Q & A with Bernie – March 11, 2013

Question for Bernie:

I am 46 and was diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera some years ago, although my belief is that I have had it a lot longer.  It has progressed and is now called myelofibrosis.  I have venesections to keep my blood thin, but I have not gone in for any other treatment except homeopathy and acupuncture which I feel really supports me.

Over 20 years ago my first son was stillborn followed just a year later by the birth of twins—a daughter who was stillborn and a son who lived for just 24 hours.  The doctors didn’t know why I was losing my babies.  I decided to find out for myself and asked to go to St. Thomas Hospital in London where I was diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera several years later.  My husband and I are still together but have gone through massive depressions since the losses.  We tried as best we could to move on and hold our lives together despite getting no support from parents.  My mother believed my husband and I had done something wrong in our lives and the deaths of our children were our punishment.

Some years later I had some therapy and whilst that was happening, we were brave enough to try for another baby despite me being considered high risk.  I took blood thinning injections every day and tried to keep calm and everything worked out well. We had a great deal of support from the hospital and I stopped contact with my parents for a while.  We now have a beautiful nine year old daughter.  How lucky we are!

I still have the disease that slowly progresses but doesn’t give me many symptoms. I am on the outside fit and healthy, but I know it is going on inside my body and it does frighten me.  I worry that my life will be cut short.  One of my doctors in the early days said that this may happen and it has stayed with me ever since.

I had quite an unhappy childhood.  My dad is an alcoholic and he and my mum argued and rowed continuously, shouting and abusing each other.  Our house was like a war zone.  My brother was sent to boarding school as he was going off the rails, so I was alone in the house with them.  My mum only talked about my dad in very disrespectful and damning ways to me when we were alone.  She was very spiteful and manipulative in my primary years, and I grew up believing her and hating my dad until I left home.  My parents are separated now but my mum still holds on to much bitterness about how she sacrificed her life for us kids and what a terrible life she has had.

mother-and-daughter-walk-homeI know now that both my parents love me, but I didn’t feel much love from them when I was young and felt very lonely. I am in contact with both of them now and see my mum quite regularly, although I am still cautious of her and limit the time she spends with my daughter.  I stand up for myself when she is critical because I want to be a good role model for my daughter, but it still feels painful.  I still have difficulty accepting love from other adults.  I feel like I don’t deserve it or they don’t really mean it.  I am trying to overcome this.

I have read your books and take them with me to read when I have hospital appointments.  I also show them to other patients sometimes!   Your books have been a great positive help to me.  I also listen to the Humor and Healing CD in my car and I love it.  I have started going to an Art Therapy class where a small group of women paint anything that is in our hearts or minds, and I have been astonished with the images that have emerged on my paper and the tears I have cried.

I am an artist but have never really found my “job” in life, although I have had many of them. There are times when I constantly worry about being and doing the right thing.  I find it hard to see projects I love through to the end and instead tend to sabotage my own personal dreams.  I get sidetracked and scared about the future and how my silent hidden disease may be spreading.  I feel guilty about a lot of things that I haven’t done to the best of my ability in my life.

I wonder if you have any advice for me about how to go forward in my life and how to respond to my disease?   I have a loving daughter and husband to be with me.

I must not forget to acknowledge the fact that I had two loving and stable grandparents who I sometimes stayed with, and who made me feel like there could be another way of doing things.

Thank you for your wonderful work.

Bernie’s Answer:

Yes the anger you hold within you is expressed as the autoimmune disease.  You need to express your feelings and empty out everything.  Then abandon the past so it no longer has any power to take away the joy you have in your life today.

Your body will not be able to heal until it knows that you love it unconditionally. Through that love, you are sending the message that you are choosing life.

Act toward yourself like your grandparents did for you and re-parent yourself.  Become the child you love.  Find some pictures of yourself as a baby and little girl, put them around the house, and every time you see one, tell that little girl in the picture that you love her very much.

art therapyPainting and any other artistic endeavor can be very healing.  I’m very glad you have found a nurturing group through Art Therapy.

Another suggestion I often make, and know works very well, is to do whatever makes you lose track of time.  This is so therapeutic because it provides your body and mind with a rest from anxiety, worry, and other negative thoughts and feelings that often crowd our consciousness.

Also, see what negative words come up when you describe what you are going through and feeling from your illness.  Ask yourself what else in your life could be described in the same negative way (it could be a person or a job or a situation).  For example, if the word is “anxious” and you think of someone who makes you very anxious every time you see them, stop seeing them.



Question for Bernie:

healing relationshipsHow do we know what is possible or probable and what is not?

There are true stories of miracles in physical healing, but how about the healing of relationships? Have you witnessed true stories of miracles in relationships healing?  Is there a book about miracles in the healing of relationships?

Thank you.

Bernie’s Answer:

There are many books on relationships that describe how relationships can be healed, and that give examples of relationships that were all but over and then recovered.  Each story is different because people are different, but all stories of healed relationships have lessons for all of us.

I have a book called Prescriptions for Living but it is not just about relationships.  You can find advice in the book, however, that definitely can help heal a wounded relationship.

loving coupleThe key to healing relationships of all kinds is to become a love warrior.  Relationships can be, of course, romantic, but there are other loving relationships in our lives with families and friends.  Any of those relationships may, at times, need healing.

Use love as your weapon to fend off injury to any of your relationships, and use love to be the medicine that heals a relationship when necessary.  If you are in doubt about any of your relationships, ask yourself a simple question:  “Does this relationship threaten my own health and life?”  If the answer is “Yes” then you must have the courage to leave that relationship.

My general rule is that love is the answer for all of life’s difficulties, so please make your #1 priority giving love to, and graciously receiving love from, everyone in your life.