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Season 4 Episode 7:

What Is A Highly Sensitive Body? (And My Story Healing in One)

Episode Summary

This may be the most vulnerable episode of Quiet the Diet yet. Michelle is sharing her own story of living in a highly sensitive body and navigating mystery symptoms that left her searching for answers after the typical treatment protocols not only didn't work but made things worse. If you've ever felt hopeless when it comes to your health and feel like you're in an information blackout trying to find answers, this episode is for you. 

Tune in to hear:

  • Michelle's personal experience navigating mystery symptoms and new health challenges [9:57]
  • Healing from mold illness and trying to understand her body's adverse reaction to detox protocols [12:59]
  • How a chiropractic adjustment landed her in the ER [16:35]
  • Connecting the dots between POTS, MCAS, and Hypermobility [21:14]
  • The power of taking radical responsibility for our health [28:25]
  • Understanding the triggers of conditions like MCAS [37:56]
  • What does it mean to live in a highly sensitive body [41:18]


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What Is A Highly Sensitive Body? (And My Story Healing in One)


The question is, what makes today different than all other days on quiet the diet? Well, there's two things that make today different. Number one is we are going to have a sponsor for this episode, but it is going to be me as I talk about this new, amazing program that I am so excited to launch. And the launch literally happens today.

Michelle S [00:01:37]:
The other thing that makes today different from all other days and all other podcast episodes is I am just straight up telling you all the story of my own health. The experience that I had in the past few years with new, alarming health issues that I could not find any answers to, not with the best practitioners in the world that I for the first time. And you'll hear about it in this episode. I wasn't sure if I was going to be okay ultimately. And I'm a little bit vulnerable in this episode, a lot, a bit hopeful. And I really just wanted to tell you all the experience that I had and hopefully give a lot of hope if you're feeling like your body's experiencing mysterious conditions and symptoms when you're not sure where they've come from. I wanted to give some clarity on the experience I've had, and I thought there was no better way to do that when intro-ing the new highly sensitive body hub. So the highly sensitive body hub is the project I've been working on now for years, as when I was at my lowest moments of my life, when I could not get up to make it to the kitchen.

Michelle S [00:02:58]:
I had to use a computer chair and literally roll myself into the other rooms. I couldn't make it because when I stood up, my heart rate was so erratic. I was so dizzy all the time, sleepless with insomnia. And in those moments, I was feverishly searching Reddit, feverishly trying to find answers to the health issues I was experiencing. And I couldn't find anything. It really felt like in those moments that there was so much information online and not one piece of it applied to me. I couldn't get iv's anymore. I couldn't do mold detoxes.

Michelle S [00:03:34]:
I couldn't do any of the amazing things that functional medicine doctors promised were these answers to my health. And remember, I'm a functional dietitian. And my colleagues are these very practitioners, these brilliant practitioners. And what we've seen really, since COVID is such a rise in these mysterious symptoms. So my dear friend Olivia Amatrano, you may know her as organic. Olivia coined the term highly sensitive body to really talk about a person like myself who feels like their bodies operate differently than others. They feel like when they go to an amusement park and they stand for too long in a line, that they'll start getting dizzy and disoriented. When they're in a supermarket, they get dizzy and disoriented, or they feel like their heart rate goes wild after being in a hot shower or outside in the heat.

Michelle S [00:04:25]:
They might feel like they get sensory overloaded sometimes and they need to do certain things that other people don't just to feel kind of even. Just to feel even neutral. They may be experiencing digestive issues, but maybe reacting to weird foods like fermented foods or oranges or citrus fruits, but not to broccoli and cauliflower. Like everyone else, they may notice when they start taking a new supplement that they feel worse, markedly worse, in that supplement when everyone else seems to be feeling better. I wanted to create this information center, and that's exactly what the highly sensitive hub is. It's an information center for people who feel like they're in an information blackout. I truly feel like knowing our bodies and understanding how our bodies work is the key to transforming our health. So I actually brought in 15 of my top colleagues in these mysterious symptoms and these mysterious conditions to illuminate as much information as we possibly can.

Michelle S [00:05:31]:
I wanted this to be cost effective. And I just have poured my heart and soul into this program. Because I never want someone to feel like I did when my symptoms were so bad and I just felt so backed up against the wall and alone. And I never want any of you to feel like that. I always want you to know that no matter how weird your symptoms are, how random they seem, how freaking backed up against the wall you feel, there is always something that can be done and there's always a way we can learn more. So really, this is just, again, my life's work poured into this, all for the people who feel like they are highly sensitive or I joke around medium sensitive and feel that incongruence with themselves in the environment. And you can sign up today at the link below.

Michelle S [00:06:30]:
So you'll be getting the discounted prices. And there's new information within this information center via videos, handouts, tools, supplement recommendations, recipes, anything you could possibly need. It's in the hub and you can sign up today. So thank you. And I'm thanking you in advance for listening to what you're about to listen to, which is my vulnerable story of moments where I felt alone and how connected and hopeful I am now. I hope that it really resonates with you, and I hope that I see you in the hub. Thank you for listening, and I'll see you in there. This episode is going to be different than my usual episodes.

Michelle S [00:07:21]:
Generally, when I have an episode of quiet the diet, I'm bringing on a guest to talk about some really specific functional nutrition topic in a really nuanced way. Or I'm talking with Nikki about something going on in the nutrition space and giving you all as many tangible tips and tools as we possibly can, given the kind of broader societal context of what's going on. This is not that kind of episode. This episode is a truly personal and vulnerable story about my own health and what I've been working on. And because I don't ever want you to think that my health is perfect, that I've got it all figured out, I certainly don't look like I've got it all figured out, by the way, but I never want you to think I don't understand maybe some of the experience you've had. And of course, no one can understand the full experience of what you've been through. But I hope you can relate to my story. And I have to tell you, I'm a little bit nervous to share this because you usually, and on the other episodes of quiet the diet I've been sharing my story of health from a recovery standpoint from ten years ago, and what you've heard me talk about is panic attacks and digestive issues and weight loss.

Michelle S [00:08:41]:
And that's really what I've worked with client population wise, for the past close to ten years. A couple years ago, in between that time, I started having sort of a new healing crisis. A new piece of my health journey emerged, and I have been leaking it a little bit here and there in different episodes, but I felt that you deserve to hear the whole story, how real things got and how I kind of clawed my way back to a place where I think is actually even stronger than where I was before, but was not at all what I expected. I always say in our health that whenever we think things can't get worse, kind of when we're coasting, is always when they sneak up on you. And it's not that we can't always find a way out. But I will say that sometimes things can be surprisingly so bad for factors that are either out of your control or within your control. So I'm going to take you through again. This is really just storytelling, and it'll ultimately lead into some solutions, of course.

Navigating dizzy spells and mold detox gone wrong 

Michelle S [00:09:57]:
But I'm going to tell you my story over the past few years of what happened. So starting, I would say maybe five years ago, I had some level of dizziness that was happening. And I remember seeing different functional medicine doctors, naturopathic doctors, and they were incredible. Some of them were my closest colleagues and friends. And what we kind of came to the conclusion was, you're very stressed, you did a long term vegan diet with some disordered eating and restrictive disordered eating, and you're nutrient deficient, you're B vitamin deficient. So over the years, I kind of corrected a lot of those deficiencies we were seeing. And the dizziness had waves of time where it would be better or worse. In addition to that, I just noticed that anytime I would take a supplement or medication, my body would react what felt like a hundred times stronger than anyone else's.

Michelle S [00:10:59]:
And the things that seem to make other people feel good, like taking B vitamins for energy or vitamin C for your immune system, made me feel awful. So I started, let's say that was five years ago, when I started noticing some level of dizziness. Even though I had already worked on a lot of these functional nutrition issues, it really started to appear to me like what I wanted to work on was outside of the realm of even functional medicine or even naturopathic medicine. And then four years ago, I was living in an apartment. And I will candidly tell you, it was an amazing apartment on Fifth Avenue in the city, and I did not want to leave that apartment. And there was a tremendous amount of mold in that apartment. But if you're a New Yorker and you're hearing this, you know that giving up a good apartment in New York is akin to a travesty. So I was willing to stay in that apartment longer than I should have.

Michelle S [00:12:00]:
There was visible black mold. I had tested for mold both inside of my body in the apartment, the downstream effects of having mold toxicity, and was doing dutch testing also to check on how my hormones are being affected. Mineral hair, mineral testing, everything confirmed very clearly that mold had become a huge issue for me. So I did stay in that apartment for too long, until one day, I walked into the bedroom of that apartment, and I saw my husband, Jeremy, almost like coughing up a lung. And I thought, oh, my gosh, this apartment is like interstellar. He's in a dust storm of mold in here. Even though we were so meticulous with keeping it clean and keeping it dry mold wise, I said, I'm having all these organ wide issues and all these symptoms, this dizziness, this nausea, this reflux, all these symptoms that I had really gotten rid of a long time before. And now I saw that my husband, who really doesn't have the same body as me, he doesn't react to the same things as me.

Michelle S [00:12:59]:
He was quite ill, so I was like, okay, him being sick is enough for me to motivate myself to move out of this apartment. So then we went on an apartment hunt, and that took about ten months, unfortunately, for us, to even find the apartment that we would ultimately want to live in, because we needed to find one that was brand new. It was during COVID really hard to find showings. And during that time, I then started, as I was looking for another apartment, a mold detox protocol with a functional medicine doctor and advised with a naturopathic physician. The more that I did the mold detox protocol, the sicker I felt and sicker. I mean, the first night, I think I gained over ten pounds of fluid on the scale, like, ten pound difference from one day to another because of the extreme inflammatory and herx reaction that I was having to the mold protocol. After that point, I kind of entered what I would describe as a different kind of illness that I had never experienced before. This was where I was having reactions to cold or hot temperatures.

Michelle S [00:14:04]:
I was eating foods that I had eaten my whole life, but now were giving me really strong reactions, like, I was eating oranges or spinach or fermented foods. All these foods that were robust within my diet were now making me quite ill. And I found it so scary, particularly because I was under the care of who I definitely consider to be the best functional medicine and naturopathic medical doctors. And they. Outside of saying you're having a detox reaction and kind of fight it out, they didn't really have the answers for me that I needed. And again, we're kind of rewinding to four years ago during this point in the story. So what I kept doing was kind of just working on the foundations of my health. Blood sugar, gut health, my liver detox, focusing on everything like that, and still taking breaks from the mold, detox, noticing when it was making me sicker or better or sicker or better.

Michelle S [00:15:04]:
But again, this is when I entered a different phase of not feeling well that I had not encountered before. I was finding it hard to even socialize with people in the same way. I'm a very social person. I love, you know, my dream day is, like sitting with one friend in a room and just talking for, like, 15 hours straight and learning every single thing about their lives. If my best friend gab listens to this, I joke because we have conversations to this day. We've been best friends since we're two years old, where we're still learning about each other's families. We're still learning about each other's, like, inner feelings all the time. And it's just funny that we're still learning about each other, because that is so my passion in life, to connect with people who I love and connect with my clients and just to know people.

Michelle S [00:15:52]:
And even during that time, I started to notice that there were parts of my personality that were being what felt like stripped for me. And this, again, was four years ago still. This is when the COVID lockdown started and everything like that, too. So in some ways, I had a little bit of a reprieve, and I really just didn't let the symptoms get to me that much, I guess you could say I was really just like, I don't know what this is, but I'm going to figure it out. Fast forwarding to two years ago, I did get COVID. Ultimately, I actually didn't get COVID from 2020 to 2022, which was really weird, because I was in New York, and I feel like everyone had COVID. I just didn't happen to get it, probably because we weren't all seeing each other as much. And when I finally got COVID.

Impact of COVID on symptoms

Michelle S [00:16:35]:
I had a normal kind of viral process. Felt, you know, pretty bad, but not anything else. And then about a month after COVID ended, I started getting radical bad symptoms. So I was having severe dizziness, digestive issues, nausea all the time. A lot of out of body experiences, really scary symptoms. And then I had a lot of neck pain, and I was finding it hard to, like, sit up. So I was wearing, like, a soft neck brace. I went to a chiropractor at the time who did some adjustments on my neck.

Michelle S [00:17:14]:
And this I have spoken about in a couple other episodes, and actually was, like, digging into my neck with this scalpel like tool. And after that, I left that appointment, and my heart rate was like, I don't even. It was like, 160. My blood pressure was, like, sky high to, like, 150 over 110 or something like that. So I left that appointment. I even had a client that night. So if my client's listening to this, he knows the story. And I actually was seeing that client in person that night.

Michelle S [00:17:48]:
And I went to see the client and said, I was in the ER today. I'm in a neck brace. I don't know what happened when I went to the ER. I knew when I walked in that I should say to them that I'm a person who is not having an anxiety issue, that there is something medically going on. And I realized to say that because I didn't want them to write it off as anxiety, when anxiety is something I truly understand very well within my own body. And it didn't feel like anxiety when this episode happened. It felt like. I really don't know how else to explain it.

Michelle S [00:18:24]:
I literally thought I was going to die, though. I really did not understand what was going on in my body. And I came to understand during the ER visit that maybe these were pots related symptoms, dysautonomia related symptoms, something related to something that was done to my neck, essentially. But I will tell you that I could hardly walk to the ER. This was sudden and acute, and it felt like it was completely out of nowhere. I was already going to this chiropractor in the first place, who should have checked if I was hypermobile in the first place, because you should not get upper cervical neck adjustments when you're hypermobile. But basically, what had happened in that visit was they had kind of, like, moved or loosened the joints in my neck. And we have a lot of nerves that control heart rate, nerves that control other actions of the body within our neck.

Michelle S [00:19:17]:
And it caused this really strong response after that resulted in every time I would stand up, my heart rate would go from like 80 to 100, 5160. So I had this really pounding heart. I was incredibly dizzy. And I remember being in the ER and then saying, I've never seen someone so calm with a heart rate this high. And I was like, thank you for saying that. I am proud of that. However, I still want to understand what's going on. So they just basically waited for my blood pressure to come down.

Michelle S [00:19:48]:
They kind of treated it like it was a high blood pressure, high heart rate situation, and said, if you're doing work on figuring out if you have pots, figure it out, basically. So I came home after the ER, and I very rarely, like, need the assistance of anyone, of course, unless we're dealing with something, and we need those loved ones around us. And there's not an ounce of shame of relying on that. At this point in my health, I had not prior needed assistance from family members, although, thank goodness, thank heavens that I have them. My husband was at work. I did not want to worry him. I should have, he wouldn't have cared. And so I called my dad, and we're very close, and he came over to my house, and I basically just said, I can't move my neck an inch.

Michelle S [00:20:36]:
I need to be in a neck brace anytime I move my neck at all. My heart rate's jumping up. I just need you here in case I need water, in case I need anything. And it really got to the point during that time when I couldn't even go to the bathroom without my heart rate skyrocketing. And just for people to understand, when your heart rate is skyrocketing like that, you're going to get a lot of symptoms of dizziness, anxiety, the room spinning, nausea, digestive issues, because, again, all those nerves are really related to the rest of your body. What I was experiencing at the time and didn't realize was I was having an episode of Potts MCAs Mass Altubas syndrome. And that was all related to the fact that I'm hypermobile. So there's these kind of three conditions that travel together, but what it looked like for me was not all these different conditions.

Taking radical responsibility for our health

Michelle S [00:21:20]:
At the time, I didn't fully understand what was going on, although I had an idea about maybe some of the histamine stuff or some of the mold stuff. What it looked like for me was I cannot go to the bathroom without having a full blown dizziness vertigo episode. And I will tell you that I still had the mindset at that point that no matter what? I'm going to find out what's going on with me. I've always found out what's going on with me, and I will find out again. Even if there's no practitioner who will help me with this because they don't know what this is or how to treat it, I'm going to find out. And I always make myself very responsible for my health. And in that moment, I made myself very responsible for my health. So I did my usual rounds of calling my sister, my cousin Allie, my husband, my dad, and everyone jumped in and was helping to take care of me at the time.

Michelle S [00:22:13]:
And I basically just said, listen, I don't understand what's going on with my body. I just know here's where I'm at right now. Where I'm at right now is you have to help me get up to go to the bathroom. My legs are numb, my neck is in excruciating pain, and I'm really freaking dizzy when I stand up and I don't want to fall. So I thankfully had the help of my husband and my dad and my sister, my cousin, and my whole family was really, really supportive during this time. And I just. The only way I could describe it is, and I know this is a part where, again, I'm emotional to think about it, and I truly believe that every single symptom I've ever had and every experience I've ever had in my life is there to help me help other people when they feel like there is no solution or no hope. And during this journey, when I was kind of healing with mcats and pots and working with my hypermobile body, it was the first time in my entire life that I wasn't sure if I was going to be okay.

Michelle S [00:23:20]:
And why that scares me so much, scared me so much. I'm no longer scared is because if I can't figure it out, who's going to figure it out? I really take personal accountability and personal responsibility, and maybe it's too much to make sure that I can figure out complex problems and that I can see where anyone is at and meet them where they're at. It's what I pride myself on. It's what I. You know, there's so much of my identity wrapped into this. I never, ever judged myself for being in that position. I can't judge myself for not knowing what I don't know. And now when I look back in gratitude on the situation, I'm so thankful.

Michelle S [00:24:02]:
And I mean it when I say this with all of my heart and soul, I am so, so thankful that I had those moments because it led me to understanding kind of that next level of experience that my clients go through. But I did not feel that way at the time. And you can imagine if you felt so bad and so scared that you would not feel that way at the time. So maybe this was, like, two and a half years ago, and I'll take you back to that story. There was a moment. So when my dad, my dad stayed over for a few days, my husband got home from work. Obviously, he eventually comes home from work, and he actually had a work trip later that week. But I remember finally kind of doing enough exercise, enough work, enough electrolytes, enough compression socks, enough that I could kind of stabilize my heart rate enough to shower, finally, because I had to just go in.

Michelle S [00:24:53]:
Like, I had to take showers that were five minutes long, because the actual heat in the shower can make your heart rate very erratic and can instigate a lot of pot symptoms. And I don't know if any of you listening to this have noticed that, but showering can make you really dizzy. It can make your heart pound. It can make you have blood pooling or, like, redness in your feet. And I remember looking in the mirror, and this was a very distinct moment after it had been probably, let's call it a week since the initial incident with my neck, when I was. I was dizzy 24 hours a day that week, there was not one moment of respite. There was no time. I wasn't in pain.

Michelle S [00:25:31]:
There was no time that my body wasn't shaking. I used to have these really violent tremors that were happening. There wasn't a moment that I took a break from it. And my mental state stayed pretty good because I was ferociously learning for as long as I could look at the computer, I was ferociously learning about all of these symptoms and learning about these conditions and kind of putting the pieces together for myself. And then I remember looking in the mirror during one moment after that week was my first week of hell, and I just looked in the mirror and I literally looked at myself and I said, I don't know if I'm going to make it through this. And I saw my own face in that moment. And I said, you are never another part of me. The other side of me looked at me directly in the face and said, you are never going to say that again.

Michelle S [00:26:17]:
And if you say that again, you are not going to make it through this. So I decided, I made a commitment to myself that I was never going to say that again, yes, our brain says stuff, but I was never going to respond with the same response. So even if my brain said that I would brush it off, I would say, so what? You feel that way? Or I would give a counterargument to my brain. But I realized in that moment, because of how critical my symptoms were, and that's the really confusing part about these conditions. Mast activation syndrome, POTS, hypermobility, is that the symptoms are so huge and so scary, and they're very related to our vital signs, right? Our heart rate, our temperature. There's so many signs on our skin. It's all these things that would indicate there's something really scary going on underneath the surface. And sometimes their bark is so much worse than their bite.

There is always hope for healing

Michelle S [00:27:07]:
During this time, also, I had severe insomnia, which I see in so many of my clients with these conditions. And there's something particularly cruel about insomnia when you're also, like, shaking, when you're also dizzy again, because you can't, like, find your peace and you can't find your rest. But what I want to tell people listening to this, in case you're getting triggered in any way, to a time that was stressful for you, is that I believe in every part of my being, that no matter how hard things are, there is always a way to get some sort of relief. There is always hope, and there is always a step forward. And I truly mean it when I say to all of you that I am thankful every single day for what I went through, because I would not be here. The person that I am today, the practitioner that I am today, without it. So this is not an episode for pity. For Michelle.

Michelle S [00:27:59]:
She is dandy. I am better than I ever was because I know what I'm made of now. I know what I've got. And also, I have never been more hopeful in my entire life that we can always do something to heal, that there's always dawn after the darkness, there is always a light. And I so mean that. So I don't care how bad your symptoms are. Oh, I care. I don't mean it like that.

Michelle S [00:28:25]:
It doesn't matter how bad your symptoms are, because I always believe there's something we can do. It doesn't mean we can miraculously heal and fix every condition in the body, but we can make the experience of being in those conditions, in those states better. And there's always something we can do from a mindset perspective or from a physical perspective. I have bottomless belief in this. So as part of my healing journey from that moment on when I looked at myself in the face and I said, you're Michelle Shapiro. And whoever you are, you are that person. It doesn't make Michelle Shapiro better than any other person. I have one client, Rachel, who always listens to the podcast and she is amazing.

Michelle S [00:29:04]:
And she also has been through so much and there's been moments. And when Rachel said, michelle, how do you think you did it? Do you have something different than I have? I have other clients and friends who've been through hard things who've asked me the same thing. And the answer is absolutely no. I don't have any more inherent strength than anyone. I don't have better biology than anyone. I just believe that if we use certain tools and we apply certain tools to our mindset that anyone has, it has the thing they need. And by the way, just a little comment to Rachel, because you're listening. I'm just so proud of you for what you've been through and where you are and where you're going.

Michelle S [00:29:47]:
And I feel, I wish I could shout out all hundred of my clients right now and all of Nikki's and Nina's and Jess and Sarah's clients, too. I have to give a shout out to Rachel during this episode specifically. So in that moment, again, when I decided, you're never going to talk like that again, we are never going to fall into the belief that we aren't going to heal. I started to change. And it's interesting when I talk to my colleagues who have experienced these conditions again because the symptoms are so extreme and sometimes the symptoms are so unyielding. You really have to find this guttural piece of you that's relentless, this relentless piece of you. And I often say that in my practice, we are relentless providers because again, I have so much hope for all of you that, and we'll really stop at nothing. So I needed to be that person for me.

Michelle S [00:30:41]:
And if you are going through something really hard right now, I just want to congratulate you for even having you on your team. I think it's so amazing that we have ourselves first. Like, you're such an amazing asset to have on your team. And to know that even when you're alone, you're still with you is a really powerful thing. And I know my more cynical or, you know, sinister event clients will be saying, like, I'm not that enjoyable to be around Michelle. You don't know that either way. I'm sure you are. And either way, it's still amazing that you always have you by your side.

Michelle S [00:31:14]:
So I dedicated myself to healing, and what that looked like was, I'm like, great, I'm going to go on a walk with Jeremy. One block around the block. One block around, and I'm going to go, you know, I have a mother's day brunch with my mother in law and my mother, and we're going to go. I have to make it to the city in one month. I have to make it in a neck brace if I have to with my pulse ox to make sure my heart rate's okay. Maybe I have to take a medication to control my heart rate. Maybe I have to take three element packets. But I accommodated wherever I was, and then I set these goals for myself to kind of pull myself out of that.

Michelle S [00:31:53]:
I was still seeing clients during this time. I told my clients, straight up, guys, I'm in a neck brace right now. When I move my head too much, my heart rate gets weird. Those clients were so incredible and accommodating. And that's what I want to also tell you, too. Like, you at your worst is still someone else at their best, so don't worry. And this goes for all of us. If, like, my clients wanted my support more than they cared that I was in a freaking ugly neck brace, because they knew I could still be 100% there for them, I just couldn't nod my head while I was doing it.

Why Treating MCAS, POTS, and Hypermobility can be difficult

Michelle S [00:32:30]:
Other than that, the symptoms were pretty stable at that point. Of course, I didn't take clients the first week, but I already had gone back into taking clients after because I also realized that, nervous system wise, if I told myself, hey, Michelle, you can't do these things, you have to stop living your life, it was going to put me into a really bad position. So this really empowering, important part of healing, which is that we can set boundaries, and then we can also push ourselves and challenge ourselves, and both are really important, so we can be really compassionate without coddling ourselves, and we can bootstrap a little bit when we have to, and that's okay, too. If anything, it kind of burned me with a fire of passion for working with clients even more because I was like, now, if any of my clients are going through this, I will know exactly what to do because I will have that tool set for them. The problem with these conditions, mcas, pots, and hypermobility, is that conventional medicine doesn't touch them, usually in a substantial enough way. Functional medicine methods like molds, detox protocols, like parasite protocols, you know, iv's, all of these things can make these conditions flare, really badly. So again, during this time, I was having iv's come to my house to get. First I was getting vitamin IV's, and then I realized I was feeling so much worse.

Michelle S [00:33:56]:
And I have asked my bestie, who's a naturopathic doctor, doctor Robert Kochko. After a vitamin drip, I was like, am I supposed to feel like I can't sleep for three nights and I'm shaking with nerves, or is that not normal? And he was like, not normal. And we're not doing that again until we figure out what's going on with you. So he was incredibly helpful during that time, too, because again, what I needed for the mold detox was very different than what I needed for the histamine stuff that was going on, the mast cell activation syndrome stuff that was going on. So that's, again where I really think my practice has taken, you know, a different. Taken on a new level or something. I don't know what to call it, which is that now I understand that nutrition is so individualized that literally one person eating spinach or one person eating an orange can sicken them, whereby for another person, it can be the healthiest thing in the entire world. I didn't get that until I got that.

Michelle S [00:34:57]:
And of course, I understood anxiety really well and gut issues and the intricacies of the mental state behind weight loss. But to really understand what it's like to be in a highly sensitive body, to exist in a way that feels so counter from everyone else, so opposite to everyone else, and how that manifests in our healing journey was so essential for the work that I do. So, again, I know you kind of don't believe me when I'm saying it, but I would not take back one day of what I went through. I also had a close friend going through something similar. Soon after I went through all of this, I was really able to identify what was going on with her, similarly to my clients, where we can try an intervention, and now my brain will go, okay, they felt really poorly after this intervention and this, and then I'll start lining up why their body's reacting to one thing versus another. And it just gives that puzzle of their body an even broader and bigger understanding, so that now the options are really limitless for which path we can go, as long as it works well for them. And again, with my friend who was going through this, she also had trouble sleeping for, I think it was 21 nights straight after she gave birth. And I think a lot of what made it so supremely challenging for her outside of the extreme symptoms she was experiencing, extreme symptoms she was experiencing, was that she was someone who hadn't really been chronically ill before.

Michelle S [00:36:27]:
And what's startling about these conditions, mast cell activation syndrome and pots and hypermobility symptoms, not hypermobility as a condition, but symptoms from hypermobility, is that post COVID, in this kind of new world we're living in, it seems like people who have never been sick before have been getting extremely sick and not again sick, even in a respiratory illness kind of way, but they're sick in a new way they've never experienced before. Like my clients, who've never had reflux a day in their life, my clients, who've never had anxiety a day in their life. For myself, I had experienced anxiety so much before that I could be shaking for 12 hours straight. And I'm not going to have anxiety, because I know the physiological experience of anxiety, but I have so many tools that it never turns into actual panic or anxiety, because I know what to do when that happens. That's a lot of the work I do with clients, too, is that you can have physiological anxiety and not turn into that mental anxiety. But for my friend, you know, I was so heartbroken and, frankly, scared, even though I put on a very brave face for her, because if she hadn't experienced any sort of illness before, she wouldn't know how amazing she was and how capable she was and how resilient she was. Again, for myself, I had been through so many different weird illnesses in my life, but this really, even for me, it felt like a complete different level of sickness I had never, ever experienced before. And so there's this really new and weird thing about all these conditions.

Michelle S [00:37:56]:
Mass cell activation syndrome, all the histamine issues that come with mass cell activation syndrome, pots all these heart rate issues, hypermobility, all this new pain, is that if people have never experienced this before or never experienced the pain, they have to learn really quick and really hard how to lift yourself out from hell. I don't know what other word to use from hell. Like, all of your body feels like it's betraying you and fighting against you in a way that just doesn't make sense. Now, I would say for these conditions that there's always something, almost always something lurking under the surface, whether it's nervous system dysregulation, whether it's just having a highly sensitive body and being a highly sensitive person, whether it's stealth infections that were happening. These conditions happen when you combine a lot of different factors and a lot of different triggers together. And then there's, like, an explosion of symptoms, or the symptoms can trickle in over time. I didn't realize the reason I was dizzy five or seven years ago was because I was driving a lot again. And driving is really challenging for dizziness and hypermobility because your neck is moving a lot, there's vibration under you.

Michelle S [00:39:03]:
And every time I started driving again after I moved apartments from the city, that whenever I started driving again, my symptoms started getting worse. So I started to learn my own triggers. I started to learn my clients, my friends triggers, and how they were all so different from each other. So that's just the scary part of some parts of chronic illness. Listen, someone who has experienced chronic illness their whole life can also not feel like they have much reserves to handle anything that comes at them because they've been fighting every second of every day. It's always comical to me when people think that people who have long term chronic illness are weak or I don't know if the word's weak, but they're like, you're complaining. And I'm like, if you lived one day in their bodies, all of my clients, you would not feel that way. It's much harder to be in a body that feels unsafe and much harder to be in a body that feels not good.

Michelle S [00:39:58]:
And we don't always know what to do when we feel that way. We don't know, should we challenge ourselves? Should we kind of pare it back a little bit? What's driving this? And that's really important to the work that I'm doing now, is just figuring out what are people's specific triggers? The scariest part of just bringing it back to my personal journey, the scariest part of the entire thing was that while this was happening, there was absolutely nowhere for me to find information on these conditions. I was in a blackout. The main place I found information was on Reddit, because I would type in, why do I feel worse on day nine of my cycle? Or I would type, why does a chiropractic adjustment make me have pots? If you don't know what the conditions are, you don't know what to search for, and you don't know how to get help. I feel like, unlike other conditions, education in these conditions is probably the most important thing. Just education about our bodies, if we are highly sensitive bodies. And there's an episode coming out next week on what's the juice? Podcast with Olivia Amitrano. You guys know her as organic Olivia.

What it means to live in a highly sensitive body

Michelle S [00:41:18]:
Her podcast is incredible. And we talk all about histamines. We talk all about these conditions. Mass salivation syndrome, pots and dysautonomia. And in the episode, Olivia says, it's kind of like you're living in a highly sensitive body. And as I got sicker during that time, a couple of years ago, I noticed that my body was even more sensitive than it ever was before. So the level of sensitivity went up as my symptoms got worse, whereby, again, I'm a person who can laugh, throw my neck around, I like going to rock and roll concerts. And I noticed that, again, just going out and socializing with friends, which is something that I love doing and could do endlessly and loved, became really hard for me because I was finding it hard to look at things without getting dizzy.

Michelle S [00:42:05]:
I was finding it hard to nod my head. So my head is always moving forward to get closer to people when I'm talking to them. And I realized that while I've always been a highly sensitive person in a highly sensitive body, I became more and more sensitive as I got sicker and sicker. So the cycle of this is the more that we push, the more our bodies become. And then oftentimes, it feels like the smaller our worlds become as well. And when you feel like crap all the time, your body is more primed to have more symptoms, and it's more primed to want you to limit and make your world smaller. And very unfortunately, it's like the wrong direction to go in. So I created a project that I'm releasing today, and I'm really excited about it.

Michelle S [00:42:49]:
And Olivia's calling it the highly sensitive body, which, you know, we've heard this phrase, highly sensitive person before. A brilliant Olivia. She's like, just knows the words. I created this program. It's called the highly sensitive body Hub. It is an information center for people who just feel like their bodies are different than other people's. I wrote this program for the childhood version of me. I made this program for the 28 year old version of me who had insomnia and was shaking.

Michelle S [00:43:25]:
And the 30 year old version of me, I wrote it for the 40 year old version of me. So that if I ever forget where I came from, if I ever forget what I need and what I have and the tools that I have and the resources, it'll always be there for me. The highly sensitive body hub is just an information center for everything you could need regarding these conditions or really regarding what the experience is like and being in a body that feels like it operates the opposite of other people's. So if you're someone who's, like, why does everyone feel so good when they eat fermented foods? I feel awful when I eat fermented foods. Why does everyone feel so good when they exercise? I feel worse when I exercise. Why does traveling on a plane make me feel irrationally sick? Why do I get joint pain from flying on a plane? Why do I get diarrhea after flying on a plane? What is going on with my body? That's really the question. What is going on with my body? So I really thought for years about how I was going to make this program. The most important thing I wanted to do is make it so that you can search for the symptom you're having.

Michelle S [00:44:30]:
So there's actually on the kind of toolbar of it you can search for through symptoms, as in like, I'm dizzy, give me resources for dizziness, long term and short term. What do I need? There's resources for, and that would include hormonal changes, weight changes, anxiety, headaches, vision changes, and then also if you wanted to learn about each of these conditions, or if you aren't diagnosed with these conditions and you still want to learn about them, we've broken them down into mass cultivation syndrome dysautonomia, which includes pots and orthostatic hypotension, and then also hypermobility. I've brought in the top experts in each of these conditions who not only understand these conditions like the back of their hand, but they understand real people and the experience they have of being at a point where they just don't feel like anyone understands them and they just don't feel like anyone understands their body or can help them. And if I was at that point, I know anyone with these conditions can be at that point, all of these practitioners, these incredible practitioners, oftentimes work with one condition or another. So I really, I think because these conditions are so interconnected, I just wanted one place for all the information. And then also you can search for through this platform the kind of tools that you want. So whether it's I want herbal remedies, I want supplements that help me, I want nervous system tricks, I want meditations, I want recipes, I want low histamine recipes, I want to understand why protein is so important for this. How do I get protein if I'm in a highly sensitive body? I am sick and tired of information online being catered to a majority that I don't even believe exists.

Michelle S [00:46:14]:
The information seems to be catered to people who are healthy and most of us are not feeling good. Most of us are not healthy. So again, even functional medicine information online is not for the highly sensitive person because when we do things that feel too forceful or drastic, many of us can't even handle temperature changes, let alone taking an iv with like 20 grams of vitamin C in it. We have to do things differently when we're in highly sensitive bodies. And guess what? This is the goodest news of it all. I think being in a highly sensitive body and being a highly sensitive person, which usually go hand in hand, makes you one of the coolest, one of the most wise. It just people in the entire world, it means that you are taking things in, you are assessing for threats. You are a little bit ahead of the game in ways of anticipating things that are going on.

Michelle S [00:47:09]:
This is really a superpower. And when we can learn to work with our bodies, our unique, beautiful, incredible, intuitive, like next level, superhero like bodies, we can heal and we can feel better and we can then help, I think, the world in the way that we want to too, because so many people in highly sensitive bodies are so eager to help the world, but they feel like they can't when they're not feeling that way and they're not feeling good. So this is launched as of right now and you can join the highly sensitive body hub again. I have already 15 practitioners who are going to be giving their own individual videos, handouts, tools, everything you can imagine. This is like Reddit for highly sensitive people. If you had someone understand in your darkest moment what you felt, this is the place for you. And I just literally do not know where people would go to get all pieces of this puzzle in one place. I couldn't find it.

Michelle S [00:48:15]:
I was working with the best practitioners in the world. The person who helped me the most during this time was another functional registered dietitian, Jillian Greaves, who understood these conditions for the past ten years. She understood them in a way that I totally didn't. And I think there's something so special about every single practitioner who's contributing to this program because they have sat with people through this. There is no freaking way you can understand going through hell unless you sit with someone and own that experience with them and sit in it with them and understand what they've been through. So we've all been through hell. That's why we're doing this. And we want to be on kind of the other side of hell, I guess to hold your hand as much as we can through it.

Michelle S [00:48:58]:
It is a way to open your eyes to different opportunities for your health and to really understand that you are not alone in this. If you have felt like every functional medicine doctor I went to made me feel worse, or it only helped a little bit, but it really didn't get there. This really is like the program for you, and I I'm kind of sick of speaking to healthy people myself. I didn't come into this career to help people who can be helped by everyone else. I want to help people who feel like they really need something different. Thank you for listening to my story. Thank you always for listening to the podcast. And I just I can't wait to see every single one of you.

Michelle S [00:49:41]:
Whatever you're going through from a symptom perspective, it doesn't have to be in a highly sensitive body. Just I can't wait for you to feel 1% better. And I cannot tell you how much hope I have that you will. Thank you for listening. If you want to sign up for the highly sensitive body hub, there's a link down below and you will get instant access to all of the information in the community and new information will be added weekly.

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