Moving My Mountain
Updated: May 19, 2019
I was doing it all to get well: my diet was cleaner than clean, I did yoga, I meditated, I took supplements and followed my many doctors’s orders. I begrudgingly obliged as I was sent from specialist to specialist, had lab after lab, and tried most of the medications suggested.
For many years it was suspected I might have a Pheochromocytoma, which is an adrenaline producing tumor typically found on the adrenal glands that causes your blood pressure and pulse rate to spike suddenly up to very dangerous levels. Trouble is, they can be so tiny that they’re hard to detect and my labs didn’t show pheo to be likely. My case was SO bizarre, I was coined ‘an enigma’ time and time again. No one denied the severity of my syptoms, but no one could put their finger on it. For years and years. Not even me.
I was poked, prodded, and sent to the next medical facility when the last failed to feel they could help me. Looking back, I knew in my heart that it was much more than physical.
I was tested for chronic Lyme disease. I’d been diagnosed with acute Lyme in high school and the doctor I was seeing at the time determined that the test results showed enough evidence to believe it had become chronic. It was actually a great relief to have a real ‘answer’ to my ongoing health saga.
It was an explanation for my unbelievably poor sleep, low energy, endocrine disruption, aches and pains, inability to function, debilitating brain fog and maybe even my wonky ass vitals including the extremely erratic blood pressure and pulse.
(Just a couple years back, my blood pressure would often still spike this high and higher, at rest, landing me in the ER on more than one occasion).
I gratefully let doctors slap on the bandaids to further mask the truth of what Is. My body didn't always respond well to medications and in fact, I’d even begin to have adverse reactions, such as my blood pressure spiking even higher on a medication designed to lower it!
My brain fog was so thick, at times I could barely tie my own shoes, or open my eyes.
“My hair was falling out by the handfuls in cycles, fatigue unreal, and spirit breaking.“
Another doctor placed me on hormones to keep my vital glands supported when they, too, seemed to stop producing hormones. My hair was falling out by the handfuls in cycles, fatigue unreal, and spirit breaking.
Still other doctors and health practitioners put me on cocktails of pharmaceuticals, herbs, supplements, diets, and spiritual remedies chasing diseases and disorders that they determined my symptoms and tests dictated that I had.
Looking back, I understand why my pressure and pulse stayed so high regardless of their efforts to control them; my body had been reliving trauma.
The colonoscopy/endoscopy torture chamber
My body was reliving trauma when I went in for a colonoscopy/endoscopy to figure out the cause of terrible digestive issues I was having at the time. Every day I would have searing, debilitating chest pain for prolonged periods of time. The cardiologist had ruled out heart related issues. I was put on nitroglycerine to see if that helped contain the attacks. It didn’t..... so off I went to the gastroenterologist to get a camera jammed up my bum and down my throat. Hopefully they would use different cameras for each procedure 😳.
(A couple years ago during a frequent ‘bloat’ episode.. as always, I made light of my situation in order to cope).
I can vaguely recall joking with the nurse before being put under with anesthesia about how refreshing the actual ‘sleep’ would be, however short-lived. Deflecting with humor always was my specialty when it came to facing the unfavorable.
The problem is that sleep wasn’t going to happen because as it turned out, I could not be put under.
My memory is hazy, but I now recall lying on the table and screaming bloody murder, absolutely terrified. The nurse was stroking my hand and telling me I’m “ok... no, we can’t give you anymore medicine, it’s not safe.”
They were to inform my husband that they had given me much more than the usual amount of sedative for someone my size and still, my blood pressure remained high and I was screaming bloody murder, unable to be sedated or consoled. They even went so far as to say they ‘aren’t running a torture chamber’ and to ‘come back when her blood pressure is under control.’
It’s no wonder medications didn‘t budge my blood pressure especially in medical scenarios: I was reliving early childhood trauma.
“... intense impact that trauma can have on one’s health.”
Details of the abuse aren’t important at this point, but what is critical for you to know is the intense impact that trauma can have on one’s health.
It starts with the body being in a near-constant state of fight-or-flight, messing with stress hormones and starting the whole-system down dysregulation domino effect. Medications to treat symptoms instead of the root cause of trauma only further masked the true cause of my own downward health spiral.
(A beautiful, arsty photo of me my husband took a several years back which I feel captures my raw suffering)
Then any stress would trigger an attack of hypertension or sensitivity to medications, foods, and supplements, and things became even more complex. Soon it was impossible to know what was causing what.
There is not much that this did not effect and I found myself on statins for extremely high cholesterol, stomach meds for terrible pain, medications ‘for my heart,’ various blood pressure medications, thyroid and adrenal meds/steroids, anti-depressants, benzodiazepines, potent sleep meds, prescription potassium and potassium sparing diuretic via a Nephrologist for a wasting disorder of unknown origin, and the list goes on.
It didn’t help when I began using red wine and later harder alcohol to cope with symptoms and in fact, at times wine helped more than any blood pressure med could. What I didn’t understand and my suffering further distracted me from is that alcohol is extremely inflammatory and was only adding fuel the the fire.
When frightened, fed up with symptoms and conventional medicine’s inability to relieve them, combined with a fear of doctors and hospitals, turning to self medicating is often inevitable for trauma sufferers. Whether we are aware at the time that trauma is at the root of our suffering or not.
It’s important to point out, here, that trauma refers to anything that the body perceives as potentially life threatening, from a baby in a bassinet, terrified from a storm and feeling as if his life is at stake when no one hears his cries, to certain medical procedures to brutal assault to war, and beyond.
“Nothing is more cancerous than the effect it can have on one’s mind.“
This is not to say that disease does not happen sans traumatic root, but that trauma certainly can be the primary cause and/or aggravate existing conditions, often upsetting the entire immune and nervous systems, leading to the inability to carry certain infections such as Lyme disease. It has even been linked to cancers, though nothing is more cancerous than the effect it can have on one’s mind.
Looking back, much of my sometimes dementia-like foggy brain was actually dissociation, or my brain hitting the ‘freeze’ stage of fight, flight, or freeze when external triggers happened that reminded my body of the trauma.
Early on my brain had learned to ‘shut down’ when I felt threatened in order to survive the abuse.
Thereafter, just about any stress or excitation would cause me to shut down, leaving me unable to focus at all, I imagine similar to trudging through quicksand during a thick sandstorm.
(Me, a couple years back, with a shaved head due to extreme hair loss.)
Surely some of my ‘brain fog’ and inability to focus was health related as I had lots of reasons for this, but I now know that much of it was dissociation because as I heal trauma, my mind has never been clearer. Ever.
Interestingly, as I heal my mind and soul, my body rapidly follows as my systems happily normalize thanks to no longer using all of their strength for survival.
My body now understands that a white van with roof racks does not warrant preparing for attack, nor does a trip to the doctor’s office.
The Joy of Sex
Something which just months ago I couldn’t have imagined openly sharing is that the sexual aspect of my trauma was especially detrimental and to thank for relentless dissociation in that there is not only the physiological aspect of feeling like I’m in danger physically, but there is also an intense shame aspect. Particularly for a small child who should be exploring their own bodies first, and later safely with a partner instead of unwelcomed and at the hands of a sick minded and likely often strung-out adult many times her senior.
I‘ve come to realize that I am a sexual being and therefore will experience sensations when introduced to certain stimuli like anyone else. We have affectionately started referring to this rush of excitement and sexual interest as “Lady Boners“. 🤷♀️
The difference in those who have experienced sexual trauma is that the body begins to attribute any sensation to danger. This would shut me down in an instant and I would fall into a foggy, dissociative, defensive coma. I have lived a lifetime of brain fog, dissociation and amnesia as well as addiction to guilt, shame and self blame.
It‘s actually quite remarkable looking back, just how much I unconsciously feared sexual sensations. I knew I was quite ‘different’ and my husband knew it too, but he understandably attributed it all to me having confided in him early on that I had been sexually assaulted “by a stranger” years prior. This confession is one that I hardly recall telling him, though I knew I had.
I now understand that it was my way of telling him without either one of us knowing or having to face the unfathomable real truth of the mental, sexual, and emotional abuse I had endured at the hands of someone very close to me during my most critical developmental years. Being raped by a stranger became my “safe story” that allowed me to tell my husband that I had issues without actually having to face or deal with the real issue.
“...we nonverbally chocked my many, many red flag typical post-traumatic sexual abnormalities to this lie I made up.
After sharing with him early on in our relationship and crying for hours and hours afterward, the issue was rarely openly discussed. I would immediately shut down any conversation of it and instead we nonverbally chocked my many, many red flag typical post-traumatic sexual abnormalities to my “safe story.”
To name just a few: body shame, lady boner/orgasm shame, extreme body dysmorphia, inability to be intimate in any way unless under the influence of a mind altering substance and/or alcohol, sexual avoidance, and much more.
And of course, my many medical maladies were a perfect excuse to further push sexuality to the background and to blame for my sexual dysregulation. I would often proclaim that “sex just isn’t on the list for survival,“ which is not untrue, but again, it was a fine excuse to sweep my glaringly obvious issues under the rug.
Now that I am rapidly healing the sexual side of the trauma and my body and brain understand that it is safe to feel those sensations and to have sexual interest and to enjoy the full range of joy the sexual experience has to offer, I am able to truly enjoy the intimacy, pleasure and release of sex.
Much better yet, my husband and I now enjoy a substance-free intimate relationship which has bonded us even closer together. 🙏🏼💞🙏🏼
Developing a fundamental feeling of safety with my experience of the world extends beyond sex. I have now gained the foundation that I always lacked and can now function and multitask and focus and concentrate in a way I was never before able. I understand and practice that thoughts are just thoughts, sensations are just sensation, and move on with my day.
I no longer grasp onto the most minute things in order to have some control, such as which t-shirt to wear or which GF pasta to buy for my daughter. I no longer spend 20 minutes in the gluten-free section of grocery store in overwhelm, practically drooling on myself as the items on shelves become blurry as my body waits for someone to bump into me and send me into a panic.
I no longer worry I’ll run into someone I know and be unable to even remember who they are.
I can safely and confidently get behind the wheel of my car, not having to fiercely focus just to navigate my way down the road to my chiropractor’s office.
Ahh, speaking of chiropractors, just six months ago I could not safely be adjusted by even a petite female doctor without my body going into panic, pressure and heart rate shooting up and nasty, embarrassing flashbacks occurring when I was in my most critical trauma healing time.
Since healing the trauma using mostly somatic experiencing which in a nutshell involves tapping into the initial trauma body memory and completing the trauma cycle while still in it, I’m now able to see a MALE chiro if needed, with little to no dissociation or stress reaction. Flashbacks are virtually non-existent. 🎉
I have yet to undergo any more invasive medical intervention since healing trauma, but I’m hopeful that my body will now understand that it is safe to relax. I will admittedly be anxious going into it, but as I re-experience things since Healing, I’m usually pleasantly surprised by how well I do in all ways. Since healing the false core belief that I’m pathetic, I will not be embarrassed or ashamed to explain my situation so I can be treated with kid gloves, for I’m sure that my inner children can use the understanding. 🙏🏼
(A much healthier, happier me & my faves ❤️)
**It is estimated that 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males is sexually abused in some way by the age of 18. These statistics are staggering and not ok. If you or someone you know is a survivor of abuse, please know that there is NO shame in it and for reaching out for help.
I’m a message away- please feel free to reach out if you need a boost to begin the healing process and check out my first blog posts which have resources listed.
Like my FB page Meg Happens &/or subscribe to MegHappens.com to receive notifications of new posts and podcasts.
Here‘s to hope & healing! 🙏🏼❤️🙏🏼🙌🏼