How chronic illness is a journey to discovering that freedom is within
Turn within and allow yourself the space to really listen to your inner being. By Shannon Wysocki
When we are suddenly hit by a health setback, it is often our default to resist. After all, who wants to be forced into slowing down or stopping their life completely while everyone else seems to have the green light to continue living and moving forward?
Three years ago I was hit hard by a sudden and mysterious chronic illness for which I never received a diagnosis. The feelings of stuck-ness and frustration loomed deep. How can I ever move my life forward when I am being consumed by a never-ending parade of health challenges and setbacks? For years, I grappled with paralysing fatigue, crazy head pressure, startling heart palpitations accompanied by a scary fast heartbeat, intense periods of dizziness, numbness and tingling in my extremities, and so much more.
It was like each day was a game of whack-a-mole; every time I got relief from one symptom another would appear in its place to remind me that “this isn’t over, far from it.” My social life disappeared completely, my once bustling travel schedule screeched to a halt. I simply had no energy or ability to do any of the things that I once loved.
Over the next many months, which turned into years, I turned everywhere outside of me for help. You name it, I tried it. Eastern doctors, western doctors, dieticians, acupuncturists, chiropractors, energy healers, physical therapists, hypnotherapists, spiritual counsellors, astrologists, and the list goes on. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was helping.
Years deep into this frustrating process, I made a decision. I would no longer look outside of myself for answers. No one could find anything wrong with me even though I was suffering immensely from debilitating physical symptoms. I shifted gears, realising that my healing was an internal job. I instinctively knew that the answers I was seeking to the chronic symptoms I was experiencing were within me, they had to be.
I turned my energy intensely inward, and in time, I began receiving internal guidance which led me to the sun and nature. I packed up my apartment in cold, dreary Chicago and moved to sunny Arizona, where I spent months just sitting in a park every day surrounded by nature, communing with the birds, the flowers and the trees. I was still feeling quite unwell, but as I describe in more detail in my new spiritual memoir, A Brush with Worlds Unseen, nature became my playground, my teacher, and my reset.
Immersed in nature, I received more and more guidance leading to a realisation that changed everything. My illness said to me, “I’m going to make you free, but first I’m going to make you super, super restricted so you figure out that freedom is an internal state”.
Chronic illness is a great teacher of restriction. It takes everything from you so that you are left with nothing but your very being-ness. When you turn within and allow yourself the space to really listen to your inner being, you begin to learn how to navigate restriction internally in ways that you never would if you weren’t forced to.
You learn that your health struggle is serving you, not punishing you. Coming to the realisation that your illness is showing up to set you free is an internal adjustment. So, if you find yourself in the throes of a never-ending health battle that nobody outside of you can find the answers to, perhaps learning that freedom is an internal state is the lesson you are being shown too? Here’s to experiencing freedom in all ways – in our bodies, minds and souls.