Being self-employed in a job that can be very undependable, I was feeling a lot of personal responsibility to make sure I had enough work. Add a few personal and family issues, and all of a sudden, I was tired, anxious, and low. The happy-go-lucky optimist that my friends and family knew so well had disappeared. I didn’t want to go out or see my friends. I couldn’t face work. I was facing burnout for the first time at the age of 32, and I didn’t know what to do about it.
As I continued to push myself harder, I realised something had to give. I visited the doctor only to be offered anti-depressants, which I declined, wanting to try a non-prescriptive method first. I tried exercise to relieve my stress, I changed my diet, read every book about mindfulness and stress I could find, but still, the anxiety became worse and I began to fear that I would never find my way back to the ‘old me’.
A friend had read an article about ‘The Muscle Whisperer’, Sophia Kupse and suggested I book a session. Kupse uses a holistic approach to back pain, but goes beyond massage by searching into the emotions and traumas that create it. It was a back-to-front approach, but I had always had back pain, so despite being a little uncertain, I was intrigued to see if there was a link, and I booked a couple of sessions.
After an initial verbal consultation, Kupse worked on my back and pinpointed the areas where I was holding tension, explaining how this related to my anxiety and discussing the origin of the pain and tension. She proceeded along each area of my back as if it was a timeline and explained how certain areas were holding tension in relation to traumas from my past (lower back muscles being your childhood, foundation and beliefs).
We discussed the possibilities: nervousness as a child, poisonous relationships, even cracking my head open as a kid and still holding onto that trauma. The breakthrough came when Kupse reached my shoulders and neck; 'the family collar' as Kupse called it. The right side is the female family energy – mother, grandmother, daughter, and sister. The male family energy is on the left side – father, brother, son, grandfather. I was holding tension on the left, which I realised was down to a health scare my father had recently. I had been worried about recent hospital results he had received, and felt that he had been trying to keep the details from me to protect me.
Kupse mentioned that negative thoughts increase adrenaline and cortisol, storing lactic acid in the big muscle groups. It all made sense to me, and coincided with the scientific research I had read about in the books on stress; the worry and resulting negative thoughts had increased my stress hormone levels (adrenaline and cortisol), which had caused lactic acid to build up in the muscles in my back, causing the pain.
Kupse uses ‘LT Therapy’ which combines volcanic heat and ice marble, alternating hot and cold energy to the body. Heat from the volcanic stones detoxes the muscles, releasing negative muscle memory. Cold from the ice marble puts the positive charge back into the muscle, restoring balance back to the muscle memory. During our sessions, and with every knot and painful spot she found, we spoke about my life, recent events, my relationships and how I was feeling. It felt great to speak out loud and be prompted for details as she figured out from where each knot was created.
After two sessions I came away feeling recharged, balanced and in tune with my body. My back pain, which I had not focused on fixing before, disappeared, and I have realised that stress is the number one cause of my anxiety. Through my sessions with Kupse, I understand now that stress causes an increase of cortisol and adrenaline and that I need to learn to manage my stress before it builds up. I need to take back control around the way that I think about and deal with life’s surprises and the uncertain events, including my line of work, that cause me stress.
It’s been a long journey, but after this realisation, I embarked on a series of acupuncture and CBT sessions, the latter of which has helped me cope with my father’s health situation better, and learnt breathing techniques that help calm my mind and body and keep the stress at bay. I’ve taken up yoga, started to be better to myself and relax more, and am only taking on the work that I enjoy. The best thing is, through choosing my work rather than taking on anything I can get, I’m working less hours and earning more money than before! I can finally say now that I’m through the other side of my anxiety, and I know how to manage it for the future.
Prices start from £55 in London's Harley Street and £35 in West Yorkshire. Visit themusclewhisperer.co.uk