AKA The Post That Fits Nowhere Yet Means Everything

Over the last year there have been a lot of changes in my life. They may not be particularly obvious on the outside, yet they’ve been profound in re-shaping my self and world view. Myself and a few mystic friends set “themes” every year. Not fans of personal goals, we focus more on general life areas that need addressing, and hold open that space year-long to grow and heal whatever is found there. In 2014, my theme was grieving the life I didn’t have.

No small order.

In reality, life was going pretty well, which considering how challenging it’s been to acclimate to being a mom to twins, coping with being a cyclic person, and maintaining some semblance of self alongside that, was no small feat.  Though after facing the reality of what being a bestselling author really looks like, the size royalties really are, and how bills get paid, I realized I had some mourning to do in the arena of unfulfilled life goals, and some filling in of blanks to do on that whole ‘you create your reality’ thing.

Kelley, Circa 1990Those truths struck deeply enough; however, the real stripping of blinders came at a more visceral level. Late summer found me plummeting into a chemical spiral, depression that manifest as extreme pain, fatigue, numbness, and radical mood shifts at ovulation, and I didn’t know why. As a survivor of childhood incest, I spent my youth triggered by mundane events, which sent me into emotional tailspins that took weeks (months? years?) to balance. As a teen and young adult, I was accustomed to PTSD waves unearthing me, even impacting my monthly cycle. Considering the stress of how much my life has changed in the last few years, I could often relate my shifts to current events. Not this time.

The thing is, neither could my doctors, allopathic or woo. I’ve had some health challenges, including minor stroke, FMS, PCOS, migraines, miscarriages, the collection of which are nothing to play around with, and I was concerned that my body could swerve so significantly out of plane without obvious cause. I lead a healthy life. I follow strict dietary recommendations for Celiac Disease. I seldom eat refined sugar. I rarely drink alcohol or caffeine and don’t smoke, this due to an alcohol intervention I had to experience in my family when I was little and at the time I was working out regularly.

I worked my spiritual wellness routine like a champ. I did everything I’d advise clients to do. I stayed in regular rapport with my body, I talked to my food, to my cells, and engaged helping spirits to advise and support. Over and over the resounding message I got was that the soul work was done. This distress wasn’t a soul issue, and the body and mind needed support.

Two intensely long and agonizing months of testing later, I learned that despite my seeming wellness, I absorb almost nothing from food. This wasn’t a total shock given that I’d followed a gluten-free foodstyle for 14 years. I was aware of the correlation between food, digestion, and brain balance.  I also realized that despite doing all the right things, I frequently felt undernourished. Not hungry, but lacking something in my diet. These results indicated that I was lacking B12, D3, and folate–all of which I ingested regularly. The task then became teasing out whether that lack was a deficiency or a true malabsorption issue.

Considering that my diet should have been nourishing me well, the need to delineate between further digestive issue and a genetic mutation became evident. I changed to a grain-free foodstyle to appease my tummy. I started on B12 injections, and my GYN put the possibility of hysterectomy back on the table if the chemical imbalance didn’t soon resolve. Understand this cyclic spiral has been an issue from day 1 of my first period at 10 years old. Recent events were mere distillation of it. I did not argue my GYN’s suggestion.

My chiropractor was the first to hint at doing the 23andme DNA test. Within a week, both my holistic GYN and natuopath suggested it, as well. All were at the end of their wisdom. This test would indicate ancestry of my mother’s line, of course, also genetic mutations that can flag serious health conditions, and based on these mutations, what drugs and supplements I should take, and what ones I should avoid. On the voice of the Multiverse, I submitted the test on 19 February, and waited.

I thought I would murder somebody the first two weeks. I was so angry to have to change yet again to accommodate the effects years of PTSD has had on my body. I felt punished. I felt helpless, and I wasn’t hopeful that anything would improve. Somewhere around the third week, brain fog lifted, I dropped 9 pounds doing nothing, lost several inches, and my pain abated. It was progress. I observed, as well as read more at this page, which was better than unpredictable spikes. That flatness, however, carried a distinct lack of inspiration, which isn’t much use to a writer.

12 April I got the results.  I’ve read all these stories about people doing DNA tests and discovering ethnic roots that upended them, changed their concept of who they are, stirred passionate emotions. I’ve never seen myself as being upset by such, and I wasn’t surprised to learn my Haplogroup origins. In reality, I already knew it from doing a similar ancestry test a few years ago. The subclade of H6a1 was an interesting nuance, which I’m keen to do more research on. The genetic mutation information, however, overwhelmed me. Reading it, seeing on paper its path across the history of my body absolutely left me stunned and grieving in a new way.

I am homozygous for the genetic mutation for MTHFR, which means my body can’t methylate amino acids –a process without which results in increased risk of miscarriage, stroke, migraines, auto immune conditions, and digestive disorders. Familiar, yes? Some people who are homozygous for this will never experience conditions related to it. I already have been for some time.

Tao, Yin and Yang

I can’t detox estrogen, which only exacerbates the former condition. I can’t absorb calcium. I don’t have the precursors to process antidepressants, and my body doesn’t produce them at normal rates.

The thing is, I knew that, all of that. I’ve known it since I hit puberty, and my life since has been a series of trial-and-error attempts to bring balance to my form and find healthcare givers who could help me with that. None of it has worked longterm, and these strings of letters and numbers are at least part of why. Sure, they’re who I am. How my life has shaped the way in which they function has had direct impact on me every day, yet until I could see them for exactly what they are, I couldn’t engage my own health issues with meaning. The study of DNA isn’t exact, but it’s enough of an oracle to speak a difference in the quality of my life.

At almost six months into this journey, now on the right foodstyle and having started the most appropriate supplements, I’m more fit, feel better, and occupy healthier space on the planet. Only in the last few days has the mental and emotional flatness lifted, and I find myself relieved, concerned, and oddly able to focus on the present.

It’s a relief to know that not every questionable aspect of my health is a result of prolonged childhood trauma. I can now drop the identity that my brain is broken, and that my life must be a perpetual quest to fix it–a cross I carried not only for my sake, but for that of my children, who given the main mutation in my test, really are miracles. I find peace in that, yet still question if those genes could have expressed themselves differently had I not been under incredible duress for over half my life.

I will not lose sleep over that mystery.

I understand now that my focus has to evolve from trying to stop a tide from constantly shifting, to supporting my impermanent body at base levels in the small ways that I can, and to developing coping skills for all of the above.

I better understand now who I am, why I am.

Thanks to Lezlie for talking openly about her exploration into DNA and how her life changed around it.