Alternative Modalities


Integrative medicine, holistic health, aromatherapy, accupuncture, energy healing, Reiki, meditation, mindfulness, biofeedback – these are some alternative modalities effectively used in both physical and mental health. When asked on both Thursday and Friday, by my therapist and psychiatrist what medication had been most helpful to me over the past 40 years, I had to say none of them. The absolutely most helpful thing I ever did was when I had Healing Touch treatments from Jill Zimmerman at Alpha Healing Arts. The funny thing is, when I met her I outright told her that if it wasn’t scientifically or logically provable, then I felt she was wasting both her time and mine (or something to that effect). Besides, I was in such bad shape, and absolutely nothing had worked, why would something a skeptic atheist couldn’t even fathom be helpful?

Jill took me up on the challenge, and I was absolutely blown away. During the time I was receiving these treatments, I learned so much that when I was no longer able to continue I knew enough to help myself. But aye, there’s the rub…I don’t know about you, but when I’m severely depressed self-care is at the bottom of my to-do list. I kept it up for a while, and over the few years (has it been that long?) since I stopped going, she has kindly helped me from a distance (yes, that works too). Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough. I’m the kind of person that needs someone to poke me on a regular basis and say “Hey, did you do this today/this week/this month?” Or I need someone to whom I can take my lazy ass, who will sit with me and remind me what I need to do. And I need this now, badly.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful psychiatrist who actually listens to me. He recognizes that I’m one of “those” people for whom medication may not be the complete answer. It’s possible that something on a very low dose or on an as-needed basis will be utilized, but I need to get through December (almost done!) as well as this detox before we make any decisions. My psychiatrist agrees that now, more than ever, I need to get back into regular exercise of my mind as well as my body.

In a previous post, I mentioned I was looking for the secret to bliss. One of my followers, Mike Evans (who has opened my eyes to other ways of looking at my illness), brought to mind what I was telling my mental health team. I know I already said this, but it’s worth repeating – I was at my best when I was holistically taking care of myself. In a week I’m going to a yoga workshop with Explorer Yoga, but meanwhile I need to focus on self-care (and get to the pharmacy today to pick up my estrogen…that’s all I need, to run out of estrogen!).

I know how to do these things, I know who to ask for help, I can do this.

A Tail of Two Kitties (apologies to Mr. Dickens)

They’ve been with me through the worst of times, and through the best of times.

Hanging Out

First there was Paris (named after the guy that conquered Helen of Troy because he “forced” me to adopt him). You might think I rescued him, but he rescued me. He found me at a time when I needed him most, and never left my side (or lap) unless he was certain I was OK. I was devastated when he died. Yes, I know that sounds melodramatic, but he meant that much to me.

Meanwhile, your blogger, the skeptical curmudgeon, learned about energy healing, chakras, and animal totems. black-panther-close-up-1280x800Finding out my animal totem is a black panther, did not come as a shock. What did, however was that I could feel Panther’s presence when I needed her. Sitting on the floor of the shower with a razor in my hand, I could feel her leaning against me, reassuring me, it was almost as if she took the razor out of my hand. While doing my chakras, every time I came to my solar plexus Panther would fill me with strength. Then my human guide was taken away from me, I thought I could do it alone, but I couldn’t. My depression took over and I forgot how to do it all myself. But then there were those times when I was at my worst, crying out for help inside my head, and Panther would come to me. She would lean against me again, fill me with strength, or just lay by my side. I realized then, she never left me, she just quietly waited until I needed her.

And now there is Bob. Bob loves him some Ashley

While Bob lay nearly lifeless in my lap from an infection and a parasite, Panther was passing healing energy through me, and I could feel Paris wrapped around Bob, just like he used to take care of “his” cat, Zoe.

Paris and Zoe
Paris and Zoe


And now we come to last night…this latest med-go-round is not good (I see my psych in a couple days). I’m back to severe mixed episodes-agitated mania and depression at the same time-and last night was bad. But then little Bobbycat (that’s what our 2-year-old granddaughter calls him) crawled under the covers and lay next to my abdomen purring, which was when I felt Panther filling my solar plexus with strength, and Paris laying next to my back.

This post is dedicated to Jill, who has selflessly helped me to get this far, and from whom I have so much more to learn.

Adding to my arsenal

not this time

The insidious black fog
begins to roll back in.
She can see it from a distance.
She can feel its presence.

As it moves closer,
she stands taller.
And with a look of determination
etched on her face,
she picks up her weapons
and strides in to battle.

It will not defeat me,
Not this time.

For twelve weeks, starting in September, I’ll be learning how to use Dialectical Behavior Therapy to aid in my battle against mental illness. After a lifetime of fighting for my life, I refuse to give up now.

My arsenal is holistic, with weapons that are both traditional psychiatric treatments as well as alternative modalities. My army is made up of my friends and family. My determination is strong.