Tag Archives: pain

A brief selection of my stories about my body

On the one side there’s the issue of no pain no gain, and on the other is the Taoist notion of effortlessness – do without doing. For much of my life, my awkward body has meant that any kind of activity courted pain and I’m used to thinking in terms of having to push. Recently I’ve started questioning this.

The assumption that I needed to push through the pain has been with me for a long time, unquestioned. But, there are stories in my family about laziness and pushing, about not getting comfortable and not letting yourself off the hook. Or at least I’ve understood it that way.

How much pain for how much gain? And at what cost?

My fear is that if I don’t push myself hard all the time, I will be lazy and crap, and still fat. The relationship between fatness and assumed laziness has been an ongoing issue for me. The desire to prove that my body shape is not a consequence of lack of effort or lack of discipline on my part, has been with me since my teens.

Faced with the impression that there’s a crisis, my body stores fat. I am fantastically efficient in this regard. The impression of crisis can be created by missing meals, and otherwise reducing calorie intake. It can be created by sudden bouts of intense exercise, fuelled by shame and not sustained. Ironically it turns out that on a higher calorie diet, I am more likely to lose weight. No pain, no gain around the middle.

Do without doing suggests a state where how you are gets the job done. Getting more sleep has encouraged my body to think there isn’t some kind of emergency going on and to stop stocking up. There’s reason to think that stress caused by what happens when you’re fat can help keep you fat – again it’s about the feeling of emergency and what a body does with that. My physical survival method is clearly not to be able to run away easily, it is to be able to sit out the problem and have another go when things calm down. Doing without doing.

I’ve never really listened to my body. I’ve internalised the idea that expressing discomfort was just making a fuss, so when my body complains of pain or weariness, I have tended to over-ride that for as long as I can. Whatever gain there is seeming more important than the pain. Only in the last few years have I started listening to my body about what it might like to eat. Extra toast, and more protein have featured heavily. And yet I am not gaining flab. It’s almost as if my body knows what it needs to be a healthy size, and what it needs is not what I had been told it needs.

Trusting my body and going with it looks a lot like do without doing, to me. Not a big, sweaty push for change, but a softer acceptance of what actually works. Letting my soft animal body get on with things rather than trying to flog every last ounce of effort out of it. It’s possible that all the things I have done to try and overcome pain and fatness, have in fact been making the pain and fatness worse for me because it results in my body feeling threatened and under pressure all the time. But as a culture this is what we do to fat people, layering on the blame and shame and the pressure to force change and not asking why a specific body reacts as it does.

Fat, I am inclined to think, is really a symptom of other issues, and the key thing is to find out what the other issues are and deal with those. Comfort eating has emotional reasons driving it. Storing can be driven by all sorts of physical pressures. Body chemistry, malnutrition, stress… there are many reasons a person may store fat that have nothing to do with discipline and effort. Try to solve that by adding to the strain, and for some of us, there can be no winning.


Meditation and pain

Pain is no aid to concentration. For the person in pain, being in the body is often the last thing you want. However, many meditation techniques start by focusing a person on their body – on breathing especially, and deep breathing at that, and on awareness of physical presence. Some meditation methods are purely about being present to yourself. If you’re in a lot of pain, it’s not an appealing prospect.

It is possible to meditate while in pain, and to benefit from doing so, but many approaches won’t work at all.

For mild pain, and pain that comes from tension, it may be possible to get some relief using meditation practices that focus on relaxation. However, for many of us, this will make little positive difference and may just serve to unhappily increase personal awareness of pain.

Make sure that everything in your meditation environment supports and enables your comfort. Ignore any other advice you have to, to achieve this. Any restful position that improves your comfort, any mild activity you can meditate around is good. Don’t do anything that adds to your pain, no matter what anyone else has to say about its value. People who are not in pain can have some funny ideas about what’s going to be useful, I have found.

Pick meditations that don’t depend on you having good concentration. Guided meditation CDs may help, listening to meditation music, cloud watching, contemplating a physical object – things where you can drift away and drift back, but which do not focus you on your pain.

Alternatively, pick a scenario that you would find it good to be in, and contemplate it. A sunny beach, an isolation tank, a sauna, a woodland in spring – whatever makes you feel good and can be easily imagined. Flight is a favourite of mine when I want to be away from my body, as is visualising myself floating in warm water. If you drift, just re-start, as there’s no narrative and no goal, it doesn’t matter if you can’t hold the thought for very long.

Meditate only for as long as works for you. Some bodies stiffen and become more painful if kept still for too long, so especially ignore the old chestnut about how if twenty minutes seems a long time you should be doing it for an hour… A lot of mainstream meditation advice comes from people who are largely well and assumes the person on the receiving end is fine, too. You know your body and you know your limits and no one is entitled to demand that you hurt yourself for a spiritual practice.


Exploring the mysteries of pain

The human body is a complex thing, affected by everything it encounters. Thus when something is a bit off, working out what, and why, is no small task. I’ve been struggling with pain and stiffness for years, and experimenting with different ways of living and being to try and alleviate it.

There are a number of factors that, without any doubt, increase how much pain I experience: Insufficient or poor quality sleep. Not enough oil in my diet. Something going awry with my gut leading to loss of electrolytes and oils. Stress, anxiety and depression. Cold. Any kind of jarring physical activity. Airbeds.

Some of those rather imply their solutions! I do what I can, but life can conspire against me. One of the major problems is gut function – an issue I’ve had for more than a decade. I became vegetarian again when I realised that meat (or, I suspect, preservatives in meat) were intolerable to my gut. In the last year or so, I’ve realised that refined carbohydrates also increase my risk of gut-fail. With a switch to mostly brown flours, rice and pasta, I’ve found that my digestive system behaves itself a good deal better, and my overall pain levels have come down as a consequence. How anyone else’s body would respond, I can’t say.

I’ve learned to be much more alert to what my body is exposed to – sound, light, air quality, motion, temperature… these are not things I always have control over. However, quieter, gentler environments help me with staying calm, and that in turn helps with pain.

I’ve been giving a lot more deliberate thought to issues of when to rest, and when to push. There are times when I need to push, and I believe in testing my limits. I want to maintain as much fitness, strength and flexibility as I can, so I have to balance pushing my body against keeping it comfortable. I think I’m doing quite well with this, and overall my energy levels are up.

This time a year ago, one late night in a week was ambitious. Now, if I’m careful about getting early nights the rest of the time, I can have two late nights. By late nights, I mean not going to bed before 10pm. I’m always in bed before midnight.

At this autumn’s Contemplative Druidry day, I was able to sit, stand, move and be still as various activities required and I was reasonably comfortable throughout. I remember how last year I needed to sit on the floor so as to be able to fidget more easily to reduce discomfort. A year on and I hurt less, and I have more stamina, which encourages me to think that I’m getting more things right than not.

I don’t have much hope that I can get myself to a state of being pain free, but if I can keep the pain at tolerable levels, and be able to keep doing the things I most want to do – that’ll do. For the first time in a good fourteen years, the idea of being pain free at least some of the time, no longer seems totally preposterous.


Survival tips for people who are on fire (metaphorically)

Some weeks ago I procured and read The everything Guide to Adrenal Fatigue. One of the main consequences, is that I’ve changed how I think about my body. Rather than just experiencing how I’m feeling, I’ve started to consider it in terms of chemistry. Not very sexy, but a good deal more useful! Here are some things I have learned so far that may help other people dealing with forms of burnout, stress, and depression.

I cannot tell the difference between depression and exhaustion when I am feeling them. I also often confuse anxiety with pain. If I tackle the pain and the exhaustion, I feel less depression and anxiety. If I take the pain and exhaustion seriously as issues, I am less likely to want to call them depression and anxiety, and thus I feel more able to do something about them. I have stopped thinking of myself as a person suffering from fatigue and started thinking of myself as a person who really needs a rest. This is helping me make changes. Other people’s mileage will vary depending on what the underlying issues are.

Thoughts and feelings are connected. If I let panic get a hold of me, I can run my body into the ground. If I let myself feel pressured, even making lunch can bring the threat of burnout. I have to slow down, take deep breaths, try to put things into perspective, and not let myself be panic stricken about what I haven’t done yet. I’m not actually on fire, it just feels that way. If I can control my thoughts, I can get in control of everything else and change something of how I am feeling. I have been in situations I could not control, this fear is a legacy from that, but I am not there now and need to learn to be gentler. People who are actually on fire need actual help, and will not be able to change things by thinking about it. I have been there, I need to recognise the consequences.

I need the good stuff. Happiness is not a luxury, not something I have to earn, not an optional extra. It is key to my viability. I need things that make me happy and leave me feeling good. I must not, therefore, squander my precious downtime on things I find stressful or miserable. I have to stop doing what other people want me to do and start doing what I want me to do. I have to trust the people close to me to support me in this and I must be less willing to tolerate people who don’t really care whether I am happy or not.

I have to stop using sugar and caffeine as a crutch to keep me upright when I’ve burned out. I need to handle exhaustion with rest, not with using stimulants to keep pushing myself ever onwards. I can have sugar and caffeine, but I need to treat them as recreational drugs, not as things I am dependent on.

I have to recognise when I can’t do what’s wanted, or don’t want to, or haven’t the energy, or the inclination and so forth, and say ‘no’ to people sometimes.

I have to be aware of the pressure I feel around money, work achievements, social engagement, the need to be a really fantastic activist and all the other things that would cheerfully suck me dry if I let them. I have to hold my own boundaries. Other people cannot be relied on to hold those boundaries for me, or to respect them. My body is a finite resource and needs treating that way.


Living with pain

Not so long ago I had a conversation with a friend who has been suffering from something called post concussion syndrome. I’d not heard of it before, but it has involved months of horrendous headaches, and, the friend thought, had affected their personality.

“Well, obviously,” said I. “Pain does that.”

To those for whom physical pain is an occasional thing, the experience of it comes as a shock. If the pain doesn’t go away, it has an impact, and one you probably aren’t prepared for unless you’ve paid attention to other people dealing with ongoing pain.

Pain is limiting – whatever hurts, you just don’t want to use any more than you have to, and you rapidly learn to avoid adding to the pain in any way you can. Sometimes these tricks put extra strain on some other bit of your body and you end up damaging that too. Pain is exhausting, it undermines concentration. In large doses it can become hard to think in an organised or sustained way. It’s emotionally wearing. It erodes you, sandpapering at your sense of self. The loss of things you used to do easily doesn’t help with that.

Most people are good at being helpful around short term setback. But when the answer to ‘how are you?’ is ‘pretty shit and suffering a lot, just like I was the last dozen times you asked me’ it becomes tempting to lie. You get bored with talking about it, bored with explaining, too tired to explain, bored with pity, bored with a sympathy that is devoid of empathy and bored with other people not understanding what you can and can’t do and why concentrating is so hard. You lie and say ‘I’m ok, I’m coping’. It may seem better and happier to talk about anything that isn’t the pain.

And then, because you haven’t felt up to explaining everything about what the problem is and where it came from, the well-meant helpful advice will flow in, and most of it will be useless because it’ll be based on not knowing what the problem really is, and reading/hearing it will be exhausting and probably also annoying, but you can’t say that because they’re only trying to help…

Pain affects mood. Sometimes very simply – it hurts so badly that you end up crying. Sometimes, the idea of ever having an ok day again, ever feeling passable, ever being able to function properly seems so impossible that it’s hard to know how to keep going. Rage against the people who are lucky enough not to be suffering and do not know how lucky they are. Frustration over what can’t be done, and the lack of understanding from others. Despair. Pain certainly does affect personality, because you can’t experience any part of that and not change how you think and act. Then you realise that your sense of self isn’t as robust as it was, because this thing, this pain in your body is able to turn you into someone else – a depressed person, a grumpy person, a person who won’t go out any more, or whatever it is.

I’m just surfacing after a couple of weeks of overwhelming pain. I’ve watched it punch holes in my mental wellbeing. I’ve watched it undermine my creativity and productivity. I’ve mostly not talked about it because I couldn’t see any point – and while I was in there, I doubt there was much point. There wasn’t anything much anyone else could do to help me. I’m still very sore, but it’s down to a level that allows me to function. Pain has taught me patience and stoicism, although it’s also caused me intermittent despair. It has changed who I am over the years I’ve been living with it. There is no avoiding that.


Learning from Pain

In evolutionary terms, pain is there to protect us. It informs us of threats to our fragile bodies so that we can reduce, or avoid harm and know when we need to do something different, or patch ourselves up. Emotional pain can reinforce experience of body pain. It also speaks to us of social discomfort – as collaborative creatures we need our social connections to be good, so emotional pain around this has an obvious survival use as well. Pain can teach us about the importance of things we’ve lost, and about social acceptability.

Pain is one of those issues around which we’ve tried, as a society, to change our relationship with nature. We seek to avoid pain – which is natural – but have lost the recognition of what it’s for and why it matters.

Western medicine focuses on symptoms, so the answer to pain tends to be pain relief. Not lifestyle changes, and unless you’ve taken obvious physical damage, not always any solution to the cause whatsoever. For example many women give birth in stressful environments surrounded by noise, light, strangers and uncertainty. What we give them, is pain relief. When people suffer the pain of work stress and mental ill health, we give them drugs to make them feel calmer – we give them pain relief, not situation relief.

We get a lot of cultural messages in the rich western world about never feeling any kind of pain. Adverts to tell us we should not go hungry between meals (hello obesity epidemic). We don’t want to feel uneasy, threatened or alarmed so we’re susceptible to politicians with easy solutions that require us to make no changes. No matter the cost those apparently easy solutions inflict on someone else. The push for excessive ease in all things alienates us from our bodies, and from each other, and from the world. Only when we are willing to look at the cost in pain of western ease will we be able to tackle many of the world’s most pressing problems.

I must also acknowledge that there are people for whom pain is a constant, and no obvious explanations exist. Even in this, I would say we need to learn from pain. A person in constant pain should have the right to whatever relief they need, and in the meantime the rest of our society should be looking at the implications of trauma, long term stress, pollution, and recognising that anyone born with something that hurts them should be entitled to care. These too are lessons from pain that we are not taking onboard collectively

The lesson from nature is that pain itself is often not a terrible thing. What it does, if you let it, is warns you about things that could be a lot worse. A mild pain acknowledged now can save your life – that’s as true of bodily pain as emotional pain. The pain of loss acknowledged now might save an ecosystem, or a species. Pain exists to help us navigate our way through the world, but if we’re afraid to feel it and afraid to look at its causes, we can entirely miss the point.


Observations on breaking

I am fascinated by the limits of my mind and body and what happens when I get there. Because I am a bit shattered, my concentration is shot and I’m having trouble holding clear lines of thought. Forgive me if this is a less coherent post than usual.

Aspect one is pain, of which I have a lot just now. I know why, some if it will improve in the next few days, which may help sort the rest. But, yesterday, I hit the kind of pain levels that mess with my brain. I can tune out small pain, cuts, blisters, etc barely register. It’s funny because I haven’t lost my thinking to pain this way since the early stages of labour. Watching my mind fragment, my lines of thought disintegrate. Today is a bit better, but blogging is hard work. I’m stopping more to pick up my threads. The words are not flowing.

Aspect two is panic. I’ve spent years with fear. I’m better than I was in that I no longer start every day waking into a full blown panic attack, but small panic bursts are still a daily occurrence. It doesn’t help that post remains a panic trigger. I’m working on that. Something for another day, perhaps. So the adrenaline fear spike is part of my inner landscape. Was that a mixed metaphor? Not sure, keep pedalling… fear is part of what I get. Only I seem to have broken the adrenaline side, and this may not be a good thing. Fear, since yesterday, has been arriving more like a slap in the face with a wet sock. I experience something, but not what I normally get, and it doesn’t feel like healing because the fear is still there. Early days, and only a suspicion that you can burn out an adrenal system. No insight really.

So on a normal day, my sense of self owes a lot to my emotional responses. How I feel about things is part of what makes me recognisably me. That’s not working properly. The pain and fear responses are… weird. I know I’ve been hit by a bout of depression – that at least is behaving in a normal way, unfortunately, ‘normal’ for depression tends to include a deadening of self in the first place.

The other key thing for me is that normally I have a very clear and coherent flow of thoughts. The inside of my head is normally like narration in a book in terms of coherence and clarity. This is a defining feature of my sense of self. I usually know exactly what I am thinking and why, and I think my way through and round everything I encounter. This is intrinsic to my sense of self. The absence of it is disconcerting. Wandering about with no coherence, not feeling like someone I recognise. Disorientated, lost. Not knowing if it stays like this or how things go from here. Needing to work, needing to be functional, and everything is so much more difficult than it ought to be.

Odd, finding that my identity was made of a few flashes of brain chemistry and my ability to hold an inner monologue. No idea who I am without that, and surprised to realise how fragile and barely real I was all along, and how easily that sense of self falls apart.


Fear and faking

When is it ok to stop? When can you say that no, that’s the limit, and be confident that you aren’t just being lazy or making a fuss? How do you tell if you’re being a hypochondriac, a drama queen, attention seeking with a low pain threshold and no ability to endure?

I have found that mostly I can push through pain, exhaustion and illness alike. It comes at a cost, as I get ever more tired and eventually mired in depression, but it can be done. Today, it took me an hour to work up the will to haul my tired and hurting body out of the duvet, but here I am. With the mantra ‘it’s just pain, it doesn’t matter’ I have pushed through all kinds of things. Memorably, I went to seven (out of the necessary ten) centimetres dilated pre-birth with no pain relief, and the people around me treating me like I was making a fuss, and probably over reacting about saying it hurt. In hindsight I think if I’d been screaming they might have taken me more seriously.

Through much of my life, the message has been simply that I’m a lazy hypochondriac and all that other stuff, and if I’d just pull myself together and make an effort I’d be fine. There is nothing wrong with me, apart from my attitude problem. The one time I tried to talk to a doctor about the exhaustion and the things I struggle with, I got it from him, too, and have not been able to face going back for another round of humiliation and blame. I’ve been told (not by professionals) the muscle pain is because I am too tense, and if I made the effort to relax, I would not have a problem. And yet I watch people make, what seems to me to be epic amounts of fuss over injuries so minor I wouldn’t even mention them.

I do not know how you tell when it’s ok to say ‘I can’t’ because when it comes down to it, mostly I can. Sure, my hands are hurting today, and I’m thinking slowly, but I can write a bog post. I can sort my email and do a few jobs. If there was something more important to do, I could push and get it done. As a consequence of that, and because I’m used to being told I’m not trying hard enough, I find it hard to stop. The last few years have brought me, for the first time in my life, people who suggest I should be gentler with myself. People who tell me that it is ok to rest, and that I am not lazy. I have trouble reconciling these perceptions, and I feel like a fake. I fear that the people who are being nice to me will eventually realise that I am a lazy hypochondriac, and the warmth will go away.

Some of this is about the balance between comfort and utility. For most of my life, the only thing that has seemed to matter is how much use I could be. I am surprised when that’s not the size of things. I do not know how to handle it. I hear the people who encourage me to think that my own comfort and feeling of wellbeing has an innate value, and I struggle to know what to do with it. It is the difference between being a useless thing, and being a valued person.

Machines are not supposed to stop, and if they do, you apply the appropriate duct tape equivalent and keep going. People are not machines, but if the people in your life do not allow you to be a person, it can be hard hanging on to that. Permission to be a bit inconvenient now and then, is a powerful thing.


Warning: contains naval gazing

I lost most of yesterday afternoon and evening to a welling up of pain. It’s left me feeling sore and disorientated today. I’m in a place of unpretty introspection. It isn’t what other people do that haunts me, it is the fear of having got it wrong, of not having given enough when it was needed, not being able to offer a sufficiently tolerant and open heart, not being able to take the knocks. I’m a creature of finite resource, no kind of saint, and alert to the ways in which I could have done a better job. Yesterday I was caught in a web of ghosts and mistakes, trying to figure out where I could have done better, in the hopes of not repeating any of it.

I’m fascinated by people who shrug of mistakes and failures, of any magnitude, and move on. I’ve encountered a few folk down the years who were remarkably untroubled by their errors of judgement and acts of unintended cruelty. I’ve met people who genuinely didn’t seem to care when they caused pain. I have noticed an interesting discrepancy though, because the people who feel they should be able to shrug off their mistakes and move on seldom take the same attitude when they feel hurt. If they are suffering, it matters and needs taking seriously. It has also been my experience that people who make less fuss about their own discomfort are often more compassionate when other people are hurting.

I’ve learned the painful way that guilt and regret are the things I am least able to bear. Being hurt by someone else is as nothing compared to what I carry over mistakes I cannot fix, things I cannot undo, or unsay. I have made a lot of mistakes along the way. Poor judgement calls, misplaced expectation, dodgy interpretation… Nothing a person would wind up in court for, just regular human failure born of not seeing clearly, not knowing myself well enough, not getting it right. I pick over these like a scavenger picking bones. If there is a means to put right, I’ll try and do it. At least I can learn, with a view to making new and different mistakes next time.

My most problematic reoccurring mistake goes like this: I accept people as they present themselves, so I fall foul of miss-selling. There are qualities I’m drawn to, and if someone fakes those, I can be suckered in. The bitterness that comes from realising it was all pretend, is horrible. I find it hard to forgive in those circumstances, but I realise it may often be the case that people do not realise they are faking it. They have learned the language of passion and intensity. They’ve learned what sounds dramatic, poetic, inspired and wild. They like the image. Perhaps they do not realise that all they have is a shiny surface. The shock of realising they do not know how to live what they are voicing cannot be comfortable for some of them. The ease with which the shrugging and walking away often follows though, suggests to me that they mostly do not care. They only ever wanted to look the part.

How I let myself get into one of these again? How was I bewitched by the surface appearance, by an illusion of authenticity? Is there some magical way of discerning between people who truly speak from the heart, and people who know how to sound that way? I haven’t found it yet. Do I become cynical and mistrustful, and keep at a distance those who do come into my life open hearted, honest and full of integrity, so as to also keep away the players of games? I oscillate. There are days (yesterday was one such) when I feel no confidence in my ability to relate to people at all, and the call of hermitude is strong. But there are those few souls who were not faking, who have brought depth and wonder into my life, and I would not have that if I’d carefully insisted on keeping everyone at arm’s length.

I’ve been told that I expect too much of people. I have unreasonably high standards, am demanding and unfair. I expect so much that I set people up to fail; they can never be enough to meet my outrageous demands. I’ve looked long and hard at those accusations over a lot of years. There is some truth in it. I can be decidedly all or nothing. I do ask a lot, but I ask no more of others than I ask of myself. Just occasionally, I find someone who isn’t affronted by how I am, someone who does not disappoint, or turn out to be more hot air than substance. In the meantime, what I get is the guilt of feeling that my being let down is a measure of my unreasonableness. The uncomfortable sense that I ask too much and judge too harshly, and that if only I could seek for less, I could enjoy the easy, non-committal, shrug off the mistakes approach of others. I would have to be someone else. Still, there are losses that I grieve, and mistakes that haunt me.


Being Broken

Life gives us many opportunities to break. In pain and fear, in loss, grief and failure we are torn open. Or we learn to close ourselves off from that. We learn not to care. Why choose to suffer when you can protect yourself by the simple method of not giving a shit? Why let the opinions and feelings of others affect you? Why love anything enough to risk being wounded by losing it?

I’ve spent a fair bit of time now watching the people who protect themselves from pain. I’ve had some pretty close contact with that approach. The people who cannot hear that they are wrong because they will not subject themselves to the pain of shame. The people who protect themselves by not caring, and who fear love. None of them were actually all that happy.

There is always a balance, always a trade-off. The person who protects themselves from humiliation struggles to learn anything. You can’t progress if you have to believe that you are already perfect. The person who does not care lives a life that is short of warmth. If you do not love then you miss out on a lot. Perhaps you feel less pain, but you feel less joy as well. The people who avoid risk in the hopes of minimising suffering also avoid opportunities to live.

Out there in the normal world, people will ridicule you for feeling too much, for caring, for weeping over that which is awful, for grieving over loss. We’re supposed to get over it and move on. Bereavement should be tidied up in a matter of weeks. The loss of friends, homes, jobs, security, health and prospects… we’re supposed to shrug it off and not inconvenience other people with our pain. What this means in practice is that we are taught to hide what we feel, and to lie about it. I’ve been there and I have the t-shirts. For a huge, personal catastrophe, you might get a couple of weeks of grace, if you are lucky.

People who do not grieve their losses (and not just the dead) do not get to heal. People who are not allowed to break, take far more damage on the inside and far longer to recover. Rates of depression and anxiety are soaring, but we don’t ask why, and we certainly don’t look hard enough at the bat-shit crazy culture and assumptions that might be underpinning that. It is a terrible thing to lose your health, or your job. It is awful when relationships break down. It is gutting when the goalposts are moved unfairly, when the system itself turns on you, when there is cruelty without justice, when there is sheer bad luck. And then you’re supposed to pretend all is fine.

If you are allowed to break, you are also allowed to heal. If you are allowed to own your distress, you are also allowed to ask for help. If you are able to feel all the shitty, humiliating things, you are able to learn how to rise above them. If you are able to feel the pain, you are also able to feel the joy and love. Yet it remains socially unacceptable to break, even when your life is in ruins.