STEP 1: Taking accountability My emotional relationship with sugar and everything sweet.
Writer: Saira Hussain
Sisters, the way I used to think about my SKIN was the adversity that I was trying to unfold.
Before I begin writing this chapter, I had to ask myself a few deeply embedded questions that seemed easy to avoid in my youth due to the energy I had and my metabolism. If you're someone who is struggling with your well-being internally, the exterior signs will catch up soon if you remain with your generational choices. It may be easy being fed; having someone cook for you so you can feel full or even sleep whenever you want to because you're young - but sister, it will catch up to you. I just never thought it would so quickly. These are the questions I ask myself routinely. Not weekly, but at least twice a month to check in with myself and acknowledge my sense of self. If it helps play the practitioner and the patient while asking yourself the following questions and journal your reflections:
What is your relationship with your body right now?
How do you talk about your skin, hair, nails?
Are you constantly over-giving?
Are you an over-achiever?
STOP RIGHT HERE
Let's begin by taking a time-out. Yes, I said it. Let's close our eyes and find a place of peace...disengaging from our minds and falling into our bodies.
Now that you've completed that you've surrounded your pain with pink and golden light, would you like to know more? Read below.
I took an oath with myself earlier last year that I will move through the intricately woven layers of my pain; agony, lack of self-esteem and conditioning to find the source of who I truly am. With the aid of the pandemic and many months of therapy, mindfully guided meditation, love letter writing & exchanging my symptom queries for open-ended research and a new family doctor (thank goodness) I have made some remarkable and very simple discoveries about my body. I'm here today to share them with you. As a womxn's self-worth advocate I know how the volume of our Inner critic can build a void around our efforts and courage and influence our bodies for the worse. I ask you to acknowledge that you are here because you DESIRE TO CHOOSE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE for your WELL-BEING. THAT IS ENOUGH to get you started.
Firstly, I'd like to re-introduce myself. My name is Saira Hussain and I am a Holistic Health and Henna Practitioner, a womxn's self-worth and Parkinson's awareness advocate, an Intuitive healer and aspiring art-psychotherapist. My work involves working with our energetic systems and alternative medicine to help heal the body, mind with the power of the Heart. I'm am a love of the earth and all PLANTS are my family. Give me an HERB, a FLOWER and let's embrace their powers. We have so much to be grateful for including our indigenous sisters and their families. Let's take a moment to pay our respects to the medicine womxn, our spiritual guides and ancestors for helping us connect with our home; Gaia. I am a wild flower and a free spirit. A bipoc Muslim womxn on a path to break down the walls of segregation that have caused chaos to lead. I am here to tell you that I have had enough and the sisters of our universe are supporting me on this path. Are you in?
Let's begin by taking back our bodies and understanding our skin.
I have broken down this series of Healing my Skin into three layers of the most nutritious marination I have found (presently) with research, wellness guides and belief in self-healing. My skin healing journey includes the following:
Yes, a 3 S-RECIPE !
It all begins by understanding the term 'balance'.
It's easier said than achieved. Firstly, the act of healing is a life long process. Many of us go on believing that we have healed ourselves - our bodies, our mental state or our families but healing is not a permanent solution. Where there is the process of healing, there is immense adversity and with a challenge comes a learned lesson or a few. GROWTH happens when pain begins to speak!
As we build self-awareness this first week, let's look at how we can achieve homeostasis and what this means for our SKIN:
Homeostasis refers to the state of internal balance by all living systems. We are complex creatures and our systems include involuntary and voluntary actions. We are also made of our seventy-trillion cells and as we age our bodies are transitioning in and out of physical, mental, emotional, and psycho-spiritual stages. This takes a lot of energy and fuel is needed to restore our systems so that we can operate at an optimal level.
Peeling back the layers:
When the pandemic hit our world, fear was magnified by the media and we fed off of this fear. It is not your fault. We have been programmed to live in a sympathetic state because we have been trying to over-achieve; perfect ourselves to the expectations of others and if we do not achieve what we are set out to do, we feel guilty. If it wasn't for the pandemic, I wouldn't have had the time to rest and reflect to view my life with a bird's eye view. When you are feeling stressed, you can extract yourself from the present situation by practicing the guided meditation I provided above or removing yourself from the toxic environment that you are in. It is not always a gentle process to do so and many times we find ourselves drifting away from those who we considered our family. The first element in raising self-awareness is to acknowledge that you are not responsible for healing the world; your family, your loved ones or your friends. We are all individuals set on our own journeys and the unfolding is done in becoming a self-compassionate witness during a period of deep isolation - darkness. In Jungian psychology, we call this our shadow self, which can also be identified as unconsciousness (avoidance or ignoring our truths). As the intrusive thoughts increased so did my weight, my self doubt and emotional eating habits.
What is it?
Dermatitis: A clinical term used to describe a wide variety of skin conditions characterized by an inflammation of the skin.
Contact Dermatitis: Demarcation on the skin due to a reaction of another material, substance (related to contact). Personally, I was using a VB highlight palette over my cheeks and one day decided to use it over my eyes. The fragrance, latex and parabens in the compact caused my skin to be inflamed and luckily I was able to catch it before the sebum levels arrived.
What does it feel like? Look like?
When the sun entered my bedroom on March 14th 2020, I felt as if a the season of drought had accumulated over the bridge of my nose and surrounding cheeks. As I continued to pan my hands over my face, I found myself stripping scraping away what felt like snake skin flaking away from my sideburns. This was unusual and my eyes had become extremely sensitive to light. I woke up and rushed to the bathroom to notice (first image in collage below) the inflammation that had grown over a period of 8 hours. I sent photos to my cousin who is an ND immediately because I didn't want to speak to my family doctor at the time. I felt as if I wasn't heard and what I needed was a further diagnosis so I did further research on my own.
The layers of my face began to burn, itch and wrinkle. It was as if the over-achiever (one of my false selves) had burned out and that was my sign to surrender and listen to my body.
How do I heal my skin?
Luckily, with the pandemic all resources were virally available - electronically and physically. I had a choice to make to either wait till a clinic is taking new patients OR use keywords that depict my symptoms clearly. I did just that and I found both an acute, organic made product from a local, Indigenous womxn who answered all my questions. I am grateful to Patrice for introducing me to Satya Organicfor its soothing ingredients of calendula, jojoba and almond oil (carriers), avena sateva (oats) merged with beeswax help relieved my skin of irritation and stress. One of the major components of this organic beauty agent are the oats. 'Oats are proven to feed the nervous system, especially when under stress. When in cases of exhaustion or nervous debility and the high level of sililcic acid in the straw of the plant is great for skin conditions', Hoffman, 26.
What changes do I make to my diet?
My liver was working overnight shifts because I developed a chronic sugar addiction. I was unable to decipher between my mindful, enjoyable times of treating myself. Self-sabotage branched out of creating pain due to frustration and I began to believe that sugar helped suppress my inability to perform well. Have you ever heard of doing too much or making excuses to stay busy because you couldn't handle yourself? Talk about a WHIP of acceptance. Yes. A part of my healing journey was to take accountability of where I was and when I was ignorant of the signs (bloating, acute sensitivities on my skin and lethargy became redundant). I was always short of breath and had an estranged relationship with hydration and sleep. Post marriage, my twenty years of insomnia extended into disrupting quality time with my husband and I was afraid of the dark. It wasn't until I had my blood work done that I recognized what my toxic habits had done to my internal systems. Taking out high cholesterol foods (cheese) and high inflammatory foods (dairy and processed chocolate bars and gummies, cookies and late night munchies) from my diet helped cleanse my system. This wasn't enough.
What signs should I look for in my mental state?
I needed something more than simple changing my diet. I needed a powerful product that would help BALANCE my insulin levels so that my sebum levels could decrease and my adrenal glands could heal. My cortisol levels were off the charts with my weekly panic attacks and the realization of being indoors with only computers and phones as our communication devices really threw me into a void of further personal dilemmas. If I can put my mental state into a visual narrative, it would look like this.
'I was facing my shadow self in a court room and I could see all my organs and their case files piling up against me. They all had complaints and had tiny mouths and legs and arms. They were running up to the judge whose role was played by my anatomical heart. It was so clear and for the first time, I personified the act of every cell, tissue and organ in my body. It was overwhelming but the work had to be done. Their case studies had depth. We all agreed that change was needed..'
How does the act of movement affect my skin?
Truth: Our bodies were made to move, not to sit. Our vessels are like ships or a luxury car. Imagine buying a Lamborghini and parking it in your car for a decade. What would be the value of that car? What would happen to its engine over time? The paint would become corrosive and tar would change to mould over the years of moisture collected. Materials change states as do elements and our systems. If we are to understand our bodies as a luxury car then we need to desire to move our bodies to achieve great circulation if not aligned harmony. The body is your sacred temple, vessel for your being and lifetime here on earth. We will speak about the spirit and essence another day. With your movement comes ample care of the fuel that you put into your body. A good balance of healthy fats (avocados, nuts, EFAs), protein (lentils, meat, eggs) and fiber (vegetables) can all aid to the beginning of your healing ritual.
How does sleep affect my skin?
As I slept less and embraced my body in a state of fear, my self defence mechanisms increased and I further pushed away those who I loved. I became angry because I was unable to face my inner child and communicate my feelings, let alone trust anyone even if it were a doctor. I was never taught to express my feelings and this frustrated me furthermore into my adulthood until I discovered a sisterhood a part of the wellness communities.
My sleep routine began to advance with less exposure to blue light and I surrounded myself and my home; those who I loved with a white light from the Divine. During my meditations, I asked my higher self for clarity so that I could rest in my body with gentleness and not with force. My body was depleted of collagen, which increased my wrinkles and skin texture changes. Now I am focusing on balancing my cortisol levels so that I can increase my Melatonin; the hormone for restoration and repair by drinking a soothing fennel tea before bed. I love this herbal infusion because it is a great carminative and helps move my bowels before bed so that I am not disturbing the work schedule of my liver at 2 am.
Our skin is our largest organ and it needs oxygen and exfoliation to restore itself. As I increased my self-love rituals to drain my lymphatic system (place for cellular waste) I noticed my skin flourish with illuminate with the colours of a beautiful rose. I enjoy a great dry brush scrub (a counterclockwise circulation movement in the direction of my heart) but never directly above my heart. Also, as I developed a routine, I found this new ritual act as an act of self-compassion, which increased my serotonin levels. For my face, I gently exfoliate with soaked rolled oats and apply the Satya Organic
What are my next steps?
Listening to our pain is not easy to process, let alone accept. Taking accountability in addressing the symptoms that I had allowed to rest within my body was an unbearable process because I had resisted it for so long. I blamed others for my imbalances in finances, my relationship, my unhappiness with work and my broken friendships. To sit with myself and build this self-awareness is where I began to unmask the layers of my false selves as a perfectionist, over-achiever and over-doer.
If it wasn't for this time of global stillness and unfolding of fear, I wouldn't have dived in to take responsibility for my body and well-being. I would have allowed my past lifestyle to direct me into the intergenerational trauma wounding and degenerative diseases that stem from my parents' families - Parkinson's disease. I took an oath to discontinue the rooted developments of this chronic mental health illness so that my family can live a prosperous life. The choice to live is in your hands.
"It is not for the rose to unfold to you, but for you to unfold to the rose's enlightenment.." RUMI
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