About Kelly Brogan

KELLY BROGAN, MD, is a holistic psychiatrist, author of the New York Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own, Own Your Self, the children’s book, A Time For Rain, and co-editor of the landmark textbook Integrative Therapies for Depression.

About a year into our journey together, having weaned off of two psychiatric meds, Sandra began to struggle with muscle aches. She had learned a tremendous amount about herself in the past year – that thyroid dysfunction was one of the major reasons for her several-year-bout with flat mood, fatigue, and fogginess; that sugar and caffeine were draining her energy, keeping her up at night, and leading her to believe that she was generally a gal with a short fuse; and that a couple of minutes of medical meditation a day shifted her perspective on life’s potential.

Part of the process of learning about oneself is understanding that there are ideas out there about health and wellness that may not apply to you. It’s a process of filtering information through a new lens – yours.

Sandra was describing her discomfort to a friend who said, as if parroting a TV ad she had just watched – “I heard that this medication called Cymbalta can help with that kind of pain.” Sandra told me she looked at her and said, “Are you kidding me? Why would I take that? It has nothing to do with WHY I’m having this symptom!”

The smile that rose to my face was one of a warm welcome. Welcome, to a new way of experiencing your body.

The Readiness is All

The women I work with are ready to feel more like themselves. They’re ready to wake up and feel alive. As much as they feel run down, run over, and on the verge of giving up, they are aching for the big shift in consciousness. They know it has something to do with letting go of old ways and taking on new perspectives. They are feeling into some rumbling lifeforce deep inside that can, with the right guidance, help them rise like a phoenix.

I believe that you receive the information that you need, when you need it…as long as you are open to receiving it. When women hear my call, it is because something inside them has opened to the need for a radically different perspective. That something stems from a deep sense that they are watching an experience of struggle that feels between them and themselves. There is a strong sense of wrongness about their lives. Bodily failure. Disconnection. Lack of joy. Isolation. Of pain that threatens unending persistence.

These women feel the hollow offer of pharmaceutical-based medicine to heal them. They are no longer willing to take the bait.

Are you one of these women? Are you open and ready for transformation?

Do you feel like you’re in perpetual survival mode? That you’re waiting to exhale, one day, some time in the future? Do you feel disconnected, from yourself, from your community, from purposeful living?

If you’re one of these types of women, you may bring exactly your brand of what’s needed to the table of change.

Archetypes of Transformation

These are my four most common patient archetypes:

The Firewalker

We are here to learn, aren’t we? Sometimes, some of us, have to walk through the fire. We move through betrayal, violation, and victimization, and we get to a point where we say, “Enough!” We demand a new way.

Have you been burned by conventional medicine? Perhaps you weren’t told about any side effects before starting the birth control pill, assuming since millions of women take it every day that it must be safe, and then you were hospitalized within minutes of your life for a blood clot. Perhaps you are on your fifth psychiatric medication, feeling less yourself than you ever thought possible, and you’re sick of hearing your psychiatrist say that you just need a slightly higher dose of Lamictal. You’ve been told that the Gardasil series you got has nothing to do with the loss of all of your beautiful brown hair over 6 months, but you just know it does. Maybe you look back over the past 4 years of Zoloft treatment and you can’t remember the last time you cried the type of tears that connect you to your heart, to your humanness.

Firewalkers are often rageful if they allow themselves to be. The pain of this path is real, it is fiery, intense. They are done with conventional medicine. They see if for the trap that it is. They are on a mission to recover, and then to never look back. These women need to heal their hearts before they invite their bodies to join. This is when I begin with Kundalini yoga for psychospiritual shifts and a truce with the past.

The Doer

Some of us are blessed with a strong inner compass, self-confidence, and clarity of purpose. In today’s culture, however, even these women can be coopted by intellect-based living. Are you someone whose left-brain skills have gotten you far? Would you describe yourself as driven, accomplished, and a task-completer? Maybe you read a lot and are always looking for the next, best answer to make everything better. Your baseline anxiety seems to keep you disciplined and committed to what you put your focus on. But this anxiety has grown too powerful as you disconnect more and more from your intuition and move more and more into your overwhelmed mind. It’s. Just. Not. Working. And the prospect of terminal burnout looms large. It’s time to try another method. There’s a bit of desperation that fuels your motivation to seek this change, but you’re ready.

Doers excel at precise and strategic dietary change to help balance their nervous systems and bring them a sense of experiential learning – that complex change can come from a place of nurturing the body rather than managing and dominating it.

The Intuitive

Are you someone who’s always been attracted to the simpler, gentler ways of living? Maybe you’ve been accused of being crunchy, a hippie, or a New Ager. You’ve dabbled in the healing arts, but you’ve encountered a health challenge that has you faltering. What if there’s a place for medications? What if sometimes the body really does make major mistakes? The fear creeps in, but not enough to take you off of your native course as someone who just doesn’t feel right about the whole prescription thing. You need a container. A partner. You need an ally in your mission back to your intuitive sense.

Intuitives need community to help them reconnect to their sense of trust. This community can begin with a partnership with a healer who can encompass both the conventional and the esoteric while holding space for their trust in natural healing.

The Observer

Slow and steady wins the race. You are a quiet type. You watch the world, don’t attach to a particular position or narrative. You take it all in and let it swirl around. Here’s what you’ve been noticing. Something is changing. Gone is the time when we “just ask the doctor”, when we bowed our civilian heads and followed orders, when we trusted that science and technology would usher us into a state of perfect control over all of the unpredictability of life. You feel that people are sort of chronically freaking out these days. You’re watching your neighbor unschool his kids, your sister have her baby at home, and your friend’s uncle put his pancreatic cancer into years of remission through a nutritional program. You’re noting that the most vibrant people you know are doing things differently than the mainstream. They aren’t buying Cheerios anymore. They aren’t serving pizza at their kid’s birthday parties, and they aren’t making 10,000 excuses for why they can’t meditate. They’re owning something different. And you want in.

Observers often struggle with complete motivation around this lifestyle shift because it doesn’t feel urgent. Beginning with an approach that layers in a sampler of all relevant considerations such as the program I describe in A Mind of Your Own is a perfect complement for this woman.

Which Archetype Are You?

If any of these archetypes resonate, you may be on the brink of a shift. This shift is a tectonic movement. Einstein said, “no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. This shift looks like reeling in all of the energy you’ve cast out into the world. Take it back, deliberately. All the worries about the future, regrets about the past, all of the searching for the answer, the asking for the quick fix, the waiting for warnings and cautions and threats about all that is unsafe out there in the world. Take all that massive output of energy and pull it back into the center of yourself.

Sit with it and let it fill you with a sense of your own power. You already have all that you need. It’s already inside. It’s not unlike Dorothy feeling that she’s lost, scared, and in danger, seeking the Wizard. Only, when she arrives, she learns the Wizard is nothing of what she imagined he would be, and that the truth is she had all that she needed to get home, all along.

Here are some of the hallmarks of this new way of being:

Sit calmly and observe. Symptoms are a message. Watch them, learn about their patterns, their triggers, their quieter times. Work to understand your body’s language.

Trust yourself. Trust that your body has GOT this. Your body has a complexity and sophistication that science is beginning to reveal, not resolve. It wants to be well. It just needs impediments removed and some basic signals of safety.

Stand strong. When you come into your power, it will challenge others. You will serve as a mirror to reflect back to them the ambivalence they have about their own choices. Smile and keep doing your own thing.

Build your community. Work with healers who get it. Network with others who see the body as fundamentally whole, who don’t traffic in the realm of fear and reactivity. Incubate in these spaces.

Feel into these ideas, listen for the Yes inside, and see if you’re ready to choose a different story.