8/31/2020 0 Comments
Imagine spending several decades of your life learning how to harness the power of your mind, where you stop letting it control you and you start controlling your own thoughts. Where you mindfully cultivate a life that puts you in the drivers seat. A life where you are in control of your outcomes and your responses to them. Where you can transform your health physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually through mindfulness, meditation and wholistic life choices. Where every area of your life, from food to career to relationships of all kinds is balanced, fulfilling and filled with love.
Now imagine that you are so skilled at this, that it becomes your livelihood. You mentor and teach other women across the nation how to transform generalized anxiety, overwhelm, depression, and feelings of worthlessness. You work in collaboration with psychologists, social workers, nurses and other health professionals. Your whole career is centered around empowering women through a program that took you a decade to develop and give birth to (The Art of Mindful Self-C.A.R.E). A program where women cultivate the ability to Mindfully nurture and nourish themselves with Compassion, Appreciation, Respect and Encouragement. They learn to create a higher quality of life and foster more healthy relationships. So they can be there for those they love, and have a responsibility to, without neglecting their own needs in the process. A program that is building in momentum and success. A program that is a joy to be a part of because it is making such a positive shift in other women's lives, just as it has made a shift in your own. And as an entrepreneur, to finally reach that point where things start flowing on their own, and the constant pushing and struggle is almost a thing of the past, is a wonderful relief!
Then, one day in just a few seconds, it all comes to a stop. That is my story. Despite my efforts to continue teaching, mentoring and doing my job, the injury I sustained to my brain and my body needed to heal. Suddenly I was on auto pilot and I was mindlessly living my life. But I needed me to stop everything I was doing. Because I was making things much worse by attempting to mindlessly push through.
This accident wasn't my first rodeo.
I had sustained at least 9 other concussions and traumatic injuries to my head and body before. I've been upside down in a flipped car, I've bounced off the windshield of a moving car in a parking garage, I've been in a car that bounced off the side of a mountain wall several times, as well as various other traumatic events that have inevitably left their mark on my body physically, mentally and emotionally. Yet each time one of those events happened, I pushed through it. Ignoring the pain and the other side effects. If I'm honest with myself, I think I was more embarrassed than anything. So I would "pull up my big girl pants" and push through. Not the wisest choice, I must say.
But that is our culture, isn't it?
Our culture doesn't exactly have much understanding or compassion for people who are struggling with invisible injuries of any kind. There isn't much compassion for someone who is suffering with emotional turmoil beyond the every day struggles. There isn't much understanding for mental challenges that can impact how a person functions in the world. Or the nerve pain that no one can see, the chronic fatigue, or a long list of symptoms that many people live with every day, but appear to be "normal" on the outside.
Our culture tends to be just fine with recognizing any injury that can be physically seen or touched. Anything that looks like it is "just a mechanical problem that needs to be fixed". And if I'm honest, the first two years of my healing journey I was no different. Despite all my years of training and personal development, and we are talking decades here, when it came to my own healing, there came a point where I was only paying attention to the physical healing aspect. Most likely because it was the biggest thing going on in my life and it was the only thing I experienced-physical pain.
If you've sustained a brain injury (traumatic or acquired), you know what I'm talking about. There is a laundry list of symptoms that completely take over your very existence. Conscious thought is impossible. You are in a dense mental fog thicker than pea soup, often for months. Every day life skills are close to impossible, such as holding a cup, walking, speaking, remembering names of things (for example, I couldn't give you the name for a lime or many of the foods in our refrigerator or things in our house for many months after the accident), and you are super sensitive to motion, light, sounds and smells, you may even have seizures. Just to name a few of the things you may experience (like I did).
When the physical body has been injured it requires time to heal.
This is true of the brain as well. And when the brain is injured to the point of swelling, everything it controls is affected as well. This is much different than breaking your leg or any other body part. When you break your leg you have another one to rely on and a brain to help you figure out how to navigate the world until it heals. When you brain is injured, or "broken" the very part of your anatomy that everything else relies on can't really do it's job. So life as you know it has to change. Just like the care that is required for the broken leg, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, your brain needs TLC too. And time to heal. Which is incredibly difficult since everything we do relies on the brains ability to function. So if you think taking a shower with a broken leg is challenging, imagine going to take a shower, but you don't remember how the water goes on, or if you've washed you hair yet, so you end up washing it three times, forgetting to clean your body in the process. Then you are so exhausted from the noise of the shower, the lights in the bathroom and the energy spent from the experience, that you can barely get out to dry yourself. Then you need a nap from the whole experience. Our brain deserves as much attention to healing as our body does. And it takes longer to heal since it keeps working even when we think we are doing nothing.
Mental and emotional trauma needs time to heal too.
Now that I am a couple of years into this healing journey, I'm learning that although I have years of experience in the mental emotional category, I have been mindlessly avoiding it. Focusing instead on the physical and not facing the mental and emotional trauma that needs to be addressed. Once I take steps to soften traumas hold on me and my quality of life, I can continue to heal and cultivate a higher quality of life than I am presently living.
I'm learning that Complex PTSD is not the same as the generalized anxiety/depression that I once helped other women heal. It's a bigger animal. Think of it this way: Generalized anxiety/depression (90% of people who are diagnosed with GAD are also diagnosed with depression), is like a household cat. Found in many homes, tameable and a friend who gives you space and doesn't require a lot of time or energy after a while. Complex PTSD is the equivalent of a full grown tiger suddenly being let loose in your home. You are constantly on alert, hyper-vigilant, for your own safety and the safety of those you love. You are in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze. And this tiger drains you of all your energy because it forces you to give it your constant attention. Your ability to do anything other than be aware of the tiger in your home is practically non-existent. It is all you can focus on. But I am discovering a secret to tiger taming. One that is whole person focused.
I am learning how to make peace with that tiger.
I am aware that it will be an adventure. Probably the most challenging part of this healing journey. And this is how I view it. A Mindful Healing Journey through a Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD. On this journey though, I have not packed a map. I know generally where I want to be, but I have found that the rules that once were very helpful for me before the injury, are now stress triggers. Goals, and other motivational methods or tools only create added anxiety for me. Mostly because I no longer can do things the way I once was able. Even my thinking isn't the same. Who I am now is different. Sure the authentic parts of me are still here. My soul and essential Self are in tact. But I am tired of suffering. I am tired of the inconsistency, the unreliability and pain. So for things to change, I need to change the way I do things. I need to take things slower, be more patient with myself, offer myself Mindful Self-C.A.R.E, and give myself the gift of unconditional love.
This is where I am these days. From this place I find that trusting my innate wisdom is the best navigational tool around. It is my personal GPS or North Star. And every time I have listened to it, then followed through with what it subtly says to me (because I trust it), I have never been disappointed. I did this to help me on my healing journey in the first two years, and the results have been amazing when we look at where I was to where I am now. So I will continue to listen and trust it for the healing journey for my mental and emotional bodies as well.
Each of us are born with an innate wisdom. A part of ourselves that unbreakable, unburnable, indestructible. A part of ourselves that is infinite. Connected to the source of all creation, no matter what you call it. The wisdom from this innate source within has guided me to wholistic paths of healing has proven to be effective, sustainable and simple. And I've often discovered that even though I don't understand at first why I was being led to take certain actions, such as eating certain foods or choosing certain therapies, or changing doctors...I eventually find out that I made the right decision for me and my own unique needs, by following through with that advice. And you can do this too. It's very empowering and very natural. We are all able to do this the moment we are born. We were just taught how to stop listening to and trusting ourselves, and only listen to people outside of ourselves "who know better" or rely on the mind (which often steers us in the wrong direction if given total power). Simple daily mindfulness practices, such as mindful eco-therapy, mindful eating, mindful walking, mindful artistry , mindful and restorative yoga, mindful living and more have been essential to this process of trusting my innate wisdom and has led the way to my healing so far.
So here is what I've learned in the past few years:
There are other lessons I'm still learning, and every day is still inconsistent and unpredictable. But I know that if I trust my inner GPS along this healing journey, I will uncover who this person is that I am now and develop and loving relationship with her. I know that I will find paths of healing that I may never have come upon if I only followed the road that was paved with good intentions (of my family, the medical community and allopathic medicine). And I know that I will create a life that may not look like the one I originally designed for myself, but it will be one that is filled with nurturing, nourishment, joy and love. A life that is in alignment with my authentic Self and can serve a higher, more fulfilling purpose. What ever that may look like.
"The most beautiful flowers bloom from the densest of animal droppings.
Just like those flowers, we can grow and bloom beautifully too"
- Dina Joy
Information contained within this site does not take the place of professional medical care. It is for educational purposes only and created with the intention of offering support and empowerment to women struggling to find wholistic and natural answers to their challenges. Every individual is responsible for their own actions, choices and behavior.