I would like to introduce you to Kendra Bloom, who is a somatic psychotherapist. She has been a wonderful resource for my patients for many years in Seattle. Although, the DOC process is largely self-directed, the journey out of suffering is always enhanced by a coach who can help you feel safe with yourself.
I am excited to be able to offer her services to you. She has been able to help people out of the Abyss that simply needed some extra support and guidance. Her level and type of expertise is not widely available and one of our projects is teaching other medical professionals these concepts and skills.
She shares an understanding of the depths of misery you can experience when trapped by mental and/or physical pain that has allowed us to help others find their own way out. Here is her story.
How Chronic Pain Saved My Life: From a Fishbowl to the Ocean
Chronic pain patients usually end up in my office because they feel trapped and out of options. The same reasons are what finally brought me to the table with Dr. Hanscom. At the time I was so anxious I knew I wouldn’t last more than a year if something didn’t change. I had a successful practice as a Somatic Psychotherapist, studying neuroscience and was increasingly devastated that no matter what I did, no matter how much I learned—my anxiety was only getting worse.
What I was surprised to find on this journey with David, is that the pain of my anxiety turned out to be my greatest teacher and opportunity once I finally found the right frameworks, structure, and support.
Just last week, I received a glowing email from a woman who has suffered for two years with debilitating headaches that have taken her out of her life as a well-known surgeon. What lit up her message to me was the freedom in realizing that she had been basing everything off a problematic definition of success her whole life—a logical one rooted in everything she had experienced in a neglectful and cruel household, but not one that allowed for sustainable health, peace, or enjoyment. Although the pain of her headaches have not yet gone away fully, she wrote to me from a place free from suffering.
I am grateful to be able to say that although sometimes my pain flares back up for a few days, I have also been suffering-free for almost 2 years.
In working with clients, I share the belief that we are all born with the innate ability to thrive. However, our access to this innate ability can become blocked over time.
As we grow in the first few years of life, some of our developmental needs are met and others are missed. The blank slate of our nervous system uses the interactions in our early caregiving environment to build a sense of who we are, what we must do to get love (which is the equivalent of safety for us vulnerable baby monkeys), how to have emotions, what we can express, and what to expect from people and the world. These patterns and beliefs passed on to us by our family creates the foundation that determines how our brain unconsciously interprets everything we encounter. In an effort to keep us safe the brain wires primarily on fear and negativity, so privileges those lessons. Our internal worlds can quickly become small and uncomfortable.
It’s similar to being born into the ocean, and unknowingly put into a fishbowl…believing we are still in the ocean. The situation becomes more severe when some of these self-reinforcing fear patterns become like bacteria and algae overgrowing the tank, clouding the water with no good filtration system—things become toxic. We fish are trapped in an environment with no clue it’s the water we are swimming in that’s making us sick because it is all we have ever known. Until one day someone suddenly lifts us out for a moment, and we feel the ocean again.
Chronic pain is an indication of how the levels in our bowl are off—quite literally in terms of our bodies’ stress chemicals connected to the anxiety, anger, and sensitization at its root. Not only is the water “clouded”, every cell in our body is bathed in toxic chemicals. By coming to our pain with an understanding of the ocean and how to get there—the toxicity that forces us out can actually become our greatest hidden gift.
I would have perished in my fishbowl—as I see with clients in my practice every day. Helping others use these tools and strategies to find freedom is an honor and I am inspired by peoples’ capacity to thrive even under the most dire of circumstances.