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Serotonin and an Update

I started the looking about three and a half years ago. Within about two weeks I saw immediate, gratifying results. After a lifetime of heavy anxiety I was starting to experience an inner sense of okay-ness and lightness that seemed to manifest magically. Then, gradually over time, the joy got submerged under the usual anxiety and depression, only this time I was more anxious than usual about the anxiety, because I knew that there was nowhere to go from here. I chalked up my "failure" to the fact that I have acute hormonal problems. I have been diagnosed with low levels of serotonin, dopamine, estrogen, thyroid hormones, testosterone, progesterone, and apparently adrenaline as well, and have been taking vitamins, minerals, and hormones in order to help me function. I also have been taking anti-depressants without which I cannot digest enough food to sustain myself, because eighty percent of serotonin receptors are in the intestinal tract. When I went off of them, my brain was so out of whack that it felt like I was drugged with anti-cocaine. Of course such a drug does not exist, but if it did, I imagine its effects would be what was happening to me: great difficulty in processing the simplest information, and a sense of helplessness, meaninglessness, as well as a chronic feeling of horror and panic. Also, I was barely able to sleep more than four or five hours a night: around half of what I was used to sleeping. I came very close to suicide during this three-month period.

For many years I was obsessed with the questions: Why do I need medical help to balance my body chemistry? What is wrong with me? Is my condition environmental, genetic or a combination of the two? And since 2008: Isn' t the looking supposed to fix my hormones?

At this point finding answers to these questions feels less urgent. I continue to experience many unpleasant physical and mental symptoms. Just as John has said on numerous occasions, the point of the looking is not to rid us of our problems, although it will help us deal with them more intelligently. Now I find that when a symptom appears, instead of fighting it, more and more I tend to ride it like a wave, as though I were a surfer. Should I rest? Should I push through the fatigue? Should I eat something? Shouild I refrain from eating? The lifelong efforts based on fear and resistance in order to cope with the many facets of this condition are subsiding bit by bit. Now instead of wondering what the heck is wrong with me, I am better able to see things for what they are, which in turn helps me deal more awarely with the situation at hand. Over the last three years I have gathered more information about my condition than what I gathered up until now.

What I find so magical in this looking is that the instinct to put the cart before the horse is gradually disappearing. My life is showing me the truth of John's message that the problem is not in the content of the mind, nor is it in the circumstances of the life. Now, when I notice things that I don' t like about what I am experiencing, I seek less and less to correct them. What's new is an awareness of these arisings as simply unpleasant, but with less of an urge to change or fix them.

The lifelong efforts based on fear and resistance in order to cope with the many facets of my condition are subsiding bit by bit. Now instead of wondering what the heck is wrong with me, I am better able to see things for what they are, which in turn helps me cope.

Just as John has said on numerous occasions, the point of the looking is not to rid us of our problems, although the looking will help us deal with them more intelligently. Now I find that when a symptom appears, instead of fighting it, more and more I tend to ride it like a wave, as though I were a surfer.

I have noticed that over the last six months or so, the urge to look has almost disappeared. A whole day can go by and I don't look. When it does occur to me to look, sometimes I take a glance, but without the frenzied need to squeeze a peek at myself. The excitement of "scoring" is gone and has been replaced with a gentle sense of familiarity and centeredness.

At the same time, I am still the same person with the same quirks and personality flaws. What is interesting is that I find that my behavior is guided less by my feelings and confusion. These days I am less defensive, less reactive, and less ruffleable.

I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I have never been able to sustain any permanent progress along this path of liberation. In the past, when I have fallen, I have fallen mighty hard. At this point it is obvious to me that I have no control over how things will evolve. I feel like a gambler playing the roulette wheel and has put all of her money on one number. Yet I can't think of anything more sensible to do.

gradual I guess

gradual I guess

Dear Nancy,

I reread some of your older posts and I have some questions for you, if you don't mind.

What has happened to your "lifelong companion" fear? How much is it still your companion? Generally speaking, how happy would you say you are now? How much do you love your life? I ask this just to see how far you think you've come and how much of John's promise has come true for you. You've been doing this looking for quite some time.

I also hit a devastating period of depression/anxiety months after starting the looking that I am still trying to get out of.

Thanks,

Gerrit

I would venture to guess, Nancy, that nothing could knock you off your pegs. Even the gentle fear supporting the threat of the other shoe dropping is of little concern to you. Well done! (Which I hesitate to say, for who am I to say it?) trimpi

Serotonin and the other shoe

Hello Nancy and welcome to the conversation:

The business of physiological states, body chemistry, and apparent physical conditions is an area that I hear many people express concern about, and I have had these phenomena capture my attention at times as well. On one hand such concerns are natural and are related to the physical organism that we inhabit focusing on anything that shows up that might present a threat to our physical survival and the operation of the body. On the other hand the context of fear that has been the lens through which we have perceived for so long appears to have effects on the body in terms of changes in brain chemistry and the constant activation of the reactive nervous system (stress). After practicing psychology for forty years and working with so many people who are being treated with medications by psychiatrists who believe that brain chemistry is the actual first cause of conditions, I have come to accept that this area is confusing to many who are aware of the "mind/body" and the idea that the body and it's chemistry is an expression of the way life occurs for people, or said another way the interpretation of life. If the interpretation of life occurs in a context of fear it follows that the body will be effected in terms of being in a state of defense and alert on a consistent basis without any actual threat in the environment. Also, when the recovery process occurs there appear to be transitions in the body when the body is adjusting to a changing perception of life that involves a ongoing reduction of the fear and the reactions to fear that occur in the body. As this occurs there are changes in energy and changes in the body, that can be uncomfortable and confusing. As I see it the difficulty sleeping that is often reported is an example. We now know through advances in brain science that the brain has plasticity, i.e. it changes as the perceptions and experiences change, that new neuro pathways are created and that old pathways fade out of disuse. The chemistry changes as well. My point here is that I think it wise to be open to the possibility that what is occurring is very much related to what has been called the "occurring world", and that the way the world occurs to us is a function of the context within which we perceive it. As the context of fear departs and a context free of the underlying anxiety appears the world occurs differently, not necessarily in terms of form, but in terms of interpretation. Life occurs as an adventure rather than a problem. I hope these thoughts are useful.

My other point is about the other shoe dropping. I think I know what it is you speak of here. My suggestion is that you consider that the other shoe has dropped. Your perception that it hasn't is an attempt to match your expectations or ideas about how things should be with the way things are. In the natural state one expects everything to be as it is, so there is nothing to maintain, nothing to remain permanent other than change itself.

No problem, I can tell by what you shared that you are well along and that what I have spoken of will be clear to you soon.

You are a wonderful example of the beauty of the butterfly emerging from the last vestiges of it's previous form.

I am honored to meet you here.

Love.

David

Nancy Margalit

I started the looking about three and a half years ago. Within about two weeks I saw immediate, gratifying results. After a lifetime of heavy anxiety I was starting to experience an inner sense of okay-ness and lightness that seemed to manifest magically. Then, gradually over time, the joy got submerged under the usual anxiety and depression, only this time I was more anxious than usual about the anxiety, because I knew that there was nowhere to go from here. I chalked up my "failure" to the fact that I have acute hormonal problems. I have been diagnosed with low levels of serotonin, dopamine, estrogen, thyroid hormones, testosterone, progesterone, and apparently adrenaline as well, and have been taking vitamins, minerals, and hormones in order to help me function. I also have been taking anti-depressants without which I cannot digest enough food to sustain myself, because eighty percent of serotonin receptors are in the intestinal tract. When I went off of them, my brain was so out of whack that it felt like I was drugged with anti-cocaine. Of course such a drug does not exist, but if it did, I imagine its effects would be what was happening to me: great difficulty in processing the simplest information, and a sense of helplessness, meaninglessness, as well as a chronic feeling of horror and panic. Also, I was barely able to sleep more than four or five hours a night: around half of what I was used to sleeping. I came very close to suicide during this three-month period.

For many years I was obsesseed with the questions: Why do I need medical help to balance my body chemistry? What is wrong with me? Is my condition environmental, genetic or a combination of the two? And since 2008: Isn't the looking supposed to fix my hormones?

At this point finding answers to these questions feels less urgent. I continue to experience many unpleasant physical and mental symptoms. Just as John has said on numerous occasions, the point of the looking is not to rid us of our problems, although it will help us deal with them more intelligently. Now I find that when a symptom appears, instead of fighting it, more and more I tend to ride it like a wave, as though I were a surfer. Should I rest? Should I push through the fatigue? Should I eat something? Shouild I refrain from eating? The lifelong efforts based on fear and resistance in order to cope with the many facets of this condition are subsiding bit by bit. Now instead of wondering what the heck is wrong with me, I am better able to see things for what they are, which in turn helps me deal more awarely with the situation at hand. Over the last three years I have gathered more information about my condition than what I gathered up until now.

What I find so magical in this looking is that the instinct to put the cart before the horse is gradually disappearing. My life is showing me the truth of John's message that the problem is not in the content of the mind, nor is it in the circumstances of the life. Now, when I notice things that I don't like about what I am experiencing, I seek less and less to correct them. What's new is an awareness of these arisings as simply unpleasant, but with less of an urge to change or fix them.

The lifelong efforts based on fear and resistance in order to cope with the many facets of my condition are subsiding bit by bit. Now instead of wondering what the heck is wrong with me, I am better able to see things for what they are, which in turn helps me cope.

Just as John has said on numerous occasions, the point of the looking is not to rid us of our problems, although the looking will help us deal with them more intelligently. Now I find that when a symptom appears, instead of fighting it, more and more I tend to ride it like a wave, as though I were a surfer.

I have noticed that over the last six months or so, the urge to look has almost disappeared. A whole day can go by and I don't look. When it does occur to me to look, sometimes I take a glance, but without the frenzied need to squeeze a peek at myself. The excitement of "scoring" is gone and has been replaced with a gentle sense of familiarity and centeredness.

At the same time, I am still the same person with the same quirks and personality flaws. What is interesting is that I find that my behavior is guided less by my feelings and confusion. These days I am less defensive, less reactive, and less ruffleable.

I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I have never been able to sustain any permanent progress along this path of liberation. In the past, when I have fallen, I have fallen mighty hard. At this point it is obvious to me that I have no control over how things will evolve. I feel like a gambler playing the roulette wheel and has put all of her money on one number. Yet I can't think of anything more sensible to do.

Measuring Progress

gerrit

Dear Nancy,

I reread some of your older posts and I have some questions for you, if you don't mind.

What has happened to your "lifelong companion" fear? How much is it still your companion? Generally speaking, how happy would you say you are now? How much do you love your life? I ask this just to see how far you think you've come and how much of John's promise has come true for you. You've been doing this looking for quite some time.

I also hit a devastating period of depression/anxiety months after starting the looking that I am still trying to get out of.

Thanks,

Gerrit

Hi there Gerrit,

Interesting questions! What has happened to my buddy, fear? It still comes and visits, and I must say, feels very much at home. However, that tight, intimate relationship we used to "enjoy", has lost some its familiar comfort and predictability. It is no longer the privileged guest it used to be, and has already taken note that it has some serious competition, e.g. a sense of centeredness, self respect, trust, etc. The more these other friends spend time with me, the more fear feels it has lost its special status with me, and thereby becoming more and more scarce.

How happy am I? That's a tough one. Let me take a stab: Throughout most of my life I have been profoundly miserable, with interludes here and there of life being passable, peppered with short periods of satisfaction or enjoyment. Now I would say I am seldom miserable, am often satisfied, as well as enjoying the moment. However, I feel that that could change in a heartbeat, if my circumstances should change for the worse. I don't expect to keep feeling good, which feels totally reasonable, although I suspect this is a vestige of my past. smily

How much do I love my life? I am having a ball. In the past my life has presented me with incredible opportunities on and off, and sometimes I was able to take advantage of them, but often not. Now I feel like the universe is again sharing its abundance and I feel I am better able to take advantage of what is being offered. As above, I feel like it's all very precarious as though I'm hanging by a thread. One day at a time!

What about you? How is your life going these days? Do you continue to do the looking? How do you measure "happiness"?

Thanks for your questions, and feel free to ask again.

Dear Nancy,

This is great good news. I think I understand what you mean about feeling like your state is very precarious, like your happiness or ease holds on by a thread. Nevertheless, the fact that you give such a profoundly positive report of your life right now in contrast to all your previous years is really heartening. As much as your mind might be distrustful of the current positive state, you should be able to objectively compare your life nowadays with the rest of your past and see if you are having an undeniable unprecedented change for the better.

Nancy Margalit

What about you? How is your life going these days? Do you continue to do the looking? How do you measure "happiness"?

If you've seen many of my posts, then you know I'm struggling mightily. Haha, I've definitely been clear about that. With me, I feel like I started out pretty normal and happy and healthy, I developed some bad mental habits along the way I guess which I didn't know were bad at the time (such as keeping to myself rather than talking to others when I was in emotional distress), I built patterns of anxiety and self-hatred and shame around not achieving up to my standards in my life, I feel into a depression after college because life lost meaning and I was very stagnant, then six months ago (a few months after starting the Looking) I was hit with anxiety on steroids, so to speak, and have been trying to survive my own mind ever since....an experience I've never had of any sort in the past.

I don't look hardly ever anymore. But then again it's hard to say. I only make a strong determined conscious effort to do it once a week maybe, but I casually glimpse myself, whether successfully or not, much more often than that.

How does one measure happiness? Well, a few obvious things come to mind. If you were to ask me throughout most of this time of darkness that started six months ago, "do you want to be here?", I would have said "no". Do you want to get out of bed? Do you look forward to anything? Do you have dreams/desires for life? For me, I think that if the fears goes then the only thing preventing me from enjoying life and having aspirations and desires blossom again will be gone, so that's what I want, foolish or not.

Thanks for responding and I'm glad you're part of this community.

Gerrit

Fairy Godmother

Nancy Margalit

Hi there Gerrit,

Interesting questions! What has happened to my buddy, fear? It still comes and visits, and I must say, feels very much at home. However, that tight, intimate relationship we used to "enjoy", has lost some its familiar comfort and predictability. It is no longer the privileged guest it used to be, and has already taken note that it has some serious competition, e.g. a sense of centeredness, self respect, trust, etc. The more these other friends spend time with me, the more fear feels it has lost its special status with me, and thereby becoming more and more scarce.

How happy am I? That's a tough one. Let me take a stab: Throughout most of my life I have been profoundly miserable, with interludes here and there of life being passable, peppered with short periods of satisfaction or enjoyment. Now I would say I am seldom miserable, am often satisfied, as well as enjoying the moment. However, I feel that that could change in a heartbeat, if my circumstances should change for the worse. I don't expect to keep feeling good, which feels totally reasonable, although I suspect this is a vestige of my past. smily

How much do I love my life? I am having a ball. In the past my life has presented me with incredible opportunities on and off, and sometimes I was able to take advantage of them, but often not. Now I feel like the universe is again sharing its abundance and I feel I am better able to take advantage of what is being offered. As above, I feel like it's all very precarious as though I'm hanging by a thread. One day at a time!

What about you? How is your life going these days? Do you continue to do the looking? How do you measure "happiness"?

Thanks for your questions, and feel free to ask again.

Dear David (DParrish),

I hope you don't mind being called a fairy godmother. For a very long time I have been on the lookout for someone like you, who has a handle on people with acute physiological/psychological symptoms, as well as people on this inward path that defies definitions and limitations. In my "gut", I have known all along that labels and what they represent are a mental construct, yet my personal experience seems to have proven again and again that I am indeed the embodiment of a series of diagnoses, due to symptoms that have only intensified over the years in a most alarming manner. As a result, my path has felt like a betwixt and between one. On the one hand I have had to treat some very acute symptoms, and on the other hand I have come to see these symptoms as temporary, even meaningless phenomena. Yet at the same time, since the symptoms have compromised my life in so many ways since early childhood, my perceptions are based on dysfunction to the extreme. It's been confusing trying to sort it all out. Certainly we all experience this dichotomy on many levels. However for me, my life experience has been one of a person in a specific and very frightening "category". The more I would try to fight it, the worse it got, until finally, four years ago, upon witnessing my level of distress and anxiety, a dear friend advised me to check in to the nearest psychiatric facility. I didn't do this, as I knew that there was nothing to do and nowhere to go, except plug along. Now I feel I finally have a mentor who can hold both perceptions at the same time and sees no contradiction between them, no matter the severity of the symptoms. This is not only deeply healing, but also a profound lesson with many exciting implications.

So thank you David for reaching out so lovingly and eloquently,

Nancy

One Number

Nancy Margalit

I started the looking about three and a half years ago. Within about two weeks I saw immediate, gratifying results. After a lifetime of heavy anxiety I was starting to experience an inner sense of okay-ness and lightness that seemed to manifest magically. Then, gradually over time, the joy got submerged under the usual anxiety and depression, only this time I was more anxious than usual about the anxiety, because I knew that there was nowhere to go from here. I chalked up my "failure" to the fact that I have acute hormonal problems. I have been diagnosed with low levels of serotonin, dopamine, estrogen, thyroid hormones, testosterone, progesterone, and apparently adrenaline as well, and have been taking vitamins, minerals, and hormones in order to help me function. I also have been taking anti-depressants without which I cannot digest enough food to sustain myself, because eighty percent of serotonin receptors are in the intestinal tract. When I went off of them, my brain was so out of whack that it felt like I was drugged with anti-cocaine. Of course such a drug does not exist, but if it did, I imagine its effects would be what was happening to me: great difficulty in processing the simplest information, and a sense of helplessness, meaninglessness, as well as a chronic feeling of horror and panic. Also, I was barely able to sleep more than four or five hours a night: around half of what I was used to sleeping. I came very close to suicide during this three-month period.

FoNr many years I was obsesseed with the questions: Why do I need medical help to balance my body chemistry? What is wrong with me? Is my condition environmental, genetic or a combination of the two? And since 2008: Isn’t the looking supposed to fix my hormones?

At this point finding answers to these questions feels less urgent. I continue to experience many unpleasant physical and mental symptoms. Just as John has said on numerous occasions, the point of the looking is not to rid us of our problems, although it will help us deal with them more intelligently. Now I find that when a symptom appears, instead of fighting it, more and more I tend to ride it like a wave, as though I were a surfer. Should I rest? Should I push through the fatigue? Should I eat something? Shouild I refrain from eating? The lifelong efforts based on fear and resistance in order to cope with the many facets of this condition are subsiding bit by bit. Now instead of wondering what the heck is wrong with me, I am better able to see things for what they are, which in turn helps me deal more awarely with the situation at hand. Over the last three years I have gathered more information about my condition than what I gathered up until now.

What I find so magical in this looking is that the instinct to put the cart before the horse is gradually disappearing. My life is showing me the truth of John’s message that the problem is not in the content of the mind, nor is it in the circumstances of the life. Now, when I notice things that I don’t like about what I am experiencing, I seek less and less to correct them. What’s new is an awareness of these arisings as simply unpleasant, but with less of an urge to change or fix them.

The lifelong efforts based on fear and resistance in order to cope with the many facets of my condition are subsiding bit by bit. Now instead of wondering what the heck is wrong with me, I am better able to see things for what they are, which in turn helps me cope.

Just as John has said on numerous occasions, the point of the looking is not to rid us of our problems, although the looking will help us deal with them more intelligently. Now I find that when a symptom appears, instead of fighting it, more and more I tend to ride it like a wave, as though I were a surfer.

I have noticed that over the last six months or so, the urge to look has almost disappeared. A whole day can go by and I don’t look. When it does occur to me to look, sometimes I take a glance, but without the frenzied need to squeeze a peek at myself. The excitement of "scoring" is gone and has been replaced with a gentle sense of familiarity and centeredness.

At the same time, I am still the same person with the same quirks and personality flaws. What is interesting is that I find that my behavior is guided less by my feelings and confusion. These days I am less defensive, less reactive, and less ruffleable.

I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I have never been able to sustain any permanent progress along this path of liberation. In the past, when I have fallen, I have fallen mighty hard. At this point it is obvious to me that I have no control over how things will evolve. I feel like a gambler playing the roulette wheel and has put all of her money on one number. Yet I can’t think of anything more sensible to do.

Hi Nancy,

I couldn't decide which part of your post to quote, so much of what you wrote resonated with me, that I felt I could have written it myself! So beautifully said! And at the end when you wrote: "I feel like a gambler playing the roulette wheel and has put all of her money on one number. Yet I can’t think of anything more sensible to do...." I cried, b/c I have made the very same "wager."

I wanted to share two sides of my current journey of recovery that seem to apply to your journey, one seems to be more positive -- on the side of success, i.e., the looking engaging and the other on the less positive side, i.e., physical discomforts arising.

Recently, with regularity, I am able to see what is present just as it is. I don't believe I can put it better than that. It happens when I'm thinking thoughts, when I'm stressing out about something, trying to get to sleep at night, or just driving the car and watching the scenery pass by. It is the most pleasant simple state of just allowing whatever is present to be present, no matter what the "grade" I'm giving it -- in fact, the grading process falls into the same place -- it's just what is.

The other side is that the stress and the discomfort of being in new or seemingly uncontrollable situations with others is causing me physical distress. Trips, meetings, gatherings where I used to try to hide my fear and it would successfully take quieter forms in my body are now rising to the surface in discomforting physical forms that I'm no longer able to successfully hide. And b/c of that, I'm "outed" -- these old, long-hidden fears that my body accepted and quietly held for me, are held no longer. It appears to me that they are coming out, coming forward, and hopefully coming through and out of me...but regardless of their journey, it is now clear to me how ancient this fear is, and how I have hidden it from myself, probably in shame, for my whole life until now. And b/c of that, I'm having to step up to the fact of it -- whatever is, is present! -- and just live through it, in the midst of it, because of it, and in spite of it. I'm not sure how gracefully I am doing this ... and in the midst of it I will often feel despairing, but then my view clears and I can just see what is ... this is just what is ... and I'm OK.

So, the fear of life may be still alive and well in me -- and yet, there is this looking that is occurring more and more regularly, filling me with life. I am no longer doing the inward looking "as if my hair was on fire" -- in fact, I seldom think of it anymore, but now and then, I will point my attention/intention inward and in that moment, again, I simply see what is present in such a fresh way that I am astonished by it.

Thank you so much for your sharing here.

with love,

Dawn

Serotonin and an Update

Directcontact

...it is now clear to me how ancient this fear is, and how I have hidden it from myself, probably in shame, for my whole life until now. And b/c of that, I'm having to step up to the fact of it--whatever is, is present!--and just live through it, in the midst of it, because of it, and in spite of it. I'm not sure how gracefully I am doing this... and in the midst of it I will often feel despairing, but then my view clears and I can just see what is... this is just what is... and I'm OK.

So, the fear of life may be still alive and well in me--and yet, there is this looking that is occurring more and more regularly, filling me with life. I am no longer doing the inward looking "as if my hair was on fire"--in fact, I seldom think of it anymore, but now and then, I will point my attention/intention inward and in that moment, again, I simply see what is present in such a fresh way that I am astonished by it.

Thank you so much for your sharing here. with love, Dawn

Dear Dawn,

I would say you are doing it very gracefully. In the sense of grace as something happening outside your control and for your own good. I would also venture to guess that the passing of the fear of life is what has precipitated all this. Strap on your seat belt for a very interesting ride. Lera

The Seatbelt

lerajane

I would say you are doing it very gracefully. In the sense of grace as something happening outside your control and for your own good. I would also venture to guess that the passing of the fear of life is what has precipitated all this. Strap on your seat belt for a very interesting ride. Lera

Thank you dear Lera for your support, it helps me to know that my experience, which often feels ungainly, is indeed graceful ...

And I loved your last sentence, when I read it, I had a good laugh!

with love,

Dawn

 

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