I lived in a house for eighteen years that was poisoning me and it never occurred to me that all of my health problems were being caused by mold. I knew from the first night I moved in that something wasn’t right. My eyes burned and itched and I wheezed through the night.
I thought it was from the fumes of the freshly painted walls, but the paint dried and I still didn’t feel better. I had an allergy to dust and figured my symptoms must have been due my poor housekeeping skills. I bought air filters and they helped…but slowly, over years, my symptoms got worse.
I looked for the cause everywhere but in the house I was living. I blamed the malaria I had contracted in Egypt a year before my move into the new home. That certainly made me more vulnerable, causing a chink in my armor, but it wasn’t everything. I developed a nonstop dull headache that was so constant, I got used to functioning with it.
I often felt confused and couldn’t get a handle on what was happening to me because the host of symptoms came on so slowly, not all at once. The mold was also causing brain fog, so I had lost my problem solving ability. I became sensitive to everything – foods, air conditioning, scented laundry soap. The wrong lunch choice could turn my headache into a migraine. I was tired all the time and had no stamina. I couldn’t walk uphill without getting winded. I was now being viewed as delicate and high maintenance by my friends. I had so much shame around these symptoms. I feared I appeared as a self-indulgent neurotic who was choosing to be picky. If I described what was going on to anyone, inevitably they would reply, “Have you seen the movie ‘Safe?” (This is a disturbing but brilliant movie, starring Julianne Moore, about a woman who becomes so sensitive to the environment that by the film’s end she is wearing a hooded hazmat suit, living in a protected community of other environmentally sensitive freaks in white geodesic domes in the middle of nowhere. It’s good. You should watch it). I good-naturedly played along, with self-deprecating humor, but it was a very lonely place to be in.
No doctors I went to for help ever asked me about mold or my environment. So, for a long time I just kept adapting as things got worse, trying different diets, cutting out one food after another, blaming myself for my ill health and losing my will.
Around my tenth year in the house, I actually started to see and smell mold. It appeared on the wall behind the toilet. I noticed moisture around the floor. I told the landlord. She sent the handyman over, whose solution was to cover up the mold with a coat of white paint.
Soon after that, another plumbing disaster occurred and this is when my symptoms became unbearable. My bathtub stopped draining and would fill with black sludge. The whole hill where I lived smelled of sulphur from sewage. The landlord sent the handyman over to snake the drain, a temporary bandaid, and a week or two later the black sludge would be back. Every time the smell and the sludge showed up, I got a migraine and my eyes burned and swelled, ringed with black circles. I looked like I had been punched in both eyes.
I suddenly gained fifteen pounds overnight. None of my clothes fit me. I was exhausted. My period stopped. I saw an expensive naturopath who ran a ton of tests, said nothing about mold, didn’t test me for Epstein Barr (the virus which causes chronic fatigue and which is often present in mold patients), and prescribed synthetic thyroid medication. (I went to a “naturopath” because I thought they looked at the root cause. But this one was just like a conventional doctor whose approach is to suppress symptoms with drugs).
Her findings didn’t ring true. My intuition told me the thyroid doesn’t just stop working for no reason. I declined the medication and looked for answers elsewhere. I got the GOOP newsletter a few weeks later about the mysterious cause of thyroid diseases. It was an excerpt from the book "Medical Medium” by Anthony William. I got the book and devoured it. Now THIS rang true. He seemed to describe the exact progression of my illness. He cited Epstein Barr virus as the cause of most underactive thyroid conditions/Hashimoto’s. I suspected I had this virus, but didn’t get tested for a long time. The mold was still making me passive.
Now that I am out of that house, I can see clearly the way mold survives. It is, after all, a parasite. A parasite must go undetected so that it may continue living off the host. Mold is sinister, stealthy and grows in dark, hidden places. So it’s no wonder it disabled my ability to identify it. With the brain fog and confusion it caused, it took away my discernment and clouded my judgment.
I believe all living things resonate with a frequency. This is the theory behind the power of flower remedies and why they are so benevolent. They fill you with positive vibrations and create harmony in your spirit, which, in turn, brings a sense of wellbeing to the body. Whatever vibrational frequency mold has, it is the antithesis of flowers. As the mold made my house and my body its home, its vibration seemed to attract its human equivalent into my life.
In a perfect example of the outer life reflecting the inner state, while I was living in that house, I had a series of toxic relationships. I tolerated relationships I never would have stayed in before. I chose partners who were gaslighting, bullying and disrespectful. Some of them were outright parasites. The emotional stress this caused only further weakened my body and let the mold and chronic viruses I was now fighting get the upper hand.
I was so tired, to the point of feeling out of my body a lot of the time. I became pathologically empathetic and accommodating. I wish I had had my Páthos formula at that time. It was THE formula that would have woken me up and helped me save myself.
One of these toxic boyfriends was actually a big gift to me. I was in a long distance relationship with him and because he lived in England, we would choose meeting spots halfway between our homes. When I was away from my house, after a few days, I noticed that my headache was gone. It didn’t click at first, but after returning home from my third trip away, I got the worst migraine which lasted for three days. Nothing worked, not even strong pain medication. After day three, I heard a voice tell me to take a double dose of D-Hist. This is a natural anti-histamine I would take when my itchy eyes were really bad. (I am not claiming to be Joan of Arc, but I do hear voices sometimes. I don’t question them. They have always been correct and led me to good things).
Within twenty minutes of taking the D-Hist, the headache was gone. I looked at the ingredients and saw that it had L-Cysteine in it, a mold binder! The penny dropped. I actually said out loud “Are you fucking kidding! This is a mold headache??” Half rejoicing, but also traumatized and in shock from the realization that, all this time, I was sick from something I could have changed, had I known.
This new clarity gave me the strength to stand up to the landlord the next time the bathtub got blocked up. I demanded they send a real plumber to fix the plumbing. The plumber came over and was under the house for hours. When he came upstairs, he looked worried and sheepishly described the literal shitshow that that was happening beneath my house. There was a broken sewage line. I had no sub flooring, so it was leaking onto soil, the perfect place for mold to grow. The toxic shit was coming though my floor and poisoning me, and had been for years.
The odd thing is that, in the year before this, I had a lot of new clients come to me who had suffered from mold illness. I wasn’t treating them for physical symptoms, but for the emotional issues flower remedies are so good for. In their stories, they listed almost all of my symptoms in detail: the sudden weight gain, the food sensitivities, depression, hormone problems (mold can mimic estrogen and make your body stop producing hormones), but somehow I never recognized myself in their stories.
I called one of them and got the name of a mold/environmental inspector to come and test the house. He confirmed the presence of mold (as well as multiple gas leaks! Hello, slumlord.).
I felt too sick to figure out what to do and went to stay with my friend in Ojai. Driving at night, I could barely see the road. I had suddenly developed night blindness. (This is a common side effect from mold, as it can damage the optic nerve).
I felt better staying in her guest house, went to yoga and saw one of my favorite 90’s super models, Shalom Harlow, in class. She and a friend were talking afterwards and I heard them say something about mold. I introduced myself. The friend was an herbalist and it turned out they both had suffered from mold illness and had made it to the other side! I felt they were divinely sent.
The herbalist’s name was Kelsey. She gave me her card. Her business is cleverly named "Heavy Nettle." I went to see her the next day and she told me I had to get out of the house. No matter what. She said I would never heal until I removed myself from the mold. She said I would need to get rid of all the belongings I had that couldn’t be wiped clean or washed in hot water. I resisted this information. It was too much for me. I knew I had been priced out of Echo Park and I couldn’t face moving further east. I bargained, I defended the house, I rationalized, in the same way I had defended the toxic boyfriends when my friends had told me to just “GET OUT!” She told me to give up grains, as they are stored in silos and can grow mold. I don’t like meat, so I was thinking, what the hell do I eat? It was a lot to absorb.
But I started slowly implementing her advice. I started with infrared saunas. That was easy and would require no discipline on my part. After one sauna session, I felt more like myself, I looked better and I felt the cloud of mold leave my being- temporarily.
Though the leak was fixed, there was still mold inside the walls and under the house and in my body. My next hurdle to overcome was the nonstop indecision and internal arguments about moving. I couldn't afford to move, so I kept bargaining, lying to myself that I could heal in this house. But my headaches and fatigue persisted. I was losing money, as I was too tired to see my one one one clients and would often cancel sessions at the last minute.
One day I was so sick and desperate, I didn't have the energy to get food for myself. I went outside and prayed and I got a ping that told me if I could just get to Cookbook (a small grocer's around the corner), everything would be o.k. I went down there and saw Lacy Phillips, a friend who has become a huge manifestation guru through her company, "To Be Magnetic." I sat down with her and asked her advice, from a manifestation approach, about what to do about my living situation. She said I had to move. 100%. I had to either give notice, or at least decide to leave and put the word out that I was looking for a place and leave that house, even if I had to stay on someone's couch. As long as I was holding on to it, I couldn't manifest a new living situation. She reminded me that my health was THE most important thing and that I could never make the money I needed to move if I stayed in the house that was making me sick. Her certainty was what I needed to give myself permission to leave the prison of that house.
I immediately left for the desert to stay on my dad's couch. I started doing the Medical Medium protocol and within a week my brain was back and my headache was gone. I saw an integrative MD who ran the proper tests you should get if you have mold exposure. When I found out I had mold, EBV, lyme, cytomegalovirus, hormone issues, I was relieved. There really was something wrong, not just an underactive thyroid.
I stayed in the desert and never went back to Echo Park. Lacy was right. As soon as I left that toxic house and went off into the unknown, abundance followed. My business took off, I was filled with creative ideas (one of which was my collaboration with Lacy on two formulas for her To Be Magnetic community).
I still get headaches and still have food sensitivities (histamines...more on that in the PDF), but I am healing. I am, as always, looking for ways to strengthen my spirit, as I know the spirit is stronger than the body and can guide me to the right things for me. It is hard at times. I have to be disciplined with diet and mindful of my sensitivity until I am one hundred percent better. I would love to just party over a cheese plate and have a bottle of wine, but for now my vices are flower remedies and episodes of Frasier.
If you do find out you have mold illness, it may feel overwhelming. It requires you to commit to your health in a conscious way you may never have before. You may be used to going to a doctor, getting a diagnosis, taking a pill and being done with it. With mold, you are the only one that can change things. But every day, you will feel better and that will empower you to keep going.
If I can give you anything from my experience, I urge you to always follow your intuition. It knows all. It knows the right plant, healer, food, information, treatment that you need to heal your self. What is healing for someone else may not be what is right for you. Some intuition comes like a voice (like I hear at times), for some it may be a message from a dream, some of you may have a somatic, physical reaction when something is not right. Tolerating discomfort (as I did for so many years), is not a sign of your spiritual strength. Always turn towards what feels good, the way a flower turns it's face towards the sun.
This is the wisdom in all of us that we have forgotten, that has been taught out of us. Our culture values the left-brained type of thinking, one that must have everything neat and tidy, with mathematical figures and concrete, hard information. Hard information it is. It lacks heart. It lacks humanity and it does not know everything. You know everything. You and only you. Listen to the higher dictates of your soul. Eat soul food, be aware of who you surround yourself with, what you read, what you take in and how it makes you feel. Make your health decisions based on that and your body and heart will rejoice.
For my personal protocol and a more in-depth look at how to treat mold and mystery illness, download my PDF HERE.