My purpose in sharing the details of my quest for healing over the coming weeks in the blog pages that follow is to hopefully be a source of insight for you. To share personal knowledge and perspective about what I have learned and am learning about the relationship between my mind and my body and how they relate to and respond to what I’ve studied, learned and experimented with in terms of treatment options… With the hope that a nugget from one of my experiences might ring true for you. That something I have heard about or tried might be the missing piece that solves your particular puzzle.
I have found that stress is often the final straw that sets in motion the expression of “dis-ease” in the body. And this has definitely rung true for me. Several major stress events triggered the cascade of symptoms that I’ve dealt with over the last 10+ years. What makes it so challenging to deal with is that it manifests differently for everyone. So applying someone else’s experience is a process of trial and error. We are all innately unique.
I am a twin. In theory, a carbon copy genetically of another. And yet, our physiology has responded to life’s challenges, many of which we’ve shared, differently. Why? Because I believe it’s not as clear-cut as just physiology’s response to an external stressor. I believe it’s also about how we reacted to each stressor both mentally and emotionally… My sister and I share genes, but we didn’t respond to nor develop belief patterns in the same way about the experiences that we did share. We didn’t lay down memories of early trauma or disappointments or emotional messages (whether positive and negative) identically. As a result, our bodies have responded differently. Identical, and yet, still unique.
So, what kinds of stress am I talking about and what has it taught me? In my case, it was the effects of a long-term family illness along with my divorce and the responsibilities of parent care colliding. The effects on my digestion and my mood were particularly prolific. My father became very ill when I was fourteen. I grew up in a house where advice from traditional medical doctors was gospel. It’s what I knew and that belief influenced how I dealt with my health concerns for several years. When I was in my mid-40’s and my symptoms started to more directly affect how I was able to live my life, I remember seeking my doctor’s advice. I had reached a breaking point. The puffiness, the weight gain even though I was exercising, the fatigue, the sleep issues, the acne, the constipation, the depression, the lack of libido… Surely, he would know what to do. But, what answer did I receive? “You’re just getting older”… Really?? That’s it?? The audacity of that response still amazes me. And how many of us, female or male, have heard the same thing??
My indignation over the lack of support from my physician spurred a resolution to heal and a call to action to find answers. I refused to accept that this was how I was supposed to feel – at ANY age. I refused to allow my symptoms to keep me from living the life I wanted to live. I made a decision to not be defined by my physical issues. As a result, I have immersed myself in the world of holistic healing in an effort to feel better. I have studied. I have experimented. I have succeeded. And I have gone back to the drawing board. But, I have discovered four prevailing tenets of healing along the way as I continue to walk this path.
Become Your Own Advocate
There are important contributions that traditionally trained physicians can make on your path toward healing… keep them on your team. BUT, it’s impossible for anyone to know everything. Become your own advocate. Read, research and explore what else is out there in both the traditional and alternative medical communities about your condition or symptoms. In my initial search for answers, I stumbled across what proved to be a life-changing read for me, Dr. Mark Hyman’s book, UltraMetabolism. It prompted me to seek out a healthcare professional certified in functional medicine. As a result, I discovered food sensitivities and that I was suffering with adrenal fatigue. My work with that professional resulted in a 17lb weight loss in just a few weeks and the complete removal of antidepressants within three months. I was sleeping again. I had energy again. I was at a normal weight again. I started to feel like it was possible to have my life back. I had hope. I am still researching, seeking and learning. Developments happen every day.
Your Body May Be Trying to Tell You Something
I’m a firm believer that what is happening in our hearts and minds shows up in our bodies. Often times, the messages initially appear as whispers. A nagging pain here. A headache there. But left unattended, our bodies will continue to try more boldly to get our attention. And gradually, the whispers become screams and our lives are affected in more dramatic ways. So, maybe it’s time to ask yourself what is truly trying to get your attention. Is it how you are feeding or moving your body that’s manifesting your symptoms? Or could it be issues at work or in a significant relationship or lack of sleep or a story you keep telling yourself??
A technique I have used personally and have successfully used with clients is a form of journaling called Morning Pages. It’s a process I learned from the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s essentially stream of consciousness writing. You write longhand for at least three pages, keeping your pen moving the entire time. No attention is paid to spelling or grammar or punctuation. You don’t even have to be able to read it when you’re done. That’s not the point. The point is to bypass the internal editor in our heads that filters what we allow ourselves to express. Morning pages can be an effective tool for reaching our deep, knowing self to gain clarity about a problem, relationship or concern. And if you’re interested in using morning pages as a spiritual tool, I found the book Writing Down Your Soul by Janet Connor extremely helpful.
Try using this technique to ask yourself what your body is trying to tell you. And listen as your pen writes the answer…
Pay Attention to Synchronicity
Synchronicity: the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.
Have you ever had the experience of seemingly unconnected and yet somehow related events showing up in your life? I have. Many, many times. And as I’ve continued to walk this path of discovery and healing, I have learned to pay attention to the messages and information that appear in my life in this way. Whether you believe in God, or the Universe, or Mother Earth, or your Inner Voice, I believe that we are all energetic beings intimately connected to the energy of the world that surrounds us. And sometimes, the world is trying to tell us something. I have found great sources of healing this way. An example is my discovery of Atlas Orthogonal Chiropractic Care. It stemmed from a comment from my neighbor about a new treatment she had tried for her chronic neck pain, a struggle we shared in common… mine a result of a head injury as a child and a car accident in my twenties. Two days later, at a women’s networking luncheon, an attendee at my table told an unsolicited similar story about the exact same treatment by the exact same facility. Chance? Possibly… From my perspective, that was synchronicity. I investigated the treatment and the doctor, scheduled a visit, and have experienced tremendous relief from symptoms including: TMJ, headaches, lower back pain, numbness in extremities, and shoulder tightness and pain. If you experience synchronicities, at least take some time to look at them and decide if there is a message there worth your attention and further investigation.
Healing Often Comes in Layers
This can be a tough one to accept… I know it has been for me. I have heard this phrase from clients and I have said it many times myself, “I did what you told me to do and yet I feel worse, not better.” Why does this happen? When we start the process of discovery and healing, we are often uncovering “dis-ease” in the body that has been there a long time. Patterns develop. The body continues to compensate for whatever isn’t working as designed by creating numerous and various workarounds. When we start to peel back the layers of healing and correct an imbalance, it often reveals a deeper layer of compensation or accommodation that the body created to keep us functioning. Furthermore, when we “heal” or resolve an issue, like the removal of food sensitivities, we also free up energy that our bodies were using to try to maintain balance in spite of that issue. And our bodies may now use that energy to deal with the next layer of imbalance, elevating it in our consciousness. Bringing it more directly to our attention. It is not necessarily a new issue. We may really just be embarking on a deeper layer of healing.
I know… this process can be frustrating. We can get bogged down in what isn’t working, what’s not fixed yet, what’s still left to be done. But, whether you’re just starting to look for answers or you’ve been on your own journey for a while, don’t forget to be proud of what you’ve accomplished so far. Celebrate the steps you’ve already taken. Awareness is always the first step. Thank your body for making you aware… Accept that wherever you are right now is your next starting point. By doing so, you enable yourself to move another step forward on the path to whole body healing.