About two months ago, I began Gerson Therapy, a rigorous, holistic detoxification and nutritional therapy, for a severe and debilitating neurological disease. For those of you who unfamiliar with the therapy, it involves consuming 13 freshly pressed, organic fruit and vegetables juices daily, up to five coffee enemas per day, and a strict diet of mainly organic fruits, vegetables, oatmeal, apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of flax oil daily. (There is a yogurt sauce that I'll be replacing with spirulina to keep the diet vegan.)
I picked Gerson Therapy for several reasons: in over eight years, I exhausted all other options, my quality of life was quickly diminishing, bordering on bedbound, and I desired so strongly to move away from symptom management and toward addressing the root cause of a disease with no known cause, cure, or truly viable medical treatment. Symptom management was taking me absolutely nowhere. In fact, it progressed the disease process, at times, rather quickly. Facing a life of severe disability, my support system and I decided that something drastic had to be done.
Enter Gerson Therapy.
Recently, I was asked how I follow such a strict diet and healing regimen, knowing I'll have to stick to it for up to two years and, in some form, for the rest of my life once the acute phase of the treatment ceases.
Since this crazy, traumatic, beautiful, and painful phase of my life began approximately eight years ago, I have desired health and healing so profoundly, so desperately, that I've always been ready and willing to do whatever asked of me and with enthusiastic rigor. I WANT TO BE HEALTHY MORE THAN I WANT ANYTHING IN THIS LIFE.
Your health is your greatest wealth; it is the foundation all other aspects of life are built upon. If the foundation is weak, whatever built upon it is in danger of collapsing. Here are some of the ways I stay motivated; I hope they're helpful to you if you're struggling to make new lifestyle choices.
1. Consider the consequences of not doing it.
Desperation is a great motivator. I follow the regimen so strictly, not only because of what I will receive if I do, but because the consequences of NOT following it are dire: severe, debilitating, disabling pain and little to no quality of life. I’ve poured all of my hope and faith into, what I have deemed, “my last option,” which by all accounts, at this point in modern medicine, it is.
Over the last eight years, I have tried everything of any and all value that I am willing to subject myself to: nerve blocks, three surgeries, intravenous ketamine infusions, mental health therapy, spiritual counseling, physical therapy, opiate therapy, exercise therapy, anti-anxiety medications, chelation therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, anti-seizure medications, meditation, self-hypnosis, chakra therapy, Reiki, psychics, healing crystals, flower essences, bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, candida and parasite cleanses, thyroid and adrenal gland rebuilding, affirmations, Chinese herbs, aqua therapy, nutritional supplementation, juice fasts, reading every self-help book on the market (past and present), elimination diets and anything else your mind could possibly drum up. It’s time to get to the root of the problem, mental, emotional, spiritual and physical, no matter what sacrifices have to be made.
2. Think about what you are gaining and not what you are losing.
While many of the holistic options listed above did provide me with a better quality of life (and even, for a period of time, reversed many of my symptoms), I have come to a point where I have decided it is either heal or bust; get better or die trying. It's no longer about what I have to give up to participate in this treatment, it's about what I am not willing to lose and what I will gain in the process.
I've been a strict raw vegan since the beginning of 2008 (a way of life that did wonders for me), eschewing all animal products, processed foods, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, etc. Unfortunately, my system has been so severely compromised with large amounts of strong medications that would put down a large animal, and for way too many years, that a more serious and radical approach is necessary. My current diet isn’t so far off from the way I was eating prior to beginning the protocol. It is incredibly strict, but it’s not something I mind besides the occasional pining for raw chocolate and some raw cashew nuts, two of my favorite foods.
3. Focus on small successes and celebrate them.
Slow and steady wins the race. We’ve all heard that motto, but it's infinitely true when holistically treating a chronic illness. When progress is slow, it's sometimes difficult to realize that steps toward healing (or anything) have been made. You can’t look back at yesterday to see improvements; you have to look back at last week or last month. I am admittedly impatient, but this is truly the ultimate test; with 18 to 24 months of laborious days in all. All progress is good progress, no matter how small.
Focus on your small successes and celebrate them. They serve as mile markers, little beacons of light and hope, leading you further into the journey and holding you over, through whatever pity parties you might throw, until the next one is reached.