Body Double - Are you paying attention?

I recently ran across a video talking about ADHD and the concept of a "body double". In the world of mental health, body doubling can be an effective means to assist people with ADHD to focus and get things done. This got me thinking about my own body and how it has been relentless about not only enabling me to experience my human life, but also to manage in the most amazing ways, the emotional and physical stresses I've placed upon it.

At the end of February 2022, my body forced me to stop. It stopped me in my tracks completely. I could not think, I had to focus on breathing, I had to think ahead about each physical movement I made. Some people might even describe what I was going through was a kind of panic attack, but I saw it as much more. I saw it as a Universal Reckoning that finally force me to pay my long over dues.

"Your body double doesn’t have to actually help you with the activity. Instead, they keep you on track by providing a prompt, or intention." - PsychCentral

I had spent a better part of three decades stumbling through and building a career in the technology field. Even though I started out with a degree in business, my path dropped me into working with accounting software support that transformed into being a software developer many years later. While I excelled at most everything I did, I never really felt completely in alignment with myself. This misalignment became the driving force behind bouts of deep depression balanced by a heaping dose of anxiety.

Some might ask me why I stayed with it so long. The answer might seem complicated, but really, it's not. I didn't know who I really was and, I had to make a living.

Not knowing who I really was, is by far the biggest source reason for much of the suffering I've placed upon my own mind as well as my body. Being out of alignment causes stress and stress leads to inflammation and inflammation leads to dis-ease. One of the most amazing things I've discovered about my own body is it incredible ability to manage, store, redirect and suppress many kinds of stresses I've had. I didn't even have a clue that my body could do this for most of 40+ years. I just thought my body was just, well, my body and nothing more and it certainly didn't have any sort of intelligence of its own.

It was after my father passed away when I was in my mid-forties, that I really took a deep dive into my own health. After passing, we found out that he had some gut health issues that we never knew about. This news struck a chord with me because I too was having gut / digestive health issues and I thought maybe there was some hereditary connection. Since I'd had little faith and less luck dealing with western medicine over the years, I decide to look at alternative health options. This journey uncovered a vast amount of information and completely changed my life forever.

Doctors had diagnosed me with Juvenal Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of nine, even though the blood marker(s) for JRA or RA did not support this diagnosis. It was a case of, "If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it must be arthritis!"

After taking complete ownership and responsibility for all of my health, I discovered that I really had a gluten and dairy intolerance, as well as a huge addiction to processed sugar! By my body being exposed to and inundated by these "altered foods", it manifested into appearing to be arthritis. It caused swelling in my joints, painful skin eruptions and suffering a great amount of pain for almost my entire life up to that point.

The sugar addiction had also fueled and out of control growth of Candida in my body which even crossed the blood-brain barrier. I discovered that my own sensitivities to chemicals and processed foods, put a huge amount of stress on my body, which caused the inflammation and depression, resulting my chronic dis-eases.

“People talk about depression all the time. The difference between depression and sadness is sadness is just from happenstance — whatever happened or didn’t happen for you, or grief, or whatever it is. Depression is your body saying f*ck you, I don’t want to be this character anymore, I don’t want to hold up this avatar that you’ve created in the world. It’s too much for me." - Jim Carrey

It was after my meltdown at the end of February that led me to taking a medical leave from my job and doing some serious evaluation of my life and health again. In the process of trying to be approved for leave, I was prescribed an SSRI anti-anxiety medication by a psychiatrist. This led me to having a massive allergic reaction to the medication which caused a case of hives that I've been tortured by for the past five months. I've never had hives before, and because I had taken a form of anti-anxiety med many years ago, I didn't think anything like this would happen to me.

Mind you, I didn't want to take the SSRI med due to my sensitivities, but I didn't believe at the time I had any other choice in order to be approved for the medical leave. I was wrong. It turns out, I could have had my therapist do the necessary paperwork for the approval. This was a valuable lesson to learn and something you need to consider if it ever happens to you.

What I've learned so far from having hives is that the solution for me is not so simple. Yes, hives tend to point to an imbalance in gut health and I've been working on that for years. But what it has really shown me is the imbalance in my emotional health. The hives have brought forward underlying anger issues that stem back to childhood and have grown within me throughout my entire life. My body was once again teaching me a lesson and showing me what needs to be considered and healed about my emotional health.

Due to being out of balance with knowing how to express my emotions or being able to really be myself, this behavior has compounded inside my body for many decades. My body did it's best to store and divert the imbalance allowing me to live my life in the best way it could. But everything has its limits, and my body knows its limits.

"I saw that my body, with its own intelligence and life-force, will do everything it can to support me in having this life." - Dwight Raatz

I had spent my entire life stuffing down the frustrations, disappointments, and fears of not being enough for those around me. I had become an expert chameleon and creating personas and masks exactly suited for the expectations of others. I am a master performer on the stage of life playing the role that was needed for me to feel accepted, seen, and worthy to be in their life. And all of this was created by me, not by anyone else. I incrementally created this life and way of dealing with it as a way of survival, but now once again, my body is pushing me to pay attention, to change and to heal.

At the end of my medical leave I had to make a choice on how to move forward. A part of me we fearful that if I didn't, how would I be able to contribute financially to our household? When I closed my eyes and put myself back at my desk at work, my anxiety spiked through the roof again. When I put myself at home, running my wife's business, starting my own coaching practice, and diving head first into writing, my body relaxed and I felt very happy. I had no choice. For likely the first time in my life, I took a leap of faith and listened to what my body had been telling me all along. I quit my job. The moment I did, all of the anxiety I've carried with me for years dropped away like magic. I was stunned at how fast it all happened and how my life has transformed in the most wonderful ways both emotionally and financially.

As I was driving home from a recent acupuncture appointment, I was thinking about how amazing my body really is. A vision or knowing came to me that revealed something much more profound. I saw my body and my spirit having a collaborative agreement to join together in order to allow me to have this life on Earth. I saw that my body, with its own intelligence and life-force, will do everything it can to support me in having this life. It is so dedicated to my spirit's journey, that it will eventually give its own life and existence for me. Now that is huge and that is love.

I've witnessed over the years that the media and society have taught us to have a very low opinion of our bodies. There always seems to be something not quite right about them. I'd like to change that narrative to consider how amazing our bodies are and how they do so much for us, even though we don't always take care of them.

Take some time to consider if you are out of alignment with who you really are and what excites you. Are you spending your time doing things you really love? Are you paying attention to what your body is telling you each and every day? It's talking to you all the time. It's up to you to listen and understand its language. Once you've cracked the code and truly hear your body, it will change your life forever.

- Dwight J. Raatz: Personal Coach, Author, Healer | dwight@raatz.com

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