A Drop of Reassurance.

A drop of reassurance. I have been healing myself for a year and a half now, with every resource at my disposal, putting in the hard work.

I am in a safe healing space now. I didn’t feel safe for quite a long time. But I have found one, and I am in a space where I ask for the help I need, and have finally found the support that I need to continue my journey from here.

I am safe.

I no longer hide in shame, I now choose instead to thrive in the courage of vulnerability.

I didn’t always feel that way- and that will be relayed here.

I intend to be raw and truthful and authentic about my experiences. I think that it is important to know that you are not alone if these things are happening to you. In the depths of this all, I really felt alone and isolated, most of it was my doing, because I was too ashamed to share and not yet emotionally intelligent enough to process what was happening, as it unfolded.

I thought that everyone struggled with those levels of inadequacy, that it was pretty normal for people to feel like they aren’t enough- our society is flooded with reasons to not be enough.

I felt inadequate in nearly every aspect of my life, in that underlying always reaching to be more, something well within reach, but never putting in the effort to get there kind of way. I learned later that it is not a healthy mental state to live in.

So, even though it is against every grain of my existance to be this vulernable- I am going to give it my authentic best and the raw honest truth about my thoughts and feelings along the way.

This abrupt journey, into being incapable of tending to my life, did put me into a real tailspin, and it got dark, and it got ugly and depressive. It took me to levels of anxiety I hope that most people never experience, it is debilitating to feel that helpless.

In those moments I made myself a promise, and I have kept it relentlessly. I have kept it at all costs. Because of that promise that I kept, that promise to myself, I am healing slow steady, and permanently.

The more I learn about my condition, and how my life to date seems to back-fill all of the puzzle pieces that contribute to a condition like I have, the clearer it is that the way I was thinking was not contributing to my health and general well being. As someone who thought I was doing pretty well in the world, it was alarming to learn that most of the physical pain that I experience is from how I have coped with my life with bad physical habits from bad mental habits.

I learned all about my condition Centralized Sensitization Syndrome. I learned the link between medical and mental health was syndromes like this that go un-diagonosed because the medical and mental health systems do not work together, at all.

I learned that being exposed to traumatic events, as well as not having the proper healthy support from professionals or healed people post crisis are also contributing factors. So l learned, and linked that the underlying cause of most of my issues was unresolved trauma from my childhood triggered again by the trauma of being force-ably removed from my life for pain that didn’t go away for months.

Trying to reconcile this all led to an existential crisis for me, and I have never been so grateful for chaos, because making sense of all of that non-sense was the secret to prolonged wellness for me.

As the research is indicating now, many chronic health issues are being linked to poor mental health due to unresolved trauma. The long term solution to resolving trauma is teaching self love to people to build them through their limiting beliefs to their ability to see their value again, no medication can provide this for a human- because it is an emotional reconcilliation process that needs to occur. It has nothing to do with a chemical compound prescription.

But instead of offering quality helpful advice which is free, and makes no profits, Doctors are trained to provide prescription solutions, not helpful longterm ones.

I have done enough research to know that medication is not the answer for me, because of the damage it does to my central nervous system and my highly sensitive body. I have been protecting my body by not being a live lab rat for some billionaire, it is just not something that I think my body needs.

Unfortunatley, both the mental health and the medical systems failed to provide me with any helpful help in spite of my relentless asking for it.

They don’t have the answers because emotions do not have prescribability when people aren’t afraid to feel them. I was looking for helping practices, pain clinics, and tools guidance to healthier ways to heal. I was looking for clairity on the healthy combination of things required to get non prescription relief from chronic pain.

It is a big huge abuse cycle being chronically ill and relying on the “systems”to support you.

I learned that you can break the trauma cycles when you break it down to the components of the underlying issues and actually start to heal the brain by removing the patterns that cause the chaos for you.

But how do you break the trauma cycles that you are living in and up against to save your own life?

I have learned that to find ways to stay away from that kind of “help”.

I will explain what I mean by the above separatly because the complexity requires it. Basically, the systems have the patient in a three way battle with medical help, mental health help, and their own capacity to endure the ignorance of both systems as they resist helping patients by passing the buck to eachother, like a cruel game of hot-potato, but with your life. All while you are expected to wait in the agony of trauma. It is cruel, and this is a hard reality pill to swallow in the depths of desparation in my pain cycles while waiting on wait lists that are years long.

I want to share with you how I am going about caring for myself, and managing my life while I have been left to my own devices, while I wait.

I have learned and adapted to each obstacle and hurdle that I have encountered along the way, and done some real soul searching and self work in the midst of it all.

It has not been easy. In fact, it has been the most traumatizing year and a half of my life… because as I lived my current trauma of being disabled suddenly, I mentally calculated my reality with the emotional pain of my old traumas flooding back to me in my present life. This is anxiety for me. When all of these things seem to happen at once and you can’t slow down to process, that is an anxiety attack. Long before my anxiety became agoraphobia/ anti-social like, I used anger, negativity and sarcasm to cover up my anxieties among many other things, unknowingly.

Finally having the knowledge that this is a reflection of the love that I needed to give myself, I have began to adapt and heal… and the more I heal the more I am addicted to the feeling of healing my way to the whole health that I have been desparately searching for.

I have learned that coping is absolutely the most common thing we do as people carrying trauma. Literally everyone copes. Everyone. Unless you take the time to resolve your past with where you stand today, on a very regular basis- you are probably coping in some way.

I found many unhelpful ways to cope, from avoidance to self sabbotage and enabling my own addiction cycles with my emotional reactions, rather than finding appropriate ways to respond to any given situation. I would always choose to cope instead, because coping is easy. Coping is like fast food… you know it is not good for you, but it fills the void in the moment.

Ultimately you are settling for convenience over quality, and accepting the long term consequences of that. We all do it more often than we would really like to acknowlege. I did anyhow.

My elaborate coping strategies led the straight path to where I am today. All because I never properly took care of the past events that shaped my thought patterns, mainly because I didn’t realize they were broken until I sat down and had a good look at my life from my bed and found the hard realization that this was all connected. That my brain had created symptoms in my body that scared the ever-living-shit out of me and sank me into a deep place of contempation, where I found my promise and jump-started my self worth with all of my mama bear fight to stay alive, and out of my bed for my children, I used a little bit of that force on myself. I mothered myself out of coping and into dicipline, mentally and then physically.

I have been levelling up as I go, and I am so ready to share my path to health from being chronically unwell. I want to share my journey, my messy, sometimes embarassing journey through it all! If for nothing more than to normalize being a little messy, and hopefully make sense of some of this non-sense for someone else.

I want there to be less shame around not being okay. I hope my story allows for that, because perfection was my goal, and so many people thought I had it. Perfectionism is the obsession with unattainable goals and the mental torture that comes along with it was alarming to recognize.

I went to counselling/therapy and dealt with underlying issues that were creating limiting beliefs in my processing patterns. Each time I found helpful help it led me in the direction of mindfulness and its contribution to health.

If you are struggling, I encourage you to reach out for help. Medications, if used as a strategic tool can and are very effective in treating patients, when combined with the proper support and mental health trauma-informed care. I chose not to use the medications, only because that was the right choice for me and I made those choices with my medical professionals.

So just know, as a drop of reassurance, that the places I write about, I have healed through and I am no longer suffering in the ways that I was.

I am excited to share what I have learned and how it has felt along the way.

I am so excited for what is coming next. I think it is going to change my life. A huge level up for my health, and a really big investment in myself.

-B.

Pause for Gratitude.

I want to take a moment right here, at the end of my hormonal cycle that has been the longest and most challenging one yet… and say that I am so grateful for everything that I have done for myself so far.

As I prepare to share my adventure forward, and prepare to share the knowledge I have gained from the hardships of this past year and a half, know that the road that I have traveled has not been an easy one, but nothing easy is free and nothing free is easy as the saying goes. It is worth it.

Even from here, I know that the work is worth it.

I am so grateful for having the courage to never quit asking the questions that I needed to ask to find my answers. People have so much faith that the medical system has their back, so they wait. I can only be left to wait for so long before I need to do something about it. I am grateful that I had the motivation to make a little tiny bit of progress every single day.

I would literally talk to anyone who knew a single thing about biology, neurology, anxiety, pain science and how it was all connected to the hormone system. I went a lot OCD on the research. Then I had the ability to connect with an endocrinologist. (A specialist who specializes in the hormones that travel through your central nervous system). He is referring me on because I know more about my Centralized Sensitization than he does as a practicing Endocrinologist. I am grateful for my ability to be stubborn and blunt enough to advocate for myself.

Overcoming my need to put everyone before me has also been a work in progress for me, but I am grateful that I have acknowledged the need to overcome it and proud of the steps and progress made so far.

I am grateful for my support system. Mainly my husband, who gets the brunt of me and all of my angry pain monster glory. My kids who always brighten any day just by being my awesome kids, who are really patient with their sick mom. And of course the friends and family who have really really stepped up for me, especially after those who said they would, couldn’t. Although we are far away from each other, you always have my back. I am grateful for you. Thank you.

I am grateful for the pause from responsibilities, and obligations that this year has afforded our family. Although none of them seemed to be by choice, they all seemed to be exactly what was needed.

I am grateful for good memories with old friends.

I am grateful for my newly learned resilience skills.

I am grateful for all of the things that were supposed to break me, they have provided me all of the proof that I need that I can rise from anything.

Bring it. I am grateful for my warrior attitude.

I am grateful for my dedication to self love. I am grateful for loving myself enough to place boundaries with people who are harming my healing. I am grateful for knowing that although hard, this is the only way to create space to truly heal.

Some days in the depths of my pain when it gets bad and it triggers me I get right back to shame and self loathing… and some days I am able to keep it all at bay, barely. I am grateful for always finding the motivation to get back up and start again. I am grateful for my stubbornness.

I am grateful for my past, it has made me the me I am today. It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t all good either. I cant change what happened, I can only adapt how I perceive things because of it all to a more healthy perspective.

I am grateful that I have had the courage to face the stigma of mental health in ways that go beyond coping. Asking for guidance beyond prescription medications from medical professionals is challenging, I am grateful for my ability to articulate, even in anger and through my unresolved traumas.

I am grateful for to myself for showing up and putting in the work, and the effort that was required to save myself from my own misery.

I am grateful to have already taken care of my mid-life/ existential crisis, awakening, official adulting, whatever this chapter shall be called… I am already grateful for it even though it has been the wildest, messiest ride yet; and I am still taken for a spin more often than I would like as I heal, but I am grateful for the strength I gain from relentlessly showing up for myself.

I am grateful for never giving up.

I am grateful that I have finally found love for myself, unconditional love for me from me in an infinite circle.

-B.

Unconditional Love

I was always under the impression that Love needed to somehow be earned in the same way that someone earns your respect. There was some aspect of the notion of what humans call love that simply did not make sense to me for a long time… and what I realized is that what I had originally set off to find was not the kind of love that I was actually looking for.

Before him, what I found was love that came at a price. Love that came with consequences that I ignored for the “comforts” of love from another person- when really all I was doing was avoiding taking the time to actually love myself. But of course, hindsight is 20-20 right.

I learned some early lessons about what love can look like, followed by a few harder lessons of my own about what I didn’t want as “love” in my life.

I took the time to learn the lessons, and came into the relationship with my husband now, with a list of non-negotiable for me.

I had lit my own determination I decided that I could do this on my own- and I started on my own adventure, a literal journey alone, through the vast rocky mountains. With a borrowed truck, a few hundred bucks and a two day freedom ride turn around journey to my new chapter of my life… I did it. I came home.

My childhood best friend and I finally got the opportunity to be roommates! She brought me in and stood me back up helped me back on the path to my life today!

Then I found him, again- and this time I got to keep him!

He taught me what love was, and I showed him all of me, messy and broken- he helped me pick up all of the pieces of my heart that I had lost in my journey to him. He wiped the tears created by men he never knew. He held me so tight it felt like he put me back together again. He loved me when I felt unlovable, and he meant it.

In sickness, he really stepped in, taking care of the things he could, and really focusing on me and what I needed to get through this. He is my rock. He is the calm to my storm, his touch calms me, his arms hold me tight and his soul speaks to mine with no words at all.

He showed me that I didn’t have to be perfect to be loved. He showed me what it feels like to be loved no matter what, unconditionally.

This year we celebrated 14 years together, and a lifetime just doesn’t seem long enough.

-B.

Anxiety vs Me.

My first experience with what I know now as a panic attack was when I was overwhelmed emotionally when I received a phone call about my boyfriend being unfaithful.

The second was the day that my brother died by suicide, this one was obviously more intense, and amplified even further by the fact that I was only just 4 months pregnant- and it was my at the time intensifying the scenario with the threatening feeling of the possibility of also losing my unborn child, as well as the natural occurrence of the grieving process for individuals that lose someone to death, no matter the cause.

So, like I said, in my mind those are isolated incidents that were “handled”. I identified as someone who who had taken care of the anxiety that I needed to in my life. And if I am being really really honest, I judged people for being unable to beat it… because I had, or so I thought .

The clear indication that I was not physically capable of getting ready for work proved that was a lie.

I had not taken care of it- obviously! So many things came flooding to my mind in those moments where I could no longer put on the metaphorical mask… whilst I was attempting to put on my own literal mask… (oh, the irony is palpable now! ) the hour or so it would take me to get ready in the morning to “present myself” as the put together person that I was, every single day I wore my mask, that I didn’t even realize I was putting on- until the day that I just couldn’t.

I had just experienced a very abrupt removal from my life due to illness that rendered me unable to show up in my life, including being a mom of two, an oilfield wife (at the time), oh, and working full time as the Executive Assistant to the President/ CEO of a not for profit, you know… my actual dream life.

First I emailed my boss to tell her that I would not be in… which was exceptionally difficult because I had just completed my graduated return to work from being off on short term disability for a few months… and we were coming up to the next round of board meetings, for two boards (I apparently like to be an over achiever… you know because the complexities of being the EA for one board of directors, isn’t enough. (sometimes my ego is an idiot!)

Then I called my mother in law and asked if she could come and care for my kids while I take care of this, not really understanding what THIS was at the time I started with my family doctor.

Then I went to my doctors office… explained the situation to her and was given a list of phone numbers to call when I got home. I left the doctors office feeling increasingly more helpless, and in fact each time I asked for help medically I was usually offered another source for help I had to ask for. It was an abuse cycle in and of itself, chasing the help, like chasing a high.

It feels obnoxious to always be talking about yourself while you heal… especially when you literally cant show up for people the way that you normally do. It feels obnoxious to need to ask people to respect your boundaries consistently as you learn what they are for yourself with trial and error as you navigate the shitstorm that is currently your life.

I lost so many opportunities for connections with my children, and my husband, my family and my friends, all lost to zero energy or what I now know is adrenal fatigue. I went to therapy to help me through grieving the loss of that time with my children, the guilt I had from that little tidbit of my illness alone was a hard pill to swallow. Just the loss of the time.

Due to this heightened awareness I was able to easily recognize the feelings of discontent with my situation , and I was applying the things that I had been researching while I was sick. I was able to ask for the help that I needed in an expedited way because of my research and because of the “new diagnosis of the week” approach I had adapted to in order to relentlessly fight this thing! I wanted to figure it out so that I could get back to my life and off of my forced hiatus.

Because of my research, before I had even met with my diagnosing specialist I asked for a referral to an endocrinologist. I was refused the referral because I was just a pelvic pain patient- it wasn’t until I actively advocated for myself, and then again came back with another request following my diagnosis that the Endocrinologist (who in the endocrine system… the one that regulates the hormones, you know that little system)… the closest thing medically to a Central Nervous System specialist… I asked for that appointment- twice! (Fuck I love being right!)

So, technically, without a medical degree, I led my doctors to the solution with my research and my advocacy and my fight against myself to be authentic. By fought I mean I FOUGHT, and continue to fight for my rights as a patient, and struggle against the shame and abrasiveness that is the medical system and insurance systems that currently grasp control over my capabilities in my life, holding me in limitations due to wait times or current processes.

Along the way I became more mindful of where I was coping in my life today. I realized that I had a binge eating disorder. I was never encouraged to learn how to be more emotionally intelligent, only to learn how to cope in different, more damaging ways.

Be gentle on yourself if you notice yourself coping… then go and have a little heart to heart with yourself about what is really going on here.

When you have put in the work to educate yourself in emotional intelligence you have become an adult in my eyes, until then we are all just literal emotional children walking around sticking our tongues out at people and calling them names and not wanting to play with them anymore when they hurt our feelings. Life is not child’s play, yet so many of us are walking around as undisciplined self righteous assholes, simply because we haven’t checked ourselves, so we are wrecking ourselves literally from the inside out.

I think the most challenging part of illness is that while you go to the doctor to get the prescriptions to help manage your symptoms, any advice beyond the proper dosing of those medications is not offered. “Just take this and come and see me if anything gets worse for you.” is the underlying tone of any medical professional I have stumped in my life.

My diagnosis and its underlying causes indicate that this group of Central Nervous System Syndrome type group of disorders are emerging as being linked to mental health conditions. Some of the evidence points to unresolved abuse cycles literally hiding inside of us. The sneakiest one of all… the one we inherit from our ancestors… its their emotional intelligence- it determines how you were taught to view the world by the humans that helped you into who you are today. As good as their intentions were to do their best and to not fuck you up… they were all protecting you as best they could, but the need to protect inherently means that there is a threat, and for a threat to be a threat there would need to be fear.

Fear creates irrational emotional processing methods. That is a scientific fact.

Emotional intelligence is allowing yourself to respond rather than react to your life.

Anxiety and depression are choices that you make every single day I have learned, and if there is a choice… I am going to choose wellness, chronic wellness.

My Mask, my veil of perfectionism.

“Every thought we think is creating our future”.

-Louise Hay

This is absolutely ridiculous, what the hell is wrong with you. Get it together. There is nothing to cry about. Why are you shaking? Fuck. Wipe it all off and start again, and now because of this you are going to be late for work. You’ve already let them down being off for so long, and the board meeting round is coming up again… lets go…. pull yourself together… figure it out already!!!

I burst into tears for the 4th time as the still wet foundation streams down my face and smears as I succumb to ugly crying in the mirror and realize that something is really not okay.

I’m not sure what it is, but I do not feel okay. This crying business is way too far out of character for me to not notice. I do not cry- not unless it is on my terms, so this was odd it was odd for me to feel like I was out of control. I felt what was like a panic attack, but in my head, AND in my body at the same time.

I mean, I had suffered from reasonable bouts of overwhelm, that caused panic attacks that I thought were reasonable given the situations, so the feelings were not foreign, but that didn’t make them any less terrifying in those moments.

I had been recently forced away into the desperate isolation of illness and pain. Isolated from everything that I loved, and in that isolation as I was searching for ways to get better, I had lost some of myself to the illness along the way, and as I healed I had to let go and grieve my loss of “normal” that I had created for myself, and in the process created a more healthy normal for myself, from which growth and health is inevitable, rather than a gamble.

I could not put on the mask. Neither the made up one that portrays my illusion of perfection, or what was not-so-lovingly deemed my “Resting Breanna Face”, it was just another mask that I was wearing to hide what I felt were my inadequacies.

I needed to ask for help, urgent help! I felt another layer of panic vibrations enter my body, I knew that this was the moment where I needed to make a choice, but I had so many unknowns in my life and no answers on the horizon.

I felt helpless. The person that I used to be, she was gone and I couldn’t pretend to be her anymore. I couldn’t put on her mask, it didn’t serve me anymore; but of course I didn’t know that at the time all I knew in those moments was the physical weight of my inadequacies on my chest, while my heart raced the way that it does when you are a scared kid, hiding, tightly clenched jaw, with tingling sensations in your arms from clenching the blanket so hard, shaking all over, terrified of the picture in your mind of whatever creature your mind created in the darkness of your closet door you left open a crack.

That frozen scared feeling except on the inside everything was racing and all of my senses were on high alert. Hyper vigilance, hyper sensitivity and accelerated negative hormone response pathways triggered a spiraling sensation that felt alarmingly irrational to me at the time.

From the moment I identified for MYSELF that I needed help rationalizing or processing my thoughts, I immediately asked for help. I know enough about myself to know that in those moments my thoughts were racing, I am normally a fast thinker and a fast talker but this was beyond my scope, in those moments. I was in a panic attack , overwhelmed with the complicated circumstances I was facing in my life in all aspects, personal , professional and physical health. I identified that I was not coping well with my circumstances, I was scared. Terrified.

I lost my brother to suicide many years ago, and feeling irrational in my mind was the trail head to that path, the path in which is not negotiable for me. The path I will not choose,ever, but the irrationality of it all also infused some fear.

The truth is- while I was stuck in my bed and I was subconsciously fueling my feelings of self loathing and inadequacy that often come with chronic illness. What was also happening was that I was falling into mental responses formed and fused in my childhood, and in my life systematically until I recognized the pattern in myself. You repeat the mistakes you are unaware of until you learn the lesson you ought to learn.

I asked for help. I was turned away from everywhere I went- I was not taken seriously enough because I was not suicidal, and the fact that I was cohesively “rationalizing” while I was in crisis. I did not want the medication offered. I wanted help processing and rationalizing- but they don’t offer that in emergency medicine, or in emergency mental health assessment. I was involuntarily admitted, and released on the verbal agreement that I wasn’t going to “go home and kill myself tonight” are the exact words he used as he signed off with the nurse his consent for me to go home.

I was released into my own care, knowing that I would be home alone and of course I was of no physical harm to myself… but that didn’t mean that my mind stopped racing- now I was even more confused, because I wasn’t sick enough, but still needed the help I left there without.

I spent the next day and every single day for a whole year asking and learning more new and creative ways to ask for what I need from the medical system and the insurance system that are in charge of my “healing” but have no knowledge around how to heal without the use of chemical drugs that harm the systems I am trying to restore.

During the next few months and in the process of healing I spiraled down into the emotional, neurological and thereby physical equivalent of an addict. Self acceptance was my goal, but self loathing was the drug I chose; all under my conscious mind’s nose and quite frankly, under my level of self-awareness.

The same way that someone who is addicted to drugs is coping, so is someone addicted to the feelings of perfectionism. The same process happens, and actually the same method mentally. Anyone choosing to cope rather than deal with has an addiction for whatever they choose to cope or suppress their emotions or desires with. You will not be happy in your life, authentically happy- if you are coping as a daily strategy for mental health.

What about perhaps an actual plan for YOU to make real changes in your lifestyle? Or are we just looking at medications to “solve” problems for us that we have deemed out of our control.

Even if it is prescription medication… if you are simply taking the drugs to have the problem solved FOR you, you are doing the same thing as an addict does chasing the high to have it take away the pain and finding every excuse for yourself to not see it from THAT perspective… but the fact is:

You are coping with drugs.

You are coping. Coping is avoiding. Avoiding is denying.

You are emotionally the equivalent of a high functioning addict at this point, just more dangerous because you are being elusive about it and in denial about its existence, so in your mind you are above the “mental health” being a “you” kind of thing. Trust me, I know the feeling.

Because you are fine, you are fine everything is FINE!!!!

If you are taking medications to ease your discomfort, but are not ALSO using mindfulness and the information available on emotional intelligence today to aide in your own recovery, you are doing a half- assed job of helping yourself- in my opinion. (*** don’t alter your medications without talking to a medical professional, please!!!)

I accepted the things that were contributing to my illness without judging myself to harshly, and found that I was repeating the last abuse cycle that I have left to face.

It was my mask.

It was my mask, and all of the other masks I found out I was hiding under or coping with.

All of the masks I wore needed to come off. I wanted help… and I didn’t want to cope anymore. I was ready to not wear the mask anymore, which seemed fitting as I watched my makeup streak and smear with each teardrop rolling from my eyes all the way down my cheeks, around my jaw and trickle down the sides of my neck… no more masks!

-B.

Me vs My Bed

“One day you will tell your story of how you overcame what you went through and it will be someone else’s survival guide”.

brene Brown

Well… here I am! Mostly unscathed, and without a shred of doubt in my mind more alive than I have ever been! I’ve survived the year that should have broke me. Now I get to choose to not live most of my days from my bed anymore.

It has been just under a year since I found that quote. Every single time I thought that I couldn’t do something, really couldn’t do something I used this quote as motivation. When things were too hard to do for myself, I literally used this quote to motivate me for the sake of others if not for myself, and for reasons I would later discover-this helped me, a whole bunch, as the rest of the work of Dr. Brene Brown tends to do in my life.

This blog was born of my desire to help and my desire to heal myself while I wait for the medical system to call my number. I want my story to help anyone it can, in as many ways as possible. I want people to make their own connections between mental and physical health; especially if they are stuck with being chronically labeled as ill. I am so thrilled to have so much information and solid medical research to lead people back to.

Today I know that I have what is called Centralized Sensitization Syndrome, as well as a structural abnormality of my uterus, adenoids in the uterine lining and some scar tissue damage from surgery to my uterus that all cause physical pain.

I also know NOW, that it is possible for your body to create pain and sensations that have no physical reason to be there- and I know how and why this happens. I also know that it is a Syndrome, which is a group of symptoms, and symptoms are curable individually- when addressed after ruling out any reason for an “actual” symptom.

During the months of trauma, agony, torture of a physical time-out from my life I decided that I was GOING to find a way out of my fucking bed… if it killed me trying! I decided in my mind that this time- I wasn’t going to quit…. because I had decided that I wanted my life back now, or as close to now as possible.

Preceding my abrupt grounding to my bed I felt as though I was living my dream life. And as far as that vision board I created in the 8th grade was concerned- I had everything but a fucking willow tree that I had hoped for for my life. Amazing husband who loves his family and values traditions, we owned our first home in our twenties. We both had successful jobs. Life really was pretty good, not bad.

I have an amazing husband, we have been together a long time- we are the real deal. We do the things that couples “can’t” do. We get after our goals TOGETHER. We are great parents together and we share the same values. Our children are healthy and vibrant, they are growing and teaching us how to be better everyday as we strive individually and together to be the best parents we can be. I am really proud of us as a couple, as parents and as individuals. I have really found gratitude for the fact that my husband really does value what it means to love someone in sickness and in health… and, what we don’t know, we have committed to learning together and that is unconditional love.

We were part of a community of friends, we deemed ourselves a village. We pride ourselves on being supportive and living a village style life where we are all able to come together as individuals, and as who we truly are. OUR VILLAGE could handle anything. The women of the village are warriors, we carried each other through life’s hardest shit. Terrible things that are not fair in life, those curve balls that are more than just curve balls; the things you have to grieve, the things that are so new and challenging and scary that you need a pep talk for. The village is where we bared our realest selves. Those are the people that were in my village. We, at the core, were all just imperfect people, trying to be as happy as we can, as often as possible, together and for each other. Supporting each other through the challenges that life throws at us. Other people look into our village of support and are envious of the support we offered each other, unconditionally.

As a bonus, I had finally landed my Executive Assistant Role that I had been looking for, it met my needs for purpose in all of the ways that I requested it to when I met with the temp agency a year prior, with my list of parameters for the perfect job. Salary, location, benefits and not for profit style work. All boxes checked.

My life literally couldn’t have gotten any better in those moments. I mean, I was struggling to find the mystery medical issue- but I didn’t think that it actually had any real affect on how I was performing or showing up in my life because I really had created my own version of “perfection”. I really did feel like I had it all .

My body decided it was not going to cooperate with my vision board plans. I was forcibly removed from my life and sentenced to time in bed. For some that sounds like a walk in the park, a piece of cake, so many people literally told me how lucky I was to be “able” to take this time, like somehow I was given a choice in the matter.

Medically unable to return to work is not something that I ever thought that I would be associated with, and for anxiety none the less- I AM FAR TOO IN CONTROL TO HAVE ANXIETY!!! I was shocked- stunned and ashamed for a hot second (okay, like a few months).

I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to actually take the time that I need. I am fortunate to have the advantages that I have in my emotional intelligence. For me, this downtime was like a prison sentence, a sentence to isolation and confinement- but I used it well and I have come a long way.

There is a quote that I read that resonated with me when I found myself obsessively looking for solutions to my problem of being stuck in bed. It said this:

“If you don’t make time for your wellness you will be forced to make time for your illness”.

-unknown, found on The Mighty via Pinterest

This quote means many things to me. As a person who literally felt forced to take a real hard look at what was happening in my life, and determine how I can have an impact on the outcome. I applied all of the skills that I have to figuring out exactly what is wrong with my body.

I made it my mission to get out of my bed, and back into my life- and those who know me in real life know that I don’t beat around the bush when I am passionate about something. I am strong willed and ultra stubborn- and I have a passion for making things faster and more efficient. I love expedition. I thrive in fast paced environments where I am able to be creative and have a meaningful purpose. Bed is not the place that I feel accomplished or worthy- it was like a punishment that I didn’t feel I deserved.

When I found myself in my bed and found that showering was enough to suck all of the energy from my body, my pride hurt, I was ashamed of myself for not being able to do it all, and under all of that- I was terrified. Absolute terror.Living in fear of dying or having something very seriously wrong and ashamed that I couldn’t even keep it all together and be an adult that doesn’t rely on others.

I couldn’t go to work at first, and it progressed really quickly to me not being able to get out of bed most of the day, and my once monthly cycle pain and agony would let up for only a few days a month. I felt broken, and was hormonal yo-yo-ing to my rock bottom emotionally as I struggled to survive my life, and tried to do it all myself so tired of feeling like a burden.

Negative thought patterns that I have from early in my life, comparisons about my body- that shame feeling… it came flooding back to me in full force. The things I was saying to myself were cruel. The self-doubt and self loathing that came with chronic illness for me and the patterns that we discovered later, are actually very common in people with trauma experiences.

Through all of the awkwardly less than perfect and often unpretty parts of myself I waded. I sifted through myself. I found all of the ugly and I looked at it all square in the face literally vibrating at my very core with fear I stared into myself to find out WHY. I learned why, and I learned how and then I found gratitude for it all!

My life, and ultimately the perceptions that I held for myself had created situations that seemed to be out of my control. Medically/ physically I was succumbing to being in bed and not physically being capable of being even present in my life; I was chained to my bed and the exhaustion of chronic fatigue and the relentless cycle that is the chronic illness internal battle of being capable and worthy of the life I wanted, verses being a huge burden and having everyone in your life standing by with their impatient comments about how they “miss old you”, or “you really should get over this- you are going to have your kids taken away”, they “really want old me back”.

I was simultaneously working at accelerated rate to find out what was wrong with me medically for some answer to what was going on, later to be deemed my “diagnosis of the week theory”. Scrambling for my own answers so that we could all stop talking about it alreaddddyyyyy, is truly how “over it” everyone in my life who was supporting me was behaving towards me. Annoyed that I was taking so long to get out of it or somehow not sick acting enough to be deemed actually sick, and judging me for not taking medications.

The reality is that once I had the real diagnosis- It changed my life. Apparently people noticed, but attributed it to me being mentally unwell rather than in a growth pattern.

I had been quietly spending my time-out from my life cultivating motivation and success for myself. I was learning about self help and making applications in my life every single day. I went to therapy. I applied methods in my everyday life that made an impact, and I kept doing them. I cultivated my own motivation for the first time in a long time- and from my bed I decided I would have my surgery and I would surf at the end of it all in Tofino as we celebrated a dear friend turning 40. I decided I could surf, and I did! Fuck yes I did!! I was bed ridden until July 10th 2019 and I surfed the beach of Tofino British Columbia (see above photo for a Tofino memory) at the end of September 2019. I was back Baby, mama was back!!!

As the fall turned to winter I continued on my journey and learned more about self-help coaching, and even had the opportunity to daydream of some big-big plans. I learned so much, and I am so happy that I used the time so wisely. Having the knowledge that I possess as the world crumbled around me kept me together, quite literally. I am so sure of my own body with what I know- that I know my diagnosis to be truth. I also have experienced doctors/ psychiatrists NOT UNDERSTANDING my condition even as much as I did weeks after I received it. So I really shouldn’t have expected the people around me to fully understand it like I did. They were just words to them… they are the key to MY life, but just words to them.

I lost our village in the journey to myself. The people that surround me; although their intentions are with “love”-people have a default tendency to simply chose to be dismissive, rather than admitting and being accountable for their behaviors, especially when they have acted in ways that they themselves are not proud of.

What I discovered with my diagnosis of Centralized Sensitization Syndrome is that there is a direct correlation between physical and mental health, and that science and technology are actually in a place where the two fields that were traditionally very segregated and individualized are now identifying that mental health and chronic symptomatic pain are actually part of the same cycle, and you can not manage one without actually addressing the other.

Being well for me today means that I have to manage my whole health. Mental health and physical health together, on purpose.

The biggest lesson from my journey is that the stigma of mental illness does NOT go away with a fundraiser and a few t shirts on a particular day. The stigma survives in individual ignorance, even in my life, even in 2020.

Mental Health is part of everyone’s life, unless of course, you are one of those extra special humans that don’t have a brain.

-B.