Crazy enough, my guest on this episode — Dr. Jennifer Love — and her co-author Dr. Kjell Hovik were in the process of writing their book, When Crisis Strikes, BEFORE the Pandemic hit.
In December of 2020, their book was released, providing a practical blueprint for getting through crisis — whatever the crisis is. Obviously, 2020 to the present is STILL somewhat of a crisis, but this book is applicable for anyone, no matter what you’re going through.
The expertise, science, and practicality Dr. Love shares in this first part of a two-part interview is enough to give anyone hope and tools for getting through tough times.
This Week’s Guest
Dr. Jennifer Love is board-certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine, and is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Addiction Medicine.
She attended medical school at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, and completed her internship, residency and subspecialty fellowship training at the University of Hawaii. She served as chief resident and as clinical faculty at the University of Hawaii Department of Psychiatry before returning to California where she is currently in group practice. Dr. Love is an award-winning researcher and international speaker, has appeared as a medical expert on The Dr. Phil Show and The Doctors, and has been interviewed for documentaries (including the Broken Brain series by Dr. Mark Hyman), podcasts and vlogs. She is currently developing her own documentary series on women, as well as an educational documentary on suicide prevention.
Dr. Love’s work focuses on restoring life balance, brain and body health, and helping her patients improve their functionality and satisfaction in life. She utilizes a wide range of interventions beyond medication, including nutraceuticals, exercise, yoga, various types of psychotherapy, and sleep/relaxation training. Her specialties include: mood disorders, substance-use disorders, anxiety disorders, anger and irritability, behavioral addictions, co-occurring pain and opioid dependence.
- Follow Dr. Love on Instagram
- FREE Training: How to Hack Your Nervous System with Cold Plunges
- Follow me on Instagram
- Dr. Love’s new book When Crisis Strikes: 5 Steps to Heal Your Brain & Body from Chronic Stress
- discuss why psychiatric medication is a last resort for Dr. Love and her patients, even though she is a psychiatrist
- talk about the necessity of seeking psychiatric help from a psychiatrist and not your primary care provider
- discuss Lindsey’s journey with benzodiazepenes, tolerance, withdrawal, and benzo tapering
- validate the necessity of treating patients as unique individuals with unique needs instead of generalized treatment
- list and briefly explain the 5 steps to healing from chronic stress
- explain the survival state from the point of view of the brain and how our body’s survival response hasn’t changed in tens of thousands of years
- explain the cascade of events — from adrenaline spikes to drops in blood glucose and more — when a stressful moment or situation becomes chronic
Hello. Hello. And welcome back to the show. Thank you so much for being here today. I don’t really have a lot of introductory things to say. Um, so we’re just going to jump right into this episode. But before we do that, I want to let you know that I have a free training available for you. The training is called how to hack your nervous system with cold plunges and.
In the training. I teach you not only how to do a cold plunge, but also why and what the spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental benefits are. From doing cold plunges, um, and also some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up in my two summers of doing cold plunges that you can use to quickly hack into your nervous system and create more resiliency and flexibility.
And y’all, I’m telling you, I know it almost sounds too simple to be true or too good to be true. But cold punches are one of my top three nervous system healing tools. I recommend them to all of my clients. If you are ever working with me as your coach, you will be told to do cold plunges because I.
Believe in them so much because I have seen their power at work in my own life. So if you want to grab this free training, it’s at Lindsay locket.com forward slash cold plunge. I will have it linked below, just tap on it, put your email in, and I will send you a free training on how to hack your nervous system with Coldplay.
I have Dr. Jennifer Love on the podcast today. Dr. Jennifer Love is the coauthor of when crisis strikes a book that she released in December of 2020. Dr. Love is a board certified psychiatrist in addiction, psychiatry, and addiction medicine, and is a diplomat of the American board of psychiatry and neurology and the American board of addiction medicine.
She attended medical school at Loma Linda university school of medicine and completed her internship residency, and sub-specialty fellowship training at the university of Hawaii. Dr. Love has served as a chief resident and as clinical faculty at the university of Hawaii department of psychiatry before returning to California, where is she where she is currently in group practice.
Dr. Love is an award-winning researcher and international speaker, and has appeared as a medical expert on the Dr. Phil show and the doctors and has been interviewed for documentaries, including Dr. Mark Hyman’s broken brain series, as well as various podcasts and blogs. She is currently developing her own documentary series on women, as well as an educational documentary on suicide prevention.
Dr. Love’s work focuses on restoring life balance brain and body health while helping her patients improve their functionality and satisfaction in life. She utilizes a wide range of interventions beyond medication, including nutraceuticals, exercise, yoga, various types of psychotherapy and sleep and relaxation training.
Her specialties include mood disorders, substance use disorders, anxiety disorders, anger and irritability. Behavioral addictions, co-occurring pain and opioid dependence. Hello, Dr. Jennifer Love. Welcome to the holistic trauma healing podcast. Thank you. I’m happy to be here. That’s quite a rap sheet you’ve got there.
You might be like the most credentialed person I’ve ever had on the show. I was pretty anal growing up. So it was like, you dig into medicine and then you just keep digging and just keep digging. And, it was just like hard to stop my brain.
I wanted to do a fourth specialty and everyone in my life was like, stop. Yeah. Over overachiever much.
Yes. I am one of those people as well, healthy, which is why I’m joking. No, yeah. We’re not claiming that our trauma responses are healthy by any means. Okay. Let’s dive in. I was going to ask you like what you do in your practice, but I feel like everything I read basically says what you do.
Is there anything else you want to add to that? I think that was pretty comprehensive. I basically see myself almost an archeologist. Someone comes in with something and there’s, you’re taught in medical school to look at the symptoms, to treat the symptoms and manage whatever thing is going on.
And sometimes you can find the root and sometimes you can’t and psychiatry has been really stuck in this. Let me just listen to you and then give you a medication and then you’re out the door and there is so much. Going on between the brain and the body when we stop and think about psychiatry is the practice of medicine for the brain and how the brain is the command central for all of our hormones and our whole body for metabolism, for everything we think and feel and the nerves that run back and forth like the Vegas nerve that does our fight or flight or the rest digest, all of that is regulated in the brain.
And so when people come in, I look at the symptoms and say, okay, what are the fires we have to put out today, but we need to dig a little bit and figure out what’s underneath that and try to get it through root cause or contributing factors. So it’s a really holistic approach. For me, medication is the last resort.
Many of my patients need them. They feel treatment with five or more psychiatrists and therapists, but sometimes it’s a matter of just listening finding the. Type of therapy for the patient, like just sitting and talking to super interesting, but you have to actually get something out of it.
So someone isn’t getting something out of it, we need to change up what we’re doing. So I like to look at everything like head to toe. So I probably ordered more labs than any psychiatrist. Insurance companies probably hate me, but I think it gives us a really good idea of how to heal because when we have anxiety, there are so many physical symptoms of that.
And we sometimes don’t even recognize that. And so we go from doctor to doctor, who’s treating our menstrual cramps to our sore back and all these other things and no one ever ties it together. Yeah. Oh my gosh. Totally. So backup, you said that you ordered more labs than any other psychiatrist. I adore and love my psychiatrist and he has never ordered labs for me.
Can you just elaborate on that? So 10% of people who go to the doctor for depression, don’t have depression. They have a thyroid disorder, 10%, one in 10. And when we look at how over prescribed antidepressants are, especially in primary care, psychiatrists are just as guilty. We are missing. I had a patient come to me.
She was addicted to Xanax and her anxiety was through the roof and she happened to be. Hyperthyroid. So her thyroid was overacting. She had seen her general practitioner and instead of running thyroid tests said, oh, you have panic disorder, take the sandbox. And I’ll tell you all the Xanax in the world, isn’t going to treat an overactive thyroid.
So we had to get her in. I diagnosed her, sent her to an endocrinologist and then eventually had to then get her off the Xanax that she was stuck on. So it is always important to look and dig. We have the big things like that. And then there are little littler things that can. Low vitamin D level. We think the higher, the vitamin D the better the mood, the stronger the immune system.
So it’s important to look at all markers of inflammation ferritin, someone that is exhausted and depressed. Do they have an iron deficiency, anemia? Are they B12 deficient? Do they have some dietary habits where they’re not getting all the nutrients they need? So it’s really worth working at all.
Oh, my gosh. I love how comprehensive and holistic that is. Wow. It’s like it’s mind blowing to me. Your patients are very lucky to have a psychiatrist who considers all of these different things. Because as I said, my psychiatrist is amazing. I love him to pieces. I feel so blessed to have a doctor like him.
He listens to me. He allows me to try things that are outside of the box. And I shared more about that in episode five of the podcast. The episode is called how I used psychiatric medications as a tool in my trauma healing toolbox. And I’ve actually had a lot of people on Instagram.
Ask me about medication because there is. This like stigma against psychiatric medications and then of course there’s what you just described, which is, doctors are so happy to write prescriptions for benzos and Sri’s and that doesn’t necessarily get to the root cause of what’s going on.
And in my own personal experience I was in the darkest place of my life, just having constant panic attacks. I was having a lot of pelvic pain. I’d had the symptoms of a UTI for four months, but I wasn’t ever able to be diagnosed with a UTI because my urine would never culture bacteria.
I just had all this stuff going on and then I started not sleeping and the insomnia got worse and worse. And I knew that I had to start at my general practitioner’s office. And so I did. And. I was so frustrated because I went in and the first thing they gave me to fill out was like a sheet of paper where I had to rate.
My symptoms of like depression on a scale of one to 10, or like zero to two, and then add them up. And then however high, my score was like, that was how depressed I was. And I insisted to the nurse. I was like, I am not depressed. I am having panic attacks and insomnia. I am not. I’m not slow. I’m not sluggish.
I’m not tired. I’m not depressed. And this is standard. We have to ask everyone to fill this out. So I fill it out and sure enough, like my score is like two for the whole thing, so it was like, clearly I was not depressed. And I get back in the office with the doctor and she’s just I’d like to prescribe an SSRI for you.
And thankfully I had some DNA testing done a couple of years before, and I have multiple cytochrome, P four 50 mutations, particularly at the CYP two D six pathway. And so I was able to tell my general practitioner, you can’t prescribe an SSRI for me. My body doesn’t process it. I’m a fast metabolizer at CYP, two D six.
My body will metabolize this drug before it has a therapeutic effect. And of course she’s like, how the fuck do you know this? Of course she didn’t say that. But and so I was like, because I know my body because I’ve been paying attention to my body and asking questions for a very long time.
And I was like, I just need something for anxiety. I need to sleep. And she prescribed me a 15 half milligram out of vans and was like, I will not prescribe you anymore. Do not come back and ask me for any more. And here’s a referral to the psychiatrist. Which was eight months away. And somehow I was supposed to make 15 out of vans last for eight months and it was awful.
And so then I, now I had these anti-anxiety medications and I wouldn’t take them because I was afraid I was going to run out, and so it was really awful story short. I ended up actually attempting suicide in March of 2019. And I checked myself into inpatient mental health treatment and got on a cocktail of medications.
Met my current psychiatrist, had a really great relationship with him. And in the last two years, I’ve been able to get off of all of the medications and I’ve really gotten to the root of trauma and realizing how disconnected I’d been from my body for so long. And and all of that. I’m really grateful to psychiatry, but as I said in the episode five, and I’ll say it again here I personally feel like the worst thing a person can do is go to their general practitioner for psychiatric strict medications.
Like I am such a huge fan of seeing a psychiatrist because I feel like my psychiatrist knew of so many more options than what my general practitioner knew of. And for example, I can’t process SSRI cries. And marks off a lot of different medications that I can’t, that I can’t take, but what my psychiatrist was able to tell me about was a tricyclic antidepressant called Mirtazepine.
And I took that and it’s not processed on CYP two D six. And so my body was able to process it and it had a therapeutic effect and it was amazing for me, but the GP wanted to prescribe me Trintellix, which was like this fancy new SSRI that had just come on the market. And it was like $300 a month. And, like it was just so ridiculous.
So I guess I’m saying all of this to just like validate people who are listening, like it’s okay to take medication, but please go to someone who’s like really qualified to be prescribing this medication, not your general practitioner and four years after medical school, specializing in psychiatry. And then my addiction training is beyond that.
So it’s really, everyone graduates from medical school at the same knowledge, the general practitioner will do a three-year residency. They’ve got to know everything, right? Whatever walks in the door, they have to triage and treat. And I spent four years in psychiatry, neurology. And so there is definitely going to be a difference.
It’s do you want to see a dermatologist, for a skin lesion or do you want to see your primary care? No primary care is decent. But I want to get into the dermatologist. So I think when you’re thinking about your brain and your brain health and how it affects every aspect of your life and even has a ripple effect into the lives of the people around you I think it’s really important to seek the right person and you have to have a good connection with that person and be on the same page.
And then you can get the good work done. Yeah. Yeah, man, I couldn’t agree more. Okay. And this wasn’t part of what we were going to talk about, but you brought it up earlier. I haven’t had a chance really to talk about this on the podcast yet, and this feels like a good opportunity to just have a little bit of a little detour into that.
You mentioned this woman had come to you and she was hooked on Xanax. And so I’m curious and your experience with your patients in psychiatry. What methods are you using to help people get off of benzos? Because I ask that because I, on my own, when I was ready to stop taking a clonazepam was what I was given in the hospital.
And I continued to take that for several months after I got out. And when I was ready to get off of taking clonazepam I started doing a lot of research and I discovered the Ashton method and I walked myself through doing a water taper of clonazepam. So it was a very micro taper. It took me four months to get off one milligram of clonazepam.
And even that, in terms of like how fast people are able to go, four months was actually pretty fast. And I know that if I had stuck with my general practitioner it would have been one of those things like drop, drop it by a quarter every week until you’re done and you should be off of it in a month.
And I know that if that had happened to me, like the rebound symptoms of everything would have been yeah, So crazy because even going as slow as I went, I still felt withdrawal symptoms. And I still felt like ringing in my ears and extra anxiety and even like weird pains in my body. Like for three months straight, I would wake up every morning and my knees and ankles hurt so bad.
And I had no idea why. And it was like, after I’d been off the clonazepam for a few months, the pain went away and there was never any other connection. So all I can imagine was that it was a withdrawal symptom that I was going through. And in the last two years, I’ve actually done two benzo tapers and I’ve done the clonazepam taper.
And then in 2020, I did a massive ham taper. And they’re hard and they’re intense. And so I’m wondering what your experiences with helping your patients taper off of benzodiazepines and I’m sure you’re familiar with the Ashton methods. Yeah. So there are some generalized approaches.
That we use. But which approach I use is patient dependent, how much they’re on, which meant they’re on how long they’ve been on it, and then how their bodies respond as we start to lower. So there’s not one philosophy that fits every patient. I think the most common method is to prescribe a medication that also binds to the GABAA receptor, which is where all the benzodiazepines bind.
They mood stabilizers or anticonvulsant. So something like Gabapentin that binds the blinds. So the studies show medications in that category, help people be able to taper down off the benzodiazepine easier. And then when that’s continued for maybe six months after there’s a much lower rate of relapse for people who have like full addictions, not just wanting to get off.
So using that, let’s say we taper someone of the course of four to six months and then continuing the mood stabilizer for another six months. And then gradually coming off of that is probably one of the more common. Ways that I do it because it’s best tolerated. I have had patients, usually the patients who do the Ashton method are the ones who like really have failed every medical attempt, where they don’t have someone to do it with them.
Cause that’s the main thing that’s online having her time getting up and say, let’s try this. And it’s really hard to do. And the way that I do it with majority of my patients, and since I specialize in addiction, medicine and addiction, psychiatry the P many of the patients I see are actually dictated, not physiologically, but also like mentally.
And so they need the category. Diagnosis is substance use disorder. So there’s a lot for us to work on in there. They’re the hardest patients to get off because then we also have to treat the anxiety. So the method I just read works for a majority of my patients. But again, you can’t just take you, can’t just say this is how I do it.
This is how it’s done, because when you look at the bell-shaped curve and most people are under the curve, but there’s always going to be these outliers. And so I think that’s the one thing. Over the years. It’s one of the things that I’ve learned. So I’ve stopped trusting pharmacy. I don’t know if I ever trusted from soup will companies that have started ignoring them.
And I’ve learned that not all patients are going to fit into what we learned in medical school. And sometimes we really have to be flexible and work with our patients and think outside of the box, because there’s no way that we can understand and know everything about every patient all the time.
Yeah, totally. Thank you. I know that was just a little bit of a rabbit trail that we went down, but I appreciate you for going with me. So let’s come back to what we really wanted to talk about today. I want to talk about your new book. You coauthored. Yeah. You coauthored this book with I am going to totally butcher their names tuna.
I would not have said that shell. Okay. That’s the easiest way to do it. I think for the first several months I knew him. I say, can I just call you Dr. Helmick? And he’s no. So it was the only part of his name I could pronounce. Yeah. Okay. I’m glad you clarified that. So your new book with Dr.
Novick is called when crisis strikes five steps to heal your brain, body, and life from chronic stress. I want to read the description here that your team sent over. It’s a fascinating, engaging, often funny foray into the science of stress from yours and his two expert viewpoints, the physical and the psychological based on their work with thousands of patients who have undergone trauma and loss, they have created a proven five-step model to manage chronic stress, which by definition is the sense of living a life out of control.
So tell us about the book and how you and Dr. Hawick created this five step process. When we decided to write a book together, We had no idea that we would be making a new model. It’s really when we sat down to figure out well with all the tools in our toolbox. The whole purpose of writing a book is to make what we know accessible for people who don’t have access to us.
So we thought, how are we going to take our different backgrounds and levels of education? Me as a physician and a psychiatrist, he’s a clinical nurse clinical neuropsychologist. So he’s a PhD and has a different background. And so we have all these tools. So how are we going to organize them? Which ones are we going to use and how do we make it accessible, but not too simple that it doesn’t work and not too complicated that people never get past step two.
So there are a lot of, self-help that’s the old term personal growth is the new term. And there are a lot of personal growth books out there that are workbooks. And my patients come to me because they’ve been stuck on chapter three for five months. They just put the book away because they couldn’t get past it.
So we were really trying to find a balance. And in that over a long period of time, we actually just created this new model. And we came up with five steps simply because, there’s nothing magic about it, but she was thinking about it one day and he’s. Favorite philosopher. Emmanuel Kant said that the hand is the extension of the brain and has this whole like, theory about that.
And shell is very philosophical and, say he has this massive curly hair. And I always tell him his ideas are as ever directional and numerous as his hair on top of his bed. Like they just go in every direction and we reign him in, but there’s a brilliance behind that. And so we looked at the hand and we started researching all the fingers in what they do.
And I’m like, this is actually pretty brilliant. It goes there’s an order to this. That makes sense. And so that’s how we over many months we had this huge red on wipe off board. We did trips to visit each other in Norway in California. And I set up a huge red on wipe off board in my library.
And we spent all day every day for weeks. Putting ideas up there, figuring out how to do this. And then, he went back and we’d work on it. And it was just the months and months of just really trying to, once we even formatted it, like, how are we going to communicate this? So it was challenging for us that I think really helped us get into the heart of what we do with our patients.
Subconsciously we just go through these steps. We never really thought of the missteps before. So it was really helpful for us because what people don’t know is when you write a book, it takes a couple of years when you’re not so publishing when you’re using a publisher. And so we turned in our manuscript in January of 2020.
We wrote this book pre COVID and we were just about to start the editing process and our publishing houses in New York. And so COVID hit and they’re all at home it’s it was a crazy scramble, but we were started using, we found ourselves using the five steps. We weren’t allowed to talk about it because it’s, it was owned by the publishing company.
We were using them ourselves. So in the book, we actually wrote a postscript. That’s our COVID diaries explaining, and this was pretty early, maybe two, three months into the pandemic, how we were using the steps at that time. Because it was just something that once we got it in our heads really made sense.
Wow. And of course you released the book in December of 20 end of December of 2020. So for the majority of the pandemic, people weren’t able to benefit from the knowledge in the book, but now it’s out and they can benefit from it. My curiosity is really peaked. Are you able to share any of the five steps from your book with us, you love to and I’d love to talk about who can benefit from them because we wrote this book, 2020 is its own monster.
We wrote this for chronic life stressors and when those pile up, so as we age our parents age, which comes with a lot of issues as we age and have children, you may have difficulties with a child or a child with special needs. We have friends who have cancer or loved ones who gets. People may have bankruptcy and these things can pile on top of each other, contentious divorces and custody battles and health problems.
And so we wrote the book for people go through everyday life. And oftentimes these stressors that don’t go away quickly compile on top of each other. And the pandemic is really the context of last year was crazy. So people didn’t stop having to do their cancer treatments and COVID, they didn’t stop. But they may have had to stop the process of divorce, but he didn’t stop the process of going through being in the middle of a divorce or having a parent who’s struggling.
It, it just made all that more complicated. So the first step is the thumb of the hands and we call it, get a grip and it’s really an issue. Getting a full understanding, not only what the problem is, but its relevance to you. And it involves several parts. As you go through the book like first you can’t be escaping, what’s the first thing everyone did in the pandemic.
They started drinking. It was all over social media, all the jokes. But if you go through a crisis and you dive into work or you dive into video games or pornography or alcohol or pot or whatever it is, you’re zoning out. And you’re not actually assessing all the levels because a crisis like a breakup.
Isn’t just about that breakup. It’s the context in which it’s happening. And then digging deeper. What is the meaning of that to me personally? So we have to excavate in layers. And so in the chapter about step one walk our readers through that process of how do you one motivate to stop the escape mechanisms cause you just wanna escape forever.
And how do you find that motivation to really dig down and how do you dig down and find out, oh, how I’m responding with this? Actually, it’s very similar to how I responded when my parents divorced when I was a kid or whatever that is. So it’s making those ties because you and I can go through the same traumatic event, but have completely different responses because we are responding.
We see everything through the lens of our past experiences. And and that’s what people on the outside can’t see. And that’s when you know, I have patients who tell me once said to me, my ex thinks I’m a monster. They were in the middle of the divorce. He doesn’t tell me I’m acting crazy. He says, I am crazy.
And she hasn’t crazy. She’s wounded. He can’t see the wounds. So anyway, I told you I was going to go on and on for hours today about the steps and love them. But that’s step one, getting a grip is getting that full understanding. Love it. Keep going. What’s step two. Okay. Step two, the pointer finger, and it’s pinpoint what you can control.
So when we are in crisis, our brains alarm systems go off and there’s a whole chapter in the book called the science of stress, which is like the basics, anyone can understand this chapter, like broken down. So you understand what chemicals are being released in chronic stress and what physical symptoms are coming and why.
And we can get into that later if you’d like to. But when we look at what we can control, because our brains are wired to focus on the danger, fight or flight, you don’t take your eyes off the bear. We can never think about, oh what do I have control over here? Should I have steel-toed boots for kicking or trainers on for running from the bear?
Like your brain doesn’t work that way. It’s survival. So we’d first have people list out. Okay. What can’t I control? Cause that’s what’s on our mind. I have no control over any of this. And we listed all out. Then we look at, okay, what are the things we can’t control? And we have to teach people how to look for those things because their brains are going to be stuck on everything that’s out of their control.
And that gives us that sense of helplessness. And so step two is challenging that sense of helplessness to a duel. And so we look at what can we control? And then the final question is what can we do about the things we can’t control? So in step two, we are not creating a really long to do list. It’s about brainstorming.
It’s about teaching our brain auctions so that my optic view on the bear can widen a little bit and we can see all the different options we have for action. So that’s step two. Okay. I’m just thinking about, the way the brain works. So when we’re presented with the bear in the woods, our prefrontal cortex goes offline.
We’re not making analytical necessarily rational decisions in that moment. It’s just about survival. And of course, most of us aren’t encountering bears in the woods on a daily basis, but a lot of us do live with chronic stress as you were talking about earlier. And so our systems are in that, looking for the bear all the time state, even though there’s not a bear there.
So how does it work when. Because I know what it feels like to be completely out of control. That’s what landed me in the hospital to begin with was I was so completely out of control in my mental health crisis that I wasn’t even able to see what I could control anymore. So how do you help people who really are feeling just very out of control and dysregulated to come back to a place where they have to use the analytical part of their brain to figure out what I can control and what I can’t control.
So first I would just want to say, I love like your vulnerability and the courage that it takes to talk about your story. Cause I think so many people who probably are listening to this podcast or others feel a big fear around that. And so I just want to just my heart is so with you right now, because I love, how real you are being, because I think that really does help other people.
And you’re right. So the survival mechanisms we had when we were humans who lived in caves never changed. They didn’t evolve just because we moved into cities and now suburbs, right? So we don’t have, most of us don’t have the bears. But the same system is in place. And so it goes off and you get the same cascade of hormones.
They released the cortisol and everything from the adrenal glands, the epinephrine, the adrenaline, the fight or flight, except there’s usually nothing to fight. And so your body is prepped. The muscles are prepped, but you’re in a conference room or any traffic jam. And so what happens is one of the symptoms of chronic stress is muscle pain, intention, and Titans, because those muscles get built with all that energy and then we’re not using them.
And then we start craving sugar cause the blood glucose falls and we start gaining weight around the middle section. I call the Panda bear syndrome. Cortisol, can’t keep up with the constant, we are built for one bear, one do or die mode. And if we survive that the system has to rest and recuperate, before we run into the next bear with chronic stress, we don’t necessarily have that separation.
So the adrenals keep pumping these chemicals. And after a while, it’s okay, brain, we can’t keep up with all these messages you’re sending us. And so everything gets off. So if someone starts peaking their cortisol levels at the wrong time late at night, they may have insomnia or if it happens during sleep, they may, all their blood glucose goes into their tissues and they get hypoglycemic and they can wake up in the middle of the night in a panic attack and sweating because they’re really have low glucose.
So a lot of those symptoms come from the fact that we aren’t responding to threats the way our brains were intended for survival. Got it. So another quick little rabbit trail here I have always wanted to know what happened in my body with my hormones whenever I was going through these months of just intense stress and chronic physical pain and anxiety and panic attacks and insomnia.
Because I started losing weight very rapidly. And like earlier this all started in 2018. So early in 2018, I had started doing more intuitive eating. And I noticed that my weight started to just very gradually fall on its own. And I’m like, oh cool. This is awesome. I feel incredible. And then the fall of 2018 hit.
And that’s when I got sick and had the symptoms of a urinary tract infection and the longer it went on and the longer the panic attacks went on and the longer the insomnia went on The more, I lost weight even faster. And I know about cortisol being a weight gain hormone. So for me, it’s I had to have had like skyrocketing levels of cortisol to be in this constant, like whirlwind of a state, like literally pacing the floor, wringing my hands, not able to enough.
Oh my gosh. Like the Netherlands. So leaking until you get out of that panic mode, when you’re in the panic mode, your metabolism is rushing. Like things are going. And when I had a big I had a really big trigger when I divorced 10 years ago and I lost so much weight. I was like bones and I was eating.
Everything. I could get my hands on me too. I was so hungry. I was so hungry. I was eating like six, seven times a day. I had snacks in my fridge and on my nightstand at all times, like I would wake up in the middle of the night hungry. I wasn’t sleeping, but I would, I was hungry all the time and it was like, the more I ate, the faster I lost weight.
And I literally felt by the time I checked myself into the hospital I had gone from weighing like 160 pounds, four months earlier to 125 pounds a day. I checked myself into the hospital. Like I felt like I was shriveling up and dying and I was so concerned. About myself. And I remember crying to my husband and just being like, I wanted to lose weight, but not like this.
And I would take all the weight back and then some to go back to feeling good, again, like it was. And thankfully I have gained it all back. I’m back to 160 pounds again, okay. I’ve never understood what happened in my body because I always thought cortisol was the weight gain hormone. And the more cortisol you had, the more you gain weight.
So it never made sense, but cortisol, isn’t the only hormone that’s released by the adrenals. And so it’s really a balance. And this is why we talk about adrenals, adrenal fatigue, and adrenal is getting worn out, but that’s not actually medical diagnosis. We have a medical diagnosis for super overactive adrenals and for completely non-active adrenals and there’s nothing in between, right?
Because there isn’t a clear cut center. So some people do gain weight. Some people lose weight. Some people sleep too much and are fatigued. Some people don’t sleep at all. And so we have to look at, and so I have another chapter in the book toward the end called from pain to saying, so you look at the symptoms you have.
I tackled the five biggest symptoms cause this isn’t really a book about adrenal. Correct. But I tackle the five most common symptoms and what to do about those symptoms. But that’s why it’s technically not a medical definition. If you go to primary care and say, I think I have adrenal fatigue, they’re gonna roll their eyes at you.
Or at least inside their head, they’re going to roll their eyes because they don’t know how to listen to what you’re actually telling them with those. That I’m super stressed out that I have these symptoms that we have to do something about. They just go, oh, that’s a nothing thing. It’s on your head.
Yeah. It’s in your head and it’s in your adrenals. Your meals are controlled by your brain and your brain is in your head. Fine, fine. Fat broke in your brain. That’s also all in your head. Yeah. Fun fact. I’ve never shared this on the podcast before, but before I had the phrase, holistic trauma healing w what I was going to call the podcast was it’s all in your head, because, and then I was like, oh, I’m really glad that I got holistic trauma healing instead of that, because a lot of people would have been very offended but it doesn’t mean you’re making it up.
It literally means like your brain is controlling all of these things. It really is in your head. Yes. Yes. It controls everything amazing. So what is the third step? The middle finger. Yeah. Oh, it’s exactly what you think it is. It’s wait, say that again. You’re push into motion. Okay. So it’s the finger of action, right?
It’s giving your crisis and middle finger, it’s saying, fuck you to cancer. It’s finding the fire in your belly to get started on some of the things that you identified in step two, that you have control over. And so step three is a lot about motivation because we procrastinate. We put things in boxes in our brains, file them away, so we don’t have to deal with them.
And so we really need help. Many of us with motivation to get started on these. So that is, it’s finding the fire in your belly to do these things and to get going. So we have people divide up tasks and easier tasks and tougher tasks, and we have all these kinds of motivational tools in there to help people get going on the things that they need to do.
So that’s I always say that there are times in life where those who are very strong and extroverted and powerful, the doers need to be quiet and soft. And there are times when those of us who are quiet and soft need to be loud and straight. And all of this is balanced out in the steps and steps three.
That time of action is that time to put your big girl panties on and get to it. So that’s the step three is I sit here and flip you off? No, I can see. Thank you. Thank you. Oh my goodness. I did an interview with Lynn Smith, who does CNN headline news. And I was talking to her about it and I literally flipped her off.
While I was talking about it, I’m like, oh my gosh, I just flipped you off. And she was just dying with laughter and it was really an embarrassing moment for me. At least you didn’t flip off Dr. Phil, right? No, I didn’t do that. That was a couple of years ago. Oh, funny. Okay.
What’s the ring finger. Okay. So the ring finger is personal, right? It is. It’s exactly that it’s the finger where we wear rings, wedding rings, whatever. And this step is called pullback. It isn’t a finger, a string. We it’s a finger that this step is reflection. It’s meditation. It’s after you’ve started doing the action, it’s more contemplated.
And so it’s mindfulness, like how do I be in today and get through that. But then it’s really about who am I, what do I value in life? And you go through something like a divorce or a loss or a near death experience. Oftentimes when you get start feeling that sense of control, again, it’s really important to reevaluate who I am and who I want to be.
My life path took me over here. I thought I’d end up over here. So how do I go back to the little Jenny inside of me and figure out where I want to be now? And so there are a lot of different tools in the fourth step to help us figure out, I use a snorkel analogy, right? Which is really ridiculous, but I do it.
So if you’ve ever been snorkeling, your face down in the water and you’re watching like all these colorful fish and looking for sea stars and watching out for sharks, and it’s all exciting, but every once in awhile, you need to stop and look up and find where you are in relationship to the shore or to your boat or whatever.
You have to make sure you haven’t drifted it. And then you have to swim back sometimes to the place that safe or where you want to be. And then you can get back to snorkeling again. And so I see life like this every once in a while, we need to get away from the busy-ness of life, stop what we’re doing and look up and see if we’re in an area where we want to be.
If not, we need to figure out which area we want to be in, get over there. And then we can get back to the duties of living life. That’s basically step. Love it. So five step five is the pinky finger. And step five is called, hold on and let go. And it’s taking what we learned in step four and deciding moving forward, what will I hold on to?
What will I let go of? So if I’ve decided that I value peace in my life, then I have to let go of taking my ex to court again and again, I may have some unhealthy relationships that I need to let go of. I may have a grudge I need to let go on. I may need to consciously make a decision to hold onto my sense of humor or to hold onto a healthy house.
Of exercise or some lifestyle habit or a meditation or prayer ritual, it’s really figuring out. I think of it like a hot air balloon. If the goal is you want to fly away into something new, there are things you’re going to hold on to namely the basket or the ropes or whatever, but there’s things you have to let go of the weights.
The anchors, if you don’t let go of them, your balloon’s going to hover by the ground. You’re not going to be able to take off. So it’s figuring out what in my life is going to help me move forward from this crisis. And what can I lose in the process? These steps are. So beautiful. And a lot of ways, I feel like I’ve gone through many of them without even realizing that they were part of a proven five step plan to dealing with my shit.
It’s so interesting to think about it. They really do need to be done in order, right? Because if you jump into action, step three, before you have step one, a very good understanding of all what’s contributing to your crisis. And step two, an idea of what you can do. If you jump into action before, you’re going to be like the ball in a pinball machine, you will be all over the place and you’re not gonna really be accomplishing things that need to be accomplished.
So it’s really important to take these in the right order. So are you able to in working with your patients, are you able to. Share these five steps with them. Yes. Now I can, the book is out and I tell him to grab a copy and we’ll go through it together. Because I think it is very helpful.
They can do it on their own. They can bring it in and talk about the process of their what step they’re in and what it’s like for them. There are some people who may need to do the book with a therapist. Not everyone is in a place at the time. They pick up a book to really be able to absorb and take control.
It talks about this in step two, on the chapter on control. Some people have a really internalized feeling of control in their life. It’s what we call an internal locus of control. I’m in charge of my life is something that happens. I can fix it. And at the other end of the spectrum are people who are entirely externalized in countries.
So I have no control over anything. It’s God, or it’s a universe or it’s fate, it’s all predetermined, nothing. I do matters. And so it, and then there’s people who fall in between and have mixes of both of those kind of personality types. So people who are on the extreme of externalizing are going to find it probably more challenging to list all the things they can control, because they may just fundamentally feel like nothing’s in their control.
So oftentimes, and we even say in the book, if you fall under this side of the scale, you may need to do this book with a therapist who can help guide you through that. We’ve had people do it in groups. And I have some patients who are doing it with family members. And so it’s going to be interesting.
Dr. is doing a study in Norway, people doing it alone versus doing it with other people. And we have some examples in the book the whole second half of the book. Okay. So the five steps, that’s just the first half of the book. The second half is all stories because I love biographies, my whole bookshelf behind me.
It’s just all biographies. This is probably why I’m a psychiatrist. I love stories. And so we have more than a dozen stories on how people imply these steps. And so some of those we have as families or couples, you do it together. So you can really do it individually or with someone else. So there’s a lot of flexibility.
In the steps as well. I love that you shared that people are doing it in groups and in families, because I think that the idea of doing this in community is so healthy for community and it makes our community stronger. Whenever we all have this similar language around things, and I know I’ve experienced that with my own family and in my community in real life of we all have developed like learning how to talk about what we’re dealing with in terms of trauma responses and attachments.
And so it’s my disorganized attachment is telling me things right now that I know aren’t true. Or if I have a child who has a really strong freeze response. And so now that he understands what that is, I’m able to be like, Hey, it seems like you’re going into a freeze response. What can you do right now?
And how can I support you in that? And so it’s made communicating about it so much better, and it’s almost like we have. It’s not hidden, but it’s like this code between us, that we all understand what this means and it’s made our community better because we can have conversations about it in a way that I have never personally experienced community where I was able to talk about stuff like this in this open way with no judgment and no like weird social consequences to it.
So I love the idea of doing a book like this in community, or even for a book club or something like that. It just sounds really magical. Yeah. Oh I love to hear from people and their experiences, if they do have a book club or do it with family or a group, I would love to hear from them because shell studies are Norway.
And when we look culturally comparing, Americans to Norwegians, Norwegians are more introverted. Isn’t really the right word, but comparatively speaking, their emotional range in public is a little. Tighter than Americans. And so I think people doing group work in America is going to be different than people doing group work in Norway or.
Sweden or other places in Scandinavia because of the cultural traits of sharing versus not sharing really private things. So anyway, if anyone does that find me on Instagram and let me know how it goes. So I’d love to hear. Oh, amazing. What is your Instagram? It is Dr. Author. Jennifer Love was underscores in between the words.
Amazing. We’ll have that linked in the show notes for sure. 📍 did you enjoy the show? I’d really appreciate it. If you took a few moments to rate the podcast,
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