How do you feel when you spot someone living on the street? Someone considered “homeless?” The image above might be a bit off-putting, although I see a real need to look toward instead of away. What’s here? I was six years old living in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin with my mother when I first remember questioning homelessness. My mother and I had just jumped in the car after a visit to the grocery store. We were heading out of the parking lot and there was a man standing next to the entrance with a cup, begging for money. His cheeks were red and blistered. He looked unwell and it was alarming to me. I asked my mom, what is he doing?! She replied, he’s asking for money. I asked, why does he need money? My mother explained that he was homeless and this was extremely confusing for me. I asked, why he couldn’t stay with us because we have a house. Why doesn’t he have a house?
Twenty-five years later, I’m still perplexed. I still haven’t figured it out. This is a relatively extreme example for where I’m going next, yet extremely relevant. I was watching this interview today with Marie Forleo and Dr. Kelly Brogan. It was so incredibly inspiring, I paused it two thirds of the way through to send it to a handful of important people in my life. There’s a line where Brogan mentions,
“There are reports in the medical literature very recently-a 37 year old woman who was so psychotic that her family took out a restraining order on her. She became homeless. They treated her with all sorts of medication that was ineffective. They ultimately found out that wheat sensitivity, put her on a gluten free diet for three months; she was totally normal. Totally back to her normal self. […] it’s a very real driver of what we call mental illness and you can do this experiment on your own.”
Considering the memory I began with, you might understand why this struck a chord for me. Not to mention, my own father spent some time without a home. Many people consider homelessness “rock bottom.” I’ve joked in the past about things getting so bad “I’ll have to live in a cardboard box.” Maybe you’ve even made this statement at some point yourself? This may seem like a very bizarre connection, yet it’s very real. Not everyone is immune to ending up in such a predicament. The 37 year old that Brogan mentioned literally had a wheat sensitivity. How minor it seems, but what an impact it had! This also hits home for me because I’ve shut some people out of my life because I didn’t have the knowledge to help them and the mental illness made every interaction increasingly difficult.
Truly. As I write this, I’ve been sitting here just in awe. It’s so important to have compassion and understand for anyone who is struggling mentally or physically. There’s a myriad of potential causes, and it’s likely that it’s more simple than we think. A minor diet tweak could be implemented with little effort, and voilà! Radical change. Struggle has ended. I, myself have created whole elaborate stories and excuse in my mind around people in my life who I feel that I’ve lost connection with due to mental illness. I realize now that they might just need to stop eating their weekly Starbucks sandwich! They might have PTSD, or be dealing with some deep seeded issue that will take drastic measures to unravel. I’ve felt this for years, and now it’s been confirmed and scientifically-backed.
The biggest A-ha for me is around compassion and empathy. There is a consistent flood of information put in front of me that helps me to see that we just don’t know. We never know. This quote is something I remind myself of often,
“Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” -Plato
This lifestyle, The Pure Way, for me-goes way deeper than daily practices. It’s a way of understanding the world around me. Not all homeless are just drunks-or addicts, or even “crazies.” These are beliefs I’ve heard from others, and even have questioned myself. See the link to a video that I happened to come across on this same day, which couldn’t have been a coincidence. These people might just need better nourishment-real food, and some daily practices to unwind and relax in this rather chaotic world (I certainly realize there’s a much greater problem underlying the issue of homelessness, and this idea addresses only a minute portion of the problem). Of course this isn’t just about homeless 🙂 It’s about anyone that might be dealing with a challenging state; anxiety, depression, a physical issue… You might be that person yourself. I’m here to tell you that you have the resources and education available to you to potentially alleviate suffering, and a solution may be more simple than you think! Arm yourself with knowledge! It’s available to you.The practice here is to notice that it may be a simple diet change to alleviate a great deal of suffering. This is certainly worth considering if you, or anyone you know is dealing with an issue. Find a local N.D. to address more serious issues.
Stay tuned for my own story about nine years of debilitating menstrual cramps, and my struggle with pain killers, and the simple solution that you’ll never guess.