At a recent event, I had a woman ask me for my best advice on how to address adrenal fatigue. She, like many before, her told me of her despair and how difficult her journey had been – a long, slow and sometimes painful rolling of one day into the next. As I began to chat to her about my best instructions for addressing adrenal fatigue (my tips and experience you can read for yourself here), tears began to well in her eyes.
I prompted something more than I had anticipated when I said to her,
“Please remember you are not your illness – you have adrenal fatigue, you are not adrenal fatigue.”
This is a common conversation I have with patients – detaching from the label. We love to give our health (or lack of) a name, a label, as if it gives us some comfort knowing what it is, and maybe a means to actually then go forth and treat the problem at hand. Whilst it might be refreshing and at times useful to have answers, it doesn’t necessarily always work in our favour, but more so brand a name or a problem that we begin to integrate into our cellular workings. I once had a patient who had a serious health condition, was semi diagnosed but not actually confirmed, and that was the way they liked it. They recognised that if it was named ‘x’ or a label, it would become part of them and dictate their life. Furthermore, detaching from that would become part of the bigger problem and slow down the healing process.
I’ve been here before myself. Back when my son, Geordie, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, I recall the exact turning point – the moment that I made the choice that we would, no matter what, focus on health and creating the life we wanted to make rather than that in which wasn’t going to take us to where we want to go. I get it, it’s not at all easy, but the more I practiced simply focusing on the greatness of my little baby, the more great his health became – I was no longer allowing fear to drive the story. I continued to focus on health and I only found more evidence of a thriving little boy. To this day, this is how we choose to live our lives.
Have you ever purchased a new car, a car that prior to owning, you’d barely seen on the road before, yet once you’ve purchased it, you see that same car everywhere? That’s not because all of a sudden the world pooped out an extra special delivery of your exact make and model – no! That’s because a part of your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) has been in fact turned on. The RAS is the part of your brain that recalls reticular information – therefore we see an item and our brain is activated to scout it out time and time again. Now try this on with your health. For example, you have Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome and suddenly you’re made privy to all of its symptoms – symptoms you previously didn’t actually notice nor that were giving you any trouble. Now I’m not saying to ignore your symptoms – they are like a special gift from the heavens, but what we focus on we see more and more evidence of. And here lies the problem. Rather than using that diagnosis to actually take you on track towards wellness, it’s now taken a nose dive, making you so aware of all the problems that sit alongside your condition – you very soon may begin to become your problem.
Perhaps you’re struggling with your weight. It provides the perfect example of the point (and yes I stole this from instagram!) You are not fat. You have fat. Just like you are not a fingernail – you have fingernails.
Same goes for your condition. You might be experiencing infertility or hypothyroidism – you are not these things, you have these issues.
You see? If we focus on the label we can create excess stress and anxiety around it and begin to believe we are something we most certainly aren’t!
So how do we switch it off you might be left asking – it begins with becoming conscious of the thoughts and feelings we have about our health. When we seek out symptoms it’s what we do with this valuable nugget of information that’s important. If we can use this to get curious and to help us find deeper answers, rather than accept it, we begin to pave the way for change. Does it take the symptom away initially? Not at all. But it allows us to remove the spotlight and refocus on what is needed to take action. This can actually be applied to everything in life.
I hope you might ask yourself – what are your symptoms telling you and from this what can you do differently to use these symptoms to really make the right changes? What can you do to disconnect from your condition to take you towards greater health? How lovely is it that this all begins with a simple choice?
To choose health over illness and continue to remind ourselves of our vision.
From this, great things will come.