Updated: Jan 7
Rachel suffered from twenty migraines a month for over 8 years. Through Menda's Pain Reprocessing Bootcamp, she returns to exercise, foods, alcohol, and more. Below is an interview with her Menda coach.
Kartik: What brought you to Menda (formerly Remedy) initially?
Rachel: Initially I came to Menda because I was doing a lot of reading about neural retraining, so I wasn’t brand new to the idea of neural pathways and how they can be formed during times of trauma. I came across Dr. David Hanscom’s book, then attended a weekend workshop with him and Dr. Aria, and that was a turning point for me.
You guys were offering the Menda bootcamp for 10 weeks and I felt that's exactly what I need. I realized that it wasn't a quick fix, this neural reprogramming work, it was going to take a concerted effort over time to open up new neural pathways.
Kartik: Can you tell me what symptoms you were experiencing and how they were affecting your life?
Rachel: My main concern was that I was having chronic migraines. I had migraines on and off through my forties and fifties. I went through a divorce like eight years ago and then everything about my life changed. There was the trauma of the divorce, but I also had to sell the house that I raised my children in, I was facing an empty nest for the first time, I had to go back to work full-time after 20 years, and my dog died. It was one sort of traumatic event after another. That triggered a lot of old trauma for me and I just started having these migraines.
At that point that I entered this program, I was having anywhere from 12 to 20 headache days a month. I just couldn't do anything or go anywhere without thinking, is today a day?
I was afraid of everything. Everything was a possible trigger. Food, alcohol, exercise. Things like sunlight and staying in a store for too long and certain kinds of interactions with people. I was always really into fitness and I completely stopped exercising because I had it, my mind that an elevated heart rate would put too much blood into my head. It was affecting my life in every possible corner but I had just lived with it for eight years.
I had some success with medications that could interrupt the headache, but they would knock me out for a day and make me depressed, so that wasn't a great solution either.
This work interested me so much because it had to do with the underlying causes. Since I've been engaged in this work on this program, I've had a 96% reduction in incidences of migraine headaches.
Kartik: In the program, you had this experience with the Peloton. You mentioned that exercise is a really big part of your life before. Share with me about your graded exposure journey?
Rachel: It was at some point in the program, around halfway through, I felt more confident to start integrating exercise into my life again. It was such a source of joy and would feel good if I could feel strong and fit again.
One day I decided I'm to get a Peloton bike, which was kind of radical because it takes up a lot of room in a New York City apartment. I had to get rid of my dining room table to fit this bike. It was a big commitment! I'm not the mom anymore who hosts big family dinners, so I got rid of the dining room table, got a Peloton and just started, slowly. Well, I didn't start so slowly. It was kind of amazing, I just felt like feeling a part of myself that I haven't hadn't felt in a long time. This woman was strong and fit and fierce! I used to be into bodybuilding when I was much younger.
That's in a nutshell what this program has given me. In my past eight years, once that headache would start coming on, it would just always end up as a full-blown migraine. I use the tools that we've learned in the course to speak to that part of me, respect it, have compassion for it, but let it know that it doesn't have to go there. I don't have to use that well-worn path in my brain anymore. I can go in this other direction. I've been having these little headaches, but they are manageable, I can almost make them disappear from using the tools or even if they're there.
Kartik: If there's someone who's in a spot that you were in before the program, what would you share with them?
Rachel: All right. So you’re probably at this point where you’re feeling like, no, I can't do anything else. It's just too much, nothing works. And I've tried, I've seen these many specialists and I've been in therapy for this long. I'm sick of myself, I'm sick of focusing on this problem, and there's nothing left.
I encourage you to just do this one more thing. One of the things I got so much out of it that I didn't have in my life, which is people who made me feel like I wasn't alone, you know, that I wasn't.
I did feel very alone. After all, if you have had chronic pain for however many years, you isolate yourself because you don't want to subject people to it. You know, people get sick of you. They abandon, they leave your life. They find it uncomfortable to talk to you because they know you're in pain and they can't do anything for you.
The community was so healing, two times a week, to be able to listen to and talk to people who get it. And it wasn't like, you know, an AA meeting where everybody is defined by their pain and their suffering and their victimhood. It was so empowering to have a community that’s so professionally run, and you just feel like they know what they're doing. They're, they're taking you on a specific journey. I just felt like for the first time, in eight years, I could relax and just let myself be taken on this journey and trust it.
So if you feel like I felt when I started this, which is like, there's nothing new on the planet that I haven't heard before, you know, give yourself this one more time because it'll surprise you. So go for it.
Ready to start your healing journey? Try Menda for free. Inside you'll find education, pain-lowering tools, and a community of people reversing their symptoms.
Modern research shows that psychological and emotional elements can play a major role in chronic pain. These non-physical components can help the brain “learn” to be in pain. By training the brain, we can re-wire the body’s neural circuitry to dial down pain sensations and bring relief.