Transforming from witchy into wellness

When I started hail vegan, I had a lot of things in mind that I wanted to accomplish. Mostly, I wanted to create a space for people like me, with a world of valuable content for like-minded folx. I wanted to focus on disseminating and explaining the principles and texts of the Church of Satan, as well as exploring veganism and related topics. Over the past couple of months, I’ve focused quite a bit on Satanism, but have mostly neglected to post vegan content beyond what I’m eating or cooking at any given time.

So, in an effort to provide the balanced, compelling content that I always intended to provide when I started this experiment, #WitchyWednesday will be transforming into #WellnessWednesday. Oh it doesn’t sound nearly as cool, and I’ll drop a witchy post once in a while, but I’m looking forward to sharing more balanced content that is interesting and informative.

With over 926,000 posts on Instagram already tagged #wellnesswednesday, why would you be interested in getting wellness content from me?

To put it simply, I’m not just talking the talk. I’ve done the work, and am continually doing it every day. I’m sitting in the shit, essentially.

To start, let’s rewind to 2011…

When I graduated from college, I immediately got a super stressful job in a well-regarded management training program. It was a competitive position, used my degree, and I was good at it, but it took a toll on me like I never expected. The hours were all over the place, sometimes even overnight. I commuted an hour each way — and that’s not an hour of city commuting, it was an hour driving out to Cape Cod on long, desolate, mostly empty roads, often in the middle of the night. After suffering from major burnout, I ended up in therapy, finally dealing with a lifelong eating disorder that had exploded all over every aspect of my life.

I started working with a mental health practitioner, and I gained a lot of myself back through working hard to get through the muddy muck that enveloped me. I crawled out of my black hole pit of despair, as I’ve so lovingly named it. I found words to describe what was happening to me. I learned about feelings (literally, I needed a feelings flipchart to understand what was going on inside my head). I was on track to be better! So when a new work opportunity brought me to a new city, I decided to try living without help from a therapist for the first time in years.

Things were fine in my new city. But my job was terrible — long commutes to various cities and states, lots of travel that kept me away from home, and I was working for a very young company with an executive team that changed every few months, which made everything unstable. After just under 2 years in the job I moved my entire life to take, I was in such a terrible place mentally that I was almost admitted to an inpatient facility. I quit the job and took 7 months off to recover. I had nightmares for months. But during this time, I healed a little and took time to figure out what the hell I wanted to do.

I decided that I wanted a job that was boring and had no responsibility outside of the office. Eventually I found that job, and I still have it to this day. It’s a little boring, low-stress, and exactly what I needed to start building myself back up into being a successful human. Things were looking up.

Then 2018 happened. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you may know that I lost all of my hair. But seriously, what the fuck with the timing. Everything was going great, I’d just come back from an awesome New Year’s vacation in Jamaica! I was just over a year into my new stress-free job (and life). I really thought things were going well, and then poof: bald.

I lost all of my hair due to alopecia areata, which can be passed down through family (after I was diagnosed, I learned I had a family history of it), and is an autoimmune disease. Autoimmunity means that your immune system is in hyperdrive, and it results in the body attacking itself. Some more common autoimmune disorders are fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, lupus, and celiac disease. Alopecia falls into the same category, and while it doesn’t make you feel sick physically, the impact of losing your hair (and never knowing when or whether it will come back) is completely devastating.

I went to a dermatologist for treatment, but also joined some online groups for people with alopecia (alopecians) to see what people were saying about different treatments. I did research constantly. If there was a treatment for alopecia, I knew about it, everything from celery or onion juice to essential oils to dangerous immune-suppressing drugs. But what I found across the board was that none of the treatments actually addressed the root cause of the disease (autoimmunity), they simply promised to grow hair back. Which was good, but with alopecia, your hair can fall out at any time without warning, even if you’ve been in remission for years. So the idea of treating the hair loss was not as appealing to me as treating the root cause of the illness. I never wanted this to happen again.

Clearly, my body was screaming for help. For fucks sake, my body rejected my own hair! Something was off balance, something was out of sync, something or many things were obviously wrong. And no doctor or medical practitioner offered to help with any of that, they basically just offered me Rogaine (yes, my doctor actually told me to go buy Rogaine).

I decided to seek out some new medical practitioners. The alopecians online were all seeing functional medicine doctors, so I shelled out hundreds of dollars to see one (they are never covered by insurance!). I also made an appointment with a therapist, the one who could see me the soonest. Surely, a combination of a functional medicine doctor, a therapist, and dermatologist (who did give me some non-invasive, non-Rogaine treatment) would help me heal.

Well. The functional medicine doctor was actually great. She spent a full hour with me, and recommended a lot of tests (saliva, stool, metabolic), in addition to a schedule of supplements. But as I learned from my experience with other doctors, none of that was known to improve my condition; we were still in the assessment phase. She asked me to complete the testing and come back in 3 months to discuss my results. I never did the testing, never went back.

Why? Because spending hundreds of dollars on quarterly doctor’s visits and adding the supplement regimen that she recommended was just not sustainable for me. I had (have) really good health insurance, and could see almost any doctor in the Mid-Atlantic for a $30 copay. There had to be another way.

I started seeing a new therapist (covered by my insurance!) shortly after I saw with the functional medicine doctor. She was really different than my previous therapist. She was not super interested in my deeply troubled family and personal histories. She wanted to know what was going on now, and how she could help. I didn’t like it at first, but as I kept going back, I began to appreciate her style. She wanted me to do the work, and wasn’t going to sit there with me and wallow about my mommy issues.

The thing I appreciated the most was that she saw the steps I was taking towards improving my wellness, and encuraged me to celebrate everything. I went to the gym once? Hell yeah, more than last week. I didn’t go binge crazy and buy the entire chip aisle at the grocery store? Win! She even gave me a mini trophy for something I did that felt really insignificant to me. She saw me and my power, and helped me realize it.

Through the work I was doing, I began to understand that there was no medical treatment that would improve my illness. I changed my thought process and approach, and focused on making all aspects of my life better, not just healing my illness.

When I was diagnosed with alopecia, I was out of shape, drinking too much, eating like shit, and barely sleeping. It all felt pretty normal to me. Once I started exercising more and making an effort to eat better, I began to realize that through self-care (a concept I thought was lame and was adamantly against embracing), I saw that my sense of self worth was improving. So I threw on a head scarf, stopped focusing on trying to grow my hair back, and started focusing on having the life I really wanted.

I saw a sleep doctor. I consulted a nutritionist, and quit drinking. And I upped my game at the gym and started going 5x/week. My sleep improved and my mood was the best ever! With the shift in mindset, I immediately saw positive changes.

Uncoincidentally, my hair was also growing back.

In March 2019, after being at least partially bald for over a year, I ditched my head scarf and debuted my new bleached-blonde buzz cut in celebration of my birthday. It was fucking awesome, and I love being blonde!

So now we’re back in 2020, thanks for taking that ride down memory lane. I share all of this because it’s important for me to show that I’m a real and very imperfect person. But I also know what works for wellness. I know that you can’t change your diet and expect your entire life to get better – there are so many elements that make up holistic health.

Through learning the serious impact of having a holistic view of health firsthand, I realized that it’s something I’m really passionate about, and always have been. So now it’s time for me to share that with the world! I really believe that my therapist played a huge part in sending my illness into remission, and she never prescribed me a single medication.

I’m absolutely not an expert, but I’m learning, and look forward to sharing some more topics that I’m passionate about, outside of (but not completely unrelated to) Satanism. I have a background as a yogi and yoga teacher, and will earn my certificate in health coaching this year, so there will be lots of good information coming your way.

Stay tuned for #wellnesswednesday starting next week. I’ll cover a wide variety of topics related to veganism (obviously), but also about all the other areas that contribute to holistic health. Thanks for reading, heathens!