As a child in the 60’s, part of my memories of summer fun includes the fogging trucks that slowly drove through our neighborhoods in an attempt to kill mosquitoes. My siblings, friends, and I would follow along behind the trucks as they spewed DDT and other toxic chemicals into the air surrounding us. Sounds crazy, right? But we did it!
Years later, as a registered nurse, I began to learn about the effects of toxic chemicals on our health. I was a little concerned at how prevalent they were. But I brushed off the concern. Oh well, I thought, nothing bad will happen to me, because I eat really healthfully and I exercise!
Then, without warning, I was forced into a whole new understanding of the debilitating maladies that can come as the result of living in our chemically-saturated world. When I was in my 30s, I was diagnosed with Environmental Illness.
I’d thought my life was perfect. I loved my husband, my kids, and my work. We were remodeling our home to add a game-room for our kids and their friends. But the toxic chemicals from the renovation overloaded my body. I found myself reacting to everything I could taste, smell, breathe, and touch. The toxins had forced my brain into fight-or-flight mode, seeing literally everything I came in contact with as a threat. My body was racked with pain from head to toe. And I fought for every breath that I took just to stay alive.
Because I was allergic to everything in my environment, I was forced to live in isolation in a hospital, and then in my home. I lived in a sealed off room, stripped to the concrete floor, bare walls, and a simple metal cot.
But nothing could compare to the mental anguish that consumed me. My reactions to chemicals affected my brain and nervous system as well, and my depression was tormenting and deeper than the pits of hell. Anxiety and fear kept me trapped within the walls of my mind. I couldn’t find relief in medications, because I reacted severely to them. There was no peace. No freedom. No hope!
This was compounded by the fact that, 30 years ago, few people understood the effects of chemicals and toxins, and some people thought I was simply being a hypochondriac — or had become mentally ill.
The doctors gave me little assurance of having a normal life again. I knew my only answer was to hang onto my faith and believe in an almighty God who loved me and would remain faithful to me. And He did. Through a miracle-filled, two-year process, He restored me to health. By His grace I am healthy today and living life to the fullest.
Out of my near-death experience and my journey of faith through Environmental Illness, God gave me a passion to help others to see the dangers of toxic chemicals. When I became a counselor, I knew that being informed of the effects of the toxic chemicals that surround us would enhance the counseling process.
Since God designed our minds and bodies to function together in wholeness, we have to be aware that if one part of our client’s body is unhealthy or malfunctioning due to toxins, it will be impossible to get the client to a healthy place of mental and emotional well-being. So I also encourage and teach my clients to live a healthful lifestyle.
While I don’t have space here to share all that I would like you to know about the effects of toxins on mental health, I would like to share some symptoms that may indicate that your client is dealing with the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle or toxic chemicals.
- Brain fog
- Mental fatigue
- Panic attacks
- Hormonal disruption
- Learning disabilities
- Mood disorders
The following are just a few products that that are filled with toxic chemicals. (In my presentation I will elaborate on others, as well as, how to replace them with safe products).
- Processed foods
- Drinking water
- Plastic containers
- Air fresheners, perfumes, colognes and other scented products
- Pesticides and lawn care products
- Building/remodeling products
- Non-stick cookware
- Personal care items
- Laundry/cleaning products
Please remember that giving this information is not to indicate that all mental health issues are the result of our toxic-chemical environment. This information is given solely to enhance the counseling process.
Enjoy your journey to healthy living!
To learn more about the effects of toxic chemicals on mental health, look for my presentation at the AACC Conference in Nashville, September 2017. And watch for information on my soon to be released book, But God, Where Are You? Finding Hope During the Difficult Journey of Environmental Illness.