**Original post was written in 2019. I've preserved all the original writing AND at the bottom of the post you'll see a blurb written in 2022 with more recent updates!
Talking about our bodies is deeply personal.
And yet I ask my clients to do it regularly.
I encourage you to be vulnerable. To show up. To talk about your struggles.
And yet I rarely talk about myself, my body, or my journey.
Partially because my current relationship with my body is hard to put into words.
Ya see, I’ve been struggling with mysterious chronic pain over the past few years.
I planned to tell you about this part of my life once the pain went away. Once I could look back at this chapter of my life and tell you about how I came out on the other side.
But years have gone by and I’m not there yet.
From 2008-2012, my body image had its darkest days. This chapter warrants its own blog post.
From 2012-2017, I did A TON of healing, growing, exploring, and loving. In the world and with my body. I reached a place of confidence and security in my skin.
And thennnn things took a turn.
From then to now:
In early 2017 I started noticing my joints were hurting more than normal. I couldn’t walk more than 3 miles without my knees SCREAMING at me and my fingers, which have always been hypermobile, were getting extra bendy and weak.
I worked as an actress in the summer of 2017, dancing in 6 shows a week for 4 months.
During this time, my back and neck began to bother me. Then, what felt like overnight, this bother turned into pain… intense pain.
I sought relief from chiropractors and acupuncturists in town, but none of them were able to make my pain go away.
The pain in my back and neck got increasingly worse. Debilitating. Once the show ended in September of 2017, I stopped dancing. I stopped biking, hiking, running, practicing yoga, and even going on walks.
As the back pain got worse, so did the pain in all of my joints- hips, knees, elbows, and fingers specifically.
Between fall of 2017 and today - summer of 2019 - I’ve seen countless doctors.
Chiropractors, a rheumatologist, acupuncturists, massage therapists, an orthopedic surgeon, a hand specialist, an occupational therapist, and I have a geneticist appointment booked for January of 2020.
Diagnoses such as rheumatoid arthritis, Ehlers-Danlos, and fibromyalgia have been tossed out.
Seeking help was costing me a lot of money and no conclusions were reached, so I stopped trying to figure out what was going on.
Meanwhile, my body began to shift in appearance and strength. As you can imagine, my muscles weren’t being used nearly as much as they were when I was dancing 6 days a week. Or biking to and from work every day. Or even being able to wear my own backpack while walking around town.
All that healing I did from 2012-2017 regarding my body image?
Now was the time to walk the talk.
Can I love myself through weight gain and muscle fatigue?
Can I love myself through depression?
Can I love myself through a loss of identity - no longer a dancer and no longer someone who is up for every adventure?
My emotions started to get even more dysregulated than they already were because I was freaking out that I couldn’t use my body AT ALL. Everything hurt. Every. Single. Thing. Walking, standing, sitting, laying in bed.
This past winter I started taking antidepressants. Needing support with my mental health for other reasons, there was also speculation that some antidepressants help with chronic pain.
And guess what?
There’s truth to that.
For the past 10 months, my neck and back pain have gone from an 8-9, to a 2-6 (depending on the day). This difference has been life changing.
While living in NYC this past June, I took dance classes for the first time in two years.
Over the past few months I have started going on walks and finding ways to move my body that bring me joy.
I’ve started introducing gentle yoga and stretching back into my routine.
I’m learning to accept that I can only stand for limited periods of time. And that I can’t play piano the way I used to. And my wrists hurt every day at work. And my back pain skyrockets at the most random times (yes I’ve tracked my menstrual cycle and the weather… there’s no noticeable pattern).
This is where I’m at.
My body and I.
Healed from body dysmorphia and disordered eating & actively navigating the waters of chronic pain.
More than anything? I'm grateful.
I've never been so happy to take a dance class. Never been so thrilled at feeling sore after a work out.
I cried tears of joy when I went to the gym and successfully made it through a gentle workout only a few months ago.
I'm getting to use my body in a way that I haven't been able to in, what feels like, foreverrrrr. That's a gift. Something to be celebrated.
As I share my tips and tricks for intuitive eating and body acceptance with you, please know... I've battled disordered eating. I've done the diets and body shaming and I've come out on the other side.
Those of you struggling with chronic pain? I'm right in there with you. Maybe for now, maybe forever.
Our bodies are impermanent.
A year from now?
You may not weigh what you weigh now.
Your clothes might fit differently.
Your wrinkles, cellulite, and scars might be more or less pronounced.
Waiting for an elusive “one day” in which you’ll be happy with your body is a dangerous act, my friend.
Because there is no guarantee you'll like the future version of your self any more than you like this one. All you have is right now.
Coming from someone who is accepting the limitations and rejoicing in the magnificence of my body on a daily basis.
You are enough.
In fact, you're perfect.
**This original post was written in fall of 2019 and its now fall of 2022! All of the above is still true and there are some updates!
Its been 5 years now since my pain began to interfere with my daily life. Spoiler alert: its still here!
Since writing this post my pain has persisted. I got off the anti-depressants mentioned above due to their side effects, was off anti-depressants altogether for about a year, and then resumed taking a different kind of anti-depressant in summer of 2021. This time around I've experienced a boost in mood and it has also helped my pain like the previous ones did. The mind-body connection is a powerful thing!
I've continued to see doctors. I now live in NYC and saw a fresh round of doctors once moving here. By far the most helpful support I've received so far is physical therapy. I was going to physical therapy 2x/week for about 6 months and noticed a decrease in my pain when strengthening my support and stabilization muscles. Then I got pregnant! Which put PT on pause and sent me down a new path with my body!
At this point my diagnosis is "Hypermobile Spectrum Disorder" or "Hypermobile Ehlers Danlos" depending on who you talk to and how familiar they are with the distinctions between the two.
I still can only walk about 3 miles before the pain gets extra intense and can't stand for long periods of time, but I HAVE been able to take dance classes here in NYC regularly which is truly all I care about at the end of the day.
I've been seeing a therapist for over a year now who specializes in chronic pain and that has been VERY helpful. To have a designated space to grieve lost abilities and to have accountability when my mind starts to spiral in fear about my future - "will this last forever?" - is so valuable and validating. 10/10 recommend having a therapist, for everyone, but especially if you're navigating chronic pain.
Lastly I'll share that I've found the Curable app to be very helpful and supportive! Check it out and let me know what you think!