Living with an illness can affect anyone who is close to you!
Let me tell what I have learned about becoming and being sick and about getting well.
My understanding (and belief) is that most illnesses are developed as a result of our environment, viruses, germs, etc. But these same illnesses are exacerbated and / or accelerated by stress. Not necessarily caused by stress, but driven by stress.
Today, so many people are devastated by threats to their mortality. The threat of pandemics, AIDS, nuclear weapons in the hands of unstable governments and terrorists, terrorism, disease, and other catastrophes hang over their heads and torture them daily. Many teenagers believe they won’t live past their 20’s. This is incredible, reflecting the tremendous stresses in our society.
Two important things to remember when you are feeling stressed are patience and timing. Everything comes when it must come. A life cannot, and should not, be worked on a schedule as so many people want it to be. We must accept what comes to us at a given time, and not ask for more. Time is not time as we see it, but rather in lessons that are learned through our passage through life. Everything will be clear to you in time, if you have a chance to digest the knowledge that has been given to you already. We all need to learn how to do our best every day, and for that we need to maintain our inner strength.
Humans run on energy, much like a vehicle. And, like a vehicle that needs its energy source to be charged, so too must we recharge. We do that by resting or sleeping. Today, most North Americans receive only 80% of their required sleep. Lack of sleep (sleeplessness) leads to fatigue, which lowers our resistance to anxiety and stress and / or tension. Taken to extremes this fatigue, anxiety and stress create a fear of the future, and the cycle just accelerates into all kinds of fear-based emotions.
It is a waste of energy when fear is present. It stifles one from fulfilling what one is capable of fulfilling. But, it is only on the surface that the troubles lie. You must get rid of the fear. That will be the greatest weapon (or resource) you have. The fear of death, that hidden, constant fear that no amount of money or power can neutralize – this is the core. How many of us, when fearful, think to assess the situation as it really is? How many of us would think to ask ourselves how important the stressful situation will be to us in 1 year, or 5 years, or even 10 years? Not many.
Most of us have been taught that “winners never quit, and quitters never win”. Yet quitting an unwinnable fight is not wrong. Learn a lesson from the military: when faced with an overwhelming force or unwinnable situation, retreat – not to run away and hide but to plan a new strategy. Go away and learn what you need to know and do in order to compete on a more level playing field. And fighting an unwinnable fight that you really have no interest in winning, or even participating in, is simply not in your own best interest. Quitting smoking is being a winner. Quitting a hurtful drug-alcohol habit is winning. Giving up an eating disorder or abusive behaviors is winning. And giving up the fear of death, something that no human can control, is a big win. Taking the time to project 5 or 10 years into the future would definitely help to determine the importance of those things that we allow, inappropriately, to become great big problems.
So, if illness comes from within, how do we deal with it? Specifically, how do we “cure” ourselves? We probably don’t. We probably never “cure” an illness. But, we can control symptoms, and, by so doing we control the illness. Think of it; if you suffer from arthritis, for instance, the real problem is pain. Pain which keeps one from “doing”. Control the pain of arthritis and the arthritic symptomology is much less of a problem. Not cured, just controlled. Fibromyalgia is a health problem that is most debilitating because of the pain. Pain control may not make you whole again, but being able to physically function allows one to resume an active lifestyle that approximates “normal”.
Consider further the horror of being diagnosed with a cancer that is pronounced terminal. The progression of these types of cancer is often very painful, and that pain generally requires a great deal of pain medication. Learning to control pain with less pain medication is not a “cure”. But, the ability to physically function – clear-headed and medication-free – is big-time freedom. Freedom to function and freedom to die, whenever and however, relatively pain-free!
Now that is worth your time to investigate.
How do you investigate our beliefs? Simple. Try us out. Test us. What can you lose, except your time (5 to 7 days) and a few dollars? You see, within 2 days you will know whether or not symptom control works for you. Your cost to test us will be limited to the assessment, which takes one day, plus your expenses. There is, however, a “catch” (you knew it, didn’t you?). The catch is, for this program we only work with couples, which we define as follows; a couple is two people who are in a close personal relationship. Spouses; cohabitants; significant others; best friends; close family members.
The idea for “couples only” programs came slowly, but the first seed was planted when I was studying the early history of Alcoholics Anonymous. When I went through treatment (at Heartview in Mandan, ND) for alcoholism, in 1988, I wasn’t content to accept, without question, the program offered. I was curious about the hows and whys. I was fortunate to have a counselor who lead me into the library at the treatment center and let me go wild with their literature. The counselor was also of great help since he had been an alcoholism counselor for 24 years. In fact we celebrated his 27th year of sobriety while I was there, and he was not just 51 years old. His story is unique in that he was the first client under the age of 40 to be “allowed” into Heartview, and he got admitted, after being refused admission, by camping on their doorstep and threatening to kill himself right there if they did not admit him.
This counselor told me what it had been like in 1961 when he first joined AA. His experiences did not fully mirror the basic text of AA – known as the Big Book – and I asked why. His response was that the Big Book was a historical document that was a composite snapshot of a group of early members who were stuck like glue to one another in order to survive a problem that no one was expert at treating. He advised me to merely look at the message in the Big Book – not the messengers – and recognize that there were only suggestions for “maintaining” sobriety. Not absolutes or orders. He then challenged me to do some valuable work on his behalf. He asked me to go out and test the program of AA. If I managed to prove that it was bogus and didn’t work then that would be good information for him because he did not want to be teaching a lie. But, the deal included this proviso; if I followed the suggestions of the AA program and they worked I would agree to keep on following the AA program. The AA program, as written, seems to work quite well, since it is only a simple prescription for living. That finding made me even more curious about how things really developed in the early days, so I set off to browse the AA archives in New York, Akron and Cincinnati.
If you study the notes and letters and articles concerning the history of AA from its inception on June 10, 1935, you will find some interesting things not recorded in the Big Book – not recorded because it was written in 1938 and concerned itself with a generalization of what they knew at that time. For instance, Dr. Bob was personally involved in assisting some 5,000 drunks in their search for help. Since Dr. Bob was sober 15 years by the time he died, on November 16, 1950, he assisted an average of one person per day, every day, for 14 of those 15 years! More interesting, to me, was that Dr. Bob had very strict rules for every drunk he worked with:
- They were committed to hospital for at least one week for supervised withdrawal.
- Their spouse had to agree to be part of the process – with very few exceptions Dr. Bob only worked with married males and they all seemed to be at least 40 years of age.
- Upon release from hospital the new member and spouse stuck close to the group and they each leaned from their peers ways to maintain this new way of life. The wives, and usually the kids if there were any, were very involved in this recovery process.
- Because they did not have a Big Book for 31/2 years, Dr. Bob insisted that each new member agree to swear his oath on the Bible and to believe in God as he understood God to be, later referred to as a Greater Power. There were no agnostics or atheists in the early days of Akron or Cincinnati. New York was a very different story and AA there was never anywhere near as successful as it was in Akron and Cincinnati.
- It appears that the practices of the early years (at least in Akron and Cincinnati) paid off. The rough statistics that were recorded showed that nearly 90% of the early converts maintained long-term sobriety, long-term being 5 years. Today that statistic is approximately 12%!
I now had some information that was interesting, but not of great value to me or anyone else. Until I began to pay more attention to the world around me. At the time I joined AA I was very involved in the management of the healthcare industry. I was vice-chairman of a world-renowned rehabilitation hospital, an executive member of the health planning commission and vice-chairman of a hospital foundation that represented 4 base hospitals. I had access to reams and reams of statistics and the experts who compiled them. I began to recognize some common themes:
- Medical science has been aware for 100 years or more that stress is the single most exacerbating factor in 90% or more of all organic illnesses. This means that stress does not necessarily cause the illness but it definitely kicks it into high gear and causes unnecessary fatalities.
- When people are sent away for treatment and the condition of their illness improves they are returned to the bosom of their untreated families. And, in most cases, they suffer a relapse. Upon investigation it appears that a major cause of that relapse is due to the return to the old environment where nothing has changed. The stress level is usually very high in families within which an acutely ill person resides Resentment of the illness is common. An understanding of how to cope and deal with the illness is usually missing. So, the patient relapses and returns to treatment – or often, if they are mobile, they just get the hell away from their families and live or die elsewhere.
- Discussions with persons who had been ill for a long time (10 years or more), and unable to work, generally elicited responses whereby they denied having any friends and denied being close to their families. They became their illness, a very stressful activity that certainly helped the illness to remain stronger than the person carrying it. Discussions with family and (former) friends suggested that it was hard to remain close to someone who had changed so much from their former selves.
- Almost all persons suffering acute long-term organic illness (see list) had similar symptomology. They were fatigued, lonely, feared the future and did not sleep well. The result was increased stress and anxiety which increased the fatigue, loneliness and fear – and on and on.
- Those who reversed the direction of an illness, whose prognosis was terminal, generally did so after getting angry and rejecting the prognosis. The anger seemed to motivate them to take charge of their illness and not let it define them. They seemed to get busy with living instead of being pre-occupied with dying. And when they were busy they hurt less and slept better.
It has long been known that there is a benefit to treating an entire family when one of the family members is suffering long-term acute illness. The exact type of illness is less important than the effect it has on the person diagnosed and those other people closest to that person. Although it is not always possible to treat an entire family, it is often possible to work with two people – whether husband and wife, life partners, or best friends. However it is accomplished the key is to work with “couples” – as opposed to working only with the “sick” person – in order to teach them both how to deal with the illness and its effects upon the family or those persons closest. When the couple becomes able to cope with their own, and each others, problems they are stronger and more able to resist the urge to relapse upon return to their usual environment. And they will be able to teach other family members how to deal with the problems created by a stressful acute illness.
Therefore, this couples-only program is a teaching program. For the record, we are not doctors. We are facilitators and educators. We facilitate your stay at a resort location where you will be taught what you don’t know – how to deal with your symptoms. The reason we only work with couples is because those closest to us usually enable us in our illnesses and behaviors. Not because they are stupid, but because they love us – often with misguided love. Love that believes in “supporting” the ill friend or partner. Support that allows, or encourages, the ill person to hold onto their illness.
It is because this is not medical treatment that we are able to use settings such as resort hotels, which does several things at once:
- breaks the environment
- creates a relaxing atmosphere
- allows them to be seen as a couple on holiday, free from illness or victimization
- allows them to, again, have fun together
While there is much one-on-one work with the couples we still do some group work so the clients can meet other people who are in similar circumstances. Learning to socialize again is a part of the program, but the emphasis is primarily centered on the couple learning to work together and support one another. After all, the best therapist is a person who loves you – as long as that person learns how to provide the help that is needed.
Organic diseases in their latter acute stages destroy our enjoyment of life and prevent us from doing the things we love to do. Examples of organic disease would include, but not be limited to, the following:
*Alcoholism & other drug addictions
Eventually these diseases will dominate the victim, and they become afraid to do anything due to pain and / or fatigue. Conventional medicine does what it can, but generally fails to remove the pain or fatigue. Even alternative approaches, such as massage and other manipulative techniques, have generally dismal results. But it doesn’t have to be that way — each and every one of the organic diseases prevalent in our society today are stress-related and / or stress-exacerbated. And they all respond well to our program because we are experts in stress detoxification. Our program is a powerful self-development program.
Our program techniques are capable of making the discomfort simply float away, and clients find that they can move, function, exist, without being dragged down by pain. A miracle? It may seem so, but in reality it is the client’s own healing mind at work, a part of themselves they may never have known or reached before. In fact victims of chronic pain have benefited by removing the symptoms of their pain permitting them a full range of motion which allows them to live richer, fuller lives.
As well, those who suffer the effects of substance abuse, and their families, have benefited from our program by being able to discover the root causes for their addictions and then dealing with them. Again, the reason for this is the stress relationship, which is more fully explained elsewhere. But, as much as every journey begins with a single step, so too does the road to recovery and wellness start with our clients accessing our Lifeskills program to experience a new way of healing, health and greater opportunity.
Because we use hypnosis as part of our Lifeskills program we must first define hypnosis. Hypnosis is suggestibility and suggestibility is how we learn. Hypnosis is the teaching system we employ to accelerate the learning curve. By using hypnosis, our Lifeskills program is rapidly taught and reinforced through hypnotic repetition, so that each client can learn what they need to know. For instance, to learn pain control and reduction, we teach the mind to instruct the brain which controls the body and its functions.
In our Lifeskills program hypnosis is not the end, but only the beginning of the journey for our clients. Hypnosis the skill that allows the gateway to the subconscious to be thrown wide open so that individuals can quickly and easily reach the wonders and unimaginable powers contained within. Hypnosis isn’t a trick and it isn’t about making people bark like a dog at the sound of a bell, it’s a process that’s about uncovering and accessing the limitless power of the human mind. The therapeutic uses for hypnosis are limited only by the range of problems presented by the clients. Today, hypnotism is quickly becoming an invaluable asset for a range of professionals, including doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, dentists, surgeons and anesthesiologists.
Our Lifeskills program will provide the skills needed to understand the systems of living in order to teach our clients the solutions to their problems, no matter whether the problems are mental, physical or emotional. With our Lifeskills program our clients will be able to “systemize ” their thinking, empowering them to benefit themselves and take control of their lives. Our Lifeskills program is there to provide solutions for daily living. We teach our clients how to live. If you can systemize your thinking there is nothing you cannot do, be or have. “What the mind can conceive the body can achieve.” And that is what we teach. It is the Solution that we transfer to you so that you are in control again.
Simply put, the brain controls the body and the mind controls the brain. Therefore we are able to teach victims of organic diseases how to control their illness by slowing or reversing their pain without extensive surgery or drugs. We recognize that victims of organic disease generally share common complaints of tension and stress, which manifest as fatigue and loneliness. When taken to extremes this tension, stress, sleeplessness, fatigue, and loneliness lead to fear of the future which results in a breakdown of the immune system through lack of body control and association with illness or pain. Dissociation from the reality of the cause of illness or pain generally makes one subjective to it. In order to bring an objective perspective to the problem we first deal with the overlaid symptoms that keep one in the cycle of sickness, namely; tension, stress, sleeplessness, fatigue and loneliness.
Our program begins with detoxification of stress and tension and then we teach our clients how to sleep in order to eliminate their fatigue. Once they are well-rested and stabilized we begin the Lifeskills program process by helping our clients to learn systems, skills and solutions to accomplish what they want in regard to healing, health and opportunity in their daily lives.
Many medical science reports have recorded that more than 85% of all organic disease is stress-related. We are experts in stress detoxification and elimination, and we teach it as a powerful personal development program.
We work with the mind to conceptualize the changes that the brain can achieve through its’ control of the body. Our relaxed setting allows for the time and opportunity to carry out repetitive learning so that the new ways become embedded in the mind. For instance, once pain control is learned and embedded one can perform in a nearly pain-free state which has proven effective not only in slowing but in reversing illness.
In effect we bring the body into balance by eliminating fatigue, restlessness and anxiety related to sleeplessness because of pain, alcohol, drugs. And we do that through the use of hypnosis to accelerate our clients learning curve.
We can effectively deal with a vast range of problems and challenges, including: fatigue, confidence-building, chronic body pains, improving overall health quality, overcoming alcohol and drug addictions (prescription and street), eradicating loneliness, improving personal motivation, increasing athletic ability, and many others. We are very effective with problems such as:
*alcohol and drug addictions
*fatigue and sleep problems
When you enroll in our process you can expect to receive systematic care which generally follows a clinical department process:
1 – Stress detoxification to stabilize new clients.
2 – Sleep training to eliminate fatigue, restlessness, anxiety and sleeplessness resulting from pain, alcohol or drug abuse.
3 – Stress management for confidence building
This type of Lifeskill program is usually operated in prime resort settings – for several reasons
- Environment sets the tone.
- To remove people from their comfort / threat zone in order to get their undivided attention.
- The resort atmosphere allows clients to relax and focus on the “training”
- There is no stigma or labeling attached to these clients because they are not defined by their illness. They are receiving personal development programs for healing, health and increased opportunity.
- Clients are removed from the symptomatic approach and put into the systematic
With our Lifeskills approach we teach people to be all that they really want to be and have what they really, really want to have – all in accordance with their own wishes and desires to accomplish what they want. And we do that in a manner which is non – parochial / non – psychological / non – psychiatric / non – religious. We defeat ostracization by changing the environment. We teach people that it is okay to live. Our process provides systems, skills and solutions for daily living and we use anger as the language of change or choice.
And, most importantly, we teach that it doesn’t have to be that way.