And it’s killing us…
Months before I got my diagnosis, I knew something was amiss.
I felt strange, simultaneously wired and exhausted and the pounds were falling off despite consuming vast quantities of cake and cookies in an effort to keep going.
I was twenty-four. I couldn’t possibly be seriously ill.
As if to prove it, I pushed myself harder. More work, more time at the gym on the treadmill, more socialising.
And then one day I woke up and couldn’t move my legs.
Or as the late bestselling author Debbie Ford put it.
Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying
Remember that diet you were going to start tomorrow? The pap smear that’s six months overdue or the lump in your breast you refuse to linger on?
That’s it right there.
So your discharge has been different these past few months, that headache keeps coming back and there’s a funny taste in your mouth? You’re going to pass it off as nothing.
Who’s got time to be sick?
Not women, it turns out.
The silent killer.
It’s Not Our Fault
We’re carers by nature. We put everyone and everything else first and we push on through.
Ever seen a Mom take a sick day?
No, thought not.
I’ve been on my knees with illness while hosting a play date for my son and six of his friends. This is what women do. It’s how we are built.
And it’s dangerous.
We Act Like We’re Invincible
We’re just flesh and bone.
Every imbalance we do not clear, every symptom we ignore, every emotion we repeatedly suppress, shows up as something bigger and deeper and more harmful.
It’s not that our body wants to attack us. In fact all our body wants to do is keep us alive, but when toxins accumulate and get backed up in our system, it has to let us know something’s wrong.
If your body could send you an email saying,
“hey honey, your liver needs a little help’”
But it can’t, so it creates symptoms to get your attention. A headache, fatigue, some light swelling, or maybe attractive yellowish eyes.
And we pretend it’s not happening because we’re afraid.
We’ve Been Taught to Fear Our Bodies
There is an entire industry engaged in keeping us in fear.
We are taught only the doctor can heal us and that disease can randomly attack us without provocation at any moment.
I don’t know how many women I’ve worked with who say,
“She just got cancer”
Like it popped in for coffee one day and took their friend’s life on the way out.
This is what the healthcare system seems to want women to believe because if we’re scared we’ll do what we’re told, rather than consider a deep dive into why cancer chose to hook up with us in the first place.
We’re encouraged to wage war against disease like it’s something outside of us. We’re drilled to do battle with our body rather than support and re-balance it.
I know if I’d taken my doctor’s advice I’d have one less body part right now and a lifetime of medication ahead of me.
Believe me, I understand the pressure and the courage it takes to trust in yourself. But every time we pop a pill or cut and poison in the name of fixing the problem, we deny ourselves the chance to understand what’s really going on.
And if we never understand how and why we became ill, we sure as hell can’t truly heal.
Medical Professionals Make Us Wrong
Even when we go to the doctor we’re often misdiagnosed.
I suffered for months before getting an accurate diagnosis, because my GP was confused by my multiple symptoms, that didn’t match a particular condition.
I knew something was dreadfully wrong but he assured me I was mistaken and it was just a virus. I denied what I felt, trusted him instead of myself and paid the price.
It’s a fact that medical research is biased towards men, so when female symptoms don’t show up in the same way, disease goes unrecognised.
This 2018 article in The Guardian reports that in heart disease, women’s symptoms are often different to men’s and are routinely written off as anxiety.
“Over and over again, this dismissal of a woman’s symptoms leads to delays in diagnosis, treatment and could cost lives.”
Allowing ourselves to be fobbed off and denying our gut instinct can be deadly.
And illness is a total f*ck up.
Especially in this time when we’re told we really can have it all, and it’s the rise of the feminine, and fight back sisters… and that’s all fabulous but we’re still acting like men.
Women are intuitive, feeling creatures but we won’t admit we’re not well. We brush it off and hope for the best because we think burning out means we’ve failed as a female.
Actually, it means we’ve failed to BE female.
Striving, excessive “doing” and endless efforting are all guy functions that we were never designed to perform long-term. We’re creative creatures, we give birth and attract and make sh*t happen in a totally different way that supports our bodily systems.
And sure we can hustle, but if we’re always hustling we’ll burn out.
Just ask any of the thousands of women who’ve driven themselves into the ground with denial if this is a fun experience.
Hi, that’s me and NO it’s not.
We Don’t Know How to Listen
I know a beautiful, vibrant cancer survivor who once said to me,
“I could have wasted a lot of time figuring out why I got cancer”
Like that would have been the WORST use of her time. Like knowing why her body had become so toxic it could host cancer was totally useless information.
If relying on someone else to cure you of illness and disease is your modus operandi then you may agree with her.
To me it’s denial.
There is nothing more powerful than understanding your own body and knowing how to rebalance, create vitality and ultimately, heal.
This comes through listening.
Listening is power. Listening facilitates self-preservation. Listening is imperative to your longevity.
I learned to listen to my body in the ten years I spent rebuilding myself from illness. I became a body whisperer in order to survive.
I ditched denial, owned all the sh*t I’d allowed into my system and used it as fertiliser for my future.
If you’re lying to yourself, I urge you to start listening.
It’s Time to Get Tough With The Truth
The real truth, not the story you’ve been telling yourself about the symptom you’re ignoring, or the excuses you make for the changes you don’t understand or won’t admit.
Denial is draining you.
Lying to yourself literally splits your energy and creates stress in your system.
This is self-sabotage and it leads to suffering.
Symptoms are your wake-up call. Disease is your body shouting…Hellooooo, is anyone home???
I care that you stop lying to yourself.
I care that fewer women die. I care because we are mothers and daughters and sisters and friends and it matters.
So when you sense something in your body is off, wrong, different, changing… stop right there and listen, investigate, interpret and seek out answers.
Yes, symptoms are inconvenient but they can also save you from something bigger and far more deadly. Own them. understand them. Work with them.
Take responsibility for your body and yourself.
Because if you haven’t got this who the hell has?
Healing is like happiness — it’s an inside job and becoming aware of how you’re fooling yourself is the first step.
Owning yourself is the most powerful experience you will ever have.
Ditch the denial and start dealing with what’s wrong.
I believe you are worth it.