741: My Story of Healing From PTSD (& What Worked) With Corban David Jenai of HopeGuide

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My Story of Healing From PTSD (& What Worked) With Corban David Jenai of HopeGuide
Wellness Mama » Episode » 741: My Story of Healing From PTSD (& What Worked) With Corban David Jenai of HopeGuide
The Wellness Mama Podcast
The Wellness Mama Podcast
741: My Story of Healing From PTSD (& What Worked) With Corban David Jenai of HopeGuide
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Corban David Jenai covered some really helpful information in our last two episodes together on healing trauma. We still had plenty to cover though so he’s back for part 3! Corban has an amazing story and recovered from cancer, multiple TBIs, treatment-resistant depression, complex PTSD, and more. He’s also a six-time entrepreneur and a dad of six.

Along the way to healing, he realized our mental healthcare model is broken, but fixable. One major way he’s been a part of the solution is with his HopeGuide which helps show others the path they can take to discover their own healing. Like me, Corban is a firm believer that we’re all our own best healers!

And our topic today is specifically recovering from PTSD and complex trauma. Corban shares his story and which tools he found to be the most helpful. We also talk about things anyone can do right now that don’t cost a thing to help advance the healing process.

Our bodies remember trauma and unresolved trauma can frequently manifest later on as physical health issues and autoimmune disease. I know for me (and Corban!) resolving past trauma is key to bringing about full healing. There’s a lot of really good actionable information in today’s episode, and I hope you’ll join us and listen in!

Episode Highlight With Corban David Jenai

  • Why he choose his own name and how it lines up with his story
  • His incredible story and how it led to the work he does now
  • Healing through physiology and mythology and how using both approaches is helpful
  • What HopeGuide is and how it helps people find their own specific path to healing
  • Approaches that help expand our nervous systems’ capacity and increase resilience 
  • His definition of trauma: our interpretation of events that are stored in our nervous system and body
  • Our bodies and our psyche are miracles of adaptation and our bodies are always on our side and trying to help us
  • Trauma is a solvable problem and how he’s helping to solve it

Resources We Mention

More From Wellness Mama

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Hello, and welcome to The Wellness Mama Podcast. I’m Katie from wellnessmama.com. And this podcast is about healing and recovery from PTSD, what worked and what didn’t. And I’m here with my friend, Corban David Jenai of HopeGuide. And he is a six-time entrepreneur with four exits, a dad of six, he has recovered from cancer, multiple TBIs, treatment-resistant depression, complex PTSD, and so much more. And after spending over $300,000 trying to find recovery for himself, he realized that the model is broken, but that there are ways to fix it. And it became his life purpose to become that bridge and to help connect people with the resources that would help them on their own journey in a specific and efficient way. And I will say before we jump into this conversation, because of the nature of PTSD and complex trauma, it does touch on some pretty heavy topics. So, if you are listening with children, this may not be an episode you want to listen to with children depending on their age and maturity level. But I think there’s a tremendous amount of power in a story. And he shares his in a very vulnerable way, along with what his path to healing looked like and some of the modalities and tools that he found helpful and some that are actionable that you can start right now, even without spending a dime. I especially love his breakdown of healing, the mythology and the physiology, and why addressing both is important. So, let’s jump in and I will let you hear in his own words, his incredible story. Corban, welcome back. Thanks for being here again.

Corban: Thank you, Katie. Appreciate you having me again.

Katie: This is so fun to have so many conversations. And as a little bit of backstory for this one, I would actually love for you to explain, like me, you use a pen name, and you intentionally chose this one. I’m actually, ironically, in the process of trying to choose what will be my legal name due to a lot of factors. But I absolutely love that you made this choice and the reason you made this choice. So, if you’re willing, would you share the story and the journey behind your name?

Corban: Yeah, absolutely. So. You’re right. This is Corban. Corban David Jenai is my full chosen name that I use in the world. And the reason I chose that name in the first place is because a lot of what I talk about in my own story, which we’re going to talk about today is, it’s pretty sensitive stuff. And there’s people in my life that I, I feel could potentially be affected negatively, just sort of be outed in their own journeys and their own stories. And I’ve, I, for a long time, kept quiet because I didn’t want sort of collateral damage amongst the people that I care about because there’s some hard things in there. And so that’s why I chose the name.

However, I actually did go by this name for two years when I was 18 years old. I don’t know if you know that, Katie. I don’t know if I told you that before. When I was 18 years old, I actually chose this name. Intentionally back then and I resurrected it for this purpose in my online life, for my writing and my speaking and everything I’m doing. But I chose it because I had this idea, and it wasn’t original to me. I heard it from somewhere else but that every time somebody says your name, they are speaking the essence of that name into existence in you. Like they are calling that thing out in you. So, I, so I was like, well, why do I want, like, what would I like to be called out in me? Like, what would I like to sort of be? Like, is there an aspirational message, something I would like to become more of? And so I chose the names based on that. My favorite of the three names is actually the last one. Corban has a meaning and it’s great. David has meaning and it’s great.

But the one that I feel the most connected to, and the reason why I chose to keep this name for myself again, is the name Jenai. And Jenai, I promise you, I am pronouncing this incorrectly because it’s a Chinese word. And so apologies to all of your Chinese listeners who were like, oh, my goodness, that guy doesn’t even know how to pronounce his own name. So, I just pronounce it the anglicized way the best I can. But I love the meaning of it because Jenai means one who loves. And I want nothing more in my life to be someone who loves. If, I’ve said to my wife and I’ve said to anybody else that this is a relevant conversation, when I die, I don’t even want my name on my tombstone. All I want to say is here lies one who loved. I think if that can be said about me and be meant, like, and for it to be, to be, to be felt by the people who are putting me in the ground, then I feel like I will have lived a successful life. Because at the end of the day, does anything else matter? Like in the love that we share with other people. We talked about in the last couple episodes about connection with other people. Sometimes all we need is a witness. Being a witness for somebody is an expression of love. It’s an act of love for somebody else. And so that’s why I chose the name.

Katie: I love that. And I feel like that was some important context for the next question, which is going to be to ask you to share some of your story, which I know has some very vulnerable parts and tough parts. And like you, I had found parts of my story hard to talk about for a long time. And when I shared them with a lot of trepidation and fear, actually, I was overwhelmed actually at what happened. And I learned the power in sharing a story and how we talked about in our last episode, the power of showing up and being fully present and being a witness. I think there’s also a tremendous amount of power in a story.

I also think one thing that was part of my journey, perhaps for you as well, was realizing that the difficult things that had happened to me in the past ended up being a tremendous impetus in my life for wonderful things. And one of the toughest stages was actually accepting that I felt gratitude about them and not fear or guilt anymore, but gratitude. And I know we’ve had this conversation in person of that when we have a greater capacity for the good things, when we’ve experienced the bad things and moving into a state of gratitude, even for things that I wouldn’t have chosen in life, but I’m so grateful now that I got to have that journey. So, with that as context, if you’re willing, I would love for you to share some of your really powerful story.

Corban: Thank you, Katie. Absolutely. I’ve got a specific thought about what you just described, but I’ll tell it in the context of the story. I think it’ll have more effect. But I 100% agree with you about finding your way into gratitude, which feels really weird on the other side. And it’s not something I would ever tell somebody else to do or expect of them. Because that’s just, it’s just part of the journey that has to be right for a person. I have found my way to that. And I will say right before I tell the story, that, that I have recently in the last, well, I’m terrible with time. My daughter says I have time blindness, but in the last six months or a year or something like that I found myself asking myself this question, which was, If I could change the past, if I could change the things that happened in my life, would I do it?

And the answer wasn’t immediately yes, which surprised me. It surprised me that I wouldn’t immediately say, of course, I would change that. It was like, well, hold on, let me think about this because I like who I am. Would I be this person today without the things that have happened? And by the way, I like who I am as part of the healing journey because I never liked who I was. So that’s part of it. And so, I’ll tell the story, but just, you know, on the other side of it. I’m like, I don’t know that I would change this. I wouldn’t have chosen it, I’ll tell you that much. But would I, would I change it now? No, I don’t think, I don’t know. The answer is still, I don’t know, but I think maybe not.

And then the last thing I’ll say before going into the story is just that and the company that I started with the intention of helping people who’ve experienced similar things, not necessarily similar, but have the same sort of emotional experience, we started specifically to help people who’ve experienced trauma, but also help you know, a number of other things, depression, anxiety. You know, all the kind of, the wide range of emotional experiences that we have that we would consider like not ideal experiences for us we help with. But it came from, the company’s called HopeGuide. And we were almost called the company TraumaGuide because we’re helping people with trauma. I was like, you know, I’m not really interested in guiding people through trauma. I’m interested in guiding people to hope. Cause like, without hope, we, we perish. Like hope is everything. When you have hope, you like, oh, there’s something that I can move towards. There’s goodness on the horizon. And so that’s, so that’s what I just wanted to say that before going through it because there’s a little bit of darkness to it.

And I just wanted people to know that, although not every day is easy, there are times when I still go, oh man, that really hurt. It was really hard. And I don’t know what to do with it in that moment because these things are like layers of an onion where you, you heal from one thing and you go back and say, oh, I thought I dealt with all of that. And it doesn’t feel the same, and it’s not as deep, and it’s not as like core most of the time. But sometimes it’s still really painful. So, but overall, the experience is moving towards healing and hope and all the things we talked about in our last couple of episodes. Okay.

So, to get to my actual story, I think the best place to start would actually be a few years ago, three or four years ago. And then I’ll go back a little bit further. So, a number of years ago, I actually was probably, again, I’m terrible with time. Let’s call it six years ago. Although, you know, we’ll just call it six years ago. I don’t remember exactly. I ended up having an accident in my basement. I, I don’t know how it happened, but I woke up in a pool of blood in my basement holding some power tools in my hand. And well, I got up, and I cleaned up the blood, and I thought, well, what are these power tools doing here? I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know why I had them. I didn’t know what project I was working on. But I did know that there were some large steel beams ahead of me, and I did have a, a tendency to run into everything. So based on the size of the, the scar, what became a scar on my head and the blood all over the place and the fact that I had been knocked unconscious, I assumed that must have been what happened, I ran in one of these steel beams.

And, since you know my story, this might seem like a weird place to start, but what happened, what I later learned was a traumatic brain injury, it really affected my ability to handle the hard things that I’d experienced as a child. My capacity to be able to, to keep those things at bay. And the ways that I had was just reduced. And so, what ended up happening is I started finding it a lot harder to just cope with life, like in general. I found, you know, I found I’d struggled a lot with depression. I struggled a lot with suicidality, which is common with TBIs actually. It turns out that was actually my second TBI. I don’t typically go to doctors. And for, for, because I’m afraid of them. No reasons for them, huh. But, and I’ve also had about 20 concussions along the way. So it was like, it was kind of somewhat a routine experience. But that particular one was quite bad. And so, I started experiencing all this stuff, and I thought, man, I don’t know how to function in my life. I was having these nightmares, which I’ve had before as well, but I kind of was able to deal with them.

And then fast forward to 2020. We just sold our last business. My wife and I built and sold three other businesses before then. So that was our fourth business that we sold. But we sold it largely because I was not able to function. Like I was not able to function as a human being. I was, I had all these terrible experiences. I was getting nightmares all the time. I couldn’t sleep. I was really suffering, and every single day, I wanted to die. I would walk into a room, and I would, every single room I would walk into, I would see a video play in my mind’s eye, but it felt as if it was in front of me, of my brains being blown out on the walls, the wall in front of me. And I had reached the point so many times where I was like, I spent a lot of time thinking about how can I do this in a way that would not transfer the pain I’m feeling to my children. Because that was the only thing that stopped me. I did not want to live that experience anymore. I didn’t know how to solve it. I’d done therapy. It did nothing. Made me feel worse actually.

And so, I ended up I ended up, I ended up well, go, I’ll fast forward through all of the different types of therapy I tried because we could go into that forever. We kind of touched on some of that in other episodes. I ended up trying a lot of different therapy, like lots. In total, I ended up spending about $300,000 just trying to fix this problem. So that I could be the dad I wanted to be for my kids, the husband I wanted to be for my wife. The entrepreneur I wanted to be. The friend I wanted to be. And not feel like, like I couldn’t handle being around people. Like I spent all of it, if I was around more than one person, and sometimes even one, I would want to go up into my closet, close the door, blackout like so because it was completely black, sit in a corner of my closet by myself with noise-canceling headphones on with no music, just so I could shut everything up. And that was a very, very common experience for me. I had headaches all of the time. I was constantly being woken up by these nightmares. And I tried all of these different things. And finally, while some of them were helpful and some of them were not, some of them were very helpful, some of them were very unhelpful, some of them actually harmed me.

And long story short, I ended up going to start doing some psychedelic-assisted therapy. And in my first session, that I had, to be fair, is probably not properly vetted. And that’s the problem with psychedelics assisted therapy as it is right now in the us and Canada, it’s not legal, therefore it’s not regulated. However, I was desperate. Like I was not a person who took drugs. Like that was for me like, ooh, I don’t, that’s not something you do. In this particular case, I was like, well, if the choice is taking something that’s an illegal substance, and the studies are there to demonstrate that 87% of people who do, in this case, NDMA-assisted psychotherapy, don’t have PTSD because at that point I had been diagnosed with PTSD, don’t have PTSD anymore. I’m like, well, it feels like I might as well give it a shot. And so, so I did it.

And, in that first session for eight hours, I sat with two therapists. They followed the specific protocols. It was very, they were excellent at what they did. But I was probably not properly vetted. And when I say probably, in hindsight, I wasn’t properly vetted. And again, that’s one of the dangers of it being underground. And, so I spent eight hours shaking violently. My body shook violently. And I was processing a lot of things that I’d known about, but I’d intentionally kind of blocked out. And or I say intentionally, I think subconsciously blocked out, but I was aware of, these were all things that I was aware of. They were just things I didn’t think about, you know. And they were really hard things. My psychedelic journeys tended to be, tend to be very mythological, very, there’s a lot of narrative, there’s a lot of stories that happen is my way of processing very much like a dream. And so, I was going from cave to cave to cave, processing things in each of these caves. And at the very end, I went to a door. And the door had light shining around it wasn’t it wasn’t a light indicating there was good things on the other door, it was a light indicating that there was something on the other side of that door and I was terrified because I knew that I knew what was behind that door. And I did not want to touch that door. I did not want to open that door.

And for the following three weeks, I had what would be probably clinically described as a psychotic break. I was not prepared for the level of trauma that I was, that that was opening up. Now, in hindsight, that should have been processed. There should have been some work that was done beforehand, a fair bit of work that was done beforehand to help prepare me for that, if I was to do it at all. I also had undiagnosed, and I don’t actually think of it as a disorder, but I had the diagnosis officially be a DID, dissociative identity disorder, which used to be called multiple personality disorder. I certainly had a significant amount of dissociation. And so, so they were like, oh my gosh, this guy’s a mess. You know, he’s going to kill himself. He’s going to, you know, he’s going to.

So, they said, well, let’s do another session with them and try and fix this problem, which this case actually did, well it started me on the journey really. And so, we did another session. And in that session, my intention was, I need to, I know that I need to go behind that door and actually process the stuff that’s behind there. And well, I think what I would like to do to tell this story because it’s still helpful for me to have a little bit of narrative distance. I’ve, in a speech that I give called Sometimes All We Need Is a Witness, there’s a little bit of an experience where I write about my experience and what I was processing. And if you’re okay with it, Katie, I’d like to read that. It’s about three minutes. It gives an idea of what I was experiencing and what I was processing. I’ll read that now.

And in that home, there was a little boy, standing shirtless and peering into a bathroom mirror. He carefully glued his hair into place with bright green goop and found the right place on his nose for his two big black plastic glasses. If you looked closely enough through his glasses and into his eyes, you can see the innocence of a life not yet lived in search of the wisdom of a thousand lives lived beforehand. Little did he know that he was about to learn the greatest lesson of all. That precious wisdom of love. And little did he know that, most often, you don’t get to choose the circumstances under which you learn that lesson. A man walks in, a dad of sorts, and flashes a smile. Cool hair, kid. He placed a hand on the boy’s naked back. Softly, tentatively at first. That quickly metamorphosized into hot energy suspended somewhere between fear and desire. Cue the lights. Start the music. The scene could have ended there, but instead, it began as most stories do, with a choice. And because of that choice that morning, all of those years ago, a fire was ignited in a place where fires are usually extinguished with a twist of a wrist. A torrential downpour winded its way through the pipes in the walls. Reaching the now naked body standing together in a porcelain tub. The sound of the water beating against the floor providing cover for the whispering voices. Why are you whispering? And the voices providing cover for a language that when expressed, find no voice at all. This is what love looks like. This is what love looks like? The boy thought he knew what love was like. But he didn’t know this. And at moments, this love felt familiar. In the way that a hug feels from someone you love. But at other moments, it felt like torn flesh and broken hearts. And as that red, soapy mixture made its way into the drain and out of you, you couldn’t help but ask himself, this is what love looks like, right? And so, a fire was lit that day. And stoked many days after the kindling, provided in the form of a pile of tiny and large clothes mixed together on the floor. And the fire was lit with a match manufactured a generation before by a man who was himself lit on fire a generation earlier. Just a boy, looking up to a man. There used to be a boy looking up to a man. Blame passed down from generation to generation. And as he stumbled out of the shower, the boy reached out for his now foggy glasses and put them on his face. He didn’t know then that it would take 40 years for the fog to clear. He didn’t know then that he’d spend the rest of his life asking that very simple question, is this what love looks like? It took many years for him to realize that the giant hands that traced his shivering little body also spoke in a tongue well-versed in love, but instead use that mystical language as a weapon of psychological warfare to hide the fact that this was everything but. Because love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy or boast. It’s not arrogant or rude. Does not insist on its own way. It’s not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. What was the truth in that moment? Is this what love looks like?

To give you an idea of the kinds of things that I was processing, and I don’t say that to you feel bad. I mean, to go back to the original point, Katie, I, and it took some time and a lot of work and processing. But I look back now, and I think, would I be the person that I am today if that had not been my experience? There’s things about myself I would like to be different. And some things that came from that experience that I still work on, just in terms of like my hypervigilance and my feeling jumpy, although it doesn’t happen to me very much anymore, but it used to.

But the answer to that question is like, I’m actually quite pleased of who I am today. So, I don’t know that I can separate the past from, from the present. And I don’t think that the direction of my future is disconnected from the past at all. And so, you mentioned the beginning of this, you said, you know, about appreciating what you experienced, getting to a place of gratitude. I was in one of, in a psychedelic session or a dream, I can’t remember. They actually blurred together because I have so many vivid dreams now. It happens all the time. But I was there, and I heard the voice of God, who I imagined to be God in my voice, in my and my dreams say to me, Corban, look for the beauty. And I was like, the beaty? What are the, I won’t swear on your podcast, but I swear I’m trying. What are you talking about? What kind of beauty could possibly be in this situation. Because like that is not the way it’s supposed to be. And a voice said to me, look at the beauty. I thought we already went through this. There’s no beauty in this situation. This is horror. It’s terror. It’s affected me for the rest of my life since then. And the voice said again, look for the beauty.

And I was getting frustrated with this because I was like, there is no beauty to be had here. But this time, instead of stating it like that, I said, well, well, then where is it? Where is the beauty in this situation? The voice said to me one of the most profound things that I’ve experienced. It’s been transformative in my life, the voice said, Corban, the beauty is in the contrast. Because you have seen such great darkness, you have the gift of being able to see such great light. It’s the contrast between those two things. That is the gift of this situation for you. And, and that has been my experience. I feel things really, really deeply, Katie, you know me. I feel everything deeply, which means when I love, I experience really deep love. You know, for the people that are in my life. I mean, you know this, Katie. I love you dearly. And I just feel it deeply. I always have. And I think I get to experience that because of some of the darkness that I experienced. And so, I think it would be useful, Katie, but I want to just be mindful of time, I could sort of talk about the path out of that but where would you like me to go next?

Katie: Well, every time we talk about your story, and I hear those words, I’m reminded of that quote that’s the idea of how much I admire people who walk through the fire and come out the other side, carrying a bucket of water for the people still inside. I think of that when I think of you and the idea that when we go through hard things and are willing to share them vulnerably, that your story can become the survival guide for someone else who’s still walking that path. And so, I really admire you sharing so vulnerably such difficult things in your life. And I think it would be really awesome to talk about the path beyond that as well, because I know you are now in a place of tremendous hope and gratitude. Your life looks much different now than it did those six years ago. And I love how you break down the distinction that we’ve talked about in person. I think you called it the physiology and the mythology as being too past to address that. And I think this would be really valuable to talk about, especially for anyone who’s resonating maybe with different types of experiences, but the same emotions that come from them and provide them some hope in the path forward.

Corban: Yeah, absolutely. So, so exactly. So, thank you for bringing that up. So I am, my path to healing involved a number of different modalities. As I started to listen to my intuition, I started to realize, oh, these are the ones that are helping me, and these are the ones that are not. And so, some of them address those two different categories. And I’ll get into that in a second. There’s also things that I learned that I could do for myself, as we talked about in the last episodes that I think is really important. Katie, the work that I’m doing now is missional. For me, I’ve built and sold some companies before. I’m doing this because it feels important to me. I want people who’ve experienced the kind of things I’ve experienced and things that I would never even dream of. Like that, that, that are, there’s no comparison, but, you know, we have different things that other people experience I would hear and go, oh my goodness, like I don’t, how did you survive that? Some people would say that about some of my experiences.

And so, but the people who’ve experienced trauma, you know, is what I understood to be trauma at the time, although I think the definition is a little loose these days but, but you know, what I would now describe as trauma. This has really transmuted for me into a sense of mission of wanting to help people to heal from what I would just call the hard things of the past. That’s how I refer to trauma now, just the hard things from the past. And so, but part of my way of getting to that place came from my own experience of healing from these hard things. And then the various, the various practitioners I worked with, and then all of the studying and reading, because I, like you, I like to read a lot and learn a lot. I want to understand the things that I’m doing.

And so, as I started to, you know, do all of this different kinds of therapy, I noticed that there was two different ways, and also with the reading, the two different ways in which we can find healing from the hard things in our past, which you’ve just referred to. One is through our physiology. I might refer to that as the hardware. You know, it’s like through the body. Bessel van der Kolk talks about the body keeps the score. We hold trauma in our body, specifically he’s talking about trauma. But, you know, we really hold on to any blocked emotional process in our body.

So, you know, sometimes we call it trauma, but sometimes like happiness doesn’t get to be expressed. Like that gets stored as well. I mean, like, like any emotional processes have been blocked is valuable to be able to express. So, when I talk about through our physiology, I’m talking about well, some of the things that we’ve already discussed in the other podcast, things that we can do for our bodies specifically. Like sleep. Now, well, okay. I’ll save these for you but let me make a quick distinction. This is, this is a metaphor for the way sort of two different approaches to healing from the hard things in our past and for building resilience. Our bodies are complex systems that everything is joined together. The mythology and the physiology are. There’s a lot of overlap in some of the treatments and the way that it’s looked at. So, it’s kind of like, which one are we sort of starting? Are we starting from the direction of the body? Or are we starting through the direction of the constructs of the mind, which is what I call mythology.

So, when we’re talking about physiology, we’re looking at things like diet and sleep and exercise. You know, as we talked about before. We’re also looking at the types of therapies that can target the trauma that’s stored in the body. So, things like EFT, EMDR, neurofeedback, somatic experiencing, all these things that, that start first, like they’re kind of like a body-first approach. You know, they’re like, how do we address the symptoms or the storage of this hard thing in the body and help to release it in that way. Now, in my experience, you can start from that direction, or you can start from the direction of the mythology. But the most powerful combination is actually through both of them at the same time. It’s saying, how can I address the thing that’s in the body? And how can I address the mythology, which I’ll give an explanation for in a second. And so, there’s a lot of things that we can do for our physiology, including learning to listen to our bodies. Learning to listen to our intuition, including just like things that help to expand our nervous system’s capacity.

The other day, Katie and I, when you and I were speaking personally, I talked about this analogy I use of If you would get a cup and you put a little bit of milk in there, you put a little coffee in there, then you add a little orange juice on top and a little bit of water, and then a little bit, I don’t know, vodka or something. And then as it, you’re, you’re, the vodka that you pour in at the end, I don’t know why I added vodka in there, but the vodka you put in the end causes the cup to spill over. And then, if you ask the person, well, what, what caused the cup to spill over, they might say it was the vodka. Well, sure. But it was also the orange juice and the coffee and the milk and the water because all of those things were in there contributing to the overflow of the cup. Our nervous system is like that.

And when we experience trauma, typically it’s, because there’s a lot of different definitions how people define trauma, I’m just going to use it the way I use it, which is that it’s stored in our nervous system, it gets, and then goes from there, stored into our musculature into our bodies and stays there until its dealt with. But sometimes it can be dealt with on its own, but it’s very difficult. It takes a long time. And so, so when we’re talking about the nervous system getting to that place of overwhelm, of like overwhelming emotional experiences, one of the ways to deal with that is to say, well, let’s increase the capacity of the nervous system to handle the hard things that are happening. And you can do that in lots of different ways. Katie, you can speak far more knowledgeably even than I can about this. The ways that you can increase your nervous system’s capacity to handle hard things. Like, like, for example, coffee for a lot of people, just use a really small, tiny example, can actually decrease the capacity of the nervous system to handle hard things. It’s actually like a stressor on the nervous system. Alcohol is the same kind of thing. Actually, any kind of toxin, which alcohol is, any kind of toxin can decrease your nervous system’s capacity. Lack of sleep. You get more sleep; you have more capacity in your nervous system. There’s a whole bunch of other things that can do that.

And so, but the other thing that you can do is expand the capacity of the nervous system to handle more so even if you take nothing out of the of the cup, you can make the cup bigger. Well, that’s kind of, that’s sort of what I was actually describing was making the cup bigger. Taking things out would be actually dealing with the content that’s in there. And that would be, in some cases, I guess, that could be removing alcohol or coffee. But it’s also the way I’m using it is more about dealing with hard things from the past. And that’s a lot of that’s the narrative kind of stuff. So, If you try to deal with the stuff in your body alone, the, the mythology can really want to dig its hands into.

Now I’ll define in mythology what I mean by that. That’s kind of more like the software. And when I use that language, what I mean is each one of us has a mythology about our lives that looks at the things that happened and makes meaning out of it. You know, it’s the meaning we make out of the things that happen to us. What it says about who we are today. What it says about our role in the universe, our role around other people, our value, and where we’re going in the future. But it’s all about meaning-making because we are meaning-making creatures. And we are so, we are so accustomed to making stories that are the things that happen to us, that’s many, many times, the stories of things that have happened, the stories that we tell ourself about the things that have happened can create as much, if not more pain than the thing itself, right? Because in my particular case, and I’m not I’m not justifying that kind of behavior, but when I read that story to you, you know, part of the pain of that was the meaning that I made of that thing. Because what I could have said is, the man that did that thing to me was evil, what he did was wrong. Instead, the lesson I took from that was I am not worthy of love. And I repeated that over and over and over and over and over my whole life. I am not worthy of, I am not worthy of love. And the pain of that continued to rebound forever, so if you try to address the stuff in the body you can get some help and it’s like you got to start somewhere. But if we do only that, we can’t let go of our attachment to the meaning that we’ve made from the things because it served such an important role. Like, I don’t want to knock that mythology. Like in this particular case, Katie, in my case, that message was extremely important at a time when I needed to be, I needed to find safety in any way I could in that particular environment.

So, like that might sound like a really maladaptive response. It isn’t. It is incredibly adaptive. I just like you just like all of your listeners are miracles of adaptation. The way that our psyche conforms to the the restrictions and the constrictions of our environment and finds a way to keep us safe is, I can’t swear, but, it’s flipping, I’ll say flipping, miraculous. It’s absolutely miraculous. But there does come a time when we say as adults, you know, very often we say, oh, this, the meaning that I’ve made from this event is actually the utility of that is past. And now it’s time for me to update my system. And say, you must be so tired for carrying this all your life. Like since that thing happened, you must be so tired. And I want to say thank you. I’m using a little bit of internal family systems language, if you’re familiar. I know you are, Katie, but, I want to say thank you for carrying that weight for me all these years. What if we actually changed the meaning of that? Because we have the power to change the meaning of the things that happen to us. We mostly just accept it. We say, oh, this is the meaning of that thing. Okay, I’ll just accept it as being true. In fact, we don’t even have that conversation with ourselves. We just accept it without any questioning.

But when we start to be able to go in there and say, the fact that that terrible thing happened to me, does that really mean that I’m not worth loving? Or does it maybe mean that that man didn’t know how to love himself. And I can have compassion for him, and I do, actually. That’s a whole other conversation. But that man did not know how to, did not know how to love himself. And the way for him to try and find that was to hurt me in a terrible, terrible way. But it certainly did not speak to my, my worthiness of love. And in fact, and this has been a big part of my healing as I’ve been updating my own mythology, you know, I got a tattoo on my chest, which I told you about. And I wrote it in reverse so that every time I look in the mirror, I can see it. It’s in my own handwriting. It says, enough. Because I always believed that wasn’t enough to be loved, there was something fundamentally wrong with me. And so now it’s part of updating my mythology every time I look in the mirror in the morning, I’m reminded right over my heart that I’m enough. Because I know that that mythology needs to be updated. It’s like that old mythology is not serving me anymore.

And so, it’s a matter of, can I, number one, viewing, knowing that every single part of me is good, number two, what are the things that are not serving me anymore in the life that I want to live moving forward? And then how do I remove the burden of those? And then, and then what do I replace it with? So, for me, replacing I’m not worthy of love, the replacement for that has been, you kidding me? I’m pretty friggin’ awesome. I’m certainly worthy of love. I mean, not less than anybody else anyways, you know? And that needed to be the correction that I made. And there’s a lot of messages that we get, different ones of us get from different things. And once we start to be able to look at those critically, we can say, would I, a good way to approach this is, would I, how would I feel if my child was saying this about themselves? Would I think it’s true? If my children came to me and said, Dad, I’m not worthy of love. It would break my freaking heart. I would say, well, that’s not true, clearly because I’m a pretty good judge of whether other people are worth loving and you are definitely worth loving. Well, if that’s the message I would give to my kids, that’s most certainly the message that I am worthy of as well. And so, it’s a matter of looking for how to replace that. I kind of went off on a tangent and I know we’re getting long, Katie. So, I’ll hand the mic back over to you, so to speak. But did I cover it to your satisfaction, the topic of the physiology and the mythology.

Katie: Absolutely. And I’ll link to our other episodes as well, so people have those for background and for specifics, but I think this concept of rewriting the narrative and even just the first step of becoming aware of the stories we have in our head and the questions we ask ourselves on repeat and the language we use toward ourselves, just beginning to become aware of that. I know that was pivotal for me as well. And even the questions I asked myself, like when the questions were, why is this so hard? Or why can’t I lose weight? Or why am I so sick? My subconscious answered those questions because that’s the questions I was asking. And it said, oh, you’ve had six kids, or you have thyroid problems, or all these things. And when I learned to rewrite my stories and shift my language, my physiology also followed my inner narrative. And so, I think, yeah, this is such a pivotal thing and often not talked about enough. And I love that it’s within our power to begin to do. And also, I know the theme in our conversations has been that while we are the protagonist on our own journey and we must walk the path, having a guide or a friend or a witness is also so helpful. So for our last couple of minutes, I know we’ve mentioned it in the other episodes, but just give people a rundown on HopeGuide, because I know this came from a place of mission and heart for you in helping other people on this journey. It’s your metaphorical bucket of water that you’re carrying to those who are still on the fire. So tell us about HopeGuide.

Corban: Thank you, Katie. Yeah, so, you know, it’s, it’s very common for people who work in the profession of mental health, for example, to be somebody who experienced something hard. You know, something like, oh, my gosh, like you said, they’re walking through the fire and then carrying the bucket of water out. The term for that is often the, the, the healed healer, gosh, I think I’m getting it wrong. But anyways, b, the so it’s, you know, my story isn’t unique in that I experienced something hard, and I said, well, how can I help other people? Like that’s just becomes an important thing, right? But, but I started, when I came out of this, I said, I really, really I feel so called to help people, people who are experiencing the kind of pain that I’ve experienced, which doesn’t only come from the kind of experience I had.

There’s a lot of reasons that we can experience trauma, depression, anxiety, suicidality, you know, PTSD, like there’s a lot of reasons that we can get into that, that are not even remotely similar to mine, but that emotional experience that I had was horrible. It was very hard. And so, that really birthed in me a desire to help people to find healing in a way that didn’t require them to spend as much time and as much money as I had to get there because I honestly believe that if I only had. $50,000 left to spend, I would not be here today. Well, that’s not acceptable, Katie. It’s unacceptable for that to be the barrier. Now, I know it’s not for everybody, but in my case, if I didn’t have $300,000 to spend, I only had $250,000, I would be, I’d be dead. I absolutely believe that. I don’t think I could have held on forever.

And so, it really came from like, okay, one thing I know that I was missing was I was missing direction. I was missing a guide. I was missing somebody to direct me on the way. I had to just go find different therapists and try this and try that and all these different things. And I thought it would be so much easier if somebody could just like listen to me, to observe what I was experiencing and say, because I know the research is out there. I’ve read it. A lot of this stuff just gets stored in universities and never get dispersed because there’s not an economic model for using it. But like the information is there on how we heal from trauma. Trauma is a solvable problem. All of these things are solvable problems. And so, if it’s a solvable problem, how can we do that?

And so, I know that one of the big steps I was missing is somebody there who can be a bridge between the experience and the solution. And so HopeGuide, sorry to go on a little bit long about that, I get really passionate, but HopeGuide, that’s our goal there is to be a bridge between the experience of trauma, but also the expressions that are very often associated with trauma, depression, anxiety, PTSD, suicidality, loneliness is a common thing as well, sense of being alone. And so, to provide a bridge between that experience and the person by saying, let’s actually understand you, like we understand the emotional experience you’re going through, let’s actually understand you, the way it’s showing up in your body, the way it’s showing up in your physiology, in your mythology, in your life. And let’s connect the dots so that you don’t have to go and do, try this thing for a year and try that thing for a year and try this thing for a year and say, this is the thing that’s most likely to help you.

And also, this is a missing piece. Here are the things that you can do to support your physiology that’s not just therapy. Like are there some supplements that you can take, for example, to help support your physiology so you have more capacity. Because if you have a very low capacity, this can take you a lot longer to deal with the hard things of your past. But if you can actually expand your capacity, all of a sudden you have, like, you can do it a lot quicker timeframe. And you experience a better, you know, experience a lot, a lot quicker. So, anyways, that’s, that’s what we do at HopeGuide. We really bridge that connection. We provide support that go outside of mental health, but really support mental health.

And, and our goal is to as much as is possible to reduce the barriers of entry. One of those is cost. One of those is knowledge. Like people just don’t know what they don’t know. That’s why they go after a bunch of different things. And one of those is geography. And that’s just, like access to this stuff, a lot of the kinds of therapy that we offer are available in metro centers and not other places. So, we provide all of our services online. And we’re building some local centers as well, but at the moment, online, to solve those problems of accessibility.

Katie: Well, thank you so much for creating that and for your time today. Like I said, this is a recurring question I get since sharing my own story. And I’m so grateful to be able to share a resource that makes this accessible to people. And that, like you said, is available everywhere because this was a barrier I had in my own journey was finding resources, especially locally. And so, I’m very grateful this exists. I’m very grateful that you exist and for your time today. Thank you so much for being here.

Corban: Thank you, Katie. I appreciate you.

Katie: And thanks to all of you for sharing your time, your energy, and your attention with us today. We’re both so grateful that you did. And I hope that you will join me again on the next episode of the Wellness Mama podcast.

If you’re enjoying these interviews, would you please take two minutes to leave a rating or review on iTunes for me? Doing this helps more people to find the podcast, which means even more moms and families could benefit from the information. I really appreciate your time, and thanks as always for listening.

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About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

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