What Real Health Means to Me
Author: Erin Manning, MBA
After reading the “What Real Health Means to Me” column for the past year and a half it’s apparent – the meaning of Real Health is different for each person. I’ve also learned that meaning will change as we progress through different stages of life – and health! For me, I’m in a season of life that I am focusing on empowering myself through knowledge and intentional choices to ensure continued health as I move into my forties and beyond.
Last July I turned 40 and I vowed to make this decade healthier than my last. For me, this really is happening in three parts, and all aided by the resources and providers at the Riordan Clinic.
- Resolving nutrient deficiencies, which led to chronic anxiety, depression and even a bipolar disorder.
- Management of auto-immune diseases and symptoms, specifically rheumatoid arthritis.
- Weight loss for preventative health (see pics below!)
When I was in college in my early twenties I was struggling to adjust to moving away from home and a doctor put me on medication for depression. Shortly thereafter I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. A few years later I was diagnosed as bi-polar. I spent years taking prescription medications to help manage the symptoms of these and it truly helped. I have nothing bad to say about any of those medications because they helped the best they could. But they weren’t designed to actually FIX the problem, just lessen the symptoms. And so I continued to struggle. I had days where I was fairly consistent and even-tempered. Then I had days where I fought to just go to work or get out of bed. I had many nights where I would scratch at my skin, clawing at my arms and face thinking that if I could just break open enough the anxiety that was coursing through me could escape and I could get a little relief. It was a hard time and I was unable to control these irrational and aggressive mood swings. My family never knew what mom or wife they were going to get that day. I persisted and kept working with doctors to adjust meds and get counseling.
In 2013 I started working at the Riordan Clinic and was able to participate in my first lab panel through the Bio-Center Laboratory. It showed several significant deficiencies. So, because data doesn’t lie, I started supplementing these vitamins and minerals based on one of the provider’s recommendations. Very quickly I felt different. Calmer, more even-tempered. That was in October. I filled my prescriptions for Zoloft and Xanax in November as well as continued with the vitamin regimen Dr. Jennifer had given me. By the end of that month, I saw such a remarkable difference that I dared to not refill my script but continue with the nutrients and eating changes. I have not refilled those medications since then. For five years I haven’t taken an anti-depressant or any prescription medication like it!
It is overwhelming, even to me, the difference in my life. I’ve discovered that the key nutrient that was causing so much trouble and heartache was vitamin D. As I’ve worked to bring my levels into the normal range I have eliminated my disorders. We found the root cause and by fixing it, we got rid of the disease. I am so incredibly thankful because I know so many people who are struggling to find hope and help with anxiety and depression. If that is you, please listen to me when I say that you don’t have to live this way. It might not be a vitamin D deficiency that is the solution for you but there is something that’s causing it. Find a doctor who will listen and fight alongside you. You are worth it! Life without mental health instability is worth it. I’m proof!
Unfortunately, two years ago I learned that I have RA. That’s a whole story in and of itself. But I wanted to share some things that I am doing, in conjunction with traditional medicine (and medication that is helping). What I eat is directly correlated to how I feel. Eliminating sugar (including those through carbs) has made a significant change. Sugar causes inflammation. Plain and simple. Once you are willing to commit to giving it up, you’ll see the difference through blood work, and for me, through decreased pain, stiffness and swelling in my joints (most noticeably my hands, wrists, and toes). Turmeric and Fish Oil have also been very important. I take a daily turmeric supplement that is dosed based on my blood work and Mike Shaw’s (PA-C) recommendations. I also use the turmeric gummies that we sell in the store to help with acute pain and before I’ll take an over-the-counter medication like Tylenol. Fish Oil is also helping balance out my blood tests for CRP (c-reactive protein, which is an indicator of inflammation) among other things. When I use these products, I hurt less. Plain and simple. Again, find a doctor who is open to more than just prescriptions and pain meds. Arthritis can be a cruel disease. Living in pain day-to-day is hard both physically as well as mentally. Being an active participant in my own health and treatment plan has allowed me to take less medications and live with less symptoms than I would have otherwise. I am fortunate to have found a great rheumatologist who supports me, as well as doctors here at the Riordan Clinic, who do the same.
With the help and guidance of our Lifestyle Rx Program, I have lost 6o lbs. in the last year. This is still a work in progress for me but I honestly never thought I would be able to do this. As my weight improves, so does my health. Both my arthritis and my mental health. A major change is that I am no longer angry at myself for letting myself get so overweight and for not being able to fix it. Just by starting the program and actively working on fixing it, I’ve let myself stop feeling guilty or frustrated. That change alone is worth every effort and every dollar. The improved health aspects, blood work, and day-to-day life changes are nice, too! If you feel like you just can’t do it on your own, I’ve been there. And you don’t have to. We can help!
Erin, January 2018 compared to April 2019