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Uninvisible Pod with Lauren Freedman

Dec 11, 2019

Camille Thornton-Alson is a classically trained actress, coach, and teacher. A longtime friend of Lauren’s, the two met while studying abroad in London – right before Camille began a stint in Paris at L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq. Following her stay in France, Camille returned home to the Bay Area and was immediately stricken with a mysterious illness…one that took her almost a decade to break through. Mistakenly diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, for years she struggled to find her footing while maintaining an active career in the arts (and graduating with a MFA from the University of Washington). Eventually, she was diagnosed with lead and mercury poisoning…and after years of inner remediation (think major detoxing and every change in diet – and in mindset – that you can imagine), she now lives a full and functional life, mindful of her sensitivities. She teaches acting at Santa Barbara City College and USC, among others, and is the co-founder of Speak LA, an organization founded to help actors find their way in Hollywood. In this episode, she sat down with Lauren to share her journey – long and winding, but with a happy ending indeed. 

Tune in as Camille shares… 

- that she first got sick at 19 years old – and got progressively worse over several years with various infections 

- that she finally decided to do something about her illness after collapsing in a dance class 

- her symptoms: inexplicable chronic pain, fatigue, infections, brain fog, an inability to digest food, and muscle weakness 

- that she advocated for herself early on: sitting her doctors down at that young age to give full health histories  

- that her doctors told her she had CFS, and that she’d have to learn to live her life that way 

- that it took 7-8 years for her to get the diagnosis of lead and mercury poisoning 

- the fine line she walked between giving up and striving through her illness 

- that she lost a lot of friends during the period of her illness 

- that the only people she could keep up with were seniors in a Tai Chi class – but it was very nourishing to move and commune with others 

- that she would spend the week before and during her period almost unable to open her eyes from her crippling fatigue 

- that she saw her life passing her by, and struggled to find beauty in who she was and in her experience 

- that she came down with EBV while in grad school 

- that early integrative testing indicated a thyroid problem – but her integrative doctor had a feeling that the thyroid problem was tied to something deeper, so she kept digging…and found lead and mercury poisoning that were off the charts 

- that she made a decision very early on that she would not die 

- that the illness bred an underlying fear in her: would she make it through today, or survive tomorrow? 

- how she gave in to healing protocols and moved forward despite her fears 

- that she went through a grieving process once she was better, because she’d fought so hard for years and realized her survival, fully acknowledging her past 

- what she learned from her illness – that the gift of chronic, life-threatening conditions is that you learn to take care of yourself 

- that she felt resentment through her healing, feeling she was denying pleasures to herself – but so appreciates the importance of her protocols in her current, full health 

- that the biggest change in her life was in changing the way she ate 

- that it wasn’t only diet that allowed her to detox: she also used in-office IV chelation for a full year, during her final year of grad school 

- that none of her chelation treatments were covered by insurance – but they saved her life 

- that surviving chronic illness gives you a deeper understanding of humanity – and deeper empathy 

- that self-advocacy and survival can be a lonely road 

- why she believes that there is always a diagnosis – an underlying cause 

- that she was additionally diagnosed with fibromyalgia – which was actually a symptom of her lead poisoning 

- that your body loves you and is on your side – but it’s trying to tell you what’s wrong 

- that getting sick forced her to check her ego 

- how gratitude has transformed her mindset 

- that she continues to choose – on a daily basis – to make her wellness a priority