Episode 26: Resilience as a Path out of Pain


In this episode, you will learn:

  • Learn how Josie transformed her health and her life from having 8 autoimmune conditions to a fulfilling life without pain or dis-ease

  • Learn the difference between managing symptoms and healing underlying issues

  • Understand on a deeper level how toxic the impact of stress is on your physical body

Episode 26: Resilience as a Path out of Pain

Katie Wrigley  0:01  

All right. This is the pain changer podcast episode 26. Today I’m chatting with Josie Warren who has overcome more pain, addiction, and autoimmune disorders than most people will ever have to deal with. She is joining me today. Josie’s story is amazing. And I hope you’ll stick with me to hear all about it. That is coming right up. 

Before we jump into this week’s episode, I would like to call out my listener of the Week. This week, the listener of the week is A Magical Life who says “Great podcast! Katie is a fantastic interviewer with exciting and thoughtful questions. I’m so privileged to have been on as a guest. Thank you so much for your review, Magic. It was so lovely to get to speak with you and I’m excited for your next episode on the show. Magic is going to be back to join us again. For now, Please send me a DM on Instagram, Magic to @coachktdubs and let me know you heard me give you a shout out. I will send you a small gift as my thank you for helping to spread the word that chronic doesn’t have to mean permanent. Now for this week’s episode. 

Joining me today is Josie Warren, who is a chronic illness expert. She had chronic pain, eight different autoimmune disorders, holy cow, and alcoholism in her 20s. After years of struggling with Western and alternative medicine, she found the missing piece that led her to fully heal from her chronic pain in all her conditions. Josie is passionate about helping others with chronic illnesses heal and create fulfilling lives. She enjoys cooking, road trips, birdwatching, camping, and hiking in her beautiful home state of Colorado. She is thankful for the gift of her past health challenges and lives in gratitude. I cannot wait to dive into this episode. Thank you so much for joining me today, Josie. Welcome to the pain changer podcast.

Josie Warren  2:04  

Katie, thanks so much for having me. Excited to be here.

Katie Wrigley  2:07  

Awesome. So your history is absolutely incredible. You had eight different autoimmune diseases plus pain and addiction.

Josie Warren  2:17  

That’s correct. That was me.

Katie Wrigley  2:20  

Wow! So what did you find to be the key out of that for you and for others?

Josie Warren  2:27  

I think for me, Katie, I had to start to realize and examine what I was doing. And the things that I was doing that weren’t actually working. It was kind of a pre-step one, because I was so caught up in treating everything separately, you know, my addiction as its own separate thing. My autoimmune disorders are their separate thing. My chronic pain is it’s separate thing, and going to different specialists to treat everything separately, the different diets, the different supplements, even the different medications. And yet, I was completely in cognitive dissonance about the fact that nothing I was doing was actually working. And the evidence was that my body kept getting worse. It kept breaking down, I kept getting more autoimmune disorders. And yes, it’s not to say I didn’t have better months, or maybe even some better years squeezed in there. But the big picture, Nothing I was doing was reversing these and nothing I was doing was resolving them. It was just really what I like to call symptom management, I was managing the symptoms. And I had to realize that that’s what was happening. And it wasn’t working. And that was kind of that precept of okay. If I keep going down these same paths, why did I think I was gonna get a different result, or you know, there was just one more supplement or one more specialist that I hadn’t seen that I needed to see, I had to start to realize that there was a common factor. And I like to say the common denominator, and all of these, you know, almost seemingly randomized conditions that I had. And that singular person was me.

Katie Wrigley  4:19  

Oh wow, you said a lot there. That was really powerful. The big one was that you were managing symptoms, and you weren’t moving forward at all. What were the doctors telling you at this point? Were they encouraging you to continue? Was anyone validating your experience and saying, hey, yeah, you’re right. It’s not working? Like what was that experience like for you? 

Josie Warren  4:44  

Yeah, that’s a great question. For many years, I did see a lot of doctors, Western, alternative functional, who basically gave me the same prognosis that these conditions were going to be lifelong. I was going to have them for the rest of my life, the best I could do is manage. And the kind of the top of the pyramid might be remission. But that was very rare. And I couldn’t expect that to happen. And so just to kind of have to manage and to live with these, and that I needed what they were offering me so that I had to be, for instance, I had this immune deficiency disorder, or I had to be on plasma infusions. So they said, and if I didn’t get the plasma infusions, they said you could die, you know, your immune system is so weak, you could get ill. So I breaded this fear that if I didn’t continue to consume and take and do what other specialists were telling me to do, that I would die, my body would completely break down. And so I was on what kind of felt like a hamster wheel of all these different methods and supplements and things and it was completely life consuming. Until I finally had one doctor, it was just a general practitioner, who I appreciate so much to this day, and he told me finally, he sat me down, he said, “What you’re doing isn’t working. And on top of that, I don’t think that it’s ethical, or even right. what some of these doctors are giving you or prescribing you but it’s not working.” And it clicked. It’s like I had a health awakening at that point. To have a specialist like him, tell me, it’s not working. And I finally got it. And it was at that point, I cracked and I was able to start looking in some avenues, in some places, and shine the light in some areas that I would never have had I kept stuck and thinking that I was actually moving somewhere with everything that I was doing.

Katie Wrigley  7:02  

Right! And that experience is so similar to so many other people’s like, I hear this all the time, oh, the doctor said I need this, the doctor said I need that. The doctor may be right. But they also may be wrong. And what is the impact? If they are wrong? And you’re a great example, the impact is you are trapped in fear. And if I don’t do this, I’m going to die. So would you be able to comment a little bit on what your emotional state was during the years you were trapped? And how many years was that? And then what happened with that health awakening and what then shifted in your emotional state?

Josie Warren  7:46  

That’s a really good question. So yeah, for the length of time, it was about a little over a decade, this period of my life was happening with my health. And yes, my physical health was terrible. But when I’m honest, Katie, my mental health was just as bad. I struggled with anxiety and depression. I even had an eating disorder for a very long time. And I truly somewhere deep inside of me knew that there had to be some kind of connection between the awful ways that I felt about myself all the time, and that voice in my head that was always yelling at me, and my physical body breaking down. Yet, I even became a licensed professional counselor. And I couldn’t even bridge that gap between my physical and mental health just seemed like they were in our Western society. These are treated as two different conditions, you know, you either see a doctor or you see a therapist, I didn’t see the connection between the interplay between my physical and my emotional health. And that, in my experience, looking back, and I’ll speak more to this in a little bit, but my physical health actually manifested from my emotional health. My emotional health was the first thing that happened. Oh, and my physical health came and breakdown came after that. And so they are intimately intertwined. In the development and the way out, is the same I found for both of them.

Katie Wrigley  9:19  

Absolutely. I love what you just said there, your mental health precipitated the failing of your physical health, and that was true in my case. I had anxiety for decades before my body started to break down. Decades, I had insomnia for decades before my body started to break down. I had decades of warning before my body’s like, “Okay, you’re not going to listen, fine. I’m gonna stop you then.” Exactly. And I still didn’t listen. And why would you? There isn’t anything until we tend to get to a point like you got to, when you say, “You know what, enough is enough, this is not working for me.” And you’re right, we do treat mental and physical separately. And in the event, someone has queued us in maybe they’re listening to this podcast, maybe they listen to something else, but someone is clued us in that they are connected, we have to sign all kinds of forms to let the therapist talk to the doctor and the doctor, talk to the therapist. And then we have to talk to the both of them and be super, super clear about what is okay, what isn’t okay, to talk about amongst them. They’re usually not in the same practice, one of them probably isn’t covered by insurance, they may not even be in the same state. But yet you’re expected to help correlate that together. Whereas if we came at it from a different approach, maybe we wouldn’t have all that extra work. Right.

Josie Warren  10:41  

Right. Exactly. Well said, well said.

Katie Wrigley  10:45  

But we aren’t told that. I mean, that’s been my actual experience before where I’ve needed to have the therapist and the doctor involved. And they’re like, “What am I allowed to say?” I’m like, “Oh, my God, this is too much work for me. Like, I’m already in a crisis here. I’ve got multiple medical professionals that I’m relying on here, and you want me to do more? Like what the hell? Like, stuff that didn’t do anything for my wellness. It just allowed them to talk? That’s it!.

Josie Warren  11:11  

Yeah, it is. It’s just kind of a never ending cycle. And it would just get so complicated. I know for me, it was just so complicated. All the specialists, all the people and all the protocols I was on and, you know, looking back as my mentor likes to teach, but he says, you know, it’s this idea, I think it’s the same called Occam’s razor. But they’re saying that the solution for anything should be simple. And if it’s complicated, then all that’s telling you is, it’s not the real solution. Yeah. And because everything was so complicated for me, it should have been very clear that wasn’t the solution and that the solution is simple. And that’s really what I found, thank goodness. And what I have now, I teach my students is that, whether we are in chronic pain, whether we are autoimmune, whether we have addiction, or mental health concerns, the way we got them, and the physical way that that happened in our bodies is exactly the same. And the way out, to heal it all is the same to you. And it’s simple. It’s a same way in, same way out, regardless, so it doesn’t matter if I have one condition, or I have eight, or 10. It’s the same. And for me, that was a really refreshing piece that made so much sense to me, because that’s like, of course, it couldn’t be it. What I was doing, it was so multi-layered and a complicated path, right? Simple.

Katie Wrigley  12:39  

Right. And I love that and you know, and if I can, in a nutshell, the way into these things is to be blunt, ignoring our shit, the way out of these things is facing our shit. Whatever that may be, whatever flavor your poo is, the way out is dealing with it and accepting it. At least that’s what I found. There’s lots of different ways you can do that. But what is the one piece that really resonated with you, that really stuck, that became like your guidepost towards wellness?

Josie Warren  13:15  

I think for me, Katie, that was having to see, you know, I thought that my illnesses had happened to me, I thought that someone because of what had happened in my past, or other traumas or things that people might classify as that, that that’s why I got sick or my genetics. And I had to see that it was just me. And it was how I was handling my life was what was causing my conditions, both mental and physical, that I had a lifetime of suppressing my stress, that it wasn’t my diet, that it wasn’t the air I was breathing or the environment that but what I found from my own experience, this is just my experience, but it was solely stress that was the cause. It was my emotional experience of the things that had happened in my life that I physically pushed inside of my body, like a layer cake, until eventually my body could not physically handle any more stress in the body tips. And that is what I found is it was just suppressed emotional stress. Like a bottle of Coke. I shook it and I shook it. And I had warning signs like you, you know things like eczema and rheumatoid arthritis and anxiety and these sinus infections and all these signs that my body was breaking down, because I wasn’t handling the stress of my life. And when I started to realize that, I started to realize also, that the stress was coming from me, that it wasn’t given to me, that no one created it for me, but that it was me and it had been building and manifesting in me because I never felt good about myself. And every time something would happen, I’d suppress it. And it would stir up all the negative ways I felt. And that was the stress and how I was handling my emotional state. That was the driving force behind my body breaking down and entering into. It’s a nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system, where if we have chronic pain, if we have an autoimmune disorder, if we have mental health concerns conditions, then it’s just a clear sign that we are currently trapped in a sympathetic, where fight or flight is turned on and as is locked on, because it’s reading that we don’t know how to handle the stressors of our life. So it thinks we’re under a constant threat. Yep. And we go into a complete dysregulation, and that’s where, from my experience, that’s where all of these chronic conditions come from is my own inability, because of not knowing how to handle the stressors of my life.

Katie Wrigley  15:59  

That resonates deeply. Like my own story is, you know, I ran from a trauma. It’s easy to say, Oh, I was a bad skydiver. And I really was, I wasn’t good at it at all. But that’s the short story. If it was just skydiving, there wouldn’t have been chronic pain and I wouldn’t have hurt before I started skydiving, but I had hives, random hives breakout and multiple times in my life. And right before I moved to Colorado in 2016, which was really the end of 2015 is when my body started. Really like hammering on me like “Hey, Katie, stop, stop, stop!” I would break out into hives every single day from stress. What did I do to answer that? I did some cocaine. I did some pot. Yep. And I took some Benadryl because Benadryl and cocaine are a really good idea. Zero condoning not condoning that at all as an answer just to be clear, but that was my answer in 2015. “Oh I’m gonna do a line of coke and take some Benadryl and get high”, not in that order. But that was how I am, you know, toss some little alcohol on the side too. 

Josie Warren 16:57

I can relate. 

Katie Wrigley  16:58 

And I ignored sign after sign after sign. And that culminated in disability two years later, and I hadn’t been physically sick. Looking at now, like from the winter of 2016, 2017 was when my life was at the highest stress point. I hadn’t been sick from that winter until this spring, I was about to take vacation, and I got a horrible sinus infection, much to your point, I wasn’t handling my stress again. With this business I got so task-focused on setting up this podcast that I ditched everything that I teach. I ditched my balance, I ditched my wellness, I wasn’t eating. And I know that for me, a healthy diet is important to fuel me for the energy level that I want. You know, it’s varying levels of importance to people, depending on where they are. For me, it’s critical. And movement is critical. And spending time with people I love is critical and keeping up with my physical space. And all of that went to the wayside and I got sick. And I had a hard conversation with myself and I am still in the middle of streamlining my schedule in a way that’s much more effective and much less stressful because I can either pay for it now or I can pay for it later. Right? And if I pay for it, now, I’m doing the work. And then I’m not going to be hit with an autoimmune disease or another illness, or more chronic pain or more body parts breaking down.

Josie Warren  18:44  

Exactly. Well said. There’s actually a term for that. It’s called allostatic load, and it really talks about the physical wear and tear of our body due to stress and what that looks like. So you know, it really measures the impact of stress on our bodies, and how that comes out in a physical manner. And the higher our allostatic load, the more stress that we’re under, then the more that our body physically does break down.

Katie Wrigley  19:16  

Oh, wow, that’s a new term for me. Allostatic load, I’m gonna have to write that down. And remember it mentally. Writing it down for now because I don’t want to be interrupting this by typing. But we hear about this all the time too right, like, “Oh, stress is going to bring you down, it’s going to give you disease”, you know, and I refer to that as the preventative part of the pain journey. You have all these decades to choose to listen and most of us choose not to because we’re doing well enough and it’s worked for us and it’s familiar and whatever the excuses are that we’re giving ourselves most of us have to have a moment like you had, like I had, this is not working for me. Wake up, crack open that brain, start to look at things from a different perspective. As Humans we aren’t really, not many of us, are proactively wired to look for that before we have some sort of critical moment to change what we’re doing.

Josie Warren  20:10  

Right. Yeah. For me, I had to hit that rock bottom, I had to get to that place physically, emotionally, to see, “Okay, I have to make a very drastic change.” And, you know, looking back, I had to see that. As long as I wasn’t handling my stress properly, as long as I was stuck in that sympathetic nervous system, and fight or flight, it didn’t really matter what I did, I could change my diet, I could change my therapist, I could see a new specialist and take different medication. But as long as my body was trapped in a nervous system, where at a very core level, it inherently cannot heal, and it cannot self repair, then I’m stuck. Yeah, I’m stuck. And I wish more people knew that. I wish someone would have told me that because I very earnestly, like many, many out there was trying all of these things, thinking that somehow it could be a solution, not realizing, Oh no, as long as I’m in a sympathetic nervous system, there is no way out of these conditions. They are lifelong, I am stuck with them. And I will likely, from my experience, get more of them. I have to get out of the sympathetic, I have to get out of fight or flight, I have to learn a new way of handling my life and stress. Because that’s the reason I’m stuck in there in the first place.

Katie Wrigley  21:34  

Yep. Yep, absolutely. And that’s one of the things I love about the modality I use, cognomovement, is it activates one of the moves we do will help people turn their head to the side to do a big yawn, which actually connects to the vagus nerve, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, immediately helps dispel that energy out of the body helps us relax. So what are some of the things that you did to shift and come out of this parasympathetic state and be able to break out of that perpetual fight or flight that your body had gotten into?

Josie Warren  22:09  

Yeah, so for me, I was so stuck in that sympathetic, and I know that everyone, we all are, if we have an autoimmune or a chronic condition, and I had to realize that it was me, I think first it was me that needed to change. It wasn’t anything external. I didn’t need to get a new doctor, I didn’t need to add on another one of my supplements that I needed to change. And I had to really change how I was handling my life. And for me, I had to take a couple steps, I had to normalize my life and my stress. I thought that the things in my life were so big and so overwhelming, compared to other people’s that I couldn’t get past them. And so I had to normalize my life stressors and  my past and say, “Josie, nothing I have been through is really any different than any other person.” And I had to really get that clear, because our stressors as humans are really generally the same. Yes, of course, we’re going to have some variances, but they’re the same. And when I realized that, and it’s just that, it’s just life. I realized, “Oh, okay, this, this is just life, I need to figure out a better way of handling life.” And when I know that, it’s coming from me, and my experience of stress is coming from me, then for me, it was to be empowered, “Okay, I have to approach my life in a different way. I have to start to build resilience.” Because resilience, in my perspective, is the key for a body to heal and self repair. When resilience is our inherent ability to bounce back, quickly, in times of stress to be adaptive, in times of stress, and if I have an autoimmune or chronic illness or a mental health condition, it’s just a sign that my resilience muscle, even though it’s not a muscle has gone really weak. And we all have resilience as humans. So I have to start to work and build my resilience back up so that my fight or flight can realize that I’m not under a threat anymore. And finally, I can live full time in the parasympathetic. And so for me to do that, I had to get out of my comfort zone. I had to get out of my cave. I had to start facing my life again. I was hiding and running away and hiding my head under the sand or being really dramatic or fighting my way through life. That was what was creating a lack of resilience. And that was what was creating the very stressful state that was causing me to stay stuck and my symptoms and my illnesses. So I had to go back out into life to feel good about myself, to show myself that I could, that I could do things, to feel internally strong, and to build myself up from the inside out. And when I started to do things, get back out into life, I started to feel good and believe in myself. And to know that I could, and to have confidence and to have my own back. And all that whole perspective shift of looking at life as a place to grow and learn, and running out into life into the known stressors that we all have, like, you know, breakups and job challenges and family situations and hard conversations. And these aren’t like major things just like, you know, normal parts of life. Yes. And I started embracing them and saying, “Let me come to it, to grow and to learn.” Then I built my resilience up and with that, my fight or flight turned off, I exited the sympathetic, lived in the parasympathetic. And I’ve been there ever since. And in the parasympathetic nervous system, on, like, what our doctors tell us, your immune system does go back to normal, your, you know, your brain levels and chemistry does resolve and go back to normal your body enters back into homeostasis, it goes back into its natural state. And from my experience, my addiction was resolved. I no longer have any of my autoimmune and I do not manage my symptoms. I’m not in remission. I don’t have my anxiety or depression anymore, because I know I can handle my life. And it just happened by getting into life. And looking at it from different glasses. Truly. 

Katie Wrigley  26:45  

Oh! I love that! So, one of the first things you mentioned when we started this episode was that you were told at one point that you had to have plasma injections or you’re going to die. You are very much alive in front of me on the screen. Are you getting plasma injections?

Josie Warren  27:06  

Happy to say no, Katie. I’ve had no plasma infusions since 2015. I’m on no medication, I don’t take any supplements. Not to say that these aren’t things, you know, but for myself, that’s a big deal because my depression, my health, and my body. I don’t have to take any supplements to make it. No medications and don’t have to do any special diets anymore. I because I had a lot of food allergies as well. And I just am a normal healthy woman who has no health concerns. And when I go, you know, to places and they ask, you know, do you have any dietary restrictions? Or do you have any, you know, pre existing health conditions I can very confidently mark off No, I have none.

Katie Wrigley  27:51  

Nice. I love that. So, seven years without an infusion yet you’re supposed to be dead. I’m guessing probably somewhere around five or six years ago, according to that doctor? This is evidence of why you want to get a second opinion for you, the listener right now. This is why you want to get a second opinion, especially if they say something scary. Like you’re going to die if you don’t do this. Back that up with someone else because death I would hope would be pretty scary enough to act, ask someone else. I mean, double check. You know, I’m not gonna die when I walk out the door today, doctor, no, you’re not gonna die if you walk out the door today. Okay, great. You got their say. So you can walk out the door, you’re not going to die. Go get another opinion. Please, please don’t just listen to the first one because the doctor that barely scraped through medical school and took their boards five or six times is still called Doctor the same way the general practitioner who sat down with Josie and said this isn’t working for you. And frankly, some of what you’ve experienced is unethical. That man did very well in medical school. I would guess. Top of the class has the same title as bottom of the class, please do your research. Do your due diligence. Do not apologize for getting another opinion. This is your body, your life. No one gets to control it more than you. You are the one that is in charge.

Josie Warren  29:19  

Yeah, and I would even add, Katie too, which thank you, we do need to be our own health advocate. And I just had to see the knee and everything. Like I had given away, unknowingly, all my power and all my control to all of the doctors and specialists and the medications and the supplements I was on. I literally gave up all my power and I could not change my health by doing so. And so I had to put myself in the driver’s seat of my health again, and in a good way take all my power back and empower myself to know “Hey, If this is coming from me solely me, then I am and have to be the sole one who gets me out, who heals me, who changes me. And no one can do that for me, I have to, and want to do that for myself. And I have that key. Because I would have just lived a whole life of doctor to doctor, medication tomedication. Being a medical mystery, quite honestly.

Katie Wrigley  30:27  

Oh, yeah, I was one of those two, like, how many times did you hear from doctors? Wow, I’ve never seen this before.

Josie Warren  30:34  

Yeah, that’s just “Oh, that’s odd. Or you’re this old? I can’t believe you’re having these conditions.” Or “Oh, I’ve never seen that in someone, you know, of your age or weight or height or you name it”, it’s just how odd this was. 

Katie Wrigley  30:48  

Or how about “Oh this couldn’t possibly be going on. You’re a young, healthy woman. You couldn’t possibly have issues.” Really?

Josie Warren  30:53  

Yeah, Yeah, exactly. We know what’s really going on. But we have to be the ones to take the initiative and say, “Okay, it’s me. And I’m the one that needs to change.” I had to realize I was the problem. Yes, I was that common factor. The doctors and specialists were just doing what they were trained to do and doing what they knew to be best. But I had to find a different way. And I can’t say that I did this on my own, I needed help. Like I couldn’t just make the switch. I didn’t have the tools. I didn’t know how and so I actually had someone who directed me to the center here in Denver, for people like me who had conditions that doctors had no explanation for. And it’s called Anew Life Center. And then I joined a clinical study they had for a year for people with chronic illness. And I learned that I was the factor and I was the solution. And that the problem was solely my stress and how I was handling stress. And within a few months of learning what they taught here, my body was able to start to heal and self repair. And it just continued that process in the parasympathetic until that process was complete. So I can’t take credit for just figuring this out on my own. I absolutely had a well worn path that I traveled. And I’m so grateful to my mentor and the teachers here who showed me the simple way out.

Katie Wrigley  32:21  

That is That is beautiful. And you guys can’t see Josie right now, but she’s just glowing, as she’s talking about this and I can see the gratitude just radiating out of her skin. She’s the veal you’ve seen the headshot in the episode, she’s the epitome of health. She is a young, healthy woman, she is not someone riddled with addiction and eight autoimmune diseases, and loads of chronic pain that goes with that too. She is healthy, she’s got a smile on her face, her eyes are bright, her skin is bright or cheeks are rosy, she looks very healthy. And what’s what’s interesting to me is that even though the path is well worn, so few people still know about it, or they feel like there’s a risk or they’re throwing options away to try to go down this other path of of taking accountability of looking at okay, say what is what is my role in this. And that’s, that was really what my pain coach had first done for me, is she had me start to go inward and start to love on my leg, which I thought she was crazy. And practice forgiveness for the people I was blaming for my state. And then that’s where it started. And within a few weeks, I stopped limping for the first time in a year and a half. And then I had the buy-in. And she had me going inward a lot. And as I gained the ability to take more responsibility for myself and more accountability for what my role had been with other people I had hurt. As a result of my conditions of actions I’d taken I wasn’t proud of like I’ve been very open with the numbing techniques. I even mentioned cocaine in this episode. I’ve clearly cleared all the shame that I did around things that I coped with. And I have two questions I want to go into. First, you had mentioned that you had support and support is huge. Like I talked about the four areas of impact, which are verbal, emotional, mental, physical, that’s kind of the methodology, not kind of, that is the background of the methodology I use with my clients. And the support that you have is key. And on the emotional side you had mentioned that you had to normalize life. I would imagine that wasn’t dismissing and saying “Oh, not a big deal this happened to me”, it was more like “Wow, I’m not alone in this” but still, am I correct in saying that you still felt all the feelings there, any grief, any shame? Would you say it’s accurate that you felt them in order to release them?

Josie Warren  35:01  

That’s a really great question, Katie, because I think too, and I can speak from my own like, even past background as a, as a therapist, I was taught and trained that you, I had to go into the past, and I had to look for the people and the reasons for why my life wasn’t the way that it was. And I was reinforced that, and this is a different opinion. So I’ll just put it out there. But I was reinforced in this belief that my past and the experiences were very traumatic, and that they had disabled me or hadn’t changed my life in these hard and unchangeable ways. And my shift, as I had to realize that, that if I believed that, then what I was actually doing was keeping myself stuck. Because I was expecting those things in those people to change. Yep, in order for me to change, and that would never happen. No. And that’s why it was never changing. And so instead of having to even go back and go back to the past, and having to kind of spend time and feel it through, I really just had to realize that my life was the way that it was because of me. And was the choices that I made. And that I always had choices, even with the harder things in the past, I always had a choice. And my choices had outcomes in the life that I had, and I had kind of a pill to swallow the life I had with what I ended up with, in your kind of rock bottom place. That was the life I had created because of my choices. And with that I didn’t have to spend time in the past, I had to empower myself, of you know, what, like, I had to see my place, and also normalize, not diminish. But I really thought I was unique and special. I’m gonna throw it out there. I did! You know, “Well my dad died of this”, you did what, you know, or you had this “My breakup was this” or “My parents were like that”, I always thought mine was a little bit more different or unique or special. So I really had to think of you know, if you rounded up a group of 100 people, I was going to hear the same things are a lot worse. Yeah, we’re all human. And we go through trials and challenges and they’re all kind of the same. So not to diminish, but to normalize, so that I can realize that I can move past it. And I have a choice in how I respond to the things that happened to me. And that was really helpful. And in building that resilience and feeling good about myself, it just all the pain and the kind of the web of the past just started to naturally disappear. I realized I didn’t need to see my therapist anymore, because I wasn’t stuck back there. You know, I was feeling good about me now. And what I was doing now and the choices I was making and how I was handling my life, there were no old neural pathways of pain and trauma left inside of me when I focused on myself now what I could do. So I actually found for me that I didn’t have to definitely not minimize, but I had to normalize. And I didn’t need to spend time back there. Because all it did was make me feel worse. Yes. And just kind of kept lighting up those old neural pathways of pain, both physical and emotional.

Katie Wrigley  38:36  

And I love your answer. Even if on the surface, it looks like we said something different. We actually didn’t. And I’m really glad that you brought up the past because that wasn’t actually what I was talking about a lot of the emotions we have do come from the past. Absolutely. And I fully 100% agree with you. And this is why talk therapy doesn’t work for trauma. Because every time you go back into the past year, guess what, back in the past, you living and re-experiencing your body does not know the difference between you being in the present now and being in the past. So it keeps it in the body. So more of what I was referring to, just to clarify here, a lot of times with cognomovement, we look into the past as “Where did this come from?” Like, you know, where did this shame, like if I’m feeling shame today, or grief, or whatever it is, and we focus fully on that feeling in the physical body and we can knock it out in 90 minutes. So we’re not spending, we may spend 30 seconds in the past. It’s not a whole lot of time there. But it’s like, oh, this is here. And as we’re moving the ball in certain movements, we are able to have access, stimulate the subconscious mind to put it together and go “Oh, that’s where it came from”. And then pretty much as soon as you connect the dots, you’re released from it. And it sounds like you’ve done something similar to what I do with cognomovement. Your focus came from focusing specifically quickly on you saying “Okay, yes, this happened. Yes, it was bad. And I’m still here, and I’m okay. And I’m going to release these feelings because they don’t serve me anymore. I felt them long enough. And now it’s time to move forward”, which is very different from saying, “Oh, 99 other people had worse traumas than me, mine wasn’t that bad”. That is completely different from the example I just gave 99 others in a group of 100 to use your example. 99 others, maybe 50, 60, maybe all of them had traumas worse than mine. Therefore, mine doesn’t matter. That is diminishing, whereas saying,” Oh 99 other people have had traumas. Wow, that sucks. I guess life is kind of traumatic, and how am I going to handle that going forth?”. And I’m always careful saying life is traumatic, because I don’t want to say that as a negative thing. It’s just, it’s a fact that if you allow life to traumatize you, you’re gonna be traumatized by life. And there are going to be situations that could create trauma in the moment and you have tools you can offload it, get it out of your body immediately. So it doesn’t stay as a trauma. Like if you witness someone having their life taken in front of you, that’s gonna leave a dent. It is, but you can use things in the moment to be able to move forward and get out of that, but staying in the past, or not understanding that pain is a part of life. It’s the Buddhist quote, pain is a part of life. But suffering is optional. I feel like that’s what I’m hearing you say here in that your former self with all these conditions, all these doctors, all these treatments, that was you suffering. And now you’re in this full, happy, healthy life. And now you may experience normal pain, like a breakup, they’re not the best thing in the world. They’re a bummer. Even if you know it’s the best for everybody. It’s a bummer. Heartbreak can suck. And if you are grown to a point where your heart can’t really be broken anymore, you can be in full acceptance, it’s still kind of a bummer when those things can happen. Maybe only bummed out for 30 seconds, but we are still humans, we do still have normal reactions. But when you can normalize like Josie has said, it just makes it so much easier to be able to accept whatever is happening. ,

Josie Warren  42:24  

Yeah, no, that’s great. Katie, I would like to just clarify too a little bit I think, to the listeners that, you know, one of the most important things that I’ve realized is I don’t have control over the things that happen around me. I don’t have control of others. I don’t have control over what they do or say or what they did or said. But I always did and always do have control and how I respond to my life. How do I want to singularly choose to respond to life? And so my problem for me was that I classified basically, my whole life, the past has been traumatic, and I actually, this is a little different than a lot of people think out there, but I think that is huge. Classifying things as trauma generally, is a big disservice. Because what happened is, I’ve felt that my life experiences were too big, or too challenging or too unique to overcome. And so when I could for myself, take away the label of trauma and just say life, that I just experienced life, then I was able to realize, Okay, I will have a choice in how I respond to life. And if I choose to respond to life, in ways of suppressing, by hiding away and running, or by trying to fight my way through, then I’m going to have a very stressed out experience and my body is going to react to that. Or if I choose to respond to life, with resilience by being adaptive, by seeing the reality of life, by learning what I can do about life and coming up with a plan and embracing these challenges to make me stronger, and to grow and to learn. That’s going to take me down a whole different path. And I’m going to have a different experience of myself. And my body is going to pick up on that too. That is just how I’m from my experience, how I’m handling stress, and how I’m handling my life. And I don’t have to do all the stress of that. The body will heal and self repair. Yeah, when I learned a new way of handling stress in life. And that is thank goodness is totally within my control or in our control as unique individuals.

Katie Wrigley  44:43  

Yep. And all of that is within the brain. You learn how to harness the power of your brain, you learn how to harness the power of your body and thank you so much for that clarity. That also explains why I always feel uncomfortable saying life is traumatic because I don’t actually feel that way anymore. I say it as a way to try to relate to people. And thank you so much for your perspective, because you’re never going to hear me say that again. Because it’s just life. And you’re right. I was doing a disservice. And I apologize for that. And you’re always going to hear me own my poo when I have some. So thank you again. And I love everything you’re saying. And that actually leads me to the second question I had that I mentioned a little bit ago. And then we went down our path we went down, I love the way this conversation is flowing. So what are some of the activities to help people come into their own power?

Josie Warren  45:36  

Well, for me, Katie, it really has been. But I think kind of the pre step is to realize that we do have the power. Yes, that these conditions, and this is from my experience, that my conditions were not mystery illnesses, that they were not sporadic and randomized. But no, they were coming from me. They were coming from how I felt about myself and my suppressed emotions, they were coming from me and my inability to handle my life period. So I had to realize that and that the way out was going to be me learning how to handle my life and stress in a new way. And that would be kind of that first step. And then it’s, like I said, just a normalized stress, which doesn’t, I tell my students, it doesn’t mean what happened, didn’t happen. It doesn’t mean what happened was okay. But it’s just to normalize it as humans, we all have about the same kinds of stressors, give or take. And then if we go back in time, 200 years, and we surveyed the people, our ancestors, they would tell us about the same kinds of things. And I guarantee you 100 years from now, we survey people, they’re going to have pretty much some of the same life events and stressors. So from that experience, we can say, okay, normalize the events in our life, so that we can overcome them. And we can realize, okay, it’s not so big for me to overcome, I can do this, this is just life. It’s not, “Life didn’t hand me the short end of the stick, I just have a normal life like everyone else, right”. And then from there, for someone to realize, okay, stress is not being handed to me, like this is life. And it’s up to me how I respond to life that determines whether or not I have a stress response. It’s what I do in my actions and how I get out into life, whether or not I am stressed or not, and that that comes from me, and and how I feel, I have to heal that emotional place inside of me. And that third step is to build resilience. I have to feel, learn to feel good about myself and not feel full of IQ and inner turmoil. And I build resilience and build my ability to stand strong and to get back up and in life, and be adaptive by embracing life as an opportunity to grow and to learn. And to get back out there. And instead of feeling like I can’t, to realize that I have everything I need inside of me, I just need to take a step outside the door. To do so both, you know, figuratively and physically. Yes, a lot of us, you gotta get out, can’t stay stuck in our homes or our apartments, you know, anymore, and expect to overcome our chronic pain or chronic health conditions.

Katie Wrigley  48:30  

Yeah, you know, and recently, like I heard from a technical, logical perspective, part of what we get when we go out into nature is we’re out of all those Wi Fi signals. And even though we don’t see them, we don’t tend to notice any impact on the body. But there is energy there. And energy influences all of us, you know, and one of the things we get when we go outside, much to your point, movement is important for those healthy systems in the body to keep those active and being out in nature, the smells, being part of all of the different micro, though, gosh, what’s the word I’m looking for out there? The ecology systems, like all of the things that are living inside of one tree alone, like all the different animals and how they go together, and who’s prey, who’s predator, all of this, all of that, like just being out there more in these primitive forms that can be freeing. There’s no stress out there. It’s just life. And yeah, that’s the resilience piece. I’ve done a previous episode talking specifically around trauma and one of the things I mentioned in there, I’m not sure and I didn’t ask you about this previously, so there’s zero wrong answer on this but have you ever heard of the ACES score, and their resilience test?

Josie Warren  49:55  

I have. If you mind I wanted to kind of touch on something you just said and then maybe we can talk about that.

Katie Wrigley 50:01

Go for it!

Josie Warren  50:02

But I do want to say to all listeners out there, you know, I thought that back when I had my autoimmune that, like all I needed was an environment change. And if I just got outside more, or if I just spent more time in nature, if I just then I would be healed. And I tried that, I quit my job, I spent a summer trying to get outside and hiking. And I’m not gonna lie, I felt just as bad or actually even worse on the inside, because what was happening was I was trying to get the things in my environment to give me a feeling to make me feel differently to give me that peace and that lack of stress. Like, you know, it’s a different shirt, same body and I was carrying that same stress person that I was when I had that job that I quit, that I was when I was in my apartment alone, as I was when I was in a beautiful forest, I was the problem. And so I, from my experience, just to clarify, for my experience that really no one can give me and nothing can give me anything in any kind of experience or any kind of lack of stress. It’s it’s me and how I change on the inside myself. You know, I could be the most stressed out depressed person, and I’m going to see a tree and it’s going to be terrible. Right? And I know that because I kept my environment the same here, when I got healthy, I would go back out to the same places and to the same hikes and do the same. And I got to experience the beauty and the fullness of it all because I finally changed myself on the inside. And so, you know, I saw nature and things and people and to change me, I didn’t realize for myself that the thing that needed to change was me to have a different experience.

Katie Wrigley  52:01  

Yes. And thank you for expanding on that. And you’re right, you know, and I didn’t even think about the shift I made inside. Before I was disabled, you could put me out in nature, I would break out in hives. Right? I take a natural antihistamine during pollen season now. That’s it. And as I continue to normalize, heal more, I’m not going to need them at all. I know this, but I don’t take prescription allergy stuff and I don’t need it when I go hiking. I could go hiking out my back door. But much to your point, my internal changed so much to feel comfortable and giggly to literally go hug a tree and enjoy its energy. And before we go back to my other question that you’re going to answer as well, I want to spend a little bit more time on environment because you had mentioned that you had a history of addiction and all this pain and the autoimmune diseases as well. A lot of times we hear in recovery for people who are going through recovery that you have to change the environment in order to heal. But you just said something completely different. Yeah. So your experience was, your environment stayed the same? Or you left it, you came back to it, and you still healed?

Josie Warren  53:24  

Yep. Yeah. Yeah. So I know a lot of us out there, you know, I did 12 Step. You know, people, places, things, you want to think that it’s the environment or the triggers are the people that are causing this or making it happen. And from my experience, I have found that the sole problem for myself was me, that my, because I struggled with alcoholism for a very long time. And my addiction in my alcoholism that I had, that was just me not knowing how to handle my stress in my life. My dysregulation of addiction, you know, what people might classify as the disease of addiction, was happening from the dysregulation, the chemistry in my body, that was happening when I was stuck in the sympathetic nervous system. Yep. And I tried to change my environments, I left friends, I moved to different places. And yet I would relapse time and time and time again. Because the problem for me was me, and my inability to handle the stressors of my life. And at that time, I was choosing alcohol to try to do that. And yes, there was, for me, a very much a physical kind of craving, in that that I couldn’t deny. And it didn’t matter how many months or years ago I didn’t have alcohol. I still had an addiction. Yep. And that’s what I had to realize was that as long as my body was stuck in that sympathetic nervous system, I was going to be an addict and that was going to be my life. And it didn’t matter what kind of environment I had, or what kind of environment I changed, that, for me, there was no way out of it. And so what I had to realize was, I had to heal myself and learn how to handle my life in a new way, by learning how to handle my stressors and not suppressing everything, and building my resilience and feeling good about myself, so that my body, you know, scientifically, could get out of that sympathetic state into full time in that parasympathetic, go back into homeostasis. Not only did I learn how to handle stress, so I wasn’t reaching for my bottle like I was, but chemically, I could chemically, physically feel that the levels went back to normal, because it was tangible as my immune system went back to normal and body healed and self repaired over not, you know, a number of months, I started to realize that I could just feel I was like, I don’t have this addiction anymore. I don’t have the cravings. At the time, I wasn’t drinking, and “I think I can, I think I’m okay”, and so I tried a sip of alcohol. And it was amazing, because I realized I didn’t need to have 10 more. No, and I learned to start to socially drink. And that was seven years ago, I have no alcohol problems. I like tequila from time to time, have wine, drink a beer, I don’t have an addiction anymore. And I did not change my environment. That change had to come from me. If I changed my environment, it might have helped with some of the old ways, but I would still have the addiction and it would just be for me a matter of time before I fell off the wagon again. So yeah, the problem was me. I had to change. It was a singular soul thing within myself that had nothing to do with my surroundings or not from my experience.

Katie Wrigley  57:02  

Yeah, that and that. That makes a lot of sense. You know, and for anybody who is struggling with addiction, Josie is not suggesting you dip your toe in unless you feel massive internal work. To be clear. Yeah I knew you weren’t saying that. I just wanted to clarify that. And ironically, actually, we’re recording this, you know, couple months before it actually airs. Today is July 26. It’s been four years since I stopped drinking alcohol. I had initially stopped for a year for health reasons, because this was 2018 when I was disabled. And as I did that, I went Oh, wow. That’s kind of a functional alcoholic. Oops, I didn’t realize that and realized it was one of the ways that I was numbing. And then I chose, So in 2019, I chose, after I made my year, okay, I’m going to stay sober. And I committed to that. And now you know, I have a trip coming up to Alaska next week. And my boyfriend doesn’t drink either. But he said, you know, do you mind if I drink? I’m like, No, not at all. I’m like, I’m not an alcoholic. I’m choosing to honor my commitment to sobriety like do I think I can drink again right now? Yeah, do I think that it would still be a slippery slope back to you know, a hop, skipping away from me calling a Monday a holiday, if I say I’m only going to drink on special occasions? No, but my commitment means a lot to me. And it’s so easy not to drink. And most of my friends that I hang out with now don’t drink. So for my lifestyle, non drinking fits in just fine. I actually have more friends that don’t drink at all than friends who do and the friends who do, drink like you do social settings for the enjoyment not for the buzz, not for the numbing, not for the excessive binge drinking, it’s a completely different experience, you know, and what you’re talking about in there, how you are able to stay in the same environment, speaks circles back to the other part of my question I want to go back to which was, that is a crazy high level of resilience that you have cultivated for yourself. So had you heard of the ACES test or the resilience test, which really shows your impact to be able to get past traumas that you have endured that others have endured? 

Josie Warren  59:30  

You know,that’s a good question, Katie. I was familiar with it. I used to work in, you know, ironically, in the addictions field, at the Betty Ford Center. So I worked there. And we were very familiar with the ACEs study, as was part of kind of, I worked with children who had parents that had addiction problems. But I couldn’t, you know, that was a number of years back. And really what I have found from my own experience, is that there is nothing I could tell people like I didn’t get born with an extra resilience gene, there’s nothing special or unique about me, that to empower everyone that’s listening, that we all have that ability to hone and grow our natural resilience that there’s nothing in our way, there truly is no barriers for us to build and grow that we just need to get taught how to. And I know that to be true, because I work with all kinds of people, all kinds of ages, you know, from nine years old, to 74, and all different kinds of backgrounds and past histories. And everybody’s able to, again, build their resilience, get out of the sympathetic, enter into the parasympathetic, resolve their chronic health conditions. And so I know it’s a human ability. Whereas I know out there that maybe people think that some people have more of a capability than others. But truly, from my experience in the people I’ve worked with, I have found that not to be true, and that we all have that natural innate ability to learn how to do life again, and to build our resilience.

Katie Wrigley  1:01:10  

I agree. And sometimes we’ve been lucky enough to have people in our life who helped start to build that resilience before we’re at an age old enough to start to, to build it ourselves. Right meaning like in early infancy, toddler, you know, the youngest years before you really have a fully formed prefrontal cortex. What I got out of taking the ACEs and resilient score for myself, just from my own experience, I thought it was really helpful because it helped me understand my former self, who the ACE is of “Oh, no wonder I got stuck in all that stuff”. And then when I took the resilience test, I’m like, “Oh, no wonder I got out of it so quickly”. So it really made sense. And it really validates what you’re doing. The other piece that I had meant to comment on a little bit ago, but the key theme that I’m hearing in here to being able to normalize stress is taking away the judgment, meaning, it wasn’t a bad experience, it was an experience putting bad in there. Judging it, that’s what makes it a trauma. That’s what makes you want to hold on to it. The story means a lot to us as humans until we’re ready to let it go and start to move forward. But it’s that judgment of “Oh, this was bad, or this was good, or that was horrible, that was atrocious” like those words, mean something to us. And even saying the word “atrocious”, I feel my physical body respond just to that word, and I immediately conjure up atrocious images to go with the word. None of this serves me at all. Nor does it serve you at all. That is what keeps us in the past. Instead of looking at it as “This as an experience”, or “This is a sensation”, or “This is an event”, we assign a lot of meaning to it as human beings, which makes it harder to let go of that meaning, and go forward and really focus on the resilience piece. But that is crucial. And that’s absolutely been the case. I don’t really speak about resilience, per se, but that is absolutely what’s happening underneath the surface. You know, there’s a lot of similarities, I think with how you work and I love how you are just so direct and so like “The solution is within”. That’s so empowering. If you’re looking for the solution, turn inward. It’s there, your body has it, your mind has it, it is inside you if you don’t know what it is yet. Reach out to Josie. So how and where can people find you, Josie?

Josie Warren  1:03:55  

Thank you, Katie. Yep, you are the solution. That’s what I want to leave all your listeners with. And if you are curious about what I was talking about, want to hear more, want to reach out to me, or even work with me, I take people down the same path of healing that I have traveled, you can find me at my website, which is www.thehashimotosfix.com. And just as a disclaimer, while my niche is Hashimotos, which is an autoimmune disorder, the work I do works with all people who have chronic illnesses. So you know, whether that’s emotional disorders, whether that’s chronic pain, whether that’s an autoimmune disorder. They’re all coming from the same place. So I work with all kinds of people with chronic illnesses and teach their bodies to heal and self repair so they no longer have them. And if you’re curious, just reach out to me or I love to hear from people, you can email me at Josie@thehashimotosfix.com. And Katie, you’ve got that info? So it should be in the show notes.

Katie Wrigley  1:05:16  

Yes, absolutely. It will be in the show notes, for sure! I wanna make sure people can link directly to you. And do you work with people virtually? Or do they have to be in Colorado?

Josie Warren  1:05:24  

Great question. I work with most of my people, virtually. What I teach is done virtually unless people are local, and they want to come in, which is great, too. So I work with men and women in the United States and even in other parts of the world, and all ages. So truly the way in and the way out of chronic health conditions, from my experience, is exactly the same. And I teach a 10 week program that gets the body permanently in that parasympathetic nervous system where it does the rest of the work for you. And expect the same results that I talked about today.

Katie Wrigley  1:06:02  

I love that thank you. I hear so much hope, so much confidence, so much knowledge in there and you clearly know what you’re talking about. You have a very clear message. You know, and I think you already left us on a wonderful note. So thank you so much for joining me today, Josie. This has been really enlightening. I’ve learned so much. I hope all of you did as well. 

Josie Warren  1:06:25

Thanks for having me. 

Katie Wrigley  1:06:25

Thank you as always for joining me today. Your support means so much to me. And every time someone reaches out to tell me how my podcast has helped them, It fills me with gratitude to be able to help. Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart. I hope you’ll come back again next week when we’re going to be recapping the last several episodes to help put it into actionable data you can incorporate within your own life. Until then, never forget that chronic doesn’t have to mean permanent

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