It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has. — Hippocrates
The medical community admits to not knowing what causes our neurotransmitters to get so far out of balance that we develop a chronic health condition such as parkinson’s. They focus entirely on a dopamine deficiency with no explanation of the cause. They speculate that it may be connected with heavy metal toxins and overexposure to pesticides and chemicals. They also claim that there may be a hereditary factor. The natural health community believes that the underlying cause of all disease is a leaky gut, weakened immune system, an acidic body, inflammation and a clogged up lymphatic system. I fully agree with the natural health folks and while I can’t say with 100% certainty, I’m pretty sure I know what led me to develop this challenging health condition.
To begin with, in the years leading up to the appearance of the first symptoms I was very unhappy in my marriage and very unhappy with my job. Both of these situations created a lot of stress. I felt trapped and powerless, unable to get out of either situation and there is no doubt in my mind that this was the final straw in the breakdown of my body.
I believe though, that the seeds of my health condition were sown years earlier. In 1990, we were in a serious automobile accident. I was driving my daughter to a birthday party with a carload of kids when we were rear ended by a pickup truck traveling in excess of 80 kilometers per hour. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. My one year old son, who was sitting directly behind me, had his leg broken, and the girl sitting next to him [a family friend] experienced fairly serious damage to her ankle, otherwise, the kids were okay. I had an instant, pounding headache and a bad case of whiplash, which hasn’t fully healed to this day.
Shortly after this accident, I began developing food sensitivities to just about everything. On two occasions, I was sick for two days after eating a piece of cake. I also started reacting to milk, bread, nuts, processed meats and many other foods. The trauma of this car accident seemed to mess up my metabolism and likely my central nervous system.
Clearly, in my mind anyway, this incident played a major role in my developing a neurotransmitter imbalance, but I think the actual cause goes back even further to when I was in university.
In December, 1976, I developed what was later described as a ‘brain fog.’ I can still remember the moment it happened. I was driving back to university after a weekend of partying and heavy drinking, this, following several weeks of intense studying and high stress. It also occurred at a time when I was eating poorly and not taking good care of myself.
There were actually six factors, I believe, that led to me developing the brain fog [which I wrote about in an earlier blog]:
- excessive drinking
- high stress
- poor diet
- two severe head injuries [I had two major concussions when I was a teenager]
- several traumatic experiences in the years leading up to it [including the loss of two close friends]
- the loss of two lifelong dreams (becoming a veterinarian and a pro hockey player).
Interestingly, I did a lot of research and found out that brain fog is a symptom of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I have, or have had, all of the classic symptoms of CFS (I couldn’t tell you the last time I woke up feeling good). I also learned that CFS is connected to an imbalance or deficiency of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly, dopamine. Ironically, what the medical community calls parkinson’s is also connected to a deficiency of dopamine.
In addition to these major events in my life, I think five other factors played a role in my developing this neurotransmitter imbalance:
- Chronic excessive busyness
I would say that much of my life has been characterized by fear. My brothers and I were raised in a culture of fear: if you misbehave you’re going to get spanked, if you get in trouble at school you’re going to get spanked, if you get the strap at school you’re going to get it twice as hard at home, wait until your father gets home because you’re going to get spanked. It wasn’t that our parents were abusive, it was just how kids were raised in those days. We also had to deal with a neighborhood bully for six years.
I was afraid of confrontation, afraid of disappointing people, afraid of upsetting people, afraid to stand up for myself [unless I got angry first], afraid of being humiliated, afraid of failing, afraid of getting injured, and worst of all, I was afraid people would find out how scared I was.
Yes, my life has definitely been characterized by fear. It has also been characterized by chronic excessive busyness and an obsessive personality. For as long as I can remember, I have had an extremely busy and easily distracted mind. I am constantly multi-tasking and I find it difficult to relax and even more difficult to meditate.
As I wrote about in an earlier blog comparing my experience with that of Michael J Fox, I believe a number of personality traits are a factor:
- I have a sweet tooth (which I’ve always associated, energetically speaking, with trying to fill a happiness void)
- I am a busy-aholic (I have a need to keep busy with work and other activities)
- I am always looking for my next success/accomplishment (another addiction, stemming possibly from a fear of not being good enough)
- I have a need to please
- I have a lot of anger
According to American neurosurgeon, Russell Blaylock, author of Excitotoxins, food excitotoxins, especially aspartame and MSG, really mess up our neurochemistry. Both of Blaylock’s parents were diagnosed with parkinson’s, hence his interest. I used to drink a lot of aspartame sweetened pop [soda] and eat a lot of foods with added MSG. Add this to prolonged stress, a lifetime of fear, head injuries, poor diet and emotional trauma, and it makes a compelling case.
I also believe that destiny has played a role. As I wrote in an earlier blog, I believe everything, including illness, has a purpose. I believe the reason I developed a very challenging neurotransmitter imbalance is twofold. First, it has helped me understand the debilitating role of fear in my life so that I could release it and live in peace, love and joy. Second, I believe I was meant to find a way to overcome it and use this knowledge to help others [why else would I have discovered the joy of blogging?].
So as you can see, it seems there were a number of factors involved in my developing this condition and I suspect this is the case for everyone. Your factors may not be identical to mine, but likely there will be some overlap. At the very least, hopefully my experience helps you identify the contributing factors in your life so that you can address them accordingly and begin the recovery process.
Best wishes on your journey!