mind, body, magic
I owe you all an update.
I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support when I wrote about my chronic pain back in July. I’d become so isolated trying to cope and find solutions, it felt so good to be re-connect with so many of you, to just feel seen and heard for the first time in a long while. Thank you for following along.
A massive breakthrough has been made. It’s been hard to wrap my head around how quickly and dramatically everything has changed. Advertisements for the mind-body medicine app, Curable, popped into my Instagram feed a few times and, as much as I despise how well-targeted these ads have become and I don’t want to encourage them to be so invasive, I figured I should give it a try, because what the fuck else was I going to do with my life but try to find something to help get me out of constant agonizing pain.
And, almost absurdly, I started feeling considerably better within 2 days of using it, better and better ever since. At first it felt like the pain had been dulled, like when a radio signal goes in and out of static. Then a lot of the milder aches and pains disappeared. Sometimes I notice just a twinge is left over, more like an itch than pain anymore. I’m able to catch new or returning pain when it begins and use their “brain exercises” to reverse it, usually fairly quickly. Currently I’m operating at almost 50%. Pain is way down, pain-free moments are a common occurrence and the fatigue has also begun to ease up. I’ve even started to notice improvements in my digestion and allergies.
How it works:
They’ve based this program on Dr. John Sarno’s work with Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS), but have done updated research and built ways to make the treatment more accessible. You are offered lessons in the form of mediations, writing exercises, "brain training" and education. Educating alone helped me significantly. Curable has shown me that chronic pain and other conditions are the mind-body attempting to distract you from emotions that it judges as too intense to handle during times of stress, and that often it is also a coping mechanism to physically disable you from experiencing further harm. This is an effective, helpful strategy for a being who has intermittent stressors. But if you’re under constant levels of stress there is never a “safe" time to process and the pain, fatigue and autoimmune-style responses become chronic, causing symptoms to pile up and inflame one another. Being conscious of the process makes the underlying ruse of chronic pain ineffective and slowly my brain has been letting go of employing it.
The program was the missing link in a host of other techniques I’d been exploring. Most complementary to Curable is this book, The Metaphysical Anatomy, by Evette Rose. In essence, it's a dictionary for the emotional underpinnings of physical ailments. Disorienting and fascinating, it is eerily accurate in pointing to what one is having trouble facing emotionally. It has helped me comprehend this paradigm shift from western medicine’s aggressive treatment of physical symptoms to a more wholistic and harmonious view of how health works. I can see via my own internal experiences how interconnected our emotional and physical states are. Often it is overwhelming to read in black and white all the things one needs to address. I’m left feeling a bit hopeless, like "OK, yes, those are my massive problems, but now what do I DO?” Definitely just having the awareness is helpful in itself, but it takes dedicated work to clear up these issues and the path to doing so is, frustratingly, not instantly illuminated or straight forward.
A lot of repressed emotions have surfaced for me through this work. Some super dark ones, and for those I’ve learned techniques to let them flow through me rather than get stuck again. But also some really positive ones have been uncovered. I’ve realized that it hadn’t felt safe to have the big joyful emotions just as much as the scary ones. They could steal my focus, I could be left vulnerable.
The repressed emotions often come into consciousness via dreams, blips of thoughts during or after meditation, while journaling, even via song lyrics that seem to have invaded my brain out of the blue, set on repeat. Some of the bigger realizations have lead to instant reductions of the massive pain that had been constant in my hip for years. This pain only shows up on occasion now, and mildly at that. The timing of the emotional release followed by the reduction in pain was no coincidence. One truly caused the other.
I feel like I’ve been re-born into an entirely new life. Everything feels different, things even look different. The world is more highly saturated and everything is more obviously beautiful. I’m able to be present with a higher level of sensory input. Not needing to numb or dissociate as much in order to cope, I’m more able to absorb and enjoy a heightened capacity to feel and experience the world. But it’s a mix of emotions. I’m unbelievably grateful to be feeling better, I honestly didn't ever expect to feel this good. And I’m angry that this information has been around for decades but hasn't received the proper attention or follow up research and development to prevent so many people from suffering needlessly. I’m thrilled to get back to normal life things, and overwhelmed by the mountain of basic tasks that need doing before I can really move on from this dark episode. It has changed my perspective on life irrevocably, I feel like I understand the world in much clearer more present way. Unfortunately this means that for the sake of my health I can’t go back to the trajectory I had imagined for myself. Some of the un-repressed emotions have pointed to devastating life changes that need making in one way or another. I’m feeling a bit stuck while I try to figure out what it all means, how to possibly make the necessary adjustments without upending everything I’ve and those closest to me have worked toward for the past decade. Stuck, grieving for the lost time, the lost future I had planned, and at the very same time incredibly grateful and, cautiously, excited.