[*Automated Podcast Transcript. Typos likely.]
Hello everyone. It’s Amber Desmond, your Emotional Awareness Coach. This is episode six. Today I wanted to talk about chronic health issues. Namely chronic pain and fibromyalgia, different “invisible” illnesses that are still not fully understood culturally or by Western medicine. And primarily what I wanted to talk about when it comes to those particular issues is our particular feelings about ourselves when it comes to having any kind of chronic illness and to add sort of salt to the wound of already having a chronic illness or health problem or pain that we tend to keep a bunch of shame, shame, shame, shame on ourselves for having these issues. For my personal experience, I have struggled with chronic physical pain for many years. I don’t even know how long it’s been for as long as I can remember at this point. I know, uh, in my teens it manifested maybe in slightly different ways than it does now.
But, I have flare-ups. Uh, it’s, it moves around so it’s moving pain. And uh, I truly, for my personal belief system, and this is just speaking for me, that I feel that a lot of my pain issues stems from internalized emotional trauma and a lot of emotional pain that I didn’t process or allow myself to feel. And it really became, you know, cause the body will, no matter what express unexpressed or unprocessed or under dealt with emotions and it sneaks out and all different kinds of manifestations. And for me it shows up as physical pain. I’m wanting to do this particular podcast today because I’m having a flare up and it’s been on my mind and I’ve just been working through some of the, not only just physical pain and discomfort, but the emotional pain that I feel when I have a flare up because it impacts your life.
It really, it affects everything. And it’s really hard when you’re experiencing a lot of physical pain to be really excited about much and to feel inspired and eager to participate in your life. Because pain, not only does does it hurt, but it’s really draining. It is emotionally, physically draining. I feel a lot more fatigue when I’m experiencing a flare up because I my, it’s like your body’s actively trying to heal or re or you know, correct itself. And I don’t know, it just sort of zaps your energy. And on top of being a coach, I’m also a massage therapist and I dance for my hobbies. And so when I’m having a pain flare up is really hard for me to actually even do, you know, one of my jobs and also to participate in something that brings me immense joy.
So then it’s, you know, then a spiral. Generally a lot of times with chronic pain and invisible illnesses that are sort of continued and when you have flare ups, chronic fatigue and those sorts of things is that there’s a lot of depression because our culture, sadly, it just is not set up to where it’s really not created for us to be able to take the kind of respite that we need truly to be able to fully heal, to really be able to take the time that we need to get better before we can, you know, before we were forced to return to work or you know, and if you have children then it’s like very little time. Do you have to be able to really take enough time for yourself to recover? And you know, unless you’re just an incredibly wealthy person and you have nannies and you know, you don’t have to work as much, then if you’re a working Joe like myself, it’s then you, you know, he bought on top of pain, shame, depression, and then you’ve got stress and anxiety about making money and missing work.
And so then the it, which then perpetuates the cycle of pain because stress, anxiety, feeling crunched is going to exaggerate and irritate the nervous system. And if the nervous system isn’t in a state of calm and balance, it is much harder for the body to recover and to get into a state of homeostasis where it’s not thrown out of its own natural balance. And where you’re, you’re in the, what is it the parasympathetic or is it the sympathetic nervous system? I can never remember whatever the stress one is hatch. So when you’re in that stressed out state, then you’re creating more cortisol and more adrenaline and different, you know, not feel good chemicals in your body that are then causing more irritation within your system. So what do we do? What do we do to manage this situation? It feels, it can feel so powerless and that’s a really hard place to be too, is to feel victimized by your own body, to feel like you don’t have the same capabilities as other people or that you, you see other people just being able to live their lives and go to work.
And do things and they don’t have to have these bouts of intense pain or fatigue or whatever it is that comes up for you. You could have migraines or horrible menstrual cramps, different hormonal imbalances, chronic back pain, you know, horrible allergies. I mean so many different things. And so it’s like how, how do we get to a place where we can at least start to nurture our own healing and be patient and loving. And it’s so easy to say that like, Oh just be kind to yourself and love yourself. Great. But what really has to be considered as I really feel is really delving into what story you tell about yourself when that pain comes up for you. So you’ve already got all the stress, all the stuff you’re missing work or you know, not feeling like you’re able to take care of your children the way you want to.
You’re in pain, you’re tired. Maybe your partner’s having, you know, struggling because you’re distant or in pain and then they feel like stuff is falling on them. I mean, so it’s already this really challenging situation. Really challenging. And so then keep on top of that. You feeling really bad about all of that and really guilty. So what can we control? What can we manage? What can we take care of? What is our job? How can we begin to nurture this incredibly challenging experience and make it maybe just a little bit less challenging? Like I said, you know, take care of yourself, love yourself. So how does that, how does that start? Does that look like loving yourself and taking care of yourself? No, it looks like checking in with, okay, I have this pain right now. I’ll just speak for me. I have a terrible pain in my shoulder right now.
That pain is burning, aching and pulling. It hurts even just to have my arm hanging down at the side of my body. And so I think about what is, what are those words? Think about those words, aching, burning, pulling. And then I think about the symbolism and like how I could use those as emotional expressions. I’m aching, I’m burning. Something is pulling on me. I am such a huge believer in the mind, body connection now. It could be really triggering for people. And I am sorry if that triggers anyone, but this is my belief and this is where I teach from these beliefs that a great deal of our pain is connected to emotional trauma, to sort of subconscious beliefs that we took in on processed emotions. Chronic consistent negative thinking patterns that are alive, just kind of continual pain that we’re experiencing. And so that pain doesn’t just have to manifest, you know, emotional pain isn’t just emotional. It can also be physical and you know, being sexually assaulted, being raped, being violated, and that, you know, you can later in life experience a lot of unexplained physical issues in your body and you don’t put together necessarily that that rape or that molestation or that physical assault on your body has now manifested. It’s like an internalized shame and an internalized pain around that trauma. And now it is, you know, your, it can be manifesting in your muscles, in your tissue, in your neck, in your abdomen. It can be in your,your organ. Emotional trauma doesn’t just stay in your mind. It’s not like there’s a mind compartment and like chops, you know, cause there’s like a little door that stops mine from connecting to body in that thoughts and feelings and experiences. Sometimes our experiences of trauma are pre-verbal so we don’t even have words associated with our trauma. It is all visceral, somatic feeling related, suffering, trauma, hurt, fear, feeling unsafe and how the body can lock into just this rigid tight patterns of resistance and protection for a lot more detail on this. I really highly recommend checking out the body, keeps the score. Oh gosh, his name is some very Swedish Vander something and I’m sorry but the body keeps a score. All you have to do is look that up and if the book will come up and also Peter Leviathan, a waking the tiger, he’s an incredible pioneer on somatic emotional trauma associated pain and issues held in the body.
Really beautiful, powerful, transformative information in both of those books about PTSD and different levels of trauma. And it can be little T, big T and a little T traumas or the things that we, we all have trauma, no matter who you are. Everybody has some form of trauma in their life. But little T is, you know, maybe not something super catastrophic. And big T is things like, you know, being raped or molested by family members or people being sexually accosted, car accidents, natural disasters and so on. You know, physical injury and severe emotional, physical, psychological abuse. And sadly, everyone, this planet has gone through something and I really feel that it’s a matter of keeping your, our culture. It can be just our family of origin and our immediate family upbringing and our relationship to emotions and talking about things and processing and what feels safe and what things we didn’t talk about, what things we didn’t share, what things we took in deep into ourselves and we hid those things away.
And then those things can manifest as physical pain. And so I feel like a big step is to check in with the story of your pain. When did it start? How is it, can you give it words? Can you check in with those words and see if they have another meaning, another story that your body is literally telling you. Your body is telling you a story. Something is expressing something to you maybe that your afraid to hear or acknowledge or look at. It’s too painful literally. So your body is just processing it by experiencing pain. But it’s to, it’s easier for you to feel pain than to actually go into the F the emotional pain and experience that because you would rather, I mean solid, very subconscious. It’s not conscious things that you’re deciding. Like I would rather just feel this, Oh LA, these are just deep ingrained patterns of processing and reaction and ways of surviving.
They are literally coping mechanisms that we’ve created for survival. Maybe it just wasn’t even safe or there wasn’t a space for you to express process, recognize or acknowledge what was happening to you. And so the only thing you could do is just keep going, is just to keep surviving, keep living. But all of that unprocessed stuff just got locked into your physical body. And so now in a way of trying to release it and express like something needs to be seen, something needs to be heard is your body is, is shouting at you. Pain is always a messenger. It’s always a messenger and we fucking hate that messenger sometimes and it sucks and it’s painful and we wished the message would come some other way. But that’s just what’s happening right now. Pain is the messenger. So I ask my pain, what do you need? What do you need? How can I be more present for you? How can I show up? What can I do to assist you in being heard, feeling seen, heard, felt, acknowledged.
And I sit with that. Sometimes I get really clear answers, sometimes like it really fuzzy answers. Sometimes I just cry and sometimes just crying is a release and it just feels better. But also again, back to the self love and self acceptance is not shaming myself or my body for having the experience that it’s having. Not creating a painful story to put on top of my already uncomfortable situation, but to, you know, I, I definitely get into like feeling weak, feeling inadequate, feeling like, Oh, well if I was really this, you know, spiritual self help teacher, I wouldn’t have this. That’s my thing. Like I should be healed or never have these issues and that can get me into a big head trip and like, you know, get this big story going and just adds a lot of guilt and a lot of feeling really bad about myself.
And that surely 100% doesn’t help me at all. And I’ve personally never seen anyone heap on a bunch of guilt and shame and blame and then feel better for it. Like, you know what, I’m so glad I’ve just shoveled all of this really painful shit on top of my already uncomfortable situation and then beat myself up about it. Like that’s never gotten anybody into a good space. Like, yay. Self-flagellation for the win. No. So, so I am a big believer also in mirror work, in sitting down and looking into your own eyes in the mirror, talking to yourself, asking yourself questions, looking into your own eyes. You mean speaking to that body part? Speaking to that organ or speaking to the headache or the hormones or whatever it is, and starting a dialogue. I mean we think it’s kind of weird and it doesn’t really occur to us like we can talk to these parts of ourselves, you know, they fit, they can communicate.
If we let them, it might seem like, Oh, I’m just saying stuff, I’m asking a question, then I’m just answering and so it couldn’t possibly be that thing. But whatever you answer, it’s obviously what maybe you need to hear or it’s maybe what’s really needing to be said. You know, it’s not an exact science. It’s just processing and practicing and feeling your way through it and seeing what comes up. And it’s not, I’m not saying like you’re going to do this and instantaneously be cured of like a life long chronic illness, but that I don’t think that we have to forever be doomed to suffer, that we don’t have to forever be tuned to be sick. You know, I really hesitate a lot of the times. It’s not that I don’t want to own my own chronic health issues, but I densifying as someone with that because it can become a part of my identity and I’m really looking to shed that belief and that experience and not take ownership over it.
You know, sometimes with a diagnosis or something, there is a great deal of relief. It can answer a lot of questions. It can be, once you know the diagnosis, you can then navigate your way through healing and, uh, you know, investigate and research and see what you can do to heal and nurture and recover. But for me, I really hesitate with owning a certain label. I’ve recently been diagnosed with ADHD, which was an incredible gift. Uh, it really, it’s like a shed, this enormous, incredible amount of light onto my childhood and my education and ways that I am that just didn’t make any sense to me and certain struggles that were really perplexing and it was an incredible and liberating diagnosis. I don’t really, even though I have quote ADHD, I don’t really think of myself as like, Oh I have urge do like it’s a part of my journey but I’m not going to necessarily walk around with that as a label on myself.
Just this is my personal process and also like I’ve been, you know, I’ve suffered terribly with depression and anxiety and I had a severe mental breakdown many years ago and I was a girl phobic and things were really dark and rough and I definitely have a good bit of diagnoses as far as mental health stuff goes and I’m grateful and that’s helped me navigate my way through healing. But I also don’t walk around saying I have mental health problems because you know, number one, there’s just a huge amount of stigma around mental health issues and I feel like if it gives somebody power and liberates them and they feel good and I get like wanting to educate people and to be a teacher and a way shower, that’s fine, but I don’t identify as having a mental illness. Um, I think that I’ve had disordered ways of thinking and experiencing my life.
I think I had some dark experiences, but I also don’t feel like I am now forever stuck in that place and I don’t need to own that description of myself as something that I am now forever doomed to experience because I feel like a lot of times with diagnoses we can become overly attached to that story and it becomes such a big part of our identity that then what about healing? Then what happens when we’re so identified with it, we don’t know who we are without it. If I make that who I am, who am I? If I don’t have that, and I think that’s just a whole other story and whole other layer of healing. And sometimes, I mean this can come in layers too. Maybe at first you need to own that label and you need to own the diagnosis and you need to be in that wholeheartedly and that’s a part of your journey.
But I highly encourage to be grateful for what you find out and just think of it as information of being informed about something that is existing in your physical, emotional reality right now. But that is not necessarily your then forever doomed to be that because you’ve been diagnosed by a doctor. Because medical science is always expanding, always learning, recognizing we don’t know that much about the human mind, about the human body. I mean, we know a lot more than we used to, but we still don’t know everything and new discoveries are coming every day. There’s still not really even totally understand why depression happens. You know, there’s all these theories about why people are depressed and you know, new ones come up all the time and all these different processes and methods and approaches. And I love the variety because that means so many different people who might resonate with different things, have access to help. And I’m just one Avenue. I’m one voice, I’m one opinion, an you know, a realm of billions of people with ideas and thoughts. And these are my particular understandings. What I’ve come to know in my life and what works for me, and this is how I coach and teach people is through this lens of discovery that I’ve personally walked and experienced. So practicing being present and working on decriminalizing your, your pain, your suffering, your experience, taking some of the blame and the shame away and to the best of your ability. I mean do it in little increments and do your best really to have some serious, massive compassion for yourself. Think of yourself as though you were a small child and you are meeting a small child who told you that they are in a lot of pain. And that they were struggling and what you would impulsively reflexively do if a small child told you that they were in pain, that you would just want to nurture and love and support them and hold them in a space of love and compassion and that you also deserve that loving compassion from yourself, that it’s okay. That’s the start is just, it’s okay for me to be in pain right now. It sucks and I don’t want to be in pain. It’s inconvenient. It’s hard, it’s frustrating, but ultimately it’s okay that I don’t have to dig my heels in and push against this and resist it and hate it and fight it and cause a war to go on inside my body. Me fighting myself, thinking of the pain as some sort of separate demonic entity feeding on us. The pain is a part of you. It feels separate. It feels mean,but it’s a part of you is just your body telling you something, your body expressing a need, feeling a situation, a trauma pattern, habit, something it sharing with you. Your pain is sharing something. And I know it seems so counterintuitive, but it, I’m not saying you need to learn how to love your experience, but recognizing that there is another way to start to have a relationship with your own illness in your body and that it’s going to be a journey and that it is just as much a mindset as it is a physical journey. Shifting bit by bit, little by little moment by moment and getting help. You know, finding a coach, finding a therapist, a support group, friends, family, people who will encourage you to see your strength and not just see your illness or your physical quote. Weaknesses, to recognize how strong you really are and to disempower that story of shame and not enough ness.
And that there’s something wrong with us for being where we are having this experience in the first place and that it’s not okay for us to have this experience and we need to fight. I’m not saying so it’s like, Oh to lay down and die. No. Cause a lot of people think you have to resist and fight. And if that terminology works for you and empowers you, then do it. But for me it is a surrendering. And surrender doesn’t mean giving up. Surrender means to me, leaning into letting go of the fight and diving into the story that I’m not hearing and opening myself up to what the deeper messages and how I can begin to really nurture and heal the parts of me that are, are screaming at me through my face, my physical pain, looking into the mirror and saying, I deserve my own love. I deserve my own compassion. I deserve my own tenderness. I can be present with myself through this pain. No matter how horrible I can be with myself and love myself despite this pain I choose to deeply and completely love and accept myself. Thank you everyone. I hope this is helpful and I’ll be back soon with another episode.