Introduction: Why? What purpose do I serve?
“What purpose do I serve?” is a reasonable question… For all of us.
Have you ever watched the Pixar movies Soul or Onward?
Sometimes it feels as if they teach the same things as I do.
Why should I do this when there’s a physiotherapist on every street corner, every other person is a massage therapist and the psychologists and psychiatrists are probably doing their best trying to catch them up in numbers?
Because if you’re there – I fear you might be in the wrong place.
The physio might very well be helpful in the post-op or after a trauma, after you sprained an ankle or did some sports too recklessly. They know a lot, but it’s common to see them prescribe nothing but general exercise to avoid complete inactivity, which is entirely logical if the client never moves. But… What if you did that yourself and picked something you enjoy?
The massage therapist, chiropractor, or whatever you might use to help you with manual therapies might achieve relaxation in sore muscles and relieve the pain. But it’s often a short-term fix unless you’re solving the underlying problem. If you’re just easing the pain from these things, the pain quickly returns unless you keep working on it, more or less like painkillers. How about lowering the stress levels enough to not get the tension in the first place?
I’ve been there, working with both the rehab and the manual therapies, but eventually, I lost my patience because it wasn’t helpful. People had to keep coming back, which wasn’t very satisfying to see. Many manual therapists find that useful since it’ll keep the income steady, but that can’t possibly be the point when you’re trying to make an impact, can it? Anyway, back on track.
The psychologist might very well give the patients time to vent mental issues and give them tools to handle their life way better than before. But how many do you know who’ve tried therapy and still suffer? Many psychologists and similar therapists do shove people in the right direction, but do they succeed well enough? And what if you start by opening up to a friend? Would that do the same, more or less? Besides that, how much do you already know yourself, and how much could you do without help? Could you try to take responsibility for your situation and change already?
The psychiatrist might prescribe a pharmaceutical taking the patient from pure hell to functional. In some cases, people actually reach a level where they’re quite OK. But is that the typical case, or do people more often go from completely unnecessary misery to… numb, but far from well?
I’m neglecting neither of the professionals above. They all have tremendous value and save plenty of people from enormous suffering daily – but I’m doing what I’m doing because I feel as if something is missing.
Symptoms of depression, anxiety, and ADHD/ADD often react exceptionally well to physical activity. Even acutely, as in you’re better as soon as you’ve been out running. I’d say that’s available to practically everyone. Some might have injuries that make things more challenging, and some might lack the knowledge, but most injuries can either heal or be worked around – and we can all learn. How about doing your part first, whatever that might be, and THEN turn to medication if you’re out of options?
Another magic trick to treat a lot of things where you’re displeased with life is to change the environment. You do control a small part of the world and a decent chunk of your own. Use that to create the world you want to have – and an environment where you feel good.
We’re back at creating the world you’d like to have and solving problems, regardless of if they’re “one of the big three” or if you’re displeased with your relationship or your work. One of the latter could bother any of the big three since they drain you of energy – and to solve said troubles, you might have to look a little wider. I would love to teach you to take care of yourself better by tending to all of life, rather than just trying to solve problems as if they were completely isolated when they might be affected by far more than you might think. Back to the eternal mantra: life is vast, things are complex, and one thing affects the other…
So, to reconnect to where I started with different professions. I’ve practically grown up at a gym. Movement is essential for biological creatures, even though we often call it to exercise. I’ve worked as a manual therapist and trained people as a PT. It can work wonders. I’ve purchased expensive stuff to treat patients passively. They made a difference. I’ve used needles and treated people with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Those sure helped!
But it wasn’t always enough…
I’ve been to the university and listened to teachers talk about having a comprehensive approach. I’ve been to hospitals and health centers to watch how, or rather IF, they implement it. I’ve listened to my clients and added one and one together. It’s generally not applied.
I’ve watched people suffer the consequences of stress for too long. I’ve watched people suffer the consequences of long-term pain. I’ve watched people suffer from depression for years and years without an end…
But without much help but pills.
Which didn’t seem to be enough either…
I turned to philosophy.
I turned to self-help. I’ve read this and that. I’ve listened to the old and wise. And finally deduced that it’s too complex for one kind of therapy to do the trick in some cases…. Or even for just a few. It requires perspective and a good look at the whole.
All the previous knowledge bunched together
People ought to be able to find a solution to these things when the “normal” solution of pills and “good luck!” doesn’t work (as it often does not).
People are worth saving from their miseries as long as they really try their best.
The modern healthcare is a bit too square and medicating everything isn’t the way (even though I do love science and things that work).
Rather than just tending to a little something, a small issue there or there and meeting people for too little time to tend to the big troubles in life.
I think people are worth good enough care to get better
… or preferably even REALLY GREAT. I’ve been around depression and long-term pain all my life, and as the years’ progress, more and more people around me have burned out and got what some call “exhaustion disorder”. It’s fair to say that most people don’t deserve that – and they sure don’t deserve far inferior help than necessary to get well. I sure do believe people need to take responsibility for their own lives, but if that’s not an option because you don’t know HOW TO, it suddenly gets tricky. So, I try to teach people. It seems as if I’ve found some things that work pretty well, and that’s why I’m doing this. To try to get people on their way and nudge them in the right direction with the tools they might need on their journey. That might sound fuzzy, but let’s look at an example and make a really, really short case study.
Woman, ~40, 2 kids. She lies awake at night for hours and hours, scared and angry all the time, and practically can’t feel any joy in life.
Here’s the list of symptoms we made up before starting:
- Affected skin from the stress
- Super sensitive to stress, what I tend to call stress intolerance.
- Didn’t feel any joy in life whatsoever
- Never relaxed.
- No motivation for anything, and everything feels like a problem.
- Comfort eating.
- Afraid of hunger.
- Low appetite, bloated, diarrhea. (Interesting combo?)
- “I just feel BAD!”
- Sad, tired, and worried all the time.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Bad relationship with the husband.
- Hate the weekend because of the bad atmosphere at home.
- Night terrors.
- Bruxism, or “biting hard and grinding her teeth while’s sleeping”.
- Immunological troubles from the stress, Herpes bothering.
- Always cold and freezing.
We deduced that the goal setting for the project would be to
- Learn to handle stress
- Be able to sleep for an entire night without waking up
- Have a decent relationship with food or at least acceptable behavior when handling it.
- Learn to handle anxiety.
- Get back to her primary hobby she had neglected for too long
- Get done with and get rid of the old apartment and get into the new one
- Work out daily
Twelve weeks of changing things up – and all of those are crossed off the lists. Suddenly, it’s rather outbursts of joy and gratitude than tears and rage.
But this isn’t a DISEASE, is it?
Diabetes and cardiovascular things are, according to most, so I guess this counts. There seems to be an entirely new sort of trouble emerging with health; stress and how we live today, rather than actual diseases. Lifestyle diseases such as CVD, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, stroke, and diabetes are quite new, but this stuff is even more so. And these questions seem to need another approach than what the healthcare systems seem to provide decently, from what I see, anyway. In these cases, a diagnosis and a pill don’t seem to work very well in plenty of cases, though that’s the approach in a large portion of the cases when people seek medical attention. When life is the problem, is a pill the solution? They might have an impact.
- Painkillers for pain work, so it might be a good idea.
- Anti-depressants seem to work for some.
- Calming things and sleep aid might knock you out.
But those rarely solve the entire thing. Those interventions often miss addressing the complete picture. In these, often quite complex cases, it’s crucial to tend to life as the whole or at least a big enough part of it. Sick leave and pills might not save you – it might just postpone life for years without progression. That’s what I’d like to address. I want you to take care of your life. Find out what’s actually important, think for yourself, and do what’s good for you.
The plan, purpose, and goal of actually doing the writing and creation of content to get out there are to share some perspectives on the troubles that Dolor tends to. These things are often looked at as things in isolation. Pain is painful – apply painkillers. Depression – apply anti-depressants. Stressed? Try some benzo. Completely wrong, in my opinion – and I’d like to teach you why.
The point is for people to get my perspective and some insight, hopefully, some hope, and ideally, some ideas. Those who get the lovely results mentioned above are those who act, change things up, and are willing to truly struggle and strive to make progress. Nothing solves itself, and change is usually hard – but when one way of living and doing things gets you to the bottom, it should be worth changing those behaviors. Change in these cases doesn’t necessarily have to be truly tough and challenging either. It might be to learn how NOT to do things like saying no, resting, and looking at what you prioritize. People are complex and need different things. The right tool needs to be used at the right place and time.
Maybe you’re not as flawed as you think.
Perhaps you just need some sort of big picture. You’re in a world of specialists where more and more students and professionals learn more and more about less and less while neglecting the big picture, the individual and its’ environment. How come so many need so much care from professionals? How can we possibly need this amount of opioids, psychotropics, and variants of amphetamine? Are people actually that much more sick, ill, and in bad health? Or do we refuse to accept variations of people and variations of what people need and want – and relentlessly mash them all into the same mold, medicating them into what they should be to fit in today?
It’s a bold statement, but I fear that a large amount of the overwhelming amounts of pain today might very well be for no good reason at all. Too many are stuck in a rut of today’s modern lifestyle, which we don’t seem to be made for. Mostly filled with inactivity, stress, social media, keeping up with the Joneses’, FOMO, barely eating proper food, and barely having time for what we value for real. For the first time in history, stress and anxiety seem to elevate the pulse more than actual physical activity does over a day for a large number of people. Too many seem to generally suffer from mental misery instead of the physical one we evolved to endure.
Broad areas and plenty of small things make life into what it is. To change that requires either very general tools like philosophy, entire ways of living, or specific mindsets to influence large parts with just one thing… or plenty of tools to affect every little aspect in isolation. A big part of combating lifestyle diseases is to change the lifestyle. In my opinion, burnout, depression, and long-term pain could very well, in large and quite often, be defined as lifestyle diseases. It’s not necessarily that you’ve been eating poorly, so you get diabetes, but a lot of it is about how you live life. So the change and the solution could be found by changing that lifestyle into one that fits you better.
Sometimes, that’s done with general solutions that hit life as a whole, and sometimes it’ll be the more lazor-focused solutions. One, or the other, isn’t necessarily better. Pain could, for example, be mitigated manually. I think that’s a great tool, but it’s without a doubt narrow-minded. You look at a part of the body in isolation, something painful, which could be a muscle or a joint – and you do things to make it hurt less or function better. That could be helpful, so the narrow tools are good to have. Sometimes they make a tremendous impact, like changing something with cognitive behavioral therapy. That could be life-altering! Focusing on one thing to change THAT could, in turn, change a lot of other things. Going from not being able to sleep to sleeping like a baby changes everything, and suddenly you’re practically free.
But perhaps you could affect more things in less time, kind of as if you’d prefer to avoid doing twenty-five isolation exercises in the gym and go for a couple of compound movements instead. Like that, you could affect pain AND many other things with broader tools. They could likely be manipulated and changed by implementing physical activity and pacing.
If you start acting in your valued direction and use the once simple thing of saying no, that could be other genius ways of changing and doing “one new thing” that could alter vast areas, rather than just one single thing in isolation. Doing those could lead to some peace of mind, leading to less stress and, therefore, less pain. Implementing a moment of nothing here or there could do the same.
Implementing some good food, a glass or two of pleasant mead, and some socializing could turn the dullest of evenings into a lovely one, which is excellent when all we have is now. A good time and a pleasant evening isn’t a mysterious treatment method with a catchy name. It’s just a part of a good life. Despite the lack of a cool name, it could help treat every one of the big three. If the present is great, that’s practically all we need, as long as we focus there, rather than on the future or the past. Mindfulness could be pinpointed as some sort of cool name, something to practice, and practically a therapy. But the practice and therapy are there because many of us have lost the ability, making it less natural than it ought to be. It’s nothing strange – it became strange when we got unaccustomed to it.
Kind of like sleeping. To have a good night’s sleep isn’t weird… unless you’re unaccustomed to it and your lifestyle makes it hard, regardless of if it’s sleep pressure, circadian rhythm, or activity level that bothers you. It could be thought, behaviors, physiology, or emotions according to how we look at it in cognitive behavioral therapy – but that is just a way to break things down to alter your dysfunctional sleep. Sleep isn’t weird or strange. It’s the most natural thing in the world where you should just be able to lay down and do it as the easiest thing in the world and have a good night’s sleep.
Then you’re supposed to wake up to amuse yourself with a hobby you haven’t done in ages and move some more. Can you do both of those lastly mentioned at the same time? Lovely. Take time to reflect and breathe. Perhaps think of what you do and don’t want to do..?
You shouldn’t have to sleep poorly and then practically run off as soon as you’ve woken up to something you feel you’ve GOT TO DO. A lot of this comes down to lifestyle design… And I get that everyone can’t just run around in dreamlike meadows in slow-motion all the time. That’s not what I’m demanding either.
I just think that you might benefit from doing nothing once in a while, even though you don’t have the time. Today no one does. Take the time. Ignore the to-do list with the oh, so very important issues. You’ll never get everything done, even if you do get those done anyway. There’s often a never-ending stream of more. So just leave things for a while… Or perhaps just for a moment.
It’s not as easy to solve long-term pain as to use mead in and of itself. Neither should you try to drink yourself out of depression, but it might be a small part of increasing quality of life, alongside plenty of other small things. Or quite big ones, like how to look at things and where to take life, if you can change those instead.
Implementing the bio-psycho-social model, which we’re doing here, is probably the best option for treating stress- and pain-related issues, including the cases where the origin seems to be the somewhat dysfunctional modern lifestyle. It’s the clinician’s way of looking at everything. That is where I see my purpose. I ease pain, not only related to the physical anymore, because that wasn’t enough. I also tend to the mental, social, and environmental factors because that seems necessary when dealing with all of these big three – or when doing something about a life where you feel as if you can never really catch up. Digging around in the entire thing is essential when it gets too complex for just some rehab training or when you don’t just need to talk to someone to blow off some steam. Keep that in mind if you want to deal with these things yourself. I know I’ll try to do my best to do so if I am to help you.
When I’ve been digging around in the bigger picture before, people have been saying things like, “In some miraculous way, I do feel way better today…”, which is amusing. Because I doubt there are a lot of miracles around helping them out. I often think it’s them doing the work, but I can’t expect more results than miraculous ones, so I can’t be more than pleased.
So, to get to answer the question about purpose. I’d love it if people didn’t need me for this. This, if anything, is gratifying, but if the goal of people being well was already crossed off the list – we’d be fine already, and I could do something else. I’ve had that perspective for quite some time now since I’ve practically always worked with relieving pain of some kind… and I probably think like that more and more. I started with smaller problems – and it evolved into what it is today; a solution to quite significant issues. I tend to look at what I do and reflect that it’s necessary since there are too few good enough solutions for the problems at hand. The evolution from small owies to debilitating handicaps seemed necessary because people didn’t get the help they needed. I’d love it if I didn’t need to do this. That would point out that people suffered far less than they do today. But as long as people are better off from it, I’ll likely continue helping people out.
And to reconnect to what I said earlier, I’ll quote myself: “Broad areas and plenty of small things make life into what it is. To change that requires either very general tools like philosophy, entire ways of living, or specific mindsets to influence large parts with just one thing… or plenty of tools to affect every little aspect in isolation.” The point where people don’t get the help they need is likely because we’re getting smarter, wiser, and better at things to the degree where clinicians and therapists are so well read in their area. They see everything as nails with their hammer. If it’s not a nail, they have no clue. This could be tremendous if you’ve got an entire team of experts, but that’s rarely an option for people around me. They don’t get that, so the help they do get isn’t enough.
They miss the holistic part if you don’t mind the word. The solution is hospitalized, sterilized, and clinical rather than humane. It’s pills rather than solutions to why the drugs are necessary.
“The question is not why the addiction, but why the pain”, as Gabor Mate says…
In contrast to that clinical, sterile solution, I’ve gotten feedback from clients in the past – and it’s mostly more of the same – the opposite to the hard and cold. They generally appreciate the soft values, the personal part, and having someone looking after them as the most important. Of course, they like results. That’s a no-brainer. Those are crucial and essential. But having someone by their side committed to helping them through it all, someone who’s listening, someone external who’s looking at it from another point of view and customizing the solution to their needs seems to make a major difference.
With this, I hope that I’ll be able to contribute with some insight and be helpful without being there personally for you. If you do feel as if you need help personally, feel free to contact me, and we’ll see if I can do something for you. As long as you get better, if you do suffer, I’m pleased. How you get better isn’t the most important thing. If it’s through the book found on www.mbdolor.com/book, that’s great – because that’s exactly what it’s for. If you have no clue where you’re going or how it’s supposed to happen, I might have some input. So… Keep on checking in or head over to the contact page at www.mbdolor.com/contact to have a chat.