Oct 6, 2013 / 5:00 am
Prior to my journey with a disabling illness, I was living life to the fullest. I had a successful counselling practice, a newspaper column and was also a featured guest on local talk radio. I was involved in community theatre, a choir, my church, traveled extensively, had many friends, and was in an amazing relationship.
That all ended in 2005 when I suffered from toxic overload that triggered a brain injury. This resulted in developing what is known as Environmental Illness. Illnesses that are classified in this category include Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Electric Hypersensitivity Syndrome.
The word “environmental” tends to make you think “outside”. But the actual cause of the injury for me was inside my office, and I didn’t even know it. Unbeknownst to me, the toxic insult consisted of a unique combination of toxins found in new paint (volatile organic compounds or VOC’s), mold and chemical cleaners that were stored in the janitors supply room next door to my office.
During the years when I was disabled from illness, I lived a very isolated and constricted life despite the fact that I was not the only one suffering. Through research, I discovered that there are millions of other people all over the world have some form of Environmental Illness.
Although Environmental Illness has reached epidemic prevalence, public awareness of the common causes of illness and preventable measures remains limited.
It is estimated that 74 million North Americans have some form of chemical sensitivity (also known as “chemical injury” or “chemical intolerance”) or other environmental illness. Symptoms can be mild like a temporary head- ache from the odor of perfume, fresh paint, fabric softener or deodorizers.
However, there are approximately 10 million people who are so severely affected that the illness severely restricts how they live and what they can do. They are known as the "canaries" -- an early warning sign of the perils and human cost of the chemical revolution of the 20th century. This misunderstood and often misplaced population of society are largely undiagnosed or misdiagnosed by our mainstream medical system.
Why the term "Canary"? Miners used to keep a canary in the shafts to determine air quality. When the canary stopped singing or dropped dead, they knew poisons were present and it was time leave.
Chemical injury can alter the body physiologically and also change the structure and function of the brain. The disorganization of neural networks that take place with chemical trauma cause deep protective brain mechanisms within the limbic system to fire more rapidly, throwing those who suffer into a constant state of survival. This perpetual state of chronic stress affects many systems of the body involved with communication, rest, digestion and detoxification.
Toxic overload also commonly affects respiratory, cardiac, immune, musculoskeletal, reproductive, endocrine system function and often is involved with heightened sensory perception.
Fortunately, I recovered from Environmental Illness in 2008 through neuroplasticity or healing the brain. It is from this place of recovery that I find myself in the unique position to help others recover through rewiring limbic system function.
With this in mind, I am happy to announce that I have been invited to speak at the American Academy of Environmental Medicine Conference in October in Phoenix, Arizona about neuroplasticity and limbic system rehabilitation as a viable form of treatment for Environmental Illness.
My deepest desire is to be a strong voice for hope and healing for those who suffer from environmental illness and help to increase environmental awareness to prevent future suffering. I am so blessed to be in a position to do so.
Annie Hopper is a Limbic System Neuroplasticity Specialist who can be reached at www.dnrsytem.com
Sep 8, 2013 / 5:00 am
Forest is planning a trip to Europe this fall!
This may not seem like a big deal to most of you, but when you understand where she came from, you will realize that Forest is now living a life that is way beyond her wildest dreams.
It was not that long ago that Forest was living a very conscripted and extremely restricted life. She had been suffering from chronic illness for over fifteen years and was losing hope that she would ever be healthy again.
She had suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chemical Sensitivities and a host of food sensitivities.
She went to see countless specialists and doctors who were all very well meaning, but unable to help her. Her children couldn’t understand what happened to their healthy and fun-loving mom. Her friends tried to help but were left feeling helpless as they stood by and watched Forest’s health deteriorating.
As the illness progressed, she became more and more isolated. Her friends and family could not visit her because of her illness restrictions and she rarely left her home. On the odd occasion when she did leave home to go to a doctor’s appointment, she had to wear a respirator.
Life became a struggle for survival, which is not uncommon for people who suffer from a brain injury associated with toxic trauma.
For Forest, it all started on Sept 7, 1997 when she was exposed to a lot of toxic chemicals from renovations that were done at her workplace. On the first day when Forest returned to the newly renovated office, herself and the entire staff at her workplace were complaining about the awful smell and most where getting headaches and becoming ill. On her third day of work, Forest was found lying unconscious outside of the building. She was rushed to the hospital where they told her that she would quickly recover – comparing it to getting over the flu. Forest tried to go back to work but was too ill to do so. Life as she knew it was over.
She lived the next fifteen years in a state of survival. After enduring so much suffering and having been to countless doctors to no avail, Forest was very sceptical that anything could help her. However, she had heard that some people were recovering through a neuroplasticity-based program that is focused on rewiring brain circuits responsible for protective and survival mechanisms. It made complete sense to Forest that her brain was not filtering sensory stimuli appropriately and that she was stuck in a fight or flight state. So she decided to take a gamble and took the program. To this day she will tell you it’s the best decision she made in her life.
Well, you can only imagine how happy Forest was when she started noticing a decrease in her symptoms and a change in her sensory perception – it almost seemed like a miracle! And her recovery couldn’t have happened at a better time. Forest is now a very proud, happy and healthy grandmother to an adorable baby girl! She truly is living a life way beyond her wildest dreams!
If someone you love is suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, Fibromyalgia, extensive food sensitivities or chronic pain, you will want to let them know about Forest and about an upcoming 5 day limbic system rehabilitation program on Sept 26 – 30 in Kelowna.
For more information please visit www.dnrsytem.com
Jul 14, 2013 / 5:00 am
When we are feeling threatened by someone or something, we will naturally fight or flee the situation to defend ourselves or to ensure our survival. This is a healthy and normal response and is sometimes necessary. However the human brain has not evolved much since cave men days when we needed this mechanism to quickly escape from a hungry tiger. When we are in a fight or flight response, our brain releases neurochemicals that increase our senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) to allow us to track and protect ourselves from the perceived threat. We become hyper alert of the environment around us, seeking out hidden dangers in every corner. Our unconscious survival mechanisms kick into high gear, lowering our blood supply to vital organs and redirects blood supply to our extremities in case we need to run or fight. After the threat has passed, we stop producing neurochemicals that are associated with survival and our bodies return to their natural resting state and our senses return to normal again.
But there are times when trauma causes a malfunction of the threat mechanisms in the brain, causing the brain and body to go into a state of constant alert. Perhaps you were exposed to a virus or bacteria or chemical injury during an emotionally stressful time in your life and voila, the perfect storm developed and catapulted your brain’s stress response into chronic high gear.
When this happens, the brain loses its ability to discern between real and perceived danger and reacts to commons stressors as if we are about to be attacked by a tiger. When we are feeling threatened over a long period of time, our bodies learn to adapt to this unhealthy state, but at a large cost to our well-being. Functions like rest, digestion, elimination, communication and reproduction are no longer viewed as essential and get over shadowed by our need for protection. In response to a perceived threat, our sensory awareness heightens and we may find that we become sensitive to light, sound, touch, smell and taste. We slowly adapt to this new way of being, unaware that the root of the problem is in the brain. These symptoms are very common in many “invisible” illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Chemical Sensitivities and Anxiety disorders.
Slowly we learn to adapt to this state and change the way in which we live in order to accommodate the illness. As we adapt to this heightened level of threat, over time, this inevitably changes the way we view the world. Our happiness and innocence is lost when we are forced to live our lives in survival. No longer the happy-go-lucky people we once were, many will turn into bitter pessimists. Happiness seems like a luxury that is no longer available to us. We worry about our future or how we will manage to get through another day.
The cascading physical effects of an impaired threat mechanism in the brain and maladapted stress response are very real and the suffering involved is horrendous.
So where’s the good news? You have the power to correct the over-activated threat mechanism in your brain and move forward with your life. There is a natural, drug free way to free yourself from this suffering.
My team and I will be hosting a five day neuro rehabilitation retreat at the Ocean Resort on Vancouver Island on Aug 11 – 15. Join us to start to retrain your brain and reclaim your life.
Annie Hopper is a Limbic System Neuroplasticity Specialist. She can be reached at [email protected]
Jun 16, 2013 / 5:00 am
Sometimes people aren’t willing to embrace a new approach until they see the results. Lauren is one of those people.
Lauren’s journey with illness started in 2002 when she was only 12 years old. Over the years her state of health continued to decline - despite extensive search for answers. Her parents have even spent over $100,000 in out of pocket medical expenses. Lauren had been to see 35 different specialists over the years, including six doctors at the Mayo clinic. They also exhausted the alternative health care system and again, found no lasting relief for their daughter. Lauren was diagnosed with a number of illnesses including Asthma, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Anxiety, Narcolepsy, Mononucleosis, Mitochondrial Dysfunction and a list of sensitivities to light, sound, food and chemicals. Her latest diagnosis in a string of illnesses was Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. Due to plummeting blood pressure and increased heart rate when upright, Lauren could no longer sit up straight or stand for more than a few minutes at a time. This meant that in order to function at all, Lauren had to spend most of her time in bed or in a reclining wheelchair. Also, Lauren was so sensitive to light that it was impossible for her to even watch T.V. or be on a computer. Noise was so painful that she had to stuff cotton baton in her ears.
Needless to say, Lauren was becoming increasingly depressed given her state of declining health and escalating sensitivities. She wondered if she should finally just accept her life the way that it was. If that was the hand that she was dealt, then she was willing to accept it. After all - having dashed hopes is a costly venture.
Lauren started to make some headway in her recovery first through the Dynamic Neural Retraining System DVDs. Her father creatively found a way to export and slow down the sound track on the DVDs so that Lauren could just listen to the information. Even with this alone, Lauren started to notice some improvements, but due to illness she lacked the cognitive ability and motivation necessary to really understand and implement the limbic system rehabilitation exercises. However, the improvements that she did make with the DVD allowed her to attend the in-person program in Santa Fe in April 2013.
Since then, Lauren has been able to fully embrace the limbic system rehabilitation exercises and has made great progress. Both Lauren and her parents can hardly grasp the changes that have taken place in such a short amount of time. Lauren is now roller blading, has been to baseball games, out for dinner, gone to movies and concerts, recently started to drive again and is now working out with weights! Just last week Lauren turned 23 and said, “this year is going to be the best one yet!”
Thanks to neuroplasticity and rewiring her limbic system, Lauren, her parents and friends and family can stop worrying and Lauren can finally move forward in her life.
It’s hard to believe these kinds of monumental changes, however rewiring the brain is a different paradigm. Sometimes the changes happen gradually and sometimes they happen remarkably fast, and when this happens, it truly seems like a miracle. From a wheelchair to roller blading in just over one month! Indeed, this is the miracle of the healing brain.
If you would like to start your own recovery process this summer, please join us in Vancouver Island at the Ocean Resort from August 11 – 15.
Annie Hopper is a Limbic System Rehab Specialist and can be reached at www.dnrsystem.com
Read more Emotional Rescue articles
- Is it real or is it the placebo effect? Jun 2
- Trauma can lead to chronic illness May 5
- Dream home morphs into nightmare Apr 21
- The brain is vulnerable to trauma Apr 7
- What happened to the old me? Mar 24
- Emotional transparency - a powerful gift Mar 10
- Train the brain to transform health Feb 17
- Finding the silver lining Jan 13
- Over-activated threat mechanism Nov 23
- What I have learned from my dog Nov 18
- Ease suffering on a global level Nov 4
- Negative emotional addictions Oct 7
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