Today I’m joined by Dr. Christina Bjorndal! While she was working on her undergraduate degree at UBC, she experienced a debilitating depression and anxiety which was very difficult to treat. She also had an eating disorder and had a difficult time coping with stress at that time. Like most people, she hadn’t heard about naturopathic medicine, so she treated herself with medications that were unfortunately ineffective. After surviving a suicide attempt, she finally began the healing process after reading the book Returning to Love by Mariam Williamson. Up until this point, she was living with the shame and stigma of having a mental illness.
Since reading that book she has spent over 20 years learning to accept herself and her diagnosis with the help of many other practitioners and has found many other ways to treat her mental disease. After attending a mental health forum in 1999, she became a patient of Dr. Abraham Hoffner and experienced her first depression free year in 13 years. It was then that she decided to become a naturopathic doctor to help people heal from all diseases from addiction, to eating disorders, and OCD to name a few.
She has written a book called Beyond the Label: Moving from Mental Illness to Wellness with Naturopathic Medicine which will soon be available on Amazon!
Questions I Asked Christina:
- Describe what it was like to set up your practice.
- Did you always know you wanted to focus on mental health issues?
- What struggles or benefits did you experience opening your practice in a small community?
- How pivotal was it for you to go above and beyond to learn about the area you want to specialize in?
- What are some other areas of your practice that you have found really add to your success in the industry?
What You’ll Learn From This Episode:
- How Christina decided where she would open her practice.
- What Christina believes the number one hurdle is for naturopaths when opening their practices.
- The benefits Christina has found by focusing on one aspect of naturopathic work.
- Why Christina believes in healing yourself as a practitioner before healing other patients.
- Keynote Speaker
- Beyond the Label Book
- Testimonials from Dr. Chris
- Beyond the Label Training
- Moving Beyond the Coaching Program
- Edmonton Naturopathic Blog
Connect with Christina:
Hello Everyone! It is your hostess with the mostest on the Profitable Practice Podcast Andrea Maxim and this is going to be one of the last Podcasts of 2016 if you can believe it. So I started this Podcast in January of this year, we’ve done almost 40 shows and this one is going to be the last one to wrap up the year and then tons of great new interviews, great new people to talk to, great topics to talk about coming up in 2017. This interview is a really great one, and I definitely could’ve listened to Dr. Christina talk for at least an hour but I had to cut things short a little bit, but I wanted to bring someone who is incredibly successful in our field. She’s been in Naturopathic Medicine for two decades, so she is a legitimate elder in our community. And I wanted to bring her on specifically because she created a successful thriving practice by figuring out exactly who her target population was, exactly what condition she wanted to treat, and completely stayed consistent with that throughout her entire practice right from the get-go. So I thought that would be a really fantastic topic for people that are kind on the fantasy of whether they should niche, whether they should have a target population and if you know anything about me, I always say you need to identify your ideal target market, the ideal patient avatar that you want to target. And this is a great example to why so without further ado let’s get started with the interview.
[2:19] Andrea: Hi Chris! How is it going?
Christina: Good, how about yourself?
Andrea: I’m doing very well! I’m about ready to burst here, so when people actually listen to this Podcast I will be a mother of two instead of one, so that’s kind of exciting. And I’m so thrilled to have you on the show because your background is so raw, and you clearly disclosed this on your website which I love and I think a lot of the practitioners that want to be successful in our practice, they want to learn from successful NDs and to tapping into the emotional side of things can be taunting so I’m thrilled that we’re going to break all that down today.
So let me introduce to you formally, this is Dr. Christina Bjorndal I’m talking to and while she was doing her undergraduate degree at UBC n the late 1980’s, she herself experienced a debilitating depression and anxiety which is very difficult to treat, she also had an eating disorder and was not coping with stress at that time. Like most people, she had not heard about Naturopathic Medicine or Orthomolecular Medicine, so she treated herself with medications that were unfortunately ineffective after surviving a suicide attempt which left her on a coma in dialysis waiting for a kidney transplant, she finally began the healing process after reading a book called ‘A Return to Love’ by Marianne Williamson. Up until this point she is living with this shame stigma of having a mental illness. Since reading that book she has spent 20 years learning to accept and understand herself and her diagnosis with the help of many other practitioners and found a lot of natural ways to treat the mental disease. After attending a mental health form in 1999, she became a patient of Dr. Abram Hoffer and experienced her first depression-free year in 13 years, and it was from that experience she decided to become a naturopathic doctor and help people heal from anxiety, depression, anorexia, bulimia, bipolar type 1 and 2, addiction, schizophrenia, ADD, ADHD, OCD, using natural therapies and orthomolecular medicine. And what is even more fabulous is she’s actually written a book called ‘Beyond the Label’ moving from mental illness to wellness with naturopathic medicine which will soon be available in Amazon and I think that is just brilliant! So congratulations on your journey, and everything that’s brought you to this point.
[5:12] Christina: Thank you! That has been about a little bit of a long journey, that’s for sure but I’m glad to be here.
Andrea: And if you weren’t here I could only imagine how many patients wouldn’t be where they are and they wouldn’t have the success stories if it wasn’t for you. And it’s nice about your journey while it was definitely trying. It allows you to relate to patients a lot better than going through exactly what you said those labels and the stigma about mental illness. So I’d really love for you to dive more into your journey and sort of what inspired you to really go down this path.
[5:54] Christina: Yeah! You know it’s funny there are a couple more things that I think are more important to mention. Well, basically I grew up with a family that was more medically oriented and I think not to blame them. It’s just that Naturopathic Medicine wasn’t as common back in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s. So you only know what you know and so if your child was sick you can take them to the doctor, and so that was the thing that my parents did for me but when you’re not getting better then you need to start looking for other solutions and so for myself, to become a Naturopathic Doctor was a big leap for me because I was in business. When I graduated from University I had a commerce degree and I worked in the banking world for a decade. And I ended up reporting to a CEO, but ultimately I was so sick and tired of being tired and sick for the entire decade of 1989 to 1999, I was quite unwell. But I was wearing a mask, because I did not want anybody to know that I had anxiety and depression, and ultimately I also have bipolar disorder type 1, which is a big slap in the face. It is a really difficult condition so I was told that I’m going to need medication for the rest of my life. That’s basically how we treat bipolar disorder. For myself, I was always questioned why is that, why do I have this in the first place, and they would say it is genetic, there’s nothing you can do basically, just take this medication and that’s our solution for you. That just didn’t stick with me because I’m also adopted and so I did not have the benefit of looking to my genetic background to verify the truth in that statement. And so I just thought ‘I don’t know, I don’t buy that’ and so that’s what started me on this quest ultimately to find solutions and find another way. So I went to see a Naturopathic doctor first in 1996 and that time, believe it or not, I called in 1994 to go and see his name is Dr. Larry Chan. He was in Vancouver and I had to wait for 2 years to go and see him. So that was the time I tried to commit suicide it was in 1994 and anyways when I did get to see Larry he did not specialize in mental health but the interesting thing about that whole experience was, I was a very much skeptic at heart, so when I went to see him, I did not go to see him for bipolar disorder, depression, or anxiety. I went to see him for acne, I didn’t tell him that I had a mental health condition because I wasn’t on board, I was just going because my friend told me to go and so he did Vega Testing, and in that Testing, there’s one measurement called Endogenous Depression which means basically depression from within when I went for a follow up with him, the first question that he asked me was ‘Have you had depression?’ and I immediately thought that my friend told him about my health history and so I asked him and he said No and I said ‘why are you asking me that?’ and then he explained that I was way off the chart on that particular measurement on the Vega test which sold me on Naturopathic Medicine. So I was a believer from that point on and anyways I then went to see Dr. Hoffer at that time he was on his 80’s and I thought to myself clearly this is not the only person in the country that can help people with mental health and I know there’s a lot of people suffering. And that’s when I decided to make the career change and that was very challenging for me because I had to go back to high school at 33 years of age. Because I didn’t do the sciences, I was more of art and then business student, so I went back to high school then I went to University then I went to Naturopathic School
[10:49] Andrea: Now with this history and what brought you into the field, describe to me how it was to set up your practice and did you always know that you’re going to focus on mental or emotional conditions or did it evolve to that or sort of what was the stepping stone-like?
[11:09] Christina: Yes, so for me that was a very clear intent why I went to Naturopathic School with one intention only and that was to help people with mental health. So it is very specific in my focus, the frustration for me was; I wanted to practice like Larry Chan and he does a lot of Muscle Testing, Veg Testing and that kind of thing, so when I went to CCNM I’m waiting to learn that at the end of the 2nd year I still did not learn it and so I asked somebody and they say “We don’t teach that” and I’m thinking ‘Then what am I here for, because that’s what I want to learn!’. So I did have a very specific focus, so I went and got additional training when I was at CCNM and I went to the Gestalt Psychotherapy and I did my first Psychotherapy training in Gestalt, while I was at CCNM and I also did additional training in cognitive behavioral therapy so I utilize five types of therapy in my practice; Solution-Focused Therapy, Mindfulness-Based Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Gestalt Psychotherapy, and integrate every program in every technique. Because ultimately I feel that the root of a lot in mental illness lies in Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual around. So our Western system is focused on the physical and same with the Naturopathic Medicine to a certain degree which is fine, but if that is all you’re focused on then you’re missing 75% of the puzzle for a person, so for myself, to answer the question about practice, I was very specific in my intent. My first month at CCNM I did an analysis on the entire country patient-population to city and ratio of Naturopathic Doctors and I was going to Squamish because that was the highest population with the lowest number of Naturopathic Doctors and I’m from Vancouver, so I wanted to go to that area so that was going to work out perfect for me. But then I met somebody, I met a student who was 2 years ahead of me at CCNM. And we ended up getting married, so my husband had no desire to go to Vancouver area or Squamish for that matter and he is from the Uconn so I was very open-minded, I was basically open to go to wherever and he is the first nation, so he wanted to go back Uconn to practice and he graduated, so away he went I finished up 2 years later and joined him in the Uconn. So I wanted to open but it was just too dark and the winters were so long and so moat. And it is beautiful and the nature’s amazing and we worked with a lot of first nation bands out in the bush, it was an incredible experience but ultimately what happened was; we moved to Fort Mcmurray because another colleague of ours wanted to move to Vancouver and he gave us his practice actually as a wedding present. So basically we started there and we were busy from the get-go because there were no Naturopathic Doctors there. So that’s basically how I started in practice, we were extremely busy but I got pregnant right away so I ended up going on maternity leave about six weeks after I got my license, everything happens for a reason but that was so stressful at that time because we were newly married and newly in practice, there was a lot of practice in that time. And then we relocated to Augmentin and again it’s another city that at that time had a very few Naturopathic Doctors so location does matter in practice and I know that a lot of people are in busier centers but that is really a big plus for us being in smaller places with very little services in terms of medical services or not as many as Naturopathic Doctors in Augmentin just a larger city.
[16:10] Andrea: I’d love to elaborate on that point as well because that was a common question especially for new graduates and I get this a lot when I do my discovery days with the first-year students on their first week at school is number one, how do I start my practice is it safe for me to start in a small community, whether is there a lot of Naturopaths or should I started in a larger booming community where Naturopathic medicine is “A little bit Normalized” or many it has been already integrated into the population there and I would love to get your take on that because number one you also opened up your practice when the traction wasn’t there for Naturopaths and now I mean it is all over the place and it is so much easier and this is what I tell the students all the time; what our elders have done for this profession has made our jobs so much easier now when it comes to starting a practice. But I’d love to know the struggles if any there were, or the benefits you noticed with opening up a small community where it might have not been as well known and kind of setting yourself up as a pioneer in that community.
[17:27] Christina: Well, that community, in particular, is unique, really as a unique community in a sense, because the oil and gas industry, this is back in 2005 the economy is very different now than it was in 2005. But, having said that the oil and gas community have very large extended health benefits to their patients or employees, so many have health pending accounts with at least a thousand dollars in there, which is a major hurdle for a lot of people it’s financial peace. So that’s one thing that’s really tapping in. So regardless of what city you end up setting up your practice, you really have to tap into businesses to support their employees with extended health because that is the number one hurdle we have. So the other things, I guess a negative for potentially setting up a small practice in a small location won’t apply to everybody, but in my case this is huge. Because of my mental illness, I’m just coming out of the closet so to speak of Bipolar disorder type 1 which is why you don’t see that in my bio. What you will see on my website is; I will say that I have a family member with Bipolar disorder type 1 and that family member is me. But I haven’t been public about that because of my own issues around the stigma and shame of Bipolar disorder type 1, and also when I first started off in business, my psychiatrist said don’t tell anybody about this, nobody needs to know in business and I don’t want you telling anyone because they may use it against you in business because business can be quite political. So I really took that this is something that I have to hide, so when you’re in a small community and you’re sick, I didn’t want anybody to know, so I felt for myself, I did quite have post-partum depression in Fort McMurray, and I felt I couldn’t go because I did not want anybody to know. So being in a larger center for me is better because I can be anonymous. But I think ultimately wherever you go whether it’s a big city or saturated or not saturated or a small center, you have to follow your heart and you have to follow your passion, and you have to put in the work. I hear those discussions that I see on those different threads on the chat groups and what not but I really feel that it really comes down to you. I mean if you want to go on a place with 5,000 people well that may not be the best choice but I think when we were on school the ratio was 20,000 to 1 per 1 ND, but I don’t know, I think that if there could be a chiropractic clinic on every corner in a four-corner intersection.
[21:13] Andrea: And I completely agree with you, it is that people are going to be attracted to you as the practitioner not necessarily your location or how your clinic has set up and I would really like to tap into more around your history with the mental/emotional illnesses that you’ve been so wonderful at fully disclosing to as on the show and you’re disclosing that now that is more in a public scale which I love. How has that focus and how has that really help to develop your practice because another question that a lot of new practitioners have is, well I want to treat it all, I don’t know what my target market is, I don’t know who I want to treat, for you, it was a no brainer, for other people it’s not going to necessarily come down easy. But I can imagine the success that you’ve received with your practice that has been very much attributed to the fact that you knew what you wanted to treat and you knew what extra therapies and techniques that you have to learn to provide that appropriate treatment to your patients and how that’s kind of unfolded for you in your practice.
[22:28] Christina: Yes, so you’re right in the sense that you know there’s a law of attraction piece of the puzzle, so, for example, you’re a practitioner that doesn’t have an area of focus and isn’t sure what you want to specialize in, we have to remember that you specialize into human beings and that’s the difference. I think between Naturopathic Medicine and Western Medicine that we are more focused on treating the person versus the condition, and I think we have to make a little bit of a shift in the mindset like I often get a call ‘Do you treat Psoriasis? Do you treat conditions A and B?’ and I always say that we treat people, so the person on the other side of the phone, we treat them. It doesn’t matter what condition they have, cancer or I mean if you have a focus on cancer that is a specific condition, but you want to marry the two together and not get caught in that condition piece of the puzzle so much, but I get it that is what draws the patients because the patient is stuck on the label that has been given or I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. And it is trying to move them from that because we all know that; do they really have that? So I think what’s interesting for myself again I went into that specific focus and for a while there, I was wondering because this touches my wounds, should I actually be doing this? Because we are all wounded healers and so if you’re not fully dealt with your own issues and you know one of the rules of our medicine is ‘Heal thy Self’ if you haven’t done that then you will potentially be triggered if you go into something that you have for example. So the more healing work that you can do then obviously the better you can move out of the way and not be triggered by your patients. So for myself, the other big area of focus that I ever intended on was never even on my consciousness when I went to Naturopathic School, but my area of focus and another specialty that I have practiced is fertility. And the interesting thing with fertility is a lot of patients that have been struggling in that area are depressed or have anxiety for that matter. So there is a natural fit between the two but that is another big area of focus, so I think that for new grads one of the suggestions that I would have is you know let this unfold for you, it will unfold and it is interesting how the universe will present what it is they want you to learn and teach.
[25:48] Andrea: And how important was it for you to learn those extra techniques, the gestalt therapy and the other therapeutic techniques that you did, that we didn’t learn in school to help benefit your patients because it sounds to me like you did that right off the hop, you said ‘Okay, well this is what I want to learn, I’m not learning it at school so I’m going to make sure I invest the time early on so I’m not doing a disservice to my patients.’ This is something else that I find that comes up in conversation is; well I just spent so much money on my education and I don’t know if I’m ready to spend more money on the extra stuff like learning the extra techniques and how pivotal was it for you to get that started right away for your success in your business.
[26:37] Christina: For me, it was really important but that is ultimately a personal choice, I don’t think you have to necessarily do it when you’re in school but I think if you know that for example; I have a student that I hired, it was summer in 2015, she came out from Toronto and she worked with us for the summer. She has a specific interest in mental health and so she is doing another program while she’s doing her medical degree at CCNM. So for some people, if you know you have that focus on your intent my suggestion would be to start where you are if you can if it’s feasible. It’s the cause I know that that can be daunting for people but I think that you have to look at this as an investment, you will never go wrong investing yourself and your education is the most important thing. When I left my corporate career, my CEO, who is an amazing man, went to order from Canada, his name is Wilton Wong, and he’s unfortunately passed away now. But he said to me; “Chris your most important asset is your brain, it’s not your house, car, not your Portfolio, it’s your brain, that is what’s going to take you all the way.” So people have to remember that and so if you’re investing in something that’s education-based. You’re never going to go wrong. But you’ve to remember that you have to do continuing education, so you could just use that as an opportunity to expand yourself in the areas that you wanted to specialize in. You don’t necessarily have to start day one, year one that is when you’re at CCNM. But as soon as you have an interest, I will start to explore it.
[28:52] Andrea: And what are some other areas of your practice that you found that have really made a difference towards your success in the industry?
[29:03] Christina: So one of the things that have helped me a lot is networking with other professionals; that really helped grow my practice. When I first moved into Evington we were associates in another clinic and I kept seeing this one particular name on the intake form because we have questions about who referred you, and I don’t know this person so I’m thinking ‘what’s going on here?’ So I asked my patients who this person was anyway? And then they told me she owns a massage therapy clinic in town. So I scheduled an appointment with her because I love getting massages and then I asked her ‘how come you are referring to me?’ And I thank her, I was extremely grateful; she said why it started asking my patients who they see, your name kept coming out so it was quite serendipitous how we connected, as she’s been an amazing resource for me and reference. So that really helps if you can connect with professionals, either chiropractor or massage therapists or even medical doctors as well, it is super important to help grow your practice. And I think the other thing that is really important for new grads is; you have to be blogging, writing articles, you have to do what fits for you, speaking is not your you know you’re shtick and not comfortable with that then you have to find some way to market yourself.
[30:53] Andrea: And the thing that really inspires me about that last piece is; look at people like Gary Vaynerchuk or Marie Forleo, people that are really big in the industry online but also in their own write and these people are putting out information constantly, and so who are we to think well, we don’t have to work that hard when these people who don’t have to work that hard are continuously doing that. So that kind of keeps me motivated on the back of my mind about posting every day. We just kind of emulate the people that are doing it.
[31:33] Christina: And I think the nice thing to is if we can all back together because if you’re posting every day, I’m posting every day if every one of us posted every day or shared outposts then our professional gain traction and our professional gain awareness, and I think that is really important is that we are only as strong as our weakest link and our profession, we’re not in competition with each other, and I think that is one of the shifts that have to be made. I get it that if you are admitted in and you’ve got a hundred colleagues that are vying for the same patient you have to recognize there is more than enough for everybody and I am more than busy in practice and I thought to extend to my associates and I think I got to the point where I got to a four-month waiting list. I mean I am not like Larry Chan who got a two-year waiting list, but that’s not helpful to have people wait for two years, three months even. So you want people to be busy an the more we can work together in practice, mostly it’s to gain awareness for our profession and I think that what we need to be doing, and I don’t really feel that’s going to happen as well as it could be.
[33:01] Andrea: If you don’t mind I would like to shift the conversation now about how you work with mental/emotional patients and how you allow that therapeutic space to evolve because I will say this and I’ve said this on another Podcast as well, this is so not in the area that I feel comfortable with, so when you brought up the fertility patients I’ve had fertility patients literally sobbing as soon as they walk in the door because they don’t want to do Acupuncture again because they’re just so tired and frustrated on being poked and prodded and not getting success and I can see it in them that they just need to either take a break or relax or change their mindset that it is all on them. And I also have a lot of mental illness on my family as well, so my father suffered from depression and anxiety quite severely and I’ve seen it personally. But when it comes to approaching these patients and getting into those dark boxes or dark corners of their internal world, I would love to hear a little bit about how you approach these patients because it is such a huge aspect of the overall treatment out of many patients that walks in our door. This is really what I think makes patients individualize is the way they’re interpreting their physical symptoms and their mental/emotional state and the scars that they’re carrying with them. So if you could please touch on that for the next little while, I think that would be phenomenal for all of the people that are listening, especially those that want to get more into mental/emotional health.
[34:45] Christina: So what I start off to patients is I explain as I mentioned earlier that you have mental/emotional/spiritual aspect to yourself and when we’re talking about that physical peace, first of all, we have to put in the place the foundation that you can make the neurotransmitters that you need to make and I go on to explain the different neurotransmitters and how you go about doing that and then I also explain the other important area from a macro perspective is your neuroendocrine system and every single hormone that is produced by glands in that neuroendocrine system have symptoms of depression and anxiety. So we want to tease out from a root cause on that physical level. Is it a neurotransmitter or is it hormones? And I know from my case it was both because once I started on medication and initially I did get quite a little bit better, so I knew obviously my hormones are also out of whack. And then the third macro system that I work on is the organs and detoxification, so the way I go about supporting goes three macro systems; the neurotransmitters, hormones, and organs and detoxifications. The foundation of health is diet, sleep exercise, and managing stress, that managing stress is a really big part because so many people are on automatic pilot in a way that they don’t really realize the stress they are. So that is a really important part. Then the next level of the house, the next floor so to speak that I think is important to work on for most mental health patients absolutely is your thoughts, your emotions, how you behave and react in the world, your environment and I mean the environment from two perspectives; the quality of the air, food, and water that we are all-consuming. There’s a lot of endocrine disruptors and heavy metals and chemicals that block receptors in the body, so perhaps the current chemical imbalance theory of mental illness isn’t correct. Perhaps we are making enough serotonin for example but it just can’t get in the cell. The other part of the environment that I think is important is the environment that we are raised in; we are all programmed by the people who raised us. Now, I don’t mean that from a position of blaming everybody but I just mean that you may think the way they think because of the way that you’ve been raised. And for myself, because I am adopted, I have spent a lot of time thinking about what my life would’ve been like if I have been adopted into this family or that family, and there are two concepts that I teach patients; one is the concept of epigenetics which is explained by the analogy ‘Genes load the gun, lifestyle pulls the trigger’. And that’s going back to what I said at the beginning about this whole ‘It’s genetic’ theory. The other concept is the concept of neuroplasticity which means that your brain has bent the equality to it; well your body has bent the equality to it for that matter. There’s nothing fixed about us in any way performed, we’re constantly changing. So that instills optimism and hope for my patients because I say to them; the last day, week, month, year, or a decade of your life does not have to be the same as the last day, week, month, or decade of your life, you can change. And ultimately you have to believe that they can change so you have to instill hope and that belief in them. The last piece that I think is ultimately important in health is spirituality and it doesn’t really matter to me what your spiritual beliefs are because there are so many. I mean we see people from all walks of faith so it’s just a matter that you’re on a road that’s what’s important to. And then wrapping this all up in compassion and love for yourself because at the end of the day, this is what it all comes down to you. Do you love yourself enough to make the changes that I’m going to ask you to make? And then I asked patients on a scale of one to ten, how do you rate yourself with loving yourself? Most times it is less than five out of them and that just saddens me, to women especially it is mostly women I am working with, and then I had a woman yesterday and she’s a one, and that’s the problem because they have no sense of self-worth
[39:54] Andrea: From that point so I can see where how that would start to open up some doors and that could really start to open up some emotional floodgates when you get people to physically acknowledge what they’re feeling internal, how do you now approach patients that you recognize the wound but they themselves are not ready to go there with you. So how do you now start to say “Okay, now we’ve hit a trigger point, this is a big part of your healing process” how do you start tapping to it? Do you allow the journey to evolve? Do you start getting deeper into it? Do you use other techniques? How do you start to open those doors piquing away at it so that the patients don’t feel overwhelmed at the process and yet they’re still getting that benefit?
[40:47] Christina: Well first foremost they have to be open so if you touch a wound, like for example I had a patient who I cannot remember why she came in for but she was very close and had a deep wound over the death of her father and you could tell by the body language. So I did not go there, I gently suggested to her that she may want to look at that some point, but that was it and that slammed the door shut she never came back to see me. So for some people you have to trust your intuition and if you feel that it is an important thing, and in her case it really is but she wasn’t ready, suggesting that you may want to look at that some point was too much for her and that is okay. But for the people who are ready what I do is again it is not going to happen in one day. I’m not really big on digging into the past because I believe that the most important piece is learning people to teach to stand in the present moment. So if you’re carrying the past into the present which I was doing as well, you have to learn to let go of the past and if your education isn’t enough in this you definitely need to be working with a psychologist like if this is feeling out of your scope. But for myself, I start off by teaching people with what I call the Seven R’s with working a problematic thought and breaking the Thought-Emotion cycle because that’s what’s happening to people. They have a thought that triggers an emotion within them which triggers another thought which triggers another emotion, so I’ll just use myself as an example, I thought maybe I’m worthless that triggers sadness nobody’s going to marry me and I would just stay stuck in that spiral what you have to teach people first is recognizing what’s going on, what are you thinking, are these thoughts even true? Second, are they kind? If you expressed these thoughts to your best friend, would your best friend still be talking to you? A lot of people are beating themselves and they hit all day long. So it is clearly a little bit of awareness first of all of what you are thinking; what’s the narrative that’s running in your head and is it serving you? Or is it sabotaging you? Then once you have that then the next is first is recognition, second is refraining from following the thoughts, third is relaxing and that is where I teach them the breathing piece of the puzzle. And then you want to rephrase that stinking thought that we recognized that wasn’t useful to us, you want to turn that around and that is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. If you say I’m worthless, then you got to replace that with I’m valuable, or I have worth, that is where I start with people and that is very difficult to ask people to pause and to breathe and to get out of their heads. And I explained to people just like when I say most people are living with the Neck up and they’re discounting their body and similarly most people are breathing with the top little bits of their lungs but your lungs are all the way down to the end of your ribcage and I explained how your diaphragm comes across it pulls down and your lungs will inflate what’s sitting underneath your diaphragm; your adrenal glands. So physiologically you are designed to calm your own adrenals like deep breathing which is why you don’t see a lot of stress as much as monks around town. But the problem is we don’t breathe, when I told Dr. Chan that I was going to Naturopathic School, he just said, you know what Chris, you just need to teach people how to breathe and I laugh now I said: “Are you kidding me?” I just spent how much money on my education and all I have to do is teach people how to breathe. But you know it is so true though and because of that you’re stuck in a sympathetic state, and when you’re stuck in that sympathetic state then guess what, digestion doesn’t happen, you’re constipated, you got gas, you got bloated and you got pain, there’s so many problems when you’re stuck in a sympathetic state. So the more you can move people into that parasympathetic state, the better off they’re going to be.
[46:08] Andrea: I was just going to ask do you use a lot of handouts, visuals, or refer them to videos to watch to help really hammer hone or elaborate these ideas that people have for the most have been avoiding their whole lives.
[46:25] Christina: So on my website, I have a resource section in there and there are handouts there, so there’s two that I was just mentioning to you are there; The Breaking of Thoughts and Emotions cycle and The Seven R’s on working with problematic thoughts, absolutely there are so many wonderful resources there’s a great TED talk that I send people it is called ‘How to Hijack your physiology I believe which talks a little bit about the breathing piece that I was just mentioned but I always say to patients, you know if you had told me 20 years ago, change your thoughts, change your life, I would’ve rolled my eyes at you and walk out the room because I thought that it was meant that I was creating my thoughts and my depression, and I really don’t want to be depressed but I didn’t know how to get out of it. Now I’m 20 years on the other side of that, I can tell you that your thoughts affect your physiology, your thoughts create neuropeptides that affect your physiology and affect your cortisol production. So there is a physiological connection. I think it’s difficult down, I know I took it very personally when people would say that to me, you know they say just snap out of it and it is very hard and painful and hurtful to hear that when you’re depressed because you can’t snap out of it. There are so many things stacking up against you and there’s so multifactorial depression. I remember people saying to me “Chris you’ve got everything waiting for you, why are you depressed?” it’s like I needed a reason to be depressed and it goes really deep and I think for myself like this core wound for me, I really believe because I have been reflecting a lot, it is this trauma from birth, you think about you’re about to give birth so this child has been connecting with you, listening to your heartbeat, listening to your voice, feeling your rhythm for nine months. And then you birth them and for children that are adopted, that’s it. So I think it goes that far back to me, and even remember my Mom who raised me saying, like I was a very sensitive child, and I think I mentioned this in my book; that the hormonal break make-up of the mother during 9 months affects the make-up of the child. And I ended up meeting my biological mother but she was probably stressed right out as teenage pregnancy. So I was probably already wired and predisposed to having anxiety and feeling very sensitive because of the way I was wired.
[49: 48] Andrea: I’m very cognitive of that with both pregnancy like I would say how did I handle my pregnancy and is that reflecting in where you are now, and would that reflect in the new one that is coming. So I’m very much aware of that and I understand that. Now I don’t mean to cut you off but just for the sake of time, I would love to hear how all of these pieces evolved into your latest book ‘Beyond the label’? I guess what I’m saying is; I knew when I wrote maximized health that it was like the time, I signed up with the publisher at the right time, I had my framework in place, I had my sort of formula in place so writing a book was the perfect time for me. I’m imagining it is the same process for you.
[50:50] Christina: Well, not quite, I’ve been wanting to write this book probably for 20 years but I haven’t written it because I was stuck in the shame of having Bipolar Disorder Type 1. So I was initially going to write a book about depression, anxiety, bulimia, about bipolar disorder. And one of my best friends she’s like “But Chris you’re chopping yourself up” anyway I had to get over my own fear because my story is I’ve had all of those things. So I did a program by my coach, which is called ‘Jump with your Life Full of Fear Step by Step Guide to Getting the Life you Want’ and basically what that book or coaching process does and it’s based on her book Jump, is it gets you over your fear of whatever it is that you are hiding. She feels that everybody is hiding something, and maybe everybody is. But I was so fearful of telling everybody that I am bipolar. And so it’s been a real journey for me, I was ready to publish the book, what actually happened was last August, I took a week off and I was going to finish writing this book, instead, I was just bumping up against myself and I dip into a little bit of depression because I just felt like ‘Who am I?’ to tell people about this, just all about negative stuff and so I got through all of that and when I got more help, more guidance and so now it’s ready. This morning I was saying to my husband because he said ‘Oh, I saw you out online’ and I said well I came out actually a couple of weeks ago online but he must have missed it, I said ‘You know 20 years ago the environment wasn’t right’ well I feel like when Robin Williams committed suicide back when it was in 2014 it got really upset me. It shouldn’t be taking super sort to commit suicide to wake up people of mental illness, but that’s what it takes and the reality is, I was speaking to a conference and the other speaker said “By the year 2030 one person is going to commit suicide globally every second.” So I’m on a mission basically to save souls from suicide and I don’t feel that the label that I have been given is, I just want people to understand that whether you’re depressed, suicidal, suffer from panic attacks, or if you’ve got psychosis or schizophrenic or bipolar disorder type 1 and experience psychosis. I really think that that whole realm it’s all normal it is just not comfortable to be in those severe states, and our society deals with those severe states; basically tranquilize and medicate or institutionalize. There is a great psychiatrist named Dr. Peter Breggin who talks a lot about getting back to loving the patient, most of my patients with schizophrenia have had severe trauma whether it’s been beaten and bullied to whatever it may be. With these severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia is a very tough condition but it can be helped but you need a lot of patience and a lot of compassion and understanding. Basically now I feel that I feel comfortable enough in my own scheme to publish this book because I’m tired of living in a closet and I’m tired of seeing people go through to my office and I just see the sadness and pain and disappointment and I just think that they can have a full life. This condition I’m talking about Bipolar Disorder or any; you can manage it. So that’s the message I hope that I can bring to people.
[56:22] Andrea: And for anybody who’s listening that’s totally inspired by what it is that you’re doing and want to reach out to you personally, what are some of the ways that they can do that, and we will have all the links in the show notes for sure, but is there a way you prefer people would reach out to you?
[56:41] Christina: Probably just see the website naturalterrain.com and in the context, there’s a form that you can fill out that is probably the best way.
[56:51] Andrea: Well I personally just want to thank you so much and if it wasn’t for time constraints today I would just have you keep going because I could definitely talk and ask questions to you with much further than what time has allotted us today. So I may have you back on the show again, maybe after your book is launched and we’ll talk about how that whole process goes to start putting it really out there because there’s something to be said about writing it, and there’s something to be said about launching it. So it will be interesting how that process goes for you because I know it’s very raw and emotional to release a book and welcome criticism and welcome people’s thoughts and opinions on what you’ve written. So I’d love to get you back on the show and we’ll talk about that for sure and we’ll talk about mental/emotional techniques and things that you do with your patients because that is such a pivotal part, I believe of our medicine and I myself am not 100% comfortable with going down that rabbit hole with a lot of patients, but I’d love hearing people as you talk about it and you make it seem a lot less scary because it’s all me, it’s all my hand-ups that are preventing me from going there. So again thank you so much Chris for being on the show. Do you have any last-minute words, tips, or techniques or anything that you didn’t get a chance to discuss that you would like to before we finish up here?
[58:27] Christina: No, I think that I would just say to the listeners that; I think that this is a wonderful profession and I really feel that if they want to reach out to me, I’m more than happy to guide if they need that support and just to keep trusting in your own self and doing your own healing work and that’s going to ultimately make you a successful clinician. And I think I also need your help in helping with the whole launch of this book because it is another thing to write and birth it. So that’s an off call, thank you so much for the opportunity.
[59:13] Andrea: My absolute pleasure, thank you so much for coming into the show again and I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day. So I really hope that you guys found that interview as fabulous as I did, and as promised her book, and her contact information will be on the show notes. What I really want from you guys, is I want to make sure that whatever it is that you want to hear about that’s going to make you kick ass in 2017 I need to get your topic ideas. I also want you to strongly consider doing a goal setting experiment and I am going to be doing a whole show that you can set your goals for 2017 and really kill it. Make 2017 your best year yet. If you are struggling to stay on task, if you’re struggling with focus and you need that extra accountability hit me up for that free 30-minute strategy call that I have on my website maximizedbusiness.ca I also do one-on-one coaching and be looking out for the doors to open for the maximized your clinic course in February and if you want to make sure that you get first dibs on when that opens up, again sign up for my list, go to maximizedbusiness.ca and you can get the link to the course there, or you can directly go to the course page maximizedyourclinic.com and you can sign up as someone on the waiting list because that was a fabulous course that we opened back in August this year. Please, questions, topics, if you want me to interview you this Podcast is for you guys, and I need to know what it is that you want to hear about and how I can help you, really maximize your practice. So please go to the website maximizedbusiness.ca lend me your fingertips and send me your Emails, comments and things like that thank you guys so much for listening to every show this year. I can’t wait to see what we bring for 2017, this is Andrea and I’m out!