As I look back on my life I have had some ridiculous and crazy health scares. I have been through test after test after test only to have doctors tell me they couldn’t find anything wrong and yet I would have all of these weird and random symptoms.
You know what it is? Emotional constipation. Yup, decades on decades of dry, hard, crusty emotional shit that is just stagnating and rotting inside me. Sounds dramatic, eh? That is what it feels like some days. Some days I am so exhausted I don’t know how I am going to get out of my bed. Some days I have such bad stomach pains and nausea that I would happily resign myself to never eating again. Some days I have dizziness so bad that I want to scream please, for fuck’s sake just take me now so that I can be out of this miserable torment. I used to hope, every night before I went to sleep, that my heart would stop beating so that I didn’t have to wake up to the physical symptoms. My body, even now, literally controls my life. I am fucking sick of it. Chronic health symptoms are no joke.
Before anyone has a conniption, I am a doctor. I fully understand that there are real diseases and believe me, I have been through SO MUCH testing to make sure I don’t have them. The one true physical ailment that I have had so far was exhaustion that turned around within two weeks as soon as I cut out gluten. The rest of it though…. I KNOW it’s stress. I know it is anxiety creating these unpredictable events and usually when I can acknowledge that and realize there is no underlying physical issue, magically, the symptoms will go away. Until some other weird ass thing starts to happen to my body. This is how I know I haven’t really processed all of these chronic, distorted emotional patterns. My body has become accustomed to reacting to my emotional states with a few very specific sets of embarrassing clinical signs that I will not delve into further.
It’s funny too because as a small kid I used to think that love was really powerful and could heal. I distinctly remember having that thought. Somewhere between kindergarten and middles school I put all of that wisdom aside and became more separate from my energy and my body. Slowly these things that I used to think are being reawakened and brought to the surface. I do think love can heal. But I think the person doing the healing has to have enough love in them to be able to heal. For me, I want to heal myself which means that I need to create more love in my life. I do this through perspective shifts and all this other shit I am writing about. Do I think that if you snap your femur falling from a ladder, that love will cure it? Fuck, no. Exceeding physical limitations like that requires a little help from the doctor.
I’m going to go off on a little tangent now about our healthcare system. In my humble opinion, it is completely broken. There are so few doctors out there who actually treat preventatively. Most also do not treat holistically, and by that I mean, looking at all of the body systems and their interactions. It makes zero sense to me that a doctor of just one system can be that useful. Yes, they may be able to control symptoms within the confines of that particular system, but there will be other ramifications in the body and those other parts must be supported and strengthened as well. Don’t even get me started on all of the freaking medications they prescribe. Here’s a pill for blood pressure, oh it’s causing nausea, here’s a pill for that etc etc etc… when really the damn root of the blood pressure needs to be addressed!!! And really, it isn’t all the medical professionals fault because people are fucking lazy. It’s much easier to take a pill and keep eating my twinkies than it is to get off my ass and move my body or change my lifestyle. I get it, I’ve been there. Again, I know there are people who do the work and need the medications and I am not trying to demonize everyone but there are WAY more who just lean on healthcare providers to bandaid them up until the day they die. Whew… rant over.
Me, I am choosing something different. It’s not an easy way, but it is a way that will work for me, and that aligns with my values and ideals.
I decided I would start actually LISTENING to my body. I know, dramatic concept. I am getting more and more interested in “intuitive eating.” Such a buzz phrase… I don’t know what the “proper” definition of intuitive eating is but for me, it just means listening to my body about food. I have incorporated some woo woo tactics in an attempt to open my mind and heart to alternative methods because obviously what I have been doing hasn’t worked.
(It’s interesting to me that even though I believe in this stuff… mindset, energy etc., there is still some feeling of the need to justify or explain why I am doing what I am doing so that maybe it will seem less “weird.” WTF. I am weird! Some day I will love myself enough to not care about those things! I think that stems from this vision that I have of self growth people walking around clutching crystals and singing Kumbaya. This is not a vision that I am alone in sharing and it makes the personal growth world seem …. unattainable? Otherwordly? I don’t know what the right word it, but I think these stereotypes prevent “normal” people from embarking on a journey because they feel like they will have to dance with fairies naked in the woods on the full moon when it’s in retrograde. What the fuck does that even mean?! See… I just got some clarity about making this stuff more accessible and less….. mystical.)
This will be a fun experiment. Okay, fun may be a bit of an oversell but here’s my six step plan for taming my gastrointestinal tract (I didn’t even really tell you guys of my health stuff, I’m doing this completely backwards….. welcome to how I live my life).
- Ceremony – I am trying to create more mindfulness in my life, generally speaking… so by having a ceremony before I eat it causes me to slow down for a second. What is that ceremony? I dress up in fishnet and ecstatically dance to the song of my elders. Just kidding. That would be quite a sight when I was visiting my local Taco Time. Ceremony for me just means that before I dive into my luscious dinner or dessert or whatever I take a second, close my eyes, breath deeply and find appreciation for the nourishment that food brings as well as appreciation for my body and how it utilizes the nutrients. This type of stuff is really hard for me, as it sounds completely fucking ridiculous to my logical brain. You eat food, your body does its thing and boom! End of story… but there is so much more to it than that and so much we don’t know about the interactions between emotions and digestion so… woo woo it is.
- Eating slower and chewing more – This is pretty self-explanatory. I am usually like a shark when I eat. I open, extend my rows of teeth and swallow all in one fell swoop and then I swim off into my day. Am I going to become crazy and count how much I am chewing? Not gonna lie the little OCD part of me finds that appealing… I tried that one night, 40 chews per bite and I’m gonna tell you the mush that was in my mouth became disgusting to swallow, which I guess is the point in breaking down food. I will settle from somewhere between bolting my food whole and maceration beyond all joy.
- Eating smaller meals and eating only when I’m hungry- I love to stuff myself. To feel that fullness. This is probably a sign of lack of love or something in my life, so I am working on eating smaller meals and filling that void with other things.
- Eating a better diet. Duh…. I know this is a no brainer, but I get into these slumps where I don’t give a shit about cooking and my body always feels worse when eating a lot of take out but sometimes I can’t argue with the convenience. I decided instead to only take in nourishing things. This is a challenge as things we traditionally think of as nourishing (veggies and fruits) I lot of it I have trouble digesting right now. I actually have a little list started of all of the things I can tolerate eating, because as silly as it sounds, when I don’t want to cook I can peek at that list and say okay, rice and sweet potatoes it is! Something about being hungry and lacking time to prepare food renders my brain completely useless and I ignore all of the “don’t eat that” signals coming from my body. I have also been incorporating veggie powders and am on my way to buying a juicer because I know I need the nutrients from veggies but I cannot tolerate their actual ingestion.
- Breathing. Turns out when you are constantly in fight or flight mode, blood flow is altered to the intestines (it leaves the organs to power the muscles so you can, you guessed it, fight or flight) and can result in chronic issues with digestion. *Raises hand* So I have set the intention to breathe more, and not just that automatic breathing (obviously I am still doing that…) but I am talking mindful breathing with a purpose. I breathe deeply and slowly, in an effort to 1. calm my nervous system and 2. I am intrigued with Wim Hof and studies done on body alkalinity through breath work. In my mind I should be able to create an environment more conducive to healing through my breath. I am stopping myself from going down a rabbit hole here as to why I think this will work….it has to do with blood flow and the bacteria connection. If anyone actually wants to know…. just comment below.
- Meditation – I am pretty terrible about a regular practice. I was good for a while and I really enjoy meditation, but sometimes my mind takes over and I feel like I just wasted 30-40 min of my life calmly overthinking things. I know I need to be consistent enough to move through that barrier, so every night I have been doing this body healing meditation. I also picture what a healthy, normally functioning GI tract looks like and imagine all those little cells repairing and recharging themselves and I pay particular attention to my vagus nerve because when that badass gets pissed off… watch out… 6a. movement and water… thought I’d sneak that in here cause it’s so important.
I was not going to go into all of the gory details of my struggle, but fuck it, no one knows who I am right now and maybe this will help someone else.
Here’s the laundry list of things that my body does in an attempt to get my attention:
- bloating and gas – sometimes I look six months pregnant, and in a farting contest with my dog, I am capable of blowing him out of the water… pun intended
- diarrhea (fuck that’s embarrassing to see written out….) diarrhea, diarrhea, diarrhea… just threw a few more in there until it felt a little less appalling to put out there on the internet
- eczema like patches on my arms – I say eczema like cause it could be eczema or something else I’ve never had that checked out
- acne – still waiting for puberty to take care of that one
- stomach pains that occasionally will double me over and leave me crying on the bathroom floor
- passing out – sometimes on the toilet! Super fun times. Mostly at really inopportune moments, like when I am trying to impress a guy or when I am mid workout, or when I am underneath a horse… <– that sounds SUPER awkward if you haven’t read my other post that explained I am a horse vet…
- thinning hair – this happened after a really deeply grief stricken few months and I haven’t been able to slow it down
- A relentless internal heat while my outside body feels cold – It’s weird. I can be super hot at night but touching my skin I feel like ice. My acupuncturist keeps telling me I have excess heat. I have no idea what this means or how to fix it but I believe it!
- back and sciatic pain – I actually had surgery for this…. that is a whole other story
I’ve read all the books, I know all about the adrenal fatigue, SIBO, Candida, leaky gut. I’ve done gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, low FODMAP, low carb blah blah blah the list goes on and on. I’ve been to gastroenterologists, MDs, sleep doctors, pain management clinics, neurologists, psychologists…. I have been tentatively diagnosed with narcolepsy, vasovagal dysfunction, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel…. all of the vague syndromes that really mean, we have no clue what’s wrong with you. I used to vehemently oppose anyone who told me all of this was stress related because it made me feel like it was all in my head and if it was in my head why couldn’t I control it better, what was wrong with me? And male doctors… no thank you… they have been some of the worst in my experience. I would be told about these “vague syndromes effecting women” because “you girls are all so delicate”. I was told that. DELICATE! um no… I am a lot of things, but delicate… come over here and let me delicately plant a uppercut on your face. About a decade ago I fired all of them. I was so sick of pills and tests and condescension and feeling like utter shit and not making any improvements. I was completely on my own advocating for my own health care, which is what you have to do. You have to become unafraid of saying no thank you, I don’t agree with you. The more… awakened my internal self becomes, the more clear the signals are that are coming from my body and I have a lot of catching up to do. I have ignored my body for so long…. because they told me it was all in my head!
Here’s a secret for anyone suffering from some of this stuff… it isn’t in your head. It’s in your heart, you mind, your soul… The body responds to energetic dysfunctions in the only way that it knows how… through physical manifestations. I struggled with this concept for so long, and still do…. especially because I see illness on a daily basis and feel incredibly limited with my current tool box. Each prescription I write I ask myself what else can I be doing to support the whole? I feel like a hypocrite some days when all I can offer my patients is a pill.
It also takes massively large balls to confront the medical community and insist on another way, another perspective, another approach. It’s really hard to look at a Western trained practitioner and say, I know I am complaining about my stomach issues, but I am asking you to look beyond the body to help me. There are so many “other” bodies than just our physical one. We have an emotional body, and intuitive body, a mental body… no, they aren’t separate, we are this amazing integrated beautiful machine that cannot be compartmentalized. Everything has to be treated.
As an aside… the word doctor… it gives immediate credibility. People elevate us. And yes, we have been through a tremendous amount of schooling that 98% of the population will never experience. But we are still people. Please remember that. If you go into a doctor and feel like a number and like you are talking to a robot, I urge you to find someone that actually maintains their humanity. I promise you, they are out there. And the ones that are are worth their weight in platinum.
This is getting super long winded… I think this justifies a second post about my relationship with food, how it came to be and the ramifications in my life. So hold on to your skirts tomorrow is going to be a thrilling one!! ❤ ❤