It's been another week of growth and adventure over here in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
Today, I want to write about the process of growth, i.e. how growth happens, rather than what has been growing.
In particular, I want to focus on the paradox that growth can come through mistakes.
I'll share a couple of mistakes I discovered just last week and how I grew from them.
May you courageously and compassionately continue in your own journey of growth.
"Let's see if this makes a difference," Michelle said, as she placed a bottle containing hydrochloric acid, an essential acid for digestion, on her Bioscan machine.
I sat in a chair across from her, holding the metal rods that connected me to her machine, feeling baffled, frustrated, and dismayed as I looked at the many rows ending in red, on her computer screen, that signified my poor state of biochemical balance.
This was not the first time. My scores have repeatedly been atrocious when I came for my sessions with Michelle, though I take a ton of supplements, look 15 years younger than my age, and feel "pretty fit."
Michelle Dion is a good friend. She is also a great Naturopathic Doctor. She takes care of me so I can live another day to stamp out mental illness. Her office is in Chantilly, VA, and I refer my patients to her whenever they are "really tough." We do our one-two punch and voilà! Problem solved.
"Ack! I'm as bad as __!" I exclaimed when I saw my scores on the machine. Then, as all my values normalized with the hydrochloric acid, I said, "Why would I need more acid? Why am I so alkaline?"
As I asked this question out loud, I suddenly realized that I had been drinking alkalinized, ionized, purified water every day since 2010, compliments of my water filter by Tyent. I was too alkaline because I'd believed that to be alkaline was a very good thing. I've worked hard to be more alkaline for the past eight years.
Michelle explained to me that pH had to be within a normal range--too acidic or alkaline, and the body would suffer. Here is a link she gave me to help me understand my mistake: Lawrence Wilson, MD.
Since my session with Michelle, I have only drunk water at a normal pH and have noticed that my wounds are healing faster (mosquito bites), less bloating after meals (no alkaline water to frustrate my stomach's need to be acidic), and less achy. Okay, so I did have some symptoms going into her office...The domino effects of having a body that is too alkaline were many.
Realizing my mistake (finally!) in drinking alkalinized water will undoubtedly add many more years to my life. This, however, was only mistake number one. I learned from a second mistake last week, and it had to do with the metabolic production of serotonin and melatonin...
"Why would you be feeling depressed?" I half muttered to myself, "I thought we had covered the serotonin system." I looked at my patient's nutritional regimen and found the amino acid that was currently supporting her serotonin production--L-tryptophan.
She had done so perfectly when withdrawing from Prozac, which required serotonin support, that I couldn't understand why she would be feeling depressed now. Then it dawned on me that she had been taking 5-HTP when withdrawing from her Prozac. About a month ago, I switched her to L-tryptophan to help her feel more sedated, believing that L-tryptophan would make both serotonin and melatonin for her, while 5-HTP would not.
"Let's see here..." I decided to quickly look up the metabolic steps for making serotonin and melatonin--two metabolic pathways that had never been connected in my mind into one coherent whole--and saw, for the first time, the exact metabolic steps for making serotonin and melatonin from L-tryptophan. Yes, L-tryptophan was the parent amino acid that made both. Serotonin was made first, and from serotonin, melatonin would be made later. Here is the schematic for the biochemical production of melatonin.
Clearly, the patient was not metabolizing L-tryptophan to 5-HTP and that was why she had become more depressed over the past month. I asked her to go back to taking SeroPlus (Pure Encapsulations) and explained my hypothesis about why she had become more depressed. If my hypothesis was correct, she would feel better as soon as she switched from her L-tryptophan to 5-HTP.
The next week, the patient came back and reported that she was feeling a lot better. Her depression resolved the next day after taking her SeroPlus, though her sleep was still lagging behind with regard to recovery. This was understandable, since her serotonin levels were probably still in a state of recovery, and melatonin came from serotonin. Also, her trepidation about attending college, during her last session, had transformed into confidence about signing up for college courses--all four of them.
After that session, I told all the patients who were taking L-tryptophan to switch to 5-HTP. I felt that perhaps many patients under my care may also have the same difficulty with the single enzymatic step that transformed L-tryptophan to 5-HTP. And since I now knew that serotonin also transformed to melatonin, I wouldn't be making the mistake of using L-tryptophan to "improve" the production of melatonin again.
Sharing the mistakes that I made last week and what I learned from them is a long way of saying that growth comes from learning from our mistakes.
It's admirable to learn from other people's mistakes, but it is critical to learn from our own.
Realizing that a mistake has been made is just the first step towards growth. Of course, it's not just realizing that one has made a mistake, but how one reacts to that realization that is critical. Do we hide our mistakes? Do we pretend we didn't make those mistakes? Or do we choose to empower ourselves by learning from them and correcting any problems that may have arisen from our mistakes?
It's inevitable that growth will occur as we continue to correct our mistakes. Looking back on our past and shaking our heads over all the stupid mistakes we had made is just reason to pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves on our continued evolution and development.
May we transform our attitude towards mistakes from shame to gratitude, as we realize the empowering gifts that mistakes can bring.