When we set out to heal my bipolar in the spring of 2016, we didn’t know where that journey would lead. Bipolar is a serious, complex health condition that affects every part of you: body, soul, and spirit, how you relate to yourself and others, how you process stress. We approached every angle, seeking to uncover and restore root causes in a holistic way.
3 years later, losing hundreds of tears, toxins and pathogens, understanding traumatic triggers and patterns, creating new ways to cope, stronger neurological pathways and one mist-on-the-mountains-eyed girl child, healing has come. I am not the same Lauren. I take 1 very low dose medication daily, managing the rest with nutrition, supplements, therapy, mindfulness, daily office with Jesus, relationships, pacing, and movement.
As He showed me from the beginning, this healing is not just for me. So many of my brothers and sisters, so many of you my beloved, suffer from debilitating chronic and mental health symptoms that are their lens for life, determining the limits of their days with no hope or help for lasting change. I have made it here now to tell you that wherever you are and wherever you’ve been, there is hope, and there is help.
Healing is not solitary, one-size-fits-all or random. In my case, it started with a desperate prayer and willingness to change, moved as we found practical ways that worked, and is moving still into telling my story and advocacy. Anne Lamott and my husband helped kick me in the pants enough to write this today, when I was comfortable keeping part of the help that got me here to myself because I am afraid. Lamott writes in Bird by Bird and Almost Everything that “truth is always subversive.”
So I subvert. Last Friday, I wrote a letter to our district representative in the Tennessee House, Esther Helton, in opposition to Senate Bill 15. She responded graciously, thanking me for voicing my opinion and the invitation to learn more, which I extend to all of you. She will be in a committee meeting in Nashville tomorrow night and is unable to get back in time, but if you are curious, it might be worth a listen. The letter follows.
Dear Ms. Helton,
As a nurse and mother, I know that you are committed to protecting public health. We live in a time of information overload regarding both public and personal health, and these masses of information are sometimes at odds. I don’t know your personal journey of wellness, but if you have ever faced a health crisis like my family, you know that you will do everything in your power to heal.
I have bipolar disorder, and my husband is a cancer survivor. We know firsthand the importance of treating the central roots of disease, not just its symptoms. Doctors, medication, nutrition, holistic therapies and healthy habits each play a role in our recovery from disease.
One of the foods that has brought health to me is the use of raw milk. My body craves dairy, but I cannot tolerate the pasteurized form. While the pasteurization process kills potentially harmful bacteria, it also kills beneficial probiotic strains and changes the milk protein in such a way that my body reacts. I experience psychiatric symptoms and skin irritation.
The carrier proteins, omega 3/6 ratio and other nutritional variables in pasteurized milk obtained from conventional feedlot cows are inferior to raw milk obtained from cows fed on pasture and uninhibited by antibiotics or steroids (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/2434928c). It stands to reason that healthier animals produce healthier milk, and in turn improve the health those who consume it.
I can receive the nutritional benefits of milk by using it raw to make yogurt and kefir, whereas pasteurized yogurt, milk or cheese is harmful to me. To protect my safety, we built a friendship with farmers that we trust to keep up our supply, a risk that is worth taking because of my need and our personal relationship with them.
Any food can become contaminated with disease through accident or carelessness, as demonstrated by the outbreak of E. coli in lettuce from California last fall (https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2018/o157h7-11-18/index.html). What caused the outbreak of E. coli in Knoxville may or may not have been such a contamination, as the connection to the farm in question was not proven, but this tragedy does not sanction shutting down the industry as a whole, any more than the E. coli outbreak in California means Californian lettuce should be made illegal.
We oppose Senate Bill 15 and any sister bills, and ask you to do the same. We ask that as you consider your position on this issue, you will take time to thoroughly evaluate both sides. To hear from farmers, holistic health practitioners and other individuals in your district who benefit from raw milk, we invite you to attend an educational meeting on Tuesday, February 5th from 6:30-8 pm at the Camp House in downtown Chattanooga. We would be honored to have you with us and allow you to hear why so many of us have found raw milk to be a healthful and healing food. The link to the event is below. It is free to all, but they are asking for reservations to accommodate the space.
Thank you so much for your time and service in our community.
There is still room.