The three different areas of my life that I had to explore to begin healing from chronic illness.
I can still remember laying in my bed, late at night, praying. I prayed that God did not let me die. I was 6 years old and I was experiencing a full-blown panic attack that definitely wouldn’t be the last that I’d endure. As I laid there shaking uncontrollably and crying, which signaled the comedown, I tried to rationalize what was happening to me. Anxiety and depression in a child don’t always look like it does in adults. It is irrational in any circumstance. Children especially struggle with articulating an emotion which presents itself in physical symptoms and yet is “caused” by a phantom occurrence.
Into adulthood I was constantly plagued with these episodes, I just got better at “handling” them. Sometimes in my teen years, I’d drink them away and other times I’d distract and medicate with unhealthy relationships. This emotional unpredictability was my life. I struggled to go to grocery stores or crowded public events. I missed my sister’s graduation from high school and my Mom’s graduation with her masters that she had spent 10 years working on while she worked and raised us, girls. I almost didn’t walk down the aisle on my wedding day! Frankly now having been divorced, maybe that one might not have been so bad. I’m kidding!
I became accustomed to missing out on life due to chronic fear and it made me tired. Everyday tasks were so much work and sometimes I just wanted a day off. But mental ailments don’t give you Sunday Fundays. They follow you on your dream vacation and steal moments and memories from your life.
In my early 20’s I discovered that my diet and exercise routine had a strong impact on my panic attacks.
This was the first significant step.
Once I committed to implementing healthier habits into my life, my panic attacks and depression became less frequent and less severe. I was mindful of stimulants and depressants such as nicotine, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. Things were looking up! Unfortunately, something still wasn’t right. Better! But not right. My hormones still felt off and after my second miscarriage, second successful childbirth and a whole lot of life trauma, I began digging deeper. My studies and personal research as a Health Coach brought me to Gut Health. What I learned during this time was the second MAJOR component of healing my struggles. You see, 90% of the body’s serotonin and 50% of its dopamine is produced in the Gut. If the Microbiome or “Gut” is out of whack, which is the case for many of us, then the body can’t even physiologically produce the necessary hormones to keep us happy, calm and in control! And there it was, my “thing.” From this point of realization, I dug even deeper. I wrote my first book, “Buddha Belly, a mind, body, soul approach to health starting with your Gut.” That book turned into a course which turned into on online coaching school, the Holistic Wellness Coaching Academy, a school for health and life coaches.
It was official, not only had I found new hope for my own suffering, but my suffering had essentially led me to my life’s purpose. Helping others became my jam. Watching people suffer is an excruciating experience and when you can assist another in their own personal triumph, it becomes part of your own healing journey. Now as great as this all came to be, turns out that the Gut was not the perceived finale of my healing story. A few years later while at the top of my game in business and in many ways in life, the rug got pulled out from under me. As I laid there metaphorically flat on my face, I felt more devastated than ever. I had been in a very unhealthy marriage and in order to save my sanity, my kids and in many ways my body, this marriage needed to end and I would have to be the one to end it.
The second piece of the puzzle
During this time period, I learned a lot about myself and I mean A LOT. Seeing the patterns in the men which I had chosen scared me. I was such an intuitive woman, how had I let so many things slide right under my nose. I was literally attracted to the very type of men who would become destined to bring chronic pain and fear into my life. Seeing that I obviously had lived out patterns, I chose to start specialized counseling, in an attempt to get off this hellish hamster wheel, which I had unconsciously chosen to jump onto.
This brings me to the third piece of my healing puzzle.
While working with my therapist and processing the hardest time in my life, I was forced to go back and revisit my 6-year-old self. That little girl trembling in her bed, praying to God not to die. I had to describe and identify to my counselor a very unhealthy childhood which consisted of chronic mental and at times physical abuse by my father. I discovered that my early on anxiety was likely induced by trauma. The trauma of living in an unpredictable and terrifying home.
Now, did this mean that I could stop taking my probiotics, throw back some beers and call it good? No. Not at all. Through further research, reading and self-analyzation, I realized that unhealed emotional traumas, sadness, and experiences absolutely find a way out. And they do so within the body. They do so in the form of panic attacks, chronic depression, migraines, chronic pain, and disease. A mind is a powerful tool and the spirit is a fragile yet fierce beast.
In order for me to truly heal, I had to break down everything that I thought I knew about myself and what had made me. I had to decide to start reconstructing a healthy, loved and nurtured me, from the debris of what had been torn down.
While lying flat on my face I made a commitment to my 6-year-old self, suffering alone, and I picked up the first piece of what would now become my new foundation.
I work with many healers and I hear so many stories. I believe that we all have a purpose greater than we can imagine and it is often rooted in the exact things that almost killed us. Pain begets pain. If we don’t seek to heal and nurture the wounds in ourselves, they become like shrapnel to the world around us. On the other hand, if we seek to truly heal, our nurturing compassion radiates far beyond our perceptions. Its never too late to start the first piece of your new foundation.