Ep. 3 {PART 1} Empaths and Autoimmune Disease

Listen here:

In this episode I’m going to cover:

  • what is an empath?
  • what type of empath are you? take the quiz
  • how empaths are different from highly sensitive people (HSP)
  • how characteristics of an empath can cause fatigue, digestive issues, low back pain, poor sleep, panic and more…
  • how being an empath is related to autoimmune disease

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Episode transcript:

Welcome to the show. I have to get really honest with you guys today. I was just scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and I saw this video of a couple, an old couple that had been together, married for 73 years and the woman was about to pass. She was in hospice care and the man was leaning over her bedside, rubbing her face and her neck and singing a song to her, and I am sitting here now with dried tears on my face because I started balling. Does that sound like any of you? Do TV shows or short clips like that, that show up on your newsfeed, bring you to tears and bring you to tears easily? If so, you’re really going to like this episode today. So we’re going to dive in to empathy, what it means to be an empath and how this directly relates to autoimmune disease?

What is an empath?

So we’re going to cover what does it mean to be an empath, what type of empath might you be, how empaths are different from highly sensitive people and how the characteristics of an empath can cause things like fatigue, digestive issues, low back pain, poor sleep, sugar, caffeine, addictions, panic attacks and anxiety? Going into each of those in detail, and this may be your first time hearing about empathy in relation to autoimmune disease, or maybe you’ve only heard of what an empath is in the same sentence as compassion or sympathy. But I really want to open up a new world to you today, if this is something you haven’t heard of. And explain to you how being an empath is innately connected to autoimmune disease and how there is a clear connection here. So let’s dive in. What does it mean to be an empath? Well, on the most simple, simple level, it means that you take on other people’s emotions as your own.

Just like I did today watching that video, oh my god, heart was breaking. You are probably an empath. If you have trouble watching the news, you cry during TV shows. You are the go-to person for people to vent to, especially strangers. Anyone ever had that happen to them? You can only recharge by being alone. You are very self-sacrificing. You are spiritually inclined. You get overwhelmed in crowds. That’s me. Oh my gosh. Crowds I cannot, cannot handle. You may love nature and or animals and you might just feel like you know things sometimes and especially if someone’s lying to you, and you’re probably creative and possibly a dreamer. So I created this empath quiz and it aligns to different goddess energies. I’m going to put that in the show notes today so that you guys can take that quiz. It’s a free quiz, short, not too many questions, and see what type of empath energy do you most carry with you, if any at all.

What type of empath are you?

And that’s broken up into this goddess energy, as I mentioned. Goddess Magdalene, Dana, Quanian, Ishtar, White Tara, or again, maybe you don’t have empath characteristics. But what I have found in my work and with my clients, and in my online community is that the majority, even 90% of the women in that group identify as an empath. So after you take the quiz, check-in with me, tag me on Facebook, or on Instagram at Autoimmune Tribe to let me know what your results were, what you guys got in that quiz. Okay, so now you may have also heard this term, H.S.P., Highly Sensitive People or Person. Curious if you guys identify with that as well. So what is the difference? Empaths feel other people’s pain or emotions as if they are their own? An empath is another word for Clairsentience.

How empaths are different from highly sensitive people (HSP)

And there are many Claires, that might be another podcast episode. But HSPs are very energy sensitive. They can easily get overwhelmed by external stimuli, but still interacting with the world from their own lens versus taking on other lenses like an empath. Why does this matter? If you are an empath, it really helps to get the tools that you need and to understand what this means for you. So I want to ask you some questions right now. Is it always clear to you how you are feeling? Or sometimes you are unsure of what your true emotions are? Or maybe they feel a little bit like a roller coaster, especially when you’re out in big groups of people? Now think about how clear your emotions are in a group versus when you are alone. Maybe it’s just with one person, you’re with your best friend. Do you tend to take on the energy, enthusiasm, excitement, sadness of your friend?

Or do you feel crystal clear on how you are feeling inside of your body? And then, potentially that’s amplified with the number of people that you’re with. To know that you are picking up people’s emotions around you helps you understand it, and then, you become empowered to start to clear some of that up, and then there’s less confusion. And you can say, this is yours and not mine to carry. Again, this is yours, not mine to carry. Consider how much of a sponge you have been your entire life? Do you think that maybe that might have had something to do with your autoimmune disease? Let’s think about it. Taking on someone’s stress, taking on your partner’s heartache, taking on someone’s neck pain, headache, cramping in their belly, it can be really, really overwhelming. How can the characteristics of being an empath cause things like fatigue, digestive issues, low back pain, poor sleep, et cetera?

Those more physical reactions. Before I dive into that, let me give you a couple of examples of what I’ve experienced as an empath myself. First, I have grieved the loss of people that I’ve never met. There was this group of kids from my high school who crossed the highway and went into oncoming traffic and were killed head-on in a collision. I never met them. I just knew of them and my siblings are friends with them, but I felt their pain. I heard about this accident. I remember the day that my mom called me and I remember how heavy I felt and I still think of these kids that were killed in this accident to this day, almost as if it had happened to me. There are fears and this heartache that I then picked up from the emotional grief that I saw these people experiencing and the loss of these kids. I really took it on as my own and at the time, I had no idea what I was doing. I was confused about why I was grieving so hard over people I had never met. Now as older, wiser Sarah, I understand that I was picking up the emotions of the people around me and really feeling into all the sensations and phases of grief that they were going through.

How characteristics of an empath can cause fatigue, digestive issues, low back pain, poor sleep, panic, and more…

Next. Myself as an empath, I especially take on my family’s emotions and pain. So I remember this specific example of my brother who got sick. This was about a year ago, and he got really sick and that same day I got a fever. I had this fever for a couple of hours and then immediately the fever was gone and I felt completely fine again and it was really unexplainable. I was feeling fine until I got the fever, and then I felt fine after the fever broke. And then I talked to my mom later that day and she explained that my brother was really sick and I had taken on his pain. It’s especially strong with my family.

Next. I also often feel chest pain when my mom experiences chest pain. I feel very empathically connected to her, and her stress, and her physical ailments. I tend to take those on and feel that constriction in my chest. So it’s not weird for me to call her and ask her how her pain level is any given day. And help that, help me make sense of what I might be feeling if it’s really mine or if it’s someone else’s that I’m carrying.

I also, and this may be the largest example I have for you today, I had this panic attack the night that my brother died. It was really strange. It was provoked by an argument that I was having, but it escalated far beyond the issue that I was arguing with this person about. I ended up alone in my apartment after this little argument that really escalated. I felt like I had no control over my body and I laid on my Chicago apartment floor crying in pain. It was pretty pitiful you guys. I was just sprawled out on my wood floor having this panic attack, crying and I didn’t completely understand. I didn’t know why I was having such a strong reaction to what seems like a small argument. And what I found, over 24 hours later was that that was even close to the predicted hours that my brother had passed. So my belief is that I took on his pain in the moments leading up to his death, et cetera. I had no idea how to interpret them. And then over 24 hours later, I told you guys, in episode one that I was at a yoga event and was leaving that event when I found out that Jordan had passed. And the reason that we left the event in the first place, and I went back to the car to check my phone, was because I got this pit in my stomach and I started to feel almost like this bloated feeling.

And then I curled over in pain. This came out of nowhere. We were just walking around looking at the different vendors. It was a beautiful Chicago day. I remember it was so crystal clear and then I was overcome by this deep pit in my stomach. And so, had me curled over and I look to my boyfriend and I was like, I really don’t feel good. Let’s go back to the car. He ended up carrying me back to the car because I was in so much stomach, abdominal pain. And then when we got into the car, again, as I explained to you all before, was when I called my dad back and found out that my brother had passed. And so my belief again is that I was picking up the deep, deep pain and insurmountable loss that everyone else was experiencing that I just had not heard the news of yet. Again, I experienced this most strongly with my family members and to have all my family members grieving at once and not to have received that news. I felt like I took it on physically until I was able to then consciously receive that news.

Other times are less heavy. That is a big moment. It’s something that’s very crystal clear in my mind. Other times it’s just a clear knowing when someone’s lying to you. Or thinking about someone and then they randomly call you a minute later and you’re like, Oh, I was just thinking of you. And crowded places are the most overwhelming for me because it’s like my body isn’t sure which person’s emotions to take on. So the guy at the table to my left might be pissed off about his job and the woman to my right might be really sad that her daughter’s leaving for college. Then the person behind me might be really excited because they got a promotion. And for me, that is something that I have really had to learn how to navigate and to protect my energy because what was happening is that it turned into fear when I felt like I was being attacked in all angles by all these different emotions, and that spiraled into panic and fear.

How being an empath is related to autoimmune disease

So that triggers, fight or flight response and again becomes extremely overwhelming. So protecting your energy, understanding what an empath is, hopefully, you guys are understanding a little bit better now through some of these examples. It can be big, it can be small, it can be something that you clearly remember to this day. It can be these small moments that you have in passing. So I’m curious to hear from all of you, what are some of those moments that you’ve experienced in your life that may be similar to this, that is maybe unexplainable or confusing to you?

Then I want to dive into some of the dark sides of this because we know, as people with chronic illness that autoimmune disease is not all sparkles and glitters. So the dark side of the empath is that if you don’t get enough alone time to recharge your batteries, you will potentially experience chronic fatigue. Emotional stimuli may prevent you from falling asleep at night. And I’m sure you guys have heard what lack of sleep does to your health and disease. And there’s a lot of research out about the quality of sleep in relation to illness and overall health and wellbeing. You may also wake up constantly because your mind is still trying to process not only your emotions, and what you experienced in any given day, but anyone else’s energy that you may have picked up along the way. And then as a result, you may also wake up in the morning feeling unrested for the same reason. And the same overwhelming stimuli may make you tired throughout the day.

So especially if you work in a busy office place, this is something that, there may be a lot of chatter and clicking on a computer, and people on the phones, and all these different people doing different things to get their job done. And that might be really overwhelming for you. And this is actually one of the reasons that I work from home. My previous career was in the food and agriculture industry and I was doing a lot of research and managing people. And even then, I worked from home and had a remote job because it felt really overwhelming for me to consider waking up in the morning and going to share space with, 5,000 people in an office building every single day. So when you receive an energetic charge from someone, you know the energy they put off from their heart center, it may also give you anxiety or provoke a panic attack.

So your body goes into fight or flight because it feels attacked. It stimulates the release of cortisol from your adrenal glands. It stops digestion, which can start to back a lot of things up cause leaky gut. It constricts blood flow, which can cause high blood pressure. It can make you feel short of breath, all the things that also cause disease in your body. The other thing here is that we actually convince ourselves that we might be dying as well. That is what a panic attack feels like. It feels like you’re dying and you have no idea why the hell you feel that way. That is a panic attack and it is something, a sensation that I know very well because there have been moments where I have thought I was dying. You know there was a shortness of breath and feeling like you’re going to pass out. And I just challenge all of you to feel into your next panic attack.

If that’s something that you do experience and ask your body. It’s so intuitive. Ask what is the deeper message here? What is the root of this panic? And the root of the panic is fear, right? So where is this fear actually rooting from? Is it fear that I am feeling or is it fear from an external source? When we are anxious or stressed because of the overwhelming energy that may surround us, we’re also likely to binge eat, break up with the diet that we’re on, go on antidepressants or antianxiety drugs. You potentially put more toxins into your body, whether that’s with the food or prescriptions and then those are destroying the gut flora and the lining of your gut. And that’s a downward spiral as well. Who here also craves sugary or salty foods when they are stressed? I know I am one of those people and it makes sense because our bodies are in a constant low-grade emergency response mode. In that emergency response mode, we burn energy fast and our body craves fuel. But we don’t always refuel or re-energize in the best way. Sometimes we just end up reaching for the caffeine, the coffee, which again has been shown to put even more stress on your adrenal glands.

I hope this is making sense to you. Being an empath is innately connected to autoimmune disease because when we don’t have the proper understanding or education on how to protect our energy. It gets used up, burnt out and the body reacts on a physical level. It might have started with fatigue or pain, but after years of ignoring these symptoms, they lead to bigger issues like IBS, lupus, celiac, Graves’, Hashimoto’s, et cetera. Empaths are also natural healers and therefore always in a state of healing, whether it’s healing themselves or others. So I hope you can also see that this is not all a dark side.

This is not all doom and gloom here, but also a wonderful gift. So long as you understand that that shadow side exists and the potential risks of not protecting your energy, and then learning how to protect your energy, how to create that sacred container, or bubble, or egg, whatever you want to visualize of protection to surround your body. So that next time you go and hang out with your best friend, you are clear on what is hers versus what is yours to carry. The next time you’re at that amazing concert that you love music so much. You don’t have to feel like you have to cross your arms and curl into a ball because of all of the commotion happening around you. So the main message I want you to take from this episode today is number one, consider whether you might also have empathic abilities. Then consider how this plays into autoimmune disease and some of your physical symptoms. And then three, how are you going to start to protect your energy in order to create those boundaries and only carry what is yours and your responsibility to hold?

This is a two-part episode, and in part two I will be giving you my favorite tools to protect your energy as an empath. So that you can truly see this ability as a superpower instead of something that causes anxiety and panic or feeds into illness.

Just a reminder, all the information presented on this show is not a substitute for medical advice and care. Please go see your practitioner. That’s all for this time, and if you guys loved this episode, I would really appreciate it if you could pop into iTunes, leave me a five-star review or screenshot this episode and tag me on Instagram @theuncensoredempath and I’ll see you guys next time.

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January 31, 2019


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