We’re deep into the fall season and I can hardly imagine my life just six months ago. As I think back to spring, I’m in absolute awe at how much healing has transpired in my life. If someone had told me I would be living the most magical life now, I wouldn’t have believed it. Do you know why?
I was STUCK!
I didn’t have much direction or even excitement of where my life was headed. I was suffering with heavy bouts of brain fog and as a result had no energy. My spirit felt weak and honestly, if truth were told, I was depressed.
Praying and meditating were my only outlets, but even those left me blue. I realized I was scarcely “showing up” in my everyday tasks. My emotions were dull and I didn’t carry my usual joy. It became apparent to those around me I wasn’t my usual self. “Why did I feel so badly?” was the question I asked myself at least 10 times a day!
I tried upping my exercise game. More running, biking and weight lifting. But those attempts didn’t move the gauge. It was obvious. My tank was empty.
And then it happened. I had conversations with family and friends that I couldn’t remember an hour later. I kept repeating stories and information to people who gently reminded me, “You already said that!” What was going on with me? I couldn’t remember things and I couldn’t think clearly. And you know what? I didn’t really care. Finding a solution was way too much trouble.
I also noticed I wasn’t sleeping well, and I was eating a lot of junk food. I knew better, and yet I couldn’t stop. “You need comfort food,” is what I told my body, as I ate another chocolate cookie or two!
When I began isolating in my bedroom, I knew my daily life had taken a turn. I could barely find the strength and energy to be present for my kids and that worried me. All night. My children were my priority, but I was at a loss when it came to explaining why I didn’t feel OK. Each day I promised myself that the next day would be better, but sadly it wasn’t. It frightened me… this new and not great version of me.
I didn’t talk to anyone about my feelings. I was too embarrassed and God forbid, you speak negativity aloud to the Universe. I felt that if I voiced my thoughts I would imprison myself even more. I was in my own personal jail! And I didn’t have a clue how to get out.
Now that’s a scary scenario when you’re a Soul Centered Life Coach with a Masters in Spiritual Psychology. In my head, a small army was speaking to me, “Get over yourself Pirie! Stop complaining. You’re financially and physically healthy. Things will sort themselves out. Start writing in your gratitude journal in large letters, BE THANKFUL.’ Somewhere along the road, I couldn’t hear what my soul was saying. At least not until later.
That April, I started hearing a still, small voice whispering inside my head… “What do YOU think that’s not working in your life Pirie? What haven’t you given over to God? What are you hanging onto so tightly? What are your secrets? And are you truly free from something that you think you can’t live without? What would that be?”
You see I was working from my emotional, spiritual and physical quadrants in my life, but it was my mental side that had been ignored. So, I started writing down everything I was fearful about in a way that’s known as Free Form Writing. It’s when you write whatever is present and allow your pen to fly. It’s a tool for releasing energy and information that may be stored in the unconscious part of our brain. It helps to assist in releasing negativity, judgments, emotions, blocks, and frees up the energy that held these in place. It’s not automatic writing, however it takes place in a stream-of-consciousness style.
Free Form Writing is done by hand, using paper and pen. You can tell when you’re finished.
This exercise helped me understand what was blocking me. I could barely talk about it to anyone, including myself. It released a lot of pain.
So now, let’s go back to my not being able to sleep. That actually started six years ago. I had recently separated from my ex-husband and two weeks later, my Dad died suddenly. I was a mess. I couldn’t sleep for days. Unable to function, I visited my doctor who prescribed the sleeping aid, Lunesta. What a miracle drug. I could reach over and take that little blue pill and fall asleep within minutes! That behavior became a habit very quickly.
Before I knew it, six year passed. Incredibly, I was still on Lunesta and unfortunately I couldn’t sleep without it. Then earlier this year, I noticed I couldn’t remember things. My short term and long term memory was questionable at best. My mind felt blurry and I experienced black outs. I couldn’t remember how I got home from a dinner party or recall a close friend’s name. It was disturbing. I also couldn’t get off the drug on my own.
I went online to research rehab centers, specifically to detox off sleeping pills. I found one in Malibu. What I loved most was that they didn’t just help you detox, but offered to teach me brain health tools to heal my brain, like looking ‘under the Band-Aid’ to find out what could be causing my sleep issues. I immediately signed up for a 30-day stay!
I was in sunny California for the month of June, where I started my healing journey under the care of expert doctors and staff. From the first day I arrived, I decided to surrender myself completely. I put away all my fears, judgments and stigmas and allowed the experts to help me. That was another daunting undertaking… learning how to ask for help! Not exactly a breezy assignment.
It took about a week for me to detox off sleeping pills. It was not a simple process believe me. My body and brain seemed to be screaming in my ear, “NOOOOOO!!!! We can’t do this!” You see, when you take sleeping pills, your brain stops producing its natural serotonin, which helps you, relax and sleep. When you stop taking the pills, it takes your brain a solid six months to start healing and producing its own serotonin again.
Here’s a study for you to read that gave me the best reason to stop.
A 20-year study by Harvard University and the University of Bordeaux in France found that benzodiazepine sleeping pills increase the risk of developing dementia in the next 15 years by a whopping 50%. And, new research published in 2014 found that if you take benzodiazepines for three months, you’re 50% more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s five years later. Of course my brain was forgetting things!
While I was staying in Malibu, my doctors were teaching me all kinds of wonderful brain health tools. They used Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (better known as EMDR), Brain Spotting*, Art Therapy, Cranial Sacral techniques, and acupuncture. All of these treatments were part of my healing and were instrumental in dealing with trauma I had experienced during crucial parts of my life.
When I returned home, I felt like a brand new person. The fog disappeared, my energy doubled, and I could sleep like a baby, without any sleeping pills! I’ll repeat. Without that little blue pill.
A big bonus was my friends and family noticing my significant improvement. I had clarity again. The truth was I had my life back. New and significant changes occurred in my life as well. I had always wanted to do a TedTalk about my work with Suicide Prevention, but I was anxious I wouldn’t be able to memorize my speech. When I came home, I submitted my Talk and was immediately selected! I successfully gave my TedTalk last month without forgetting one word. And then on a more personal note, I met an amazing man who I’m now in a committed relationship with after being single for six years. By the way, I was worried about sleeping with someone because another side effect of the pills was that I snored! Ha ha. I’ve been told I don’t snore anymore.
Reaching for my goals to have a healthy, happy life in ALL areas was not an easy course of action, but looking back, it was beyond compare one the best decisions I’ve ever made. I am always reminded we are much stronger than we give ourselves credit for. I know that having transcended this, you can too. The icing? I am a much better soul centered life coach for having had this journey.
*Brainspotting is a physiological therapy, which has profound psychological, emotional, and physical consequences.
With over 20 years in front of the camera, Pirie Grossman understands the power of storytelling. After success in commercials and acting. Pirie spent 10 years reporting for E! Entertainment Television, Entertainment Tonight, also hosted ABC’s “Every Woman”.Pirie’s work off-camera capitalizes on her strength, producing, bringing people together for unique experiences. Pirie produced a Children’s Day of Compassion during the Dalai Lama’s visit here in 2005. 10,000 children attended, sharing ideas about compassion with His Holiness.From 2006-2009, Pirie Co-chaired the Special Olympics World Winter Games, in Idaho, welcoming 3,000 athletes from over 150 countries. Pirie founded Destiny Productions to create Wellness Festivals and is an Advisory Board member of the Sun Valley Wellness Board.In February 2017, Pirie produced, “Love is Louder”, a Brain Health Summit, bringing in Kevin Hines, noted suicide survivor to Sun Valley who spoke to school kids about suicide. Sun Valley is in the top 5% highest suicide rate per capita in the Northwest, prompting a community initiative with St. Luke’s and other stake holders, to begin healing.Pirie lives in Sun Valley with her two children, serves on the Board of Community School. She has her Master’s in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica and is a Leadership Life Coach. You can contact her at 208-720-7725 or at www.piriejonesgrossman.com.