Be the Balm or Say Nothing

Today, I became very angry with someone I don’t even know. He had the misfortune of speaking negatively about Functional Medicine on a friend’s Facebook post. He said that Functional Medicine is a hoax and the only reason anyone gets better using alternative medicine of any kind is due to the placebo effect. I lost my cool. I wasn’t rude but I most definitely hijacked my friend’s post and tried to put him in his place. I was burned up and still simmer every time I think about it. After the incident, I stopped to reflect on why I was getting so angry. Here are a few of the reasons I have discovered while searching my wounded heart:

ONE: I so desperately wish people would look past what they know and at least be open to the idea of what they don’t know. How will we ever progress or learn anything new otherwise? I am so weary of doctors who try to put me in a diagnosis box and of people looking down on my illness as if I am weak. I never have, and likely never will, be anything but an exception to the ‘rule’. People are different. Individual. Otherwise, we’d all be robots and life would be boring. Sadly, in my experience, Conventional Medicine does not often embrace the God-given uniqueness of each human body.

My uniqueness should be celebrated, not stifled.  

No one should try to shove my sharp corners and jagged edges into a pretty little perfect box. All this accomplishes is bumps, bruises, and breaks in my body, mind, and soul. Just one example of how this practice of shoving me into a box has hurt my body is the fact that I have almost no good bacteria in my body anymore. I had a lab test to find this result, lest you think I pulled this finding out of my feeble mind (*sarcasm*). Thanks to repeated antibiotic use for illnesses for which I should never have been prescribed antibiotics, my body has no good bacteria to prevent dangerous and illness-producing overgrowths. I cannot tell you how many times I have wanted to ask about the oft-heard medical motto, “First, do no harm”. I am here to tell you, I have been harmed. I’m not saying all Conventional Medicine doctors do this, but most of the ones I have encountered have thrown treatment at me before finding a cause. Functional Medicine finds the cause before any treatment and that is what I appreciate about this practice. I will speak later about the breaks the skeptics have caused in my mind and soul.

TWO:  I want Functional Medicine to work for me. I feel that this is my last hope for physical healing. I didn’t realize before today how devastated I would be if this doesn’t work. Of course, I’ll still have my faith and many other blessings, but I won’t have physical healing and that is a difficult pill to swallow (ha!). Hence, the impassioned response to my opponent, who does not believe Functional Medicine can work at all.

The only reason I can think of for someone to be threatened by a new idea is because they are afraid of what it will do to his/her established ideas. I think people fear Functional Medicine because they are afraid people will start realizing that it works. And sorry/not sorry to be so blunt, but where is the money in that? If we don’t have sick people, they don’t spend money on medical treatments. I’m absolutely convinced that is why Functional Medicine is not covered by health insurance. The powers that be want sick people to stay sick and that, my friends, is a crime against humanity, and another blog post altogether.

THREE:  Most importantly, I am sick to death of people treating those who are chronically-ill as mental cases. My opponent argued that the only reason Functional Medicine works is due to the placebo effect. I guess he was ignoring the research and clinical studies that support the validity of Functional Medicine. Why is it so impossible to believe that something that WORKS is not all in our heads? It’s the same reason many people believe that the illness itself is in our heads. We know what we know and fear that new ideas might change our worldview. But let’s think about this. The placebo effect works when the patient believes a treatment will work, right? I’m here to tell you that if that were the case, the countless medical treatments I’ve had over the years should have made me invincible! I was so naive, so trusting, such a faithful patient, following all doctors’ orders. WHY AM I NOT THE HEALTHIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD?!

This subject clearly fires me up so if you’ve skipped all of my rage, come back for this section. Those who feel the need to put a person with a chronic illness in a diagnosis box or a mentally-unstable box have NO idea how damaging they are.

People with chronic illnesses should NEVER have to defend the fact that they have an illness, how debilitating that illness is, or the fact that a treatment’s success is not something they’ve made up in their minds.

Every single time someone (doctor, loved-one) has tried to put my experience in the mental box, I question everything I know about myself. I wrack my brain trying to figure out how something in my physical experience can be all in my head. I was a mentally-stable person with an extremely blessed life so I ask you, why? Why on God’s green Earth would my brain have conjured an illness? To the skeptics who believe only in logic, how is it logical to believe that a treatment’s success must be the placebo effect? Madness, I tell you! Madness! Before I finally received any of my diagnoses, I would nearly beg my doctors to believe me when they tried to put me on antidepressants. I told them, “My illness is not due to my mental state. My mental state is due to my illness and your disbelief about my illness!” It burned me up when they looked at me as some feeble-minded woman. Haven’t we progressed past that notion yet? Tell me, why is it so difficult to believe someone’s EXPERIENCE, even when it does not fit our preconceived notions?

So, here is what I want each of you to do when you encounter people with illnesses:

BELIEVE them. To believe them does not hurt you at all. But not believing hurts them immeasurably.

If you cannot believe them, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. You may not intend it to be so, but your input accomplishes nothing and actually causes harm. Imagine how it feels for a person with a chronic illness to hear that his/her illness, or healing experience, is not valid. We don’t tell a person with a broken arm that his/her arm isn’t broken, or that the fact that the surgery was a success is the placebo effect. I’m not sure I will ever understand how this is not common sense.

And lastly, if you do believe them, tell them so. Not necessarily by saying, “I believe you”, but that’s ok too. I mean, show them you believe them by learning about their illness along with them and from them, by offering your friendship, understanding, and even assistance if you are able. By doing so, you validate one of the most important aspects of the person’s life and you actually help soothe the mental distress that the skeptics have caused. Be the balm for our wounds, my dear friends. If you can do this, you have no idea how empowering you can be. So I say again,

BE THE BALM OR SAY NOTHING!

"Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people?" - Jeremiah 8:22 (NIV)
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Author: Karina Baker

Hello, my dear friends! Glad to see you here. Thank you for reading about my beautiful rubble – my struggles with life, faith, and autoimmunity. Feel free to share your stories in the comments. My love and prayers to all of you!

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