Feeling sick but labs negative? You Might be Taking on Other People's Stress
A few months ago I got sick with something I imagined might be fibromyalgia or some kind of chronic immune disorder. Stiffness, shooting pains throughout my body. Extreme exhaustion at bedtime, like a switch had been turned off and I was down for the count.
The problem didn't happen all the time. I'd feel great while giving readings, pain free and flowing. I also felt good when swimming and also out hiking in nature. In August we climbed mountains in British Columbia and to my surprise I was able to trek seven hours at a time up and down the trails, keeping up with my kids, with no problem. But when I left those mountains and returned to a more indoor life, I'd still have these bouts of pain and exhaustion at various times each day.
So in November I went to a series of medical specialists and got a panel of tests. Allergy tests -- food and environmental, Lymes tests, various illness tests, and every other possible test that the doctors at Mass General Hospital could think up. I got second opinions too. I also have a holistic family doctor who focuses on food and stress, which later proved closest to the truth.
All said the same thing - there is nothing, nada, wrong (according to the labs.) My family doctor said to get strict about giving up the most common inflammation-producing foods, like gluten, sugar, soy, and dairy. So I did and 90% of the problem disappeared. (But to be fair, I never had problems with these foods before, although I know about them and kept them down before). But it’s more than food.
All along I have considered that I might be having an empathic reaction to the times we are in. After all, when I focus on another person psychically, my body feels what they feel in their body. So why not react in this way to the Collective?
A while back, I changed how I read people to safeguard from taking on the other person's issues. I focused more on channeling from spirit guides during the reading rather than only tuning into people. So when I give a reading these days, I feel great.
Also I noticed that I feel good when meditating, walking in the woods, swimming and climbing mountains.
I’ve talked with my empathic friend who also feel more exhausted these days and some have similar symptoms as mine. This is hardly a scientific method but I do feel that we are all reeling from the stress in the collective.
One empath suggested that many people are getting non specific illness from the quickening of the cosmic waves that are hitting the earth. There's no question that we are in a period of acceleration where an old patriarchal system is nearing the center of the spiral, and everything seems to be speeding up, most notably chaotic political news and climate events. This quickening is hitting the most sensitive people hard. It's something to consider.
I'm not sure I'm reacting to cosmic waves, though, but I can definitely believe I'm reacting to the stress that our Collective feels.
I also notice that many other empaths struggle with chronic illnesses and wonder if this applies to any of you.
I have found some remedies and invite you to share yours: Exercise, comedy, avoiding sitting too long, eliminating gluten and other inflammatory, and/or chemicalized foods, and being in nature have all reduced the problem. Then there are the wonderful positive psychology remedies we talked about in another thread.
I do live the same thing. I am OK outsider, when I take a walk or do my garden. I can't stand being indoors for too long but I have to because I have an indoor job. Thé worst are supermarkets with too much light and noise. And I really feel tired and aching .
I believe we are not biologically meant to live this sort of life. We need more light, more Sun, more nature.
I react a lot to what happens in the world too. But in my case, I don't know If my body reacts to that or if it is because I don't know how to take care of myself when I am too emotional.
Jeanne, interesting you have written on this as I was going to ask for support on a
related situation. Most of my life, I’m 67, I’ve had physical pain with reactions to
fear, anxiety, and loss. I associate a gnawing discomfort in the area around my belly
button, a little to the left, to these emotions. It is usually extremely uncomfortable and associate with loss or fear of, and depression.
I get this more often in the winter. I’m sitting in front of a light for SAD, taking various supplements, and increased my antidepressant. I am less crazed about trump and more hopeful good will overcome bad. I’m eating healthier. I’m taking a drumming and painting class, and exercising in an aqua class with people I like.
But still this emotional/physical pain remains, making it extremely difficult to do things. I feel it now. I felt it in my drumming class, even when cracking jokes.
Live been gluten free for a good 5 months as well as dairy/cheese free nearly 100% of the time. (Cheated with chocolate mousse last night). I increased my Paxil a bit and don’t want to increase my anti anxiety med. The sun is out today, I’m repeating positive affirmations about joy, and here I am. I don’t get it. I’ve been told I'm empathic, but I can’t stand feeling this all the time as I have lately.
I really don’t know how to stop it, which I feel i must. I’ve lost about 8 pounds in the past few months, diet change and belittle lipo. Got a new puppy when a beloved one died in June. Haven’t spoken to my sister since the election which has upset me.
Have 2 planned trips, still in therapy, have a good relationship, a great acupuncturist I see weekly, more contact with other people.
Please help me stop feeling this. It’s rough.
I have had similar problems with body aches and periodic extreme fatigue. I just chalked it up to aging, hormones and thyroid problems. Although I have known for some time now that I am an empath, I somehow separated that in my mind from the other niggling concerns. One of my biggest struggles in the beginning when I figured out that I was empathic to other people’s feelings and intentions, was to separate how they were feeling and how I was feeling. After doing some research on it, I have tried to be more conscious of what is actually going on in me vs what is going on in someone I am connecting with and to try not to connect with others unconsciously. Especially when I am feeling overwhelmed or threatened by someone else’s energy, I try to build a mental bubble/shield of light around myself with a mirror to the outside with the intention of keeping anything harmful away from me and reflecting negative energies back at whoever is emanating them. It really helped in the beginning. Additionally, I now always try to consciously breathe out and clear other people’a stuff from me if I feel overwhelmed by the energy of others and center myself while breathing in. Being in nature and quiet is very helpful and necessary for folks like us. It is a way to reenergize. I started using the meditation app that Jeanne recommended (Insight Timer) and am finding it very helpful in calming and focusing my mind. We need as many tools as we can get to help ourselves during trying times.
All of the above being said, there have been several times over the last few years that I have felt the energy of the collective swelling in fear shortly before some of the bigger events that have happened with regard to the current situation in the US. I am geographically far away, but emotionally connected to it apparently. On those days, I find it helpful to do a lot of physical activity and exercise.
All of the suggestions that people are giving here are very helpful and I am thankful for this community and it’s support!
Thank you Baba and Anita for weighing in. So helpful to hear from you about this stuff. Baba, I love the idea of separating what is going on in you versus in others. I thought I had a handle on this stuff, but your post gives me more ideas. Anita, getting out and feeling the sun's rays in winter lifts the body, mind, and spirit.
To all empaths: If you are an empathic person, then you are likely absorbing other people's stressed feelings.
People who cast their stress onto other people may have taught you to take on their ills when you were a child.
As a result, you get a bad feeling, you don't know why or what it is, and immediately you feel guilty.
You are going about your day, or it is very early in the morning before arising when we are most open and vulnerable. You feel a bad uneasy feeling sweeping over you. You don't know where the feeling came from, but your tendency is to tell yourself that you must have done something wrong. The child within you takes on all the guilt and anger of the parent, even long after the parent is gone. You can come up with a million reasons why you deserve to feel bad.
If this chain of events happens to you, it's time to nip it in the bud. Tell yourself, bad feelings are happening within me. Guilt is coming it but it doesn't belong to me. Breathe to get out of your head and focus on your senses. Breathe to feel your feet on the floor and the breath flowing in and out of you. Breathe to get grounded.
Don't identify your Self with the bad feeling. It is just something that is sweeping over you, like the weather. It might be coming from someone in your life or from the Collective.
Now see if you can figure out where that bad feeling is coming from. If you feel guilt, which is likely, because it's your habit to feel responsible for others' bad feelings, then know that the guilt is a bad habit that it is time to break.
If the bad feeling and the guilt are coming from someone in your life, then consider taking a break from them. Take a look at skill #4 in this thread that is about finding your choir, the people in your life who support you and have your back.
We live in times that require that the light workers rise up and take the lead. Many light workers are empathic people who are held back with guilt and codependency. Many are women. Know that by tackling the difficult issue of taking on other people's stress you are not only helping yourself to a happier existence, but you are helping the world by rising up from an underdog position. It's a win-win.
Anita, thanks for sharing. The naval is where the umbilical chord attached you to your mother. The abdomen is also the second brain, a.k.a., the enteric nervous system, where we have more neurons concentrated than any other part of the body, except the brain. So feeling distress in the gut is primal and can go back to pre-verbal infancy stress.
We may not be able to stop feeling this stress, but we can manage it. Breathing, getting grounded with breath and bodywork, exercise, and finally, doing some codepenency work. Sounds like you are already doing a lot.
Also, avoiding high inflammatory foods helps. The Elimination Diet helped alleviate 90% of the physical pain I was having. I gave up sugar, dairy, and gluten immediately. (There are other foods I've given up over the years but these are the biggies for me.)
Naming and locating the origin of bad feelings, when they creep in, helped with the emotional pain.
I agree with Jeanne about how those negative feelings arise and you don’t always know where they come from. It takes practice to separate oneself from such things. On the one hand, it is a service to take on someone’s emotions if you are able to process it without being affected negatively by it. On the other hand, it is also important to realize that if people don’t process some of their own stuff, they will not learn from it - and then it is not a service to them to take it on. For example, if you are around a person who keeps having the same problem over and over, it probably isn’t a service to them to keep taking on their negative energy.
‘What I am finding surprising these days is the periodic feelings that the collective is emotionally overwrought and sometimes unable to cope. There is a lot of fear out there and on occasion, I can feel the heaviness of it. I had no idea that it was possible to feel things on that scale.
My theory on why I developed as an empath is that it was a result of living in a very unpredictable environment and growing up with volatile people in some challenging situations. It was in my interest to be able to read people and situations quickly. I consciously do not live the way that I grew up and it took until my children were getting older to figure out that I was an empath and how to work with it positively. Before that, I just wondered why I felt bad around certain people and didn’t know where some of the strange feelings were coming from.
I suffer from chronic autoimmune disease - I seem to have everything EXCEPT Lyme (lol - I'm the only person in the history of the Igenix Lab to come up negative 3 times!). The issues kicked up during the time that I was an active Reiki Practitioner. I thought I had been grounding myself sufficiently, but apparently not. I also have a lot of genetic predispositions to things that all switched into the "ON" position at about that time. I've done so much testing.... Long story short for me to avoid everything I'm allergic to and that inflames me I'd be left with literally nothing to eat. I think this stems from not being able to afford eating organic foods until around 2006 or so - I think the chemicals on/in the otherwise healthy foods are what triggered a lot of my issues.
I have had experiences in the past that I file under "I feel a disturbance in the force" - most notably one day when I still lived in VA, I had just gotten in my front door from the supermarket and was overcome with such a profound sadness it took my breath away, and I had to sit on my hallway stairs for a few minutes to recover. Within 5 minutes I heard about the mass shooting at VA Tech...
So I get where everyone is coming from on this. I chalk up a lot of my own depression and anxiety to what is going on in the human collective, and also with Mother Earth.
Here's what I've found to be helpful:
- Avoid the big allergies - soy, gluten, seafood, chemical exposures (including housepaint and cleaners)
- Stay as active as possible - walking, hiking in nature is the best, followed closely by my lifelong passion of dance (flamenco, tap, modern)
- When I feel sick (like right now) - I surrender and just take it easy - if I push, I stay sicker way longer
- Connect with friends, old and new, male and female, as much as possible
- Stay off social media as much as possible (but don't delete accounts, sometimes it's the only way to know what's up with some of my old friends), and when I do go on, I do more lurking than commenting - Just Scroll By is my motto.
- Travel as much as possible - it really is refreshing to leave the country - in 2017 I went to Northern Europe, and just last month I also had a lovely trip to British Columbia. And when I do travel, I do my best to blend in and remain respectful, and I don't hesitate to apologize for the assholery that is streaming out of our country right now.
- Read fiction - even just 15 minutes before bedtime - the more fanciful the better
Peace and Light!