Let’s talk about the internet. It’s such a fantastic resource, full of medical information, supportive forums, and help for anyone with any diagnosis. It’s also a place of much misinformation, terrifying messages, depressing stories, and unusual theories. In this, the information age, now anyone can share their innermost fears, broadcast them to the world, and activate your personal panic in just five minutes.
When I first started researching interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia on the internet, I had a severe panic attack. I sobbed hysterically to my husband about the terrible stories I had read, the impossibility of ever returning to health, and the general knowledge that I was doomed. He was, of course, less than enthusiastic about my internet research. He watched me become obsessive, reading everything I could find for hours on end, day after day. He watched me search for one more clue, or one more resource, or one magic answer. He watched me think myself into a state of utter confusion and despair.
Had I not discovered my Inner Healer, I might have truly gotten lost in that quagmire of theories, forums, suggested supplements, and detoxifying plans available via the internet. I might have kept spinning from theory to theory, trying everything. As it was, I tried many different things from a variety of detox plans to thousands of dollars worth of supplements to antihistamines to anti-depressants. I visited forums and left them behind, too overwhelmed by the amount of fear and despair I encountered. Forums terrified me. I focused on research, looking up doctor after doctor, reading book after book.
Right before I picked up A Headache in the Pelvis by David Wise, PhD, I discovered another theory regarding pelvic pain called pudendal nerve entrapment. When I read about this idea and the surgeries available, I literally could not breathe for a moment. I felt like my heart was frozen in my chest, I was so very afraid. Even now, the whole concept brings a shot of adrenaline to my system. I did not want to have surgery, I did not want my pudendal nerve to be damaged or trapped, I did not want any deep, underlying cause for IC or vulvodynia to surface and take over my life – or what was left of it.
When I remember all of this, I say a fervent thank you to my Inner Healer for reading A Headache in the Pelvis, for embarking upon the mind/body healing journey, and for directing me to all those people who helped me learn how to steer out of the fear and stop panicking, obsessing, and generally freaking out.
So if you are feeling this fear – if you are reading scary things on the internet and feeling like you do not know where to turn, let me share with you the secret of the Inner Healer. She is your ally, she is your guide. She will tell you what is right and what is wrong for you, personally. No one else can do that – not someone in a forum, not a doctor, not an alternative practitioner, not a life coach! Everyone can offer help, but your Inner Healer must be your navigator as you travel toward health. Otherwise, you will take every last side road and be forever lost – with fear as your guide and constant companion.
Martha Beck has a great question you can ask yourself every time you are considering a new medical theory, a new procedure, a new medication, or a new alternative therapy. All you have to do is stop,take three breaths, and allow yourself to access your intuition. Then, you can look at what is in front of you and ask: shackles on or shackles off? In other words, does doing that treatment give you a trapped feeling inside, as though you are a prisoner in shackles? Or does it give you a sense of freedom, of moving forward, as though you were just released from prison?
This question can help you bypass the confusing signals fear gives you as you do your internet research. Fear is easy to spot once you realize it comes at you in masses of words – scary, awful words. Words such as: maybe this is the one treatment that would help and I’m going to miss out. Or, I should probably try everything because otherwise my life is ruined and I can’t stand it. Those are thewords of fear, and fear is just fear. It is not the inner ally guiding you toward your healthy life.
When I read the section in Wise’s book about catastrophic thinking, I recognized my own, fear-paralyzed self immediately. That was the beginning of my ability to hear my Inner Healer. She was awfully fond of A Headache in the Pelvis, for one thing. That book was shackles off, all the way. Pudendal nerve anything – shackles on, times ten. Detox diets – shackles on. Deep breathing – shackles off, freedom, health. This was how I steered myself through the internet, though I didn’t have that language at the time. I felt immense freedom every time I bought a book on Amazon about mind-body healing. So that was all I bought. I stopped buying supplements, stopped detoxing (thank God, because let me tell you, all that did for me was add hemorrhoids to the equation – can a person have any more pain in the personal areas than IC, vulvodynia, and hemorrhoids, for crying out loud?), and stopped freaking out.
So stop your surfing for a moment, take your three focused breaths, and ask yourself: shackles on or shackles off? If this blog is shackles on, then run, run, the other way. If a forum is shackles on, then get out, fast. Follow your shackles off feelings, follow your Inner Healer, and follow the feeling of freedom, always.
The Healthy Life, LLC