person with goals for so long, even if they weren’t incredibly clear, I had them. They were fluid, often transparent, occasionally tangible, and seldom met to completion. And it worked for me. At least, I thought it did.

Changing that way of being out of necessity has it’s ups and downs, and there are no words that can really portray what it’s like. Most days, I’m content to just do my thing, which is maintaining the house, writing, crafting a little and taking care of the plants of animals. Very simple, very easy, but still exhausting. Other days, I’m frustrated, mournful of the life I had and want back, and resentful that the more I tried and still try to be healthy, the more my health deteriorates and there seems to be no way to win.

(Don’t worry. Those phases pass. But they happen, and it’s ok that they do. I’m human. I’m expected to have bad days, too, and I have to allow for that.)

Life is life. It’s not a game. There is no winning or losing – there’s living. And either you’re living or you’re not.

And oh, the things people say without really knowing how much they hurt. I’ve been learning this lesson, and learning to control my knee-jerk reaction.

“Keep your chin up! At least you don’t have cancer, right? At least you’re still walking. At least you are functioning. Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be alright. I’ll buy you a drink when you’re better. Oh, you look so healthy! You look so great! Are you sure you’re not too focused on your symptoms? Have you tried supplements/vitamins/magic smoothies/dart frog poison/essential oils/acupuncture/stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork?”

The list grows. There’s always some new miracle cure, some amazing diet, some medication or happy thought that will make everything better.

It’s hard to cure something when you don’t know what it is, nevermind if it’s curable or not.

And the thing is, as frustrated as I get, I have to remember that not oh-so-long ago, I didn’t understand either. I didn’t understand the crippling exhaustion, or the heavy brain fog, or the heavy weight of the limbs, or the affects of gastrointestinal distress. I didn’t understand that sometimes eating healthy isn’t as easy as it seems. I didn’t understand the fear, the insecurity, the disbelief from others. And I definitely didn’t understand how unhelpful I was being while trying to be helpful. I really wanted to help. I really thought I could. And this experience has taught me that, sometimes, it’s just not as easy as it seems.

It’s a good lesson to learn. One that I’d like to graduate from and move on, now. The lesson is imprinted deeply. It’s a humbling experience, to be sure. I honestly felt like I was healthy and would live a long time that way, and I really thought I could help others feel better, too. 

But that certainly changed. I have no idea how long I’ll live. Maybe a long time. Maybe a week. That’s the thing, though – we have no control or insight over that, do we?

I wanted to help people feel the same I did, because I felt SO GOOD. I was on the healthy bandwagon, because I really believed it was the thing to do. And lately, it’s been really hard to know what to do, what to believe and how to move forward. If I can’t help myself, how can I possibly help others? This has been a huge blow to my own confidence, and I find myself questioning everything I’ve learned and everything I thought I knew.

And where I stand is where I am. I’ve let go of so much. I’ve let go of the things I thought I knew. The things I still know. The things I didn’t know. The things I have yet to know. I’ll know what I know as I get to know them. But sometimes, things change, and so does the knowing that comes with those changes. 

Letting go is hard to do. But it’s getting easier, and the more I let go the easier it is to move forward into the big, scary unknown.

Multiple Sclerosis. Lyme Disease. Lupus. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia syndrome. Neuralgia. Mast Cell Disorder. Myasthenia gravis. Fibromyalgia.

We don’t know what’s up. The big ones on the table right now are MS and Lupus. It’s a waiting game that I’m just trying to survive with the best quality of life I’m able to have… which involves warm blankets, heating pads, furbabies, hugs, forehead kisses, hot chocolate, and a whole lot of forgiveness for myself. This might not be enough for many people who want to know answers right now – but it has to be good enough, because it’s all I’ve got at the moment. So I’ll take my comfort where I can, and be grateful.

Hari om.

Break the Cycle

We all live by certain patterns in our lives, many of which have been learned from childhood. Some of these patterns are normal day-to-day life and have no positive or negative effect – they just are how we go about our day. Other patterns, though, can be detrimental to our state of health and happiness, and we find ourselves stuck in a self-fulfilling cycle of repetition.

That cycle will keep repeating, if we let it. The only way off of that train is to break the cycle, or pattern.

But isn’t that easier said than done.

We’ll take an example of my own that I have to break time and time again. Before I actually started to break the habit, though, I was stuck in a downward spiral where the habits and patterns were getting worse and causing more problems each time I went around.

In most cycles there are five stages we go through before repeating the pattern again, and we’re going to use my own weight loss sabotage for an example.

Stage 1: Denial of the problem, or placing blame elsewhere, with no intention to change.

When someone is living in a cycle, they may deny that there’s any behavior that needs to change at all. They aren’t aware that there’s an issue.

I  knew I was a bit on the bigger side, but didn’t think it was a problem. My cholesterol levels and bloodwork all came back normal, so I figured I was just fine. I also had troubles with my knee after breaking it, and had been wanting a consult with a specialist in order to get help. I had nothing but problems with doctors not believing there was an issue beyond my weight, however, and I had many, many terrible confrontations with physicians who refused to help me. I didn’t want to visit another doctor – my anxiety for visiting a physician over rode any concern for my weight. So I decided to just be happy where I was.

Other examples that I’ve heard from others include:

  “I don’t cook, so I can’t eat healthier.”

                “I’m too stressed to think about this now.”

                “I’d rather be fat and happy than skinny and miserable.”

                “I travel too much and don’t have time to cook.”

If you really consider the options above, they are easily passed over without taking responsibility for action – my own example included. All I had to do was look at the BMI chart to know something was wrong – and I did, but decided that doctors were on glue. I was well over the obese range, but figured it wasn’t a big deal. To be fair, I still consider the BMI chart a bit “out there”, because people can’t really all be lumped into the same category. However, there’s a difference between a little overweight, and morbidly obese…. and I was in the morbidly obese range on that dreaded chart. I didn’t have just a few pounds to lose – I had roughly 110 pounds to get to a healthy weight for the type of build I have.

And the signs that it was affecting my health were all there. I was short of breath, I hurt everywhere, all of the time. I didn’t fit into any of my plus sized clothes. I was self conscious, I felt terrible and I was exhausted all of the time. I stressed when it came time to going out and doing anything because I couldn’t find anything that I thought made me looked good enough – even new clothes. Despite the signs, though, I wasn’t ready to accept there was an issue.

And what about the other excuses that are presented above?

                Every single one can be argued. It depends on your desire for change, the reasons for that change, and your willingness to look at options and act on them. Without wanting to break out of that cycle – you won’t. Without being aware of that cycle, you won’t even know to want to break out of it. There’s nothing wrong with that – as long as you’re ok with it. But if you’re NOT ok with remaining in the same habits and routine – then perhaps that’s something to carefully consider and figure out the reasons why you stay in it.

Stage 2: Aware of the problem without action.

And then something makes you wake up to the behavior in question. You start seeing things that you may not like. You become aware of it – but don’t do anything about it except watch.

Over time I realized that there was a real problem with my weight. I realized that my husband couldn’t really wrap my hands around me comfortably, and I was horribly aware of hands on the folds on my back whenever anyone put their hands on my back or gave me a hug. I didn’t want to be hugged anymore (and I’m a hugger!!). I was uncomfortable. I hated photos of myself. I couldn’t fit into new pants I had bought not that long ago. And I started looking at what is considered a “normal” weight range – and even the highest range of the “overweight” category was 60 pounds less than what I weighed at the time. That’s not so much weight, right? But it was, on my short 5’2” frame.
And the more aware of it I became, the more stressed it made me, and the more comfort food I turned to – making the situation even worse.

Step 3: Making the resolution to change.

For many people, New Year’s is the time for resolutions. For those keen on making changes in their lives to find a way to be happier, however, they become resolved in that moment to make a change.

For me, I did just that. I hurt so bad that I’d cry getting out of bed in the morning. I felt terrible, had no energy, and simply had enough. I couldn’t live like that anymore. I decided to make the change, and started looking into the best ways for me to do that.
Short-Determination-Quotes-and-Status

Step 4: Making the change

This is where people jump into a new habit or behavior and become hyper aware of it, focused on making the new habit “stick”. They may set reminders, or make appointments, or leave sticky notes. They take the steps needed to make that change that they’ve resolved to.

I decided to start light. I started trying to eat healthier. For exercise, I began with yoga asanas every day. They were enough, and I hurt just from a short 10 minute practice. But I did it, and when I felt I could add a little more, I started using the Wii Fit a little bit each day when I felt able. And then I started to walk around the block. Yes, just one block. It hurt every damned day, and I was taking handfuls of OTC meds to get through it, but I did it. I started looking into diets, nutrition and options for weight loss, but I didn’t just jump on any bandwagon. I researched it carefully before making any big decisions or changes.

Step 5: Maintaining new habits

This step is one of promise and hope. The one where people have been living their change in behavior or habits and are able to sustain their new way of living.

With the new determination, also came new levels of pain. I was struggling. I was hesitant to visit another GP, so I visited Natural Health Services and was able to get a prescription for medical marijuana, which helped me push past pain. I struggled with dosing at first, but I was able to find a happy balance to keep moving forward. While it helped with the pain, however, my knee was collapsing to the side, and I was concerned about damaging it further. This was one of the issues that had held me back for so long, so in order to keep moving forward I wanted to make sure I wasn’t putting the integrity of the joint at further risk of injury.

In my resolve to get help, I made an appointment to see a doctor in order to get a referral to a specialist. The appointment went terribly. I felt judged, dehumanized and unsupported. I was demoralized. And this is the step I’d normally get to.

Step 6: Relapse

Things happen, and life gets in the way. Something derails that track that people are on with their new habits, and they fall out of their new routine and back into old behaviors. Sometimes there’s no real reason for it, and other times external factors come into play to influence it.

This is where I’d repeat my cycle. This is the defining moment in my own cycle that I’d normally start over again, and decide that I was fine with how I was and go back to where I was comfortable so I didn’t have to deal with the anxiety, the dehumanizing treatment or the ridicule.

Back to Step 1?

 559086_386622538058934_2114609808_n

Or…..

 

Break Free!

Does your pattern repeat, or do you break free from it and continue your new life?

This time I didn’t fall back into old patterns. This time I pushed forward, because I wanted to feel better. I was definitely not feeling hopeful, but I pushed through my dismay. I bought a weight scale. I knew I had lost some weight at this point, but I made a goal to lose another 90 pounds, which would put me on the high end of the “normal” range on the BMI chart. Soon after that dreaded appointment, I received a post card in the mail for a new clinic in Leduc, and decided to give them a try. My anxiety was so high that she asked me how I was doing and I started to cry. Funny, how anxiety works. She was compassionate and could see that I was sincerely struggling. She commended my use of marijuana and sent the referral for the specialist before I even left the clinic. I had been trying to get this referral for 2 years without success, and suddenly I had renewed hope. She also send me with a prescription for a psychologist, should I choose to use it (also on my request, because I was not feeling very capable at the time). I left in higher spirits than I had in a long time. I continued with the new routine, slowly building up on it.

27797950_10155956915421113_2975958867770667355_o
60 lbs down in this photo – wearing the exact same outfit in both.

It’s been nearly two years since my resolution to change. It’s been about one year since that appointment with a physician that took me seriously enough to help me move forward. It did take awhile to build those new habits and routines, but I’m doing it. I’ve solidly lost 65 pounds and am still working on my progress. I’m still partaking in physiotherapy to increase strength to keep my knee from collapsing, which it no longer does. I frequent the  gym daily, have taken up martial arts training, can outrun most people I know now, am underway with yoga teacher training, and rarely even need to use the marijuana for pain relief. I don’t use it recreationally, so it goes untouched for longer periods of time. It used to be taken every morning and evening – but now I use it maybe once a week. Sometimes once every two weeks.

When something else came up last summer that threatened my new routine, I called in the psychology card – I was NOT going back to that place again. I was NOT starting my old habits again. As difficult as it was for me to make that phone call, it was an important phone call to make, and one that I don’t regret to this day. The therapist I found fits me well, and he has given me valuable tools to keep out of the cycle I have gone back to way too many times.

If it hadn’t been for that one physician to treat me like a person, I’m not sure I could have come this far. I still attend that same clinic, although with a different doctor because she moved to a different location. He is just as compassionate, though, and I no longer experience anxiety walking into that clinic. Sometimes you just have to find the right care team.

 

Cycles CAN be broken. New habits CAN be maintained. Change CAN happen.

 

You don’t fail until you give up.

 

Sometimes it’s a lot of work, but if you want it badly enough, you can make it happen.

 

Find your big enough reason why.

 

You’ve got this.

 

With love.

Essential Oils for Ingestion

There are so many misconceptions regarding the use of essential oils, which is why I’ve been working on safety so hard. They are unregulated, and there are many untrained individuals who are using them in ways that can be more harmful than not, and encouraging others to do the same. I get it – people are wanting to make the best choices for themselves and their family, and they want others to take part in their passions and love them just as much. No one wants to know that something they are so passionate about can actually be harmful. They have found something to believe in, something they want to believe is good for them and for the world, and with so much conflicting information it’s hard to know the best sources to trust, even thought there’s enough information to look at and question. But questions aren’t  always asked, so answers aren’t given – or sought after.

I always encourage people to do what’s best for them.

Sometimes, I disagree that what they are doing is best for them. But that’s only my concern if they want it to be. It’s a hard place to be, sometimes, especially when they come to me for help after the damage has been done.

But I guess others have had to watch me do the same to myself before. No one could tell me otherwise until I learned the hard way. And that’s why I’m continuing to provide as much information as I can in order to try to reach out to people wanting to know more.

It’s quite often I hear people tell me that their essential oil brand is FDA approved, Certified Therapeutic Grade, and food-safe before explaining the benefits of dropping the oils directly into their water, onto their food or other uses that make me cringe, knowing the harm that could potentially be underway and not being able to do anything about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not 100% against the internal use of essential oils. They have a time and a place, with proper training, advice and reasons.

I have only ever known ONE case where someone with an uncommon medical issue received advice from a properly trained individual in order to help solve the issue – and then promptly discontinue treatment when it was no longer needed. All others I know that ingest oils do so without advice from trained professionals and have had concerns regarding burned skin, indigestion, diarrhea, dizziness and many other uncomfortable symptoms and reactions that could have been prevented.

First, the Certified Therapeutic Grade essential oils are really no different than other quality oils. This certification is an in-house, trademarked standard for that specific company only and a reflection of their own quality control measures. That isn’t to say that it’s a good system in place or not – but it’s important to know that there is no regulating body for essential oil grades, and this is their own method of safety standard that does not extend outside of that company.

The use of essential oils has been encouraged for use as flavorings in foods, which is meant to be for large quantities. By dipping a toothpick in essential oil, you can use this small amount to flavor an entire cookie batch by stirring the toothpick into the batter. At some point, this method has been changed to put multiple drops of oil in water (which don’t mix, so there’s no proper dilution) or in cooking and smoothies. Keep in mind, however, the benefits of using the whole plant. Essential oils are extractions and do not contain the same chemical make-up as the whole plant. Even drinking tea has better nutritional value than the essential oil, as many of the constituents that are still in the plant you have infusing in your water are left behind in the distillation process for the oil. Another common comment is the amount of “X” plant matter can be ingested in just one drop – but it is not realistic to consume this much of anything in a day (nevermind missing out on the same constituents that do not pass through distillation). There can be too much of a good thing, and moderation is the key to a good balance. A similar effect can also be had from the use of culinary extracts as opposed to essential oils.

I understand that people are opting for more natural options for living, but if they have any understanding or care for the natural world they may want to reconsider the waste that is being encouraged by these practices. It takes so much plant matter to make such a small amount of oil, and it hurts my heart to know of the waste being made in order to have too much flavoring in water that isn’t even used by the body. We are stripping the environment of its natural sources for no real purpose, especially since there are better options to consider.

Another misrepresentation of internal dosing is health maintenance. We do not take antibiotics to prevent illness, nor other medications with a specific purpose, and essential oils should be treated the same way. They have amazing properties that can help alleviate specific ailments and symptoms, but once the issue has been dealt with there is no longer a need to continue the treatment.

Further, the FDA does not approve products. They review notifications for new ingredients and safety measures. They do not provide or review effectiveness of the product. They have made generalized guidelines that indicate that certain products and ingredients are considered safe when used in accordance to their intended use.

(1) The quantity of a substance added to food does not exceed the amount reasonably required to accomplish its intended physical, nutritional, or other technical effect in food; and

(2) The quantity of a substance that becomes a component of food as a result of its use in the manufacturing, processing, or packaging of food, and which is not intended to accomplish any physical or other technical effect in the food itself, shall be reduced to the extent reasonably possible.

Regarding dietary supplements: https://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/UsingDietarySupplements/ucm109760.htm
Cosmetics vs Drugs: https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Products/ucm127054.htm
Food products generally recognized as safe: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=182.1

There are so many sources and articles regarding reactions and harm from the misuse of essential oils, and the report numbers are increasing the more they are being used. I know the buzzwords make these companies sound like the cream of the crop and the best of the butter and safest of safe, but please question carefully, and consider the drawbacks of the overuse of essential oils – if not for yourself, then for your family, or even for nature itself. We all want to live a more natural life, but there is nothing natural about the unnecessary abuse of nature that is happening every day, and the risks we take that can cause more harm to our health than good. There’s a balance to be had, and it’s time to level the playing field a little.

Please check out some of the resources below for more.

ingestion

Information about DoTerra’s CTPG Trademark: 
https://www.doterra.com/US/en/cptg-testing-process
https://trademarks.justia.com/776/83/cptg-certified-pure-therapeutic-77683687.html

Further resources:
http://roberttisserand.com/2015/08/robert-tisserand-interviewed-on-ingestion-dilution-and-other-safety-issues/
http://lifeholistically.com/essential-oil-safety-usage/
http://www.thebarefootdragonfly.com/friends-dont-let-friends-drink-essential-oils/

Injury reports: http://aromatherapyunited.org/injury-reports/injury-reports-2016/

Thank you to the English Aromatherapist for the great video!

 

 

Reactions vs Detox

I’ve heard many people tell me stories about their experiences with essential oils. One friend in particular shared a story about an essential oil party she attended. A peppermint oil was applied to the back of her neck, and the burning sensation she felt was intense, painful, and spread when she got it on her hands. She had a hard time washing it off. She was told this was good for her! I don’t remember if this particular case explained that this was a “detox reaction”, but I’ve heard this too many times to count.

There’s a big difference between a reaction and a detox.

“A reaction occurs as an adverse physiological response to a substance that has been breathed in, ingested, or touched.”

In other words, a reaction occurs with the ADDITION of something. It can be a food, essential oil, plant, animal or anything else you may come into contact with.

“A detox is a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances.”

Detoxification is the REMOVAL of something from your system, such as an alcohol or drug detox. This can also happen with the removal of certain foods from your regular diet – such as sugar and caffeine.

Aromatherapy associations and well-known, long term professionals strongly advocate against the use of undiluted (or “neat”) application of essential oils for this very reason. Raindrop therapy is not recommended, either. (See the Aromatherpy Registration Council’s policy by clicking here.)

National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy: “Avoid the use of undiluted essential oils on the skin, unless otherwise indicated.”

Alliance of International Aromatherapists: “Essential oils are concentrated substances, and because of this we do not recommend using them without diluting them first.”

Canadian Federation of Aromatherapy: “Essential Oils are highly concentrated and should not be used directly on the skin or near the eyes. Using oils neat on the skin can create a rash, itching, an allergic reaction, and even severe pain.”

Tisserand Institute: “Do not apply undiluted essential oils to your skin. It’s that simple.”

The English Aromatherapist: “Even 100% premium quality essential oils need to be diluted before being applied to the skin.”

The Barefoot Dragonfly: “Less is more in the aromatherapy world, diluted percentages of essential oils are used in topical applications usually 1-5%, though sometimes fractions of percentages are employed.”

Lifeholistically: “Since they are so concentrated, they need to be diluted to avoid irritation for children and adults.”

Is that enough to convince you, yet? There is no reason to use undiluted oils, even for (especially for!) Raindrop therapy. Just because one drop is good, doesn’t mean that two will be better! That burning sensation you may feel after a Raindrop Therapy sensation is NOT a detox – it’s a reaction, and it’s your body’s way of trying to communication with you!

Essential oils are highly concentrated. When you make juice from concentrate, you typically mix it with water. The same applies to concentrated cleaners and soap. Think about that. If you dilute other concentrated substances, why would the same not apply to essential oils?

Due to the volatile nature of essential oils, they tend to flash off when exposed to the air. The effects of this also wicks moisture from the skin and can cause dryness. When applying directly to the skin, it’s reasonable to consider that the essential oils will dissipate before having a  chance to be absorbed. Diluting them in a carrier oil will not only help retain the oil for longer, but will moisturize and protect the skin for a longer period of time, as well as reduce the risks of sensitization and reactions.

Safety concerns aside, diluting essential oils is also favorable for your pocketbook, as well as the environment.

As with  ANY substance, discontinue use immediately if you notice any irritation.

For more myth busting, this is one of my favorite places to send people to read more. Dr. Pappas is straight forward and clear on his opinion at Essential Oil University.

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The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to test, treat or diagnose health problems or diseases. This information is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional.

Essential oils and children

 

I get asked many times regarding safe use of essential oils and children, and a good, simple, easy guideline to use.

Truth be told, it’s just not that easy. Every oil has a different chemical composition to keep in mind when using on or around little, and highly sensitive, people. Pregnancy is also a factor to consider. It’s important to know about each oil before using it – and that’s a lot of information to take in!! There is a lot of controversy over the use of essential oils for regular healthy people, and it’s even more controversial when kids and pregnancies are involved. There are many resources to go to for information, and the information listed here is my own amalgamation from different resources and training tools.

It’s highly recommended that babies under 6 months of age not be exposed to essential oils at all. I typically recommend that the use of essential oils on and around children under 2 years of age be avoided altogether as well, but there are some that are safer to use. There is simply no good reason to use them. They are SO concentrated, and safer ways to achieve similar results can be done with the use of hydrosols and the whole herbs themselves. With the children still developing it can cause complications that are hard to pinpoint as a cause from the exposure to essential oils. Hydrosols (which can still be diluted) are a much safer option and will provide the same benefits as essential oils.

globuli-medical-bless-you-homeopathy-163186With newborns, it’s recommended not to use any kind of scent. Newborns have a strong ability to recognize their mother (and vice versa) and is a bond that needs to be cultivated. When it is, it lasts forever. Interrupting this process with the use of essential oils, fragrances and perfumes with newborns can result in a decrease in olfactory recognition formation. Especially for the first few months after baby is born, it’s best to use aromatherapy inhalers so you personally can still take advantage of the benefits of essential oils without worrying about your little one(s) and interrupting their development. You can also diffuse in a separate room for yourself (30 minutes on, 30-60 minutes off is the most you need to diffuse), or use them in your bath water. To add essential oils into your bath water, please always have an oil or soap to mix them into. Water and oils do not mix. Dropping the oils onto salt DOES NOT WORK, nor adding it to witch hazel or any other water based solution. You can mix essential oils with any unscented soap or shampoo to add to your bath water. Alternatively, you can dilute them into a carrier oil, but know that the oil will not mix with the water so you may find an oil glob floating on top of the water. Many people (myself included) don’t mind this. Giving it a quick mix can spread the oil out and give your skin a nice moisturizing therapy!

If you would still prefer to use essential oils around your children, I hope the following guidelines will serve to help! There is never a reason for an essential oil to be used without diluting it first. It is unnecessary, wasteful and doesn’t work nearly as well as many people may have you believe. These are not all-exhaustive charts, but are meant as a starting point. When it comes to those scents that you are wearing yourself and not for use on your child, it’s best to stick with these same guidelines, using the dilution ratio in correspondence with the age of your child. There are exceptions to this, but this can be used as a very basic and general guideline. Any kitchen oil can be used for a carrier oil – coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, etc. If applying directly on children, it is best to apply on their back along the spine. This decreases the chances of them rubbing any into their eye or spreading it to sensitive areas. Remember to watch carefully for any signs of reaction. Just because an oil is listed as safe to use does not guarantee a reaction won’t happen! Also note that if an oil is not on this list it does not mean that it is not safe (or unsafe) to use, but this is meant to be a general starting point!

Aromatherapy is not a “no/never” or “yes/always” modality, and if you have ANY concerns it is best to speak with someone specifically trained in the use of essential oils in order to minimize worry and risk. It’s not black and white. Please do not ingest essential oils unless under the  care of an aromatherapist specifically trained to offer this advice.

pregnant-pregnancy-mom-childOnce again, I personally advise against the use of essential oils on children under 2 years of age and during the first trimester of pregnancy! This doesn’t mean that you can’t do it – I just strongly believe that there are better options available. Do what feels right for you and your family, and check out some of the resources I’ve provided at the bottom of the post!

Doses for children and babies – topical use
Preemies Floral waters only 25% floral water in regular water
Newborn to 3 months* 1 drop in 25 mL 0.1%
3 to 24 months* 1 drop in 5 mL 0.5%
2 to 6 years 3 drop in 5 mL 1%
6 to 15 years 4 drops in 5 mL 1.5%
15 years+ 8 drops in 5 mL 2.5%

*Only if deemed necessary

During pregnancy – topical and diffusion*
Safe Restricted/Caution** Avoid entirely (pregnancy AND lactation)
Bergamot

Copaiba

Cypress

Fir (Douglas and silver)

Frankincense (all but Boswelia Papyifera)

Grapefruit

Juniper Berry

Lavender

Lemon

Mandarin

Neroli

Orange (sweet)

Palmarosa

Patchouli

Pine

Rose

Rosewood

Spearmint

Tea Tree

Thyme

Vetiver

Ylang ylang

Basil, Lemon

Boswellia, papyrifera

Champaca (Orange) Absolute

Lemon Balm, Australian

Lemon Leaf

Lemongrass

May Chang

Myrtle, Honey

Myrtle, Lemon

Nasturtium Absolute

Tea Tree, Lemon

Thyme, Lemon

Verbena, Lemon

LemonAnise

Anise, Star

Araucaria

Artemisia Vestita

Atractylis

Birch, sweet

Black seed

Buchu, Diosphenol and Pulegone CTs

Calamint, Lesser

Camphor

Carrot Seed

Cassia

Chaste Tree

Cinnamon Bark

Clary sage (1st tri)

Cistus

Cypress, Blue

Dill Seed, Indian

Fennel, Bitter and Sweet

Feverfew

Frankincense (boswellia papyrifera)

Genipi

Hibawood

Ho Leaf, Camphor CT

Hyssop, Pinocamphone CT

Jasmine (absolute)

Lanyana

Lavender, Spanish

Melissa

Mugwort, Great, Common, Camphor and Thujone CTs

Myrrh

Myrtle, Aniseed

Oregano

Parsley Leaf

Parsley Seed

Pennyroyal

Peppermint

Rue

Sage, Dalmatian and Spanish

Tansy

Thuja

Western Red Cedar

Wintergreen

Wormwood, All

Yarrow, Green

Zedoary

*It is highly recommended to avoid the use of essential oils altogether especially in the first trimester of pregnancy

**These oils may be safe at very low dilutions and at your risk under the care of a physician

For mom – While Breastfeeding*
Safe Use Caution Avoid
Bergamot

Black pepper

Blue Tansy

Cedarwood-Atlas

Clary sage

Copaiba

Coriander

Cypress

Dill Weed

Fir Needle

Frankincense

Grapefruit

Geranium

Ginger

Helichrysum

Lavender

Lemon

Lime

Juniper  Berry

Mandarin

Neroli

Palmarose

Petitgrain

Pine

Roman Chamomile

Rose

Spearmint

Spruce

Sweet Marjoram

Sweet Orange

Tangerine

Tea Tree

Vetiver

Ylang Ylang

Angelica

Basil, lemon

Cedarwood-Himalayan

Citronella

Clove

Cumin

Davana

Eucalyptus

Mountain Savory

Lemon Myrtle

Lemongrass

Litsea

Peppermint

Rosemary (Spanish)

Anise star, seed

Arborvitae

Araucaria

Artemisia Vestita

Atractylis

Birch, sweet

Birch

Black seed

Buchu, Diosphenol and Pulegone CTs

Calamint, Lesser

Carrot Seed

Cassia

Chaste Tree

Cinnamon Bark

Cinnamon Leaf

Cistus

Cypress, Blue

Dill Seed, Indian

Fennel

Hyssop

Feverfew

Genipi

Hibawood

Ho Leaf, Camphor CT

Lanyana

Lavender, Spanish

Mugwort, Great, Common, Camphor and Thujone CTs

Myrrh

Myrtle

Oregano

Parsley

Pennyroyal

Peppermint

Rue

Sage, Dalmatian and Spanish

Tansy

Tarragon

Thuja

Western Red Cedar

Wintergreen

Wormwood, All

Yarrow, Green

Zedoary

*Please avoid use of essential oils around the nipples to prevent accidental ingestion of essential oils.

For kids under 2 years if absolutely necessary
Safe Avoid (dermal unless otherwise noted)
Hydrosols!

Chamomile (Roman)

Lavender

Lemon

Mandarin (red)

Rosalina (LIGHT diffusing only)

Anise (all routes)

Star anise (all routes)

Arborvitae (all routes)

Basil (lemon) (all routes)

Benzoin

Birch (all routes)

Black seed

Carrot seed (All routes)

Cassia

Cinnamon Bark (all routes)

Cinnamon leaf (All routes)

Clove bud (all routes)

Fennel (all routes)

Garlic

Ginger lily

Hyssop (all routes)

Lemon leaf

Lemon balm

Lemongrass

Massoia (all routes)

May Chang

Myrrh

Myrtle (honey)

Myrtle (lemon)

Opopanax

Oregano

Parsley (All routes)

Pennyroyal

Peppermint (all routes)

Pennyroyal (all routes)

Ravensara

Saffron

Savory

Tarragon (all routes)

Tea leaf

Tea tree (lemon)

Thyme

Treemoss

Tuberose

Turmeric

Turpentine

Verbena (lemon)

Wintergreen (all routes)

Yarrow (all routes)

Ylang ylang

For kids 2 – 10 years Avoid altogether
Basil (Linalool CT)

Bergamot*

(For topical, use NO MORE than 0.4% dilution due to phototoxic properties. Bergamot FCF can be used with general guidelines)

Black Pepper

Blue Tansy

Catnip

Jasmine absolute

Juniper berry

Lavender

Lavandin

Lemon*

(For topical use, use NO MORE than 2% dilution due to phototoxicity)

Mandarin

Dill weed

Fir needle

Frankincense (all)

Geranium

Ginger root CO2

Grapefruit pink

Helichrysum

Cedarwood (all)

Chamomile (german and roman)

Citronella

Clary Sage

Copaiba Balsam

Coriander

Cypress

Marjoram

Neroli

Orange (both)

Palmarosa

Patchouli

Petitgrain

Pine

Rosalina

Rose Absolute

Sandalwood

Spearmint

Spruce

Tangerine

Tea Tree

Turmeric CO2

Vanilla 12%

Vetiver

Anise

Star anise

Arborvitae

Birch

Carrot Seed

Cassia

Cinnamon Bark

Fennel

Hyssop

Myrrh

Myrtle

Oregano

Parsley

Pennyroyal

Peppermint (can diffuse after 3 years or applied topically at 0.5%)

Tarragon

Wintergreen

Yarrow

Once children reach 10 years of age, if they have not shown a reaction, all oils that can be used are considered safe to use with them.

The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to test, treat or diagnose health problems or diseases. This information is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional.

References and websites:

Reference: Vaglio, S. (2009) Chemical communication and mother-infant recognition. https://ncbi.nlm.gov/PMC2717541

http://tisserandinstitute.org/

http://tisserandinstitute.org/peppermint-and-breastfeeding-results-of-poll/

https://lifeholistically.com

https://essentialoils.org/

https://www.facebook.com/EssentialOilUniversity

https://www.facebook.com/groups/540396909348045/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/540396909348045/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/EOConsumerReports/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/EssentialOilConsumerSafety/

My own page is growing with information, but it’s slow going! You’re welcome to visit my page for upcoming information as it becomes available.

www.bohemian-alchemist.ca

or

https://www.facebook.com/bohemian.alchemist/