It was March 2014. I was lying in bed in pain, feeling lethargic and scared when I stumbled upon Lissa Rankin’s Ted Talk – The Shocking Truth About Your Health. I knew my issues stemmed from an untreated TMJ disorder, but I had no idea it would change my life in this way. I had been through this before, but it was no where near as severe. I had no idea that this disorder could affect the neurological functions of the body. I didn’t know that chronic pain could cause the body to go into flight or fight. My cranial bones had shifted causing vision problems and stabbing pain. I developed every symptom this disorder could dish out, and I felt completely helpless. I had a full-time job, a son to raise and had just embarked on a whole new level in my relationship. No one knew how to help me or even understood how debilitating this was. To many, TMJ is more than just a sore jaw or clicking. It can be a full body, central nervous system standoff. After Lissa’s talk, I realized that I could keep curing symptoms or I can get to the root of my issue. In my case, it was chronic stress. Growing up, stress was normal. And to some extent, it is. But when it becomes your coping mechanism because of worries and fears, there’s a problem.
I come from a very hard working family with big dreams. Many of which were accomplished … But at what cost? My mother and uncles have all been given warnings by their bodies to slow down (autoimmune disorders, etc). They treated their symptoms, and went right back to work. No one ever stopped to think just how detrimental stress can be, and that maybe they should start listening to their bodies. In Lissa’s talk she says “What if the body is a mirror of how we live our lives.” It was in that moment, the light bulb turned on.
My TMJ disorder was part injury as a child and part chronic stress. I was ridden with worries and anxiety – most of my life. I would bury things inside and then unleash. I had no healthy way of dealing with stress. I had been through two divorces, a move across the country and a career change all within an 8 year time frame. I kept trekking along and everyone thought I was just strong and resilient. And in many ways I would say that, yes, I wasn’t afraid of taking a risk and I never felt I should stay in an unhappy union. I do not no regret any of it. But I took a lot on, and my body shut down.
Lissa’s talk encouraged me to listen to my body. It confirmed the importance of healthy relationships, a creative life and self care to name a few. From that moment, I became a student and warrior when it came to food, my body, my life, my endeavors, everything. But! … It needed to be done without the worries of the unknown. I slowly started breaking down those patterns of stress that my family unknowingly passed down to me. It turned out, I wasn’t alone. My mother dealt with her own TMJ issues and Chronic Fatigue syndrome. She too had reached a point where enough was enough. She and I share the same DNA, so it makes sense that we would both develop similar symptoms as a result of stress. Some people get stomach pain, others get migraines, we get it in the neurological gut.
In the last year, she and I have talked a lot about spirituality, wellness and how we want to live the rest of years here on this planet. She, in many ways, has become a fellow warrior. In fact, I told her she had to attend the Longevity Now conference with me next year. That’s where I got Lissa Rankin’s new book The Fear Cure after hearing her powerful presentation. And because the universe works in funny ways, I also got to meet her the night before her talk. I was sitting in the hotel restaurant minding my business when I look over and see Lissa sitting a table away. I had a major fan girl moment – do I interrupt her meal? Should I wait until she gets up to leave? Should I eat quickly and say something to her before leaving? There were 2,000 people at this conference. What were the chances. It was not coincidence. I manifested this moment. I needed to say something, anything. She was sipping wine and laughing with a friend so I figured I had some time to eat, at the very least. When I finished, I got up and walked over to her table. I told her that she was the reason I was here, and I thanked her for the Ted Talk that changed my life. She got up and gave me wonderfully warm hug. I started to cry.
I’m excited to read her new book The Fear Cure. How perfect, eh? It’s about about our society’s relationship with fear and how it manifests into stress. And we all know where that leads us. The universe put me in the right place at the right time. Like I’ve said before, there was a reason this year happened the way it did. They say you grow from inspiration or desperation. In my case, it has been a bit of both. Because I do not think the message would have been delivered the same had I been perfectly healthy. I bought a copy for me and for my mom. It’s our Mother’s Day gift. If you’re feeling unwell or creatively thwarted, or going through your own health issue, check out the Lissa Rankin’s talk. Many of my friends loved it. I’m sure you will too!