Last week, I shared how my childhood journey shaped my physical journey. This week's blog dives into how deeply my physical life impacted me on an emotional, mental and spiritual level.
To add, I also had an eating disorder. My obsession with being thin drove my behaviours. Needless to say, this didn’t help my situation. For a while, I felt I had control. I was good at starving myself. . . until I no longer had the strength. What resulted after that was a binge/starvation cycle that worked temporarily, but soon even on the days when I wouldn’t eat a thing (I would literally drink liters of diet coke), I still gained pounds. You can only imagine the amount of negative self-talk I delivered to my cells -- I literally hated myself.
I was in university at this time for Athletic Therapy. This was another challenge as I was working with high level athletes. Having a thick and unhealthy body as I was surrounded by fit people only made me compare myself and want what I didn’t have. This prompted an increase in cardiovascular activity – I was determined to sweat the size right off my body. But to no avail. My already hard and solid legs only became harder and bigger.
I remember this one period when the stair master became the rage of the moment. I made a commitment to do 45 minutes at a high level 5 days a week for a month. I can’t say I love to climb, so this was a test, but I persisted. By the end of the session my shirt would be completely soaked and my face red as fire. I had a pair of jeans that prior to this commitment, were slightly tight, so I was excited to seamlessly slip into them, and dreamed by the end of the month they may even be too loose.
To my horror, I couldn’t even do them up. My calves were screaming from the tension and my thighs felt hard and heavy. My experiment failed, as did my commitment to working hard. I fell into a bad state for a while with my health and behaviours and had the outward expression to show for it. I was thick, dense, slow, laboured and all around I felt useless.
Even throughout this period of dis-ease, I managed to get through Athletic Therapy. Being a kinesthetic learner, I quickly adopted bodywork as the focus of my treatments. I could feel scar tissue and had strong hands to work with it. I had a successful practice and liked the feeling of working my body. But . . . the posture of working on patients on a massage table caught up to my already abused body, and it wasn’t long before chronic back and neck pain entered my life.
Day after day I would come home from work, my back screaming. My work was a double-edged sword. I loved being able to use my body every day, but I also was working too many hours. I was a workaholic -- part of my addictive tendency. Not only that, I was using alcohol to numb the physical and emotional pain, and even though I woke up many mornings with a hangover that would keep many in bed, I never let that take me from my job. This definitely added an even more intense feeling of self-loathing and brought about periods of depression. All in all, my life was ruled by chronic pain.
I knew something had to change. I was in my twenties and life hadn’t turned out the way I had expected when I was a teenager. I was living my days simply waiting to get home to self-medicate, just to give my being a break. This behaviour was the first thing that needed to go so I could view my life from a clear perspective and make positive changes to hopefully find some joy and reason for being.
After I committed to sobriety, life was looking up. It’s amazing how adaptable we are as humans. Even though all the pains and issues I had still existed, getting rid of the crutch of self-medicating, and the resultant hangover, gave me new energy to explore further ways to help myself. In the past, I was determined to lose weight through sheer force, now I had a different view of my body and wanted an approach that would soothe and heal me, as opposed to beating myself up on a daily basis.
I turned to Yoga and received wonderful benefits. My body embraced the understanding that my breath was weak and problematic, and that to make positive changes, I needed to improve flexibility and flow above anything else. I remember in one of my first classes, the instructor said -- if you think you are doing yoga to relax, you are misinformed. The practice of yoga is designed to disturb the status quo to make change within.
I loved this understanding as I knew I needed to get to those old pains, traumas and beliefs that no longer served, and felt this was a way to do that. And boy did it ever. What resulted was a series of panic attacks that really threw me for a loop.
I have shared my story of the beginnings of Block Therapy many times, and how one anxiety attack became the seed for everything to come. But in a nutshell, it was this moment in time at the age of thirty when I tapped into the deeper understanding of fascia and what it needed for healing.
If you missed the blog about the beginnings of Block Therapy, you can find it here, along with many other wonderful blogs to enlighten and inspire you.
The Birth of Block Therapy Part 1
Next Week: Deanna's Journey Pt. 3: Realization and Understanding