I was what you might call thoroughly unrelaxed. We had planned a little family vacation away to the beach; our first vacation in years. I was packing up the standard family items: bathing suits, diapers, pjs, all the essentials. But when it came time to pack for myself, I was completely overwhelmed.

How am I going to do this?

What am I going to eat while we’re there?

Is there room to pack my juicer?

I was at the height of trying to control chronic symptoms with food. I had cut out sugar, gluten, dairy, corn, alcohol, and anything processed or from a package. I was juicing fresh celery every morning. I was taking supplements three times a day. I was mixing tinctures and gagging them down.

I had become so afraid of food and I was more stressed than I had ever been.

And, even worse? The symptoms were raging on. In fact, as I was packing, my doctor was calling in another antibiotic to treat another infection.

I managed to pack everything I thought I needed and haul it with us. We waited so long for this vacation, but instead of feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, I felt like a giant sad ball of stress. As I wept in the kitchen of our rental, trying to find a spot for my juicer, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I had actually felt relaxed.

Getting stuck in a cycle of symptoms is not only painful physically, it can wear you down mentally and emotionally as well. When there is no end in sight to your pain, it can feel insurmountable. I had reached a point where all I felt like I was doing was managing symptoms.

I had become stuck in the rigidity of the protocols I was following. Jumping on any healing bandwagon that drove by.

But after decades of dealing with symptoms, I began to think about them differently. I just knew my symptoms were messengers; together with spirit, they were trying to show me something.

But, what?

In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that mental wellbeing and emotions directly affect our physical wellbeing. Meaning, even if we are eating the cleanest of diets and moving our bodies daily, if we are not dealing with the root cause; the emotions, and the traumas that we have been suppressing, it’s not going to move the needle.

I realized in the kitchen that day that I was not only afraid of food, I was afraid of everything. I was afraid of letting people see me, I was afraid of letting people help me, I was afraid to use my voice, I was afraid to stand in my own power.

It was a lack of self-confidence, lack of self-love, and a suppression of trauma I refused to deal with that was infecting my body and my spirit.

Not so much the dairy…

One small way I began to connect to the messages of my own symptoms was to start by making a comprehensive list of all the symptoms I had experienced, paying close attention to anything that seemed to be recurring.

I then got curious about why these symptoms might keep showing up.

What part of the body were they focused on?

What was going on in my life when they appeared?

What could this mean for me?

Our bodies are continuously sending us messages; helping us navigate our inner and outer worlds.

When I decided to listen, turn inward, and really look at myself and what was happening not only physically, but emotionally, and spiritually, I began to find clues. I then chose to follow my inner guidance and the cues of my body, instead of continuing to override it, to tackle some of the root causes I had been ignoring.

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