The Power of The Mind-Body Connection: A Personal Story
Posted Sep 13 2012 3:00am
By certified Martha Beck Life Coach, Torie Henderson
“You want me to sit on wet tea bags, then air out my vagina?” I respond to the ever-so-helpful advice nurse when I called to complain, for the third time, about my swollen labia. “I live with four roommates. I can’t walk around my house with my legs spread open.” I’m a 21-year-old college student and I was taught to respect the authority of doctors, nurses, teachers, etc. and not challenge their “wisdom”. “The labia can swell up at times, it’s perfectly normal.” The dismissive nurse answers. I speak politely but am nearly in tears, “I don’t think you understand. It feels like I’m walking around with a fiery red softball between my legs. Have you seen a baboon in estrus?”
Finally by my fourth call, I am bawling my eyes out and get a wonderfully compassionate nurse who allows me to make an appointment with my OBGYN. A year later I am diagnosed with Vulvodynia. Even though it just means “pain in the vulva from unknown origin”, it was a great feeling to know what it was I was battling.
I underwent an unnecessary, vestibulectomy surgery on the doctor’s advice. Then spent years trying to stick to a low oxalate diet in hopes that will help the still present vulvar pain. I was afraid of lots of things but trying different healing modalities wasn’t one of them. What helped the most were internal physical therapy, biofeedback, and progressive relaxation. Slowly but surely, my vulvodynia improved.
And then the back pain started.
“I don’t understand why you are in so much pain.” The physical therapist said while studying my back. “You look perfectly healthy, you are so young, and I just don’t get it.” I had learned not to hold tension in my vulva, but because I was still THINKING stressful thoughts, the tension just moved. My back was a nightmare. I would wake up in the morning crying over the fact that sleeping in my bed caused me so much pain. I couldn’t sit in a chair, drive in a car, or stand for 10 minutes without pain. I went to chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, physical therapists, yoga and Pilates. All of it helped.
Then it moved to my jaw.
This is ridiculous! By this time I understood the mind-body connection and knew I was creating it myself. I stated out loud, with determination, “I am going to learn not to hold tension in my body anywhere!”
And I have. That was almost 3 years ago and although my jaw still gives me trouble sometimes, I use it as my own personal life coach to keep me in check with my body. The physical remedies worked well, but it was the thinking-feeling piece that made the change permanent. It was pretty frightening what crazy, perfectionistic thoughts I had going on in my head without even realizing it: Wanting to say the perfect thing all the time, wanting everyone to like me, my body was reacting to every single, stressful thought.
Mind-Body Coaching works. Life Coaching works. Sitting on tea bags? Not so much. The trick is valuing yourself and your body enough to do it For many of my clients, investing in themselves feels scary. They’d do it in a heartbeat for their kids but for their own well-being and peace of mind, it seems selfish. I believe as a human being on this planet, you deserve to feel healthy, whole, and at peace. So feel the fear, the doubt, the suspicions, and do it anyway. The side effects alone are worth the journey (joy, connection, self-love,). You are SO worth it!