Amanda Sobey 00:04
The thing about mental illness which I’ve realized people will look at you and think that you’re okay, and you are so not okay, or because you had a victory, surely you’re good. We don’t need to check up on her. Right? She was. And it’s just so sad. You see it all the time, like Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, right? Like all these people in power, we assume that they’re so good
Kristin Taylor 00:38
Hello and welcome to how I made it through. My name is Kristin Taylor and I am an executive coach. When deciding to start this podcast, there was one thing I knew for certain. I wanted to spotlight stories of courage. Stories that can easily go unnoticed, unheard and remain far too often hidden or relegated to the sidelines while the protagonist of those stories feel like they’re jumping up and down, screaming at the top of their lungs willing the rest of us to finally stop and listen. I hope my role serves to enable the rest of us to in fact, actually stop, listen, and learn and to be forever changed by what we hear. As the stories we honor provide roadmaps and a survival guide for whatever hidden or not so hidden battle we might be facing because, much like the immortal words of Robert Frost, the best way out is always through. As the host, I made a commitment to ensure that the neglected stories of those living with lymphedema in particular would finally be elevated. Will it always be the focus of my show? Of course not because stories of courage come in all shapes, contours and sizes. But the promise I made to myself and by extension the lymphedema community for which I am a part is that it will never be neglected or forgotten. It is often in facing our toughest battles, that the strength of our character is crystallized and revealed. And in revealing our character and opening our hearts through the sharing of our unique stories, we can move closer to inspiring the healing journeys of others. With this in mind, today’s guest is Amanda Sobey. Since 2001, Amanda has been battling an incurable condition known as lymphedema. If you have not listened to Cam Ayala story yet from Episode 6, I encourage you to do so. Much like Cam’s episode, Amanda’s episode holds a deep significance for me personally, as someone who has lived with lymphedema for 25 years. For those of you who are unaware, Lymphedema is a chronic lymphatic disease that results in disfiguring swelling in one or more parts of the body. It can be hereditary primary lymphedema, or it can occur after a surgical procedure infection, radiation or other physical trauma. That’s called secondary lymphedema. It requires daily care in the form of compression garments bandaging pumping elevation, and manual lymph drainage. In today’s episode, Amanda shares how she became permanently disfigured by lymphedema and how she felt traumatized and learning that there was no cure. She candidly opens up about her journey of living in denial of his chronic and progressive disease, when that caused her leg to becoming gorged and puffy, as the daily pain and discomfort increased, and she reveals what it felt like to endure feeling deformed, ugly and weak, knowing that her life had suddenly and without warning or consent been forever, drastically changed. All of this was happening mind you, while she struggled to stay afloat emotionally and financially in a troubled marriage. And eventually as a single mom working her tail off just to make ends meet. Her journey has been a long one. But through learning to channel her indomitable will in the right direction, it has been one of increasing victories. On top of being a mom of two. She is a full time fitness trainer and licensed nutritionist and has devoted her life to helping people with lymphedema and other underlying conditions transform their lives by making gradual changes to their lifestyles. Amanda worked tirelessly to learn all that she employs today in her own life to stay healthy and fit and has dedicated her life to sparing others from the years of agony, depression and despair that she had to walk through to arrive at where she is today. Hi, Amanda. It is so wonderful to have you on How I Made It Through. Thank you for agreeing to join us.
Amanda Sobey 04:57
Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to see you. So I want to just go ahead and dive right in, you have quite a story to tell. And like the story with Cam Ayala, it’s really meaningful for me, personally, and I’m eager to hear it and to have you share it. But let us start from the beginning. Can you tell us a little bit about your growing up years where you grew up what you were like, just to set the stage and get us started? Oh, my goodness. When it all first started, I was always a personality, which I think a lot of people are starting to figure out full of energy, very vibrant. My first love or where a lot of my background came from was being a competitive figure skater. I was a hard, cutthroat athlete, if there was ever a competition or gold medal to be won, I would be there I would chase to the podium. That was just my personality, I was just very much attracted to being and enjoying the experience of pushing your body to physical limits. That’s that was my wheelhouse. That was where I was most comfortable. Very much a tomboy climbing trees, anything we lived out in the country, actually. So lots of land lots of space, you’d have to walk to get anywhere. And so whoever, whenever you came across a kid that was your age, you felt like hey, you’re a kid, let’s hang out. So that was that was kind of my childhood growing up. And as I turned older, I still was a competitive figure skater. I was also a really, really good swimmer. I had to decide between the two sports because it was virtually impossible to keep up the demands of both. I skated until I was about 15 years of age. And at 15 years old, I hung up my skates, as we call it in the figure skating world, for a couple of different reasons. But at that time, I had a massive growth spurt. And if anybody knows anything about growing in sports, the to go hand in hand very well. So I outgrew my body literally. And my muscles couldn’t support my skeletal growth. So that just threw my career out the wayside. But then I did end up turning into like a coach. For a little while I worked with a lot of children and a lot of youth doing programming and stuff like that. And I guess that was the most about my youth, and then it became the dodgy teenage years. So tell me about those dodgy teenage years. Typical situation parents got divorced. So I took that. Well, I think for me, it was really, really weird. I’ve had some pretty weird life experiences. Because when my parents got divorced, my figure skating Coach decided to move out of country, literally, my best friend in the world turned into the supermodel of the year, not just like just a supermodel, but she was like the supermodel of the year and and then my sister had moved out of the house, my father moved. So I was like 15 years old. And like anybody that was in my most inner circle was gone, literally. And that was really, really hard. Because I didn’t have a pillar, I didn’t have anything to be a safe harbor for. So then of course, being a teenager, you become rebellious. And I did love to work because I was always very ambitious. So I got a career or not a career, I should say dishwashers and like, yes, it’s a career. But for 15 It was a dishwasher. But you know, I worked, wasn’t very athletic, and then just started to hang out with the wrong crowd of people. So that was interesting. We I think we all do it. And to fast forward. Out of my teenage years. Again, I just was very rebellious, I was very lost, I was very hurt. I didn’t have people to talk to I didn’t necessarily or at least subconsciously, I felt like I didn’t have a support system. And then fast forward to I guess our next question because I guess coming out of the adult phase, I didn’t have lymphedema through being a child and or a teenager. So I didn’t get my lymphedema until I was 21, which I’ll talk about in a bit. But I guess my personality to sum it up in a nutshell was just ambitious. I love to be competitive, or at least used to be, I love being athletic. And I just love living life to the fullest with what I have available. So that’s me.
Kristin Taylor 09:22
Sounds like an amazing childhood. I mean, I just love hearing about you and you just really just diving headfirst into whatever it was that you were tackling. I had no idea. You’re a figure skater. That’s super impressive.
Amanda Sobey 09:33
Yes, it was like my claim to fame. So the one kind of sore spot for me was that the way how figure skating work, there would be there’s always categories of the levels that you skated in. But there was always age restrictions based on those categories. And actually, I was such a good skater when I was 13. If there wasn’t an age category, I would have leveled up to Canadians, which would have been the platform to get me to go to the Olympics, but I never made it I was too young and then of course the next year they had changed the age gap. But I was too old for that age gap which put me with the more mature skaters. And then of course, I had my my growth spurt and it just it I just missed it by a year literally to have had my life I guess the coke gone in such a different direction. I couldn’t I could have been in the Olympics who knew?
Kristin Taylor 10:21
Who knew God the role timing plays? That’s wild. That is so wild. Yeah. Well, I really appreciate you sharing all that you did and what a pivotal year that was with the divorce and the loss of so many pillars in your life. Fast forward, if you would, and tell us about your story of discovering that you had lymphedema.
Amanda Sobey 10:39
So my lymphedema, I had two situations that happened within a week of each other. I was 21 at the time, and I lived out in Vancouver, British Columbia, which is not where I live currently. And over in Vancouver, BC, if anybody’s been there, there’s a provincial park called Stanley Park. And there’s a seawall that goes around the entire kind of peninsula of the of the land, and you can bike on it rollerblade all that good stuff. So every day I would go and I would rollerblade you know, get my athleticism going. And I would rollerblade around the seawall, and one day I got bit by a mosquito bite. And so my hometown in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is where I still live to date. We have mosquitoes there all the time. But the mosquito bite that happened when I was in British Columbia was just weird. It was abnormal. It was hot. It just looked different. And I remember looking at my right thigh, thinking to myself, This is bizarre, but whatever. I’m sure it’ll be fine. Long story short, I’m going to mention that and then I’ll come back to in just a second. A week after that bug bite, I ended up going to a club because I worked in the waitressing industry. And after work, we went to a nice dance club and I was just dancing having a good time and I was physically assaulted at random by five women very aggressively. So God between having this really weird mosquito bite and between being assaulted. The trauma I think from either either is what I would very confidently say I caused secondary lymphedema. I wasn’t able to get the prognosis. Because if you get bit by a mosquito with filariasis, or filler, raciest, it’s a parasite, very common in like third world countries, which cause edema. I could never get the I could never get the testing kit. I went to three different travel clinics, no doctor wanted to test me they thought that I was absurd for even thinking about this. And I thought to myself, well, all these containers are coming and bring me in importing, you know, fruits and vegetables and whatnots from these countries. A mosquito can very easily live and come and bite me and then die, right. So of course, I’ve never got conclusive results for the parasite test. And then obviously, with the abnormal attack that had occurred with the assault, the trauma from there again, it was almost like it was destined to happen. And it’s funny because when I had gotten the assault attack on me, I went to the hospital, kind of doctored all my moods, and come home and I couldn’t put pressure on my foot like I couldn’t walk. So I thought I had sprained my ankle. And of course, being a figure skater, I was like, I know what to do for sprained ankle, right. So I went and got my A 535 Got my tensor bandage on totally babied the foot for three weeks, four weeks, I was walking, I was hobbling, I was hopping in and out of the grocery stores, I was hopping in and out of these places, about three or four weeks into that I took the tensor bandage off and my foot swelled immediately in front of my eyes, and I saw like, this is this, this isn’t good. This is abnormal, then it went from the foot to the ankle and the ankle to the calf very quickly. And that basically free to me right now, because I’ve never seen any of this for all of my falls that I’ve taken for all the things that I’ve done athletic wise, I just I couldn’t figure out why this was happening. So I called up my GP, my general practitioner, and thankfully, he referred me to a vascular specialist, who then prescribed me to get a lymphoscintigraphy test, which basically concluded that I have lymphedema. But I was diagnosed as a primary lymphedema not a secondary lymphedema, which I find is very peculiar in my case, because I feel like I have to secondary instances that caused the reaction, but yet I’ve been diagnosed twice as primary and once a secondary and for anybody who is listening, what I’ve found through my experience is that it doesn’t really matter if your primary or secondary. All that matters is what do you do for yourself care afterwards?
Kristin Taylor 14:46
What an incredible story. I mean, I can’t even imagine looking down and being like, What the hell is happening to my leg, and it’s now going you know, with my foot and it’s now going up my leg. That’s pretty horrifying. So how did you with that you get this diagnosis of lymphedema. My assumption is you have no idea what it is. And it’s just like this rude awakening, how did you navigate that time emotionally? And psychologically?
Amanda Sobey 15:10
Great question. So, of course, when I was diagnosed this, I think this, this story I hear is very frequent in the lymphedema world. So the doctor who says, you have to do you have what we think is known as lymphedema, there is no cure. Here’s your prescription for compression stockings, and you’re going to need a massage called MLD, which is manual lymph drainage for the rest of your life, and then walks out of the room. Out of that whole entire conversation, all you hear is a patient is no cure, which freaks you out. And then of course, I get this numbing feeling over your body, because you just you don’t quite know what has happened. You go home, and because this swelling for me was so immediate, I always for years just thought, well, if it popped up immediately, like without my permission, it’s got to go away, right, you just had past asked to fade away. And then you realize that after 20 years, like it’s not going away, I didn’t know how to manage the condition, I didn’t know how to support these side effects of the swelling. If if what I knew now, if I knew back then I probably would be sitting in a way different position, I could have offset a lot of different symptoms that I had experienced. But I think the first initial turmoil was going from being a beautiful 21 year old with these beautiful long figure skating legs, you know not to say I was I wasn’t when I wasn’t vain in my body image, for example, but to go from having a normal body to having one that disfigured first and foremost, then to go from being disfigured to then wearing man’s shoes, man’s runners man’s pants, feeling completely depressed, ugly. Last, I knew nobody. The Internet only show pictures of people with elephantitis. So you go from being as beautiful 21 year old girl to thinking the worst, because that’s all that the internet had to bear at that point in time. You you lose your you lose it, you absolutely lose it. I stayed in a relationship that I probably shouldn’t have. Because I thought less of myself. I was very, I went down the rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol like I think a lot of people can possibly relate to, to try to numb and to try to escape the reality again, when there’s no tools and there’s no resources and there’s no support, to let you know that you can have a life. And if you’re trying to do the best that you can do. And it’s years and years on end, eventually that that depression just overtakes you, you know, it wasn’t until I did eventually condone into getting compression garments. So it took me about a year and a half to two years into being diagnosed where I actually started to given given to compression. And back in 2002 and 2003 If anybody anybody out there is listening, those garments were super medical, like we had to choose between boring weight and so boring beige, you know, like, there was no choices. Not to help products are now which is it’s nice to see. And then also MLD, they didn’t know a lot about manual lymph drainage. So you’d go for therapy to for therapy. Again, there was no coverage for these garments, there’s no coverage for this therapy and being very young not having very much income to come in and to pay privately for care. That didn’t necessarily work. It was very hard to justify these treatments that I didn’t see a benefit for. And along my way, I ended up finding out that it wasn’t that the care wasn’t good. It was finding the therapist that was right. For me. It was finding the garment fitter that was right for me. And knowing that it’s not just one compression stocking that’s going to work, I had to try a whole bunch of different compression garment manufacturers, I had to try a whole bunch of different compression products to see how my body responded was the biggest saving moment for me. And to diversify my knowledge, get educated understand what works. And so that was a really big transitional point. I’m starting to learn that I could do something but I was still so traumatized about the no cure that it was a really, really tumultuous road to get to where I’m at today. Yeah, yeah. Tell me how many years was that tumultuous road how long is that chapter? A solid 16
Kristin Taylor 19:44
Yeah, I totally get it. It is a big effing deal.
Amanda Sobey 19:49
I don’t mean to laugh at it. It’s probably the insanity of what pursued. It’s a really sad journey because I was a full time single parent because the relationship obviously was not meant to last. But there’s two beautiful children that I love and adore that came out of it. But I am still a full time single parent, financially still struggling. I had to choose what goes on they do I put money, or food on the table, or do I pay for my medical supplies. And often or not, it was the food on the table. That was my reality. And for 16 years like that, I’ve had unfortunate occurrences with relationships that were abusive, both mentally and physically. And you you let that happen because you lose yourself respect, you lose your your self esteem. Because after a while for trying to be with the word strong for so long, I don’t I don’t think it’s I don’t think we have a choice. I think we evolved to be that for what you needed to be. So it wasn’t a position of strength, it was positioned out of necessity out of obligation that I had to be certain things. After a while, like that 16 year tumultuous journey. I had a full on mental, physical, emotional breakdown in 2016. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t walk to the washroom, my body couldn’t work, I was bedridden for months. Everything in my life, it was just too much because everything financially, physically, spiritually, emotionally. And I could go into detail, but we just been pulling out skeleton after skeleton after skeleton, it didn’t matter what it was, it was just too much for me to handle. And so I remember laying in bed at 2016. And just telling and praying to, to the universe, I just said like, either you either helped me pull the pull me through this, or I can’t continue. Right. And that was that was the start of me trying to figure it out, even though I was trying kind of I was trying lots of stuff throughout the 16 years, but it was try and fail, try and fail, try and fail. You know, like, Oh, you heard about this in a support group. So you tried that and then failed. And then this that, you know, I think we’ve all done it. And I all of my efforts came out of desperation. And then like I said in 2016, I had tried to go back to school throughout that time to finish my degree. But then sadly enough, I had to stop going to school because again, food had to be put on the table. And I couldn’t afford my education, all of it. So I had learned all these tools along the way. And then when 2016 happened, I decided to try to apply those tools. And it was about a year and a half of applying what I had learned. And that was when 2017 occurred. And that was when I became I put myself out there in the universe and I went up on stage as a bodybuilder. And I had one against seven women in a total lineup. Nobody knows nobody knew nobody had a clue that when my one leg was bigger than the other one. And that’s what gave. That’s what kind of held up my head above water for just a moment in time to be like, wow, like, you can do this. Physically, I was in the best shape of my life. Mentally, I was still basketcase mentally I was still traumatized mentally, I was still not okay. And then I had another bout in 2018, where I kind of slipped under the radar again, due to other circumstances, but then with I have to say because of COVID. When COVID happened with the lockdown, it forced me to put myself first because I couldn’t go anywhere and there’s nothing else to do. So I was like, Oh, well, let’s just focus on me again. And that was a very pivotal time in my life from I guess knowing what to do but then enjoying in this sounds maybe weird. I ended up trying to fall in love with having lymphedema. Because accepting my responsibilities, accepting that my daily self care habits made me a better person, they may be more patient, they may be appreciate the health that I have. I still had to work for my health. But I reckon I came to pass with that obligation of forced work for my cat and for myself care versus accepting that, you know, knowing that I drive rash knowing that I wear my compression knowing that I eat well and I train. These are the tools and the pillars that every human being should embrace and should adapt and feel privileged to do. Because at the end of the day, I’m grateful that I’m still here still standing and still able to take care of myself in a very healthy way. Yeah, wow. That is a amazing, amazing story.
Kristin Taylor 24:41
It sounds like you had this enormous shift from resisting it and resenting it to not only accepting it but totally embracing it as this is something I get to do rather than I have to do.
Amanda Sobey 24:55
Well and like to further like so my personality is very tenacious very stubborn. You don’t tell me what to do. Yeah. So when being told, from a lymphedema standpoint, this is what I have to do. My personality was like, No.
Kristin Taylor 25:09
You know, I can totally relate to that. I am very, very, very stubborn. And when you say that what comes up for me is when I was told you’re gonna have to live with this for the rest of your life. It was like, I didn’t choose this.And this feeling of it happened to me, and wanting someone or something to blame. And that mindset can really take you to dark places. The bitterness and the resentment and the comparing, and the what ifs, like it can take you down to really, really dark places. How did you so I’m hearing that, like, you have this fitness competition, and you do incredibly well and no one knew. So you had all the tools physically to start to heal your body. And I want to hear about what those are in a little bit more detail. And I’m hearing the emotional stuff, like the tools that you really had to shift. How did you get there? Like, can you say more about that.
Amanda Sobey 26:05
So the physical tools, and this is what I think my figure skating background, I think it had to be because of a figure skating background. So people who do sports, I truly believe you have your team sports, and then you have your individual sports. And I truly believe that, you know, everything happens for a reason. And it just so happened that I used to be a figure skater. And when you’re on the ice alone, it is you and you and yourself, you yourself an AI that is out there. So you are fully responsible for the for the performance, for the outcome for the training, and everything. And I think that’s what has transformed me to be that full time single parent to do the work to get up when you don’t want to, and just shut up and do the job. I think that’s where my my persistence and my determination has come from, from the mental aspect. totally blindsided by that because I think cognitively, you go in that autopilot mode of like, well just do this and this and this and that’s my day. But we don’t ever take into that that mental component, as well as to the thing about mental illness, which I’ve realized people will look at you and think that you’re okay. And you are so not okay. Or because you’ve had a victory. Surely you’re good. We don’t need to check up on her. Right. And it’s just so sad. You see it all the time, like Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade, right? Like all these people in power, we assume they’re fine that they’re so good. And meanwhile they’re like the most saddest people in the in on the face of the planet. And I think that’s, that’s just me to a tee. And I think I think what had happened is, and this is what I’ve recognized through obviously, coaching as well, too, is is that overall wellness and overall health. It’s it’s a global, it’s a it’s a totality a holistic approach. You can’t rush one pillar before another one because it’s going to collapse. Right? Right. And so even though physically I was a machine, right, physically, I could get up, I could go to go to the gym, I could train I could eat, I could do all the things that you had asked me to do, but focusing and being, you know, kind to myself or to meditate to improve my mental wellness, to do intrinsic work that I couldn’t necessarily feel or touch or recognize a difference in. Yeah, it’s like smoke and mirrors. But I think that’s where that mental wellness piece, so many people assumed that I was okay. And I was the world’s most miserable, most angry, frustrated, sad, toxic human being because I just had so much pain starting from again, that journey of being that 15 year old girl, losing my support system having to go and tumble from situation to situation to situation with or without my permission. Yes, yes. With or without your permission.
Kristin Taylor 29:05
Amanda Sobey 29:07
And you get somewheres. And you’re like, and that’s at the end of the day. You’re just kind of like, I don’t know if we can swear on here, but it’s like, fuck it. Just like why do I try so hard? What like, and here’s the thing, I’m putting the pressure on myself. I’m the one trying to get better. But life keeps on throwing just shit sandwiches my way. Yeah. Keeping it on. Yeah. And it’s like, it’s like, it’s like trying to swim with cylinder blocks or like weights in your hands. And the universe is like, no, here’s another one. Yeah, and here’s the baby. And here’s an elephant and hold this. Yeah, just Just keep swimming, but we’re gonna keep pouring stuff on. And I think that’s the mental health aspect that I had to and that’s where I think COVID on. And I feel bad for the people who’ve really suffered from the isolation from it, but I think the isolation for me was critical, because I had to sit with myself. Yeah.
Kristin Taylor 30:03
Well, let’s stay there. That’s so curious to me. Because we’re not taught this, like how to sit with yourself is such an easy sentence to say, what does that mean? And I’m hearing you talk about being kind to yourself for the first time in your life. I’m hearing you talk about meditation. Where did you start? What resources did you have? I mean, did you go to therapy? Were you, you know, becoming a follower of mindfulness practitioners like how did you even know where to start?
Amanda Sobey 30:31
Well, I think it came out of just boredom. Because once you took away driving the kids to and from their sports, and once you took away that doing homework with the kids, when she took away all those things that kept us busy, as moms as business people, once you took away all that stuff, you get really, really bored. And of course, I, you just sat in your room. And so part of my background history, and I’ll just go here, I don’t think many people know this. I don’t think I’ve ever exposed this actually. So this is the first for you guys. I used to actually grow cannabis for Health Canada, medical marijuana. So I was in their health and research department. Sorry, in their resource and development department, I had over 15,000 plants that I would tend to every day. And I researched that plant a lot. And through my depression because it was starting to get really grab a hold of me because my leg again, I was what 14 years with my lymphedema, my leg was getting worse and worse and worse. It just I couldn’t couldn’t catch a win. So I actually started to use the product. And mentally it alleviated some of my depressive symptoms for for a short period of time it alleviated my depression symptoms, and then secondarily, it actually helped to reduce some of my inflammation.
Kristin Taylor 31:51
Amanda Sobey 31:52
So and then when, of course, COVID hit, I wasn’t using the product as much as what I maybe would have been in before. But when you use cannabis, you become very introspective. And it was just that knowing that I was in so much pain and knowing that I was so frustrated knowing that I was so angry. And it was crazy. Because everything had been removed my purpose, my perpetrators were removed, right, the stress of my job was removed. Kids were happy, they were in their other rooms, they were doing their video games, so they were at least content. But there was nothing physically hurting me anymore besides me. And then that was where the light bulb went off. Because I remembered I had to take responsibility for repeating patterns or repeating cyclical situations. Like if I was emotionally upset, I would go binge eat on food. Right? That that is abuse in a way, you know, recognizing that was the biggest moment for me to create the shift. And then it was a matter of like, okay, let’s go get some resources. Let’s learn how to meditate. Let’s try to be still the thing. And that’s why I think fitness with fitness is my meditation. Fitness is where my mind goes to get clear, I become the most I’m a very fast paced human being by nature. Yeah, fitness in the gym is the only thing that like slows me down. And so I stayed there. And of course, I had some weights at home. And that was where I fostered more of the meditation aspect, that mental wellness and then just realizing I need to be kind to myself. And that was that’s been the biggest hurdle. And that has taken. If I were to document how long it’s taken me, let’s say 2016 For my first episode, it’s probably taken me till 2020-2021 to untangle my mess in my brain.
Kristin Taylor 33:53
That’s not surprising at all. When I work with people, I often teach them I mean, it’s the pillar of my work self compassion. And one of our guests that will you’ll be hearing in the next week or so. Melissa Chureau talks about self compassion being the black belt of mindfulness and I’d love that because it is so true. It is especially after years and years and years of you know, conditioning and over and over being so cruel to wash ourselves. It really takes a lot of intentionality and mindfulness and awareness to reverse that and start practicing new ways of being and what I’m hearing from you is that was such a concrete place of starting to heal and to care for yourself so differently
Amanda Sobey 34:38
And you don’t even recognize that you’re even against yourself which is the weirdest thing like you don’t like as you think that you’ve lived with yourself for so long that like you know everything, right? And then you realize that it was you all along like you don’t recognize the type of that dialect in your head. You think you’re helping but it’s actually hurting and Now that I coach for my profession, and I see in all the time believing, I think that helped me transition. It helped me understand that Oh, like this is, this is not helpful, right? Like that brain message of the way how you’re talking to yourself is actually working against you. And it happens all the time. Like when people go up their health journey, though, I’ll ask them how their week was. And they’ll say, Oh, it was good. But you know, I ate chips that day. And I said, but you were good for six days out of the seven. Yes. And they’re like, Oh, that’s right. Yes, I was. But they’ll focus on that one time that they hiccup, and they’ll dwell on it more, and they’ll beat themselves up because of, you know, not being perfect. Yes. And I think it’s just like I said, coaching people for a living has helped me transform. And then like I said, in order to sit with myself, knowing that I was, if it’s crazy, if you are negative to yourself, if there’s been medical studies, and as you know, if you’re negative towards yourself, you’re more likely to fail. That’s absolutely. But if you actually talk kindly to yourself, and you’re and you’re encouraging to yourself, just like how you be encouraged you encourage your children, or you encourage your best friends or your spouse. It’s so funny how we can so easily do for the people that we care about. But we are the hardest on ourselves, which is I think the disease.
Kristin Taylor 36:24
Exactly, exactly. There’s so much to that. I mean, there’s neuroscience behind it, there’s quantum physics behind it, I mean, it is energy and really putting energy towards what we want to cultivate. Versus it’s almost like brain for something bad to happen when we’re continually knocking ourselves down. My training and background is as a therapist, and part of that training is what’s called a narrative therapist, which means understanding the stories and scripts we follow, really do create the, the framework and the lens through which we experience and assign meaning. And so often, when I’m working with clients, I’m saying, let’s find the exceptions to the problem saturated story, which is exactly what you did with a client who’s like, everything’s okay, but I ate some chips. And you’re like, that is the problem saturated story, that you’re the one that ate the chips, and you have no self control. And here you go again, and that rabbit hole that we can go down, that then becomes our reality, and our identity. And so it’s saying, yes, you ate the chips. And let’s look at all the times that you didn’t eat chips. Tell me about that person who made different choices and recognizing that that is a place, even an inroad towards practicing self compassion and kindness. Start looking for the places where you’re not broken, rather than always diving into the places where you feel like you are.
Amanda Sobey 37:33
Yeah, very true. Yeah.
Kristin Taylor 37:34
So amazing that you did that. Was there anyone who inspired you? Or it just so fascinating to me, like I’m imagine you in your home COVID You have this space, and you use it wisely, because so many people are like, Yeah, I have the space. So I binge on Netflix, and you know, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and you made a different choice. Was there anyone that inspired you?
Amanda Sobey 37:58
Kristin Taylor 38:00
that’s okay. It doesn’t need to be Yes, it certainly doesn’t need to be as it became.
Amanda Sobey 38:05
Okay, so here’s another part of my story. I had the marriage that I once belonged to was not a very healthy one. And it forced me down some really dark alleys. Really dark alleys. And I don’t think people understood that. Every month, I was living paycheck to paycheck. And like when we’re saying paycheck to paycheck, it was paycheck to paycheck. I had to keep striving, I had to keep going. Because if I didn’t, we would not have food on the table. And it’s crazy, because people look at me, and they’re like, Well, man, you’re so ambitious, or Amanda, you’re so busy. Oh Amanda you keep on going. And it’s because I have no security. Yeah, that rug is literally pulled out from under my feet almost every single month. And so for me to keep my children alive for me to make sure that they have a home and a roof above their heads, I have to be at the pinnacle, I have to be at the top. And I think that’s where that athletic background really came to be an asset, that competitive nature to like, keep getting up even after you’ve been beaten down those qualities and those habits were drilled into me. And if I didn’t have those, I guarantee you I probably wouldn’t be sitting here today. So I don’t think it was an inspiration of what I aspire to be. I am my vote results of I had to be
Kristin Taylor 39:23
Yeah, yeah, that’s a really important distinction. I can absolutely hear that. Thank you for being really clear with that. And I think a lot of people are in that place. It’s like I don’t have a choice. It’s either I’m on the street, or I get up and I do what needs to be done because survival is real and especially with two kids depending on you so I do hear that. So tell us again, fast forwarding, tell us about the work you do about your business and about you know, if you even have any stories to share that you you’d like to share.
Amanda Sobey 39:51
This is where it this is a good part of my life. Thank goodness we’re out in the dark ages. Talk about Full Circle, I am incredibly blessed. I’m incredibly grateful to be sitting where I’m at today, I didn’t think I was ever going to make it this far honest, I have, what have I achieved, I ended up taking my athletic background and I ended up getting certified as a personal trainer. I’m a certified nutritionist, I also consider myself a lymphie mentor or lymphie. Coach, I have developed courses and materials and books to help people navigate their way through this disease through this illness from the patient’s perspective. Because there’s a lot of stuff that I it’s so cool that I get to tell people every single day and they’re like, Hey, I didn’t know that or, Hey, that’s a good tip. And it’s so cool because living with the condition and living with the disease. But then also applying the clinical training that I’ve received and also applying all the information that I’ve received up until now. I’ve been able to go hopefully give it back to people who obviously need it and just fast track their progress and watch their watch their life transform within weeks, if not months of just knowing what to do. And I train in three disciplines. One is all lymphedema knowledge and lymphedema education. The other one is in fitness and learning how to move your body effectively for lymphedema or lymphedema or lipo lymphedema. And if you don’t have any of those illnesses, it works great if you’re diabetic, or if you’re geriatric, or if you just want to lose some weight. And then obviously, nutrition understanding that nutrition is not a one size fits all, it is going to be based on your environment, your genetics, your your own affinity for certain foods and what your body is able to tolerate. So being able to customize food and talk to people logically, how to move forward with foods so that they’re not just following a fad diet or not just following a script. For anybody out there, I really feel that the health industry needs to start encouraging people to look at customized options, look at things that are meant for you and for your body for your mental depth, or you don’t just follow along aimlessly. Because if you don’t understand why you’re doing something, and if it’s not meant for your body, you could be putting yourself at harm, and you’re also wasting valuable time and money by trying on something that is totally could be not helpful to begin with.
Kristin Taylor 42:23
Right, right. How many years did it take you to create those programs and plans and and tell me share success story if you don’t need to give them the names, but there’s someone that really stands out for you. So two questionsin one.
Amanda Sobey 42:37
COVID helped get those books out of the way. When I was in university, in 2011-2012, I had already started actually writing, to be honest, but COVID really helped to push it over the finish line, lots of time in COVID. So I finished the majority of my books, I still have a couple more to finish, they’ll be coming out this year. And yeah, I just I wanted to be able to leave people with information, leave people with the tools that I feel are so critical to get that care because again, just because you have lymphedema doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that you can do. And just trying to find the products that work for you, again, a full time single month, basically, you know, bankrupt, if I’m able to afford care for myself, and anybody out there should be able to turn back the hands the time, right. So I guess that’s my, that’s where my approach is from. And then the biggest thing is, when I get my clients messaging me within a week, a day, even a month, of just how that they’re noticing changes in their body, how the swelling is subsiding. It’s, it’s a huge win. It’s a huge win for them. It’s a huge one for me, because again, all of us have been trained to think of that picture of elephantitis, all of us are freaking out about oh my goodness, we’re gonna have a flare up. But teaching people that they can reverse it. And again, I was at a stage three, stage four at my worst, which is considered permanent. Yeah. So for me to go from a permanent situation to coming to at stage one, stage two, depending on the day. Again, and letting people know that they can have their life back is just the biggest gift for all of us, for me for my clients. And again, just it’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing to sit here and to be in a position that I’m in this job has literally saved my life and my clients. There’s nothing more happier for me and so much like, like just cathartic for me to sit here and just to do it I do.
Kristin Taylor 44:45
So therapeutic and you have such unbelievable credibility because basically they say when you get to three or four what I’ve heard, it’s like there you stay and it just progresses and for you to help you have stage one or two. That’s so inspirational. I can’t I can’t even imagine like what that must be like for someone who is feeling that level of overwhelm depression despair, to say she has walked the walk. And yeah, and it wasn’t like you were sitting with tons of money coming in and you had all the resources in the world that if you can do it, they can do it.
Amanda Sobey 45:16
And I’m all natural, I didn’t have a surgery not to say I’m against surgery. But I truly believe there’s so many people out there that can change the hands of time, or can better their life, if they put a little elbow grease into it, if they understand what is required of them. If they have proper knowledge and proper support, you can benefit your odds of this condition. By doing a lot of things in the comfort of your own home. Again, surgery can be an option and is an option. For those out there. I’m supportive of it. But I think if you do the work before pre surgery, you’re going to be going in so much more stronger for post surgical procedures. And again, just understanding what’s required of you. A lot of people these days, they think things are gonna be solved with a pill. They think things are gonna be solved just by this and the beauty and the beast of this disease. Is your elbow grease, it is you putting your health on the map and is you going for a walk every single day is drinking your water. And you find pride in doing this because honestly, I would rather be doing this than be sitting in an old folks home in a wheelchair not being able to be functional because I let my disease run over top of me. Yes, yes, yes. Yeah. So I get up and I do it with joy. Now. Now I do now that I’m past my anger phase.
Kristin Taylor 46:36
Yeah, yeah, well, the phases are important. I mean, it sounds like you learned so much in the depths. And it’s not like you would have chosen them, but they weren’t, you know, without creating meaning and instruction forward. And I imagined to you’re working with people, it’s one thing if you’re working with someone, and you have never touched your own darkness or despair, but it’s something entirely different when you’re working with someone and you truly have done your own work. And you know what it feels to be in that bad place that empathy and compassion. And the guidance that you can provide, I imagine is so much more. Just powerful. And that relationship is so much more trust, because you’ve been there.
Amanda Sobey 47:12
I hope so.
Kristin Taylor 47:13
Yeah. I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be truly I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t be as we go into wrap up. If someone is listening, and is in a difficult place, whether they have lymphedema, or they’re just struggling with their health and wellness. What do you want them to hear?
Amanda Sobey 47:30
Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.
Kristin Taylor 47:35
What would you say? And this may be the exact same answer. And I love that quote, I absolutely love that quote. Is that Henry Ford?
Amanda Sobey 47:42
Yes. Classic. Yeah.
Kristin Taylor 47:44
Yeah, I love that one. Yeah. What would you say to yourself, and it may be the same to that 16 year battle. And one of those days that was really hard. What would you want? That person that you were to know now? To know them that you know, now?
Amanda Sobey 48:01
It’s crazy. And this is not really going to answer the question, but I always had an inkling inside of me that I could do it. I could do it if I just knew how I could do it. And I think for the 16th I guess she was would have been 21 Technically based on the diagnosis, but I wouldn’t have I wouldn’t have wasted so many years being as as awful as I was, I would have just gotten right down to business, I would have, I would have been more compliant, I would have done my habits, I would have used the tools that I know now I would have used them back then I wouldn’t have stuck 16 years in depression dragging my family and my children through hell and back because I was a miserable person. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time.
Kristin Taylor 48:49
Yyou wouldn’t have wasted so much time. And now that’s the gift that you get to give to other people.
Amanda Sobey 48:54
Yeah, absolutely. I get I get to fast track them for sure. 16 years condensed into 16 weeks. Exactly. I’d love to see it.
Kristin Taylor 49:02
Exactly. That’s, that’s awesome. That’s so fantastic. Well, Amanda, it’s just such an amazing story. Your energy is so intoxicating. Like I’m like, I’m gonna go out and take a walk now. And I’m going to do some exercising like good. Yeah, thank you so much for your time. And the candor and the openness with which you shared it just means so much. It means so much to me. Thank you.
Amanda Sobey 49:27
Thank you so much for having me and just allowing me to I hope that my words for someone out there, just help lift them up and help get them to take just that next step. So again, it’s this is all for whoever is listening, you know, I don’t do my work for me anymore. I do it for everyone else. So it’s more important for the whole world to rise up. Right?
Kristin Taylor 49:50
Yep. That’s a beautiful thing. Such a good thing. And it does matter and I know it will make a difference.
Amanda Sobey 49:55
Thank you so much.
Kristin Taylor 49:55
You’re welcome. Thank you. Turning wounds into wisdom. This seems to be a recurring theme in all of our episodes and your to profound wisdom rises to the surface and Amanda’s story. So much of Amanda’s story stands out to me, but here are a few pieces that I hope stay with you and hold some resonance as you reflect on your own challenges. She tried to fall in love with lymphedema, seen her self care as something she got to do, rather than something she resisted or had to do, what a spectacular change in mindset and shifting perspective in living with a chronic disease. She shared that the act of self care changed her as a person that she leaned into gratitude. That being kind to herself was critical to her mental wellness, that examining and questioning her own thoughts was fundamental. And that asking herself is this thought or belief hurting me or helping me? This was a game changer. And additionally, but certainly not finally, whether you think you can, or you think you can’t? You’re right. My hope is that this episode matters to all that listen, but that for those of you suffering with lymphedema, or any other underlying condition, that you feel encouraged to learn more about her, and perhaps reach out to her for support. She has earned her street cred and is there to make the road easier for all who seek help and relief. Our theme song and sound engineering was provided by Shane Suffriti. You can listen to more of Shane’s music at www.shanesuffriti.com. If you have a story about making it through something that forever changed you or want to tell us what you think about our podcast, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you enjoyed today’s episode, we humbly ask that you share it with others. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you next time on How I Made It Through.
EIQ Media, LLC 52:12
How I Made It Through is produced and distributed by EIQ Media, LLC. Elevate your emotional IQ with podcasts and content focused on overcoming adversity, leadership, mental health, entrepreneurship, spiritually transformative experiences and more.