I love to talk about the universe, about life, about consciousness, awareness, relationships, nature…. I have spent countless hours and could easily spend many more sharing the story of who we are, it just flows out of me so effortlessly. But when it comes to sharing the story of who I am, me, Irina, in this earthly body, I find myself having such a hard time finding the words.
Vulnerability is such a weakness in this reality.
We learn from such an early age to wear a mask. We suppress our real emotions and thoughts, our true identity, and we instead invent one that allows us to be accepted. It allows us to fit in. And we use that mask our entire lives, with nearly every single person that comes our way. We have to be so careful about what we say, what we do, what we show, or else, our survival is at risk. We are not by any means meant to be loners, living in isolation. We crave to have contact, connection, relationships, we want to belong, and that’s only natural. Humans are very social creatures, thriving in the company of other humans. So we do what we have to do to be welcomed within the current structure of society.
We hide the truth of what is within, and we instead present a lie.
Well, I also lie. I have my own mask. Like everyone else. I’ve had it since I was a kid, and I still sometimes take it out, and wear it. Not very often, thankfully, but it still is at times necessary. And the mask that I’ve worn the most throughout my life is the mask of “I’m ok, nothing is wrong”.
I’ve been telling that lie a lot. Especially during the last 8 years.
I tell it in the image above (the left pic), I tell it in my profile picture, I tell it in my FB posts, in so many of my interactions, in so many face to face dialogues. I’m a professional at faking being well. Nobody suspects a thing. And this has been my own way of survival, my own way of fitting in. Only a handful of people in my life truly know how I feel.
Around 8 years ago I had the Gardasil vaccine.
At the time, I was halfway through university, and during one of my holiday visits back home, our family doctor suggested that I take the vaccine; not knowing any better back then, I agreed. After my first dose, I noticed no issues, but half a year later, soon after my 2nd dose (there are a total 3 doses to take, one every 6 months), I ended up in the hospital with a horrendous headache (very different from any headaches I had suffered up until then) and strong visual symptoms. The doctors diagnosed it as a migraine, gave me a bunch of pills and sent me home. Next day, the headache was still there, just as bad, so I returned to the doctor, received a new pain shot and an IV and then was sent back home. By the third day, the pain subsided quite a bit, it was not as intense, but nonetheless, it was still there – a dull and constant soreness and heaviness in my brain, that, to this day (8 years later) has never left me.
Lengthy doctor’s visits and tests followed, but each time, all the results returned no clear answers as to why my head was in constant pain. It seemed that the doctors were simply taking guesses, while at the same time pumping me full of pills that never seemed to help. I was only 21 years old, living with chronic headaches and a chronic inability to focus or concentrate (I went from being on a scholarship to barely getting through classes), and was growing more and more exhausted and depressed by the day. I must have been too far lost within my own depression to make the connection between the vaccine and my chronic pain (and of course the doctors would’ve never linked the two together either), because half a year later, I unsuspectedly (and ignorantly) went for my 3rd vaccine dose.
This is when things really fell apart for me. I began to develop muscle pains that would run up and down through my legs and arms, my bones were constantly aching, my head felt more sore and heavy than ever, and most days I was too exhausted or in too much pain to even leave the bed. I would also go through long bouts of insomnia, sometimes 3-4 days of no sleep at a time, and all I could do was to just sit still, in pain, often crying, hour after hour, stuck in the same bed, same room, with no ability to move, or go out, decrease or escape my physical discomfort. I also put on weight, and became very very depressed. This was me back then.
It was absolute torture and no conventional forms of help seemed to do anything for me. The only thing that ever helped was cannabis. Discovering pot changed my life tremendously. This plant allowed me to get out of bed and walk, even do small tasks around the house, sometimes even cook, and most of all, it allowed me to sleep much better at night. It gave me much of my functionality back, and a shred of hope, at a time when I felt completely defeated. It also allowed me to keep going to school, and somehow, against all odds, graduate.
I just didn’t want to be in bed all day, doing nothing. It is absolutely daunting to constantly be in pain, indoors, so at some point, you realize that your only option is either resigning to that, and giving up, or finding the strength within to push and go out, and do things, and learn to function, even when you’re in pain. Cannabis, of course, helped a lot with that. But I learned, day by day, to walk even when my bones were aching, to eat, even when I felt nauseous, to study and think, even when my mind felt like mush, to smile even if all I wanted to do was cry. If I were to survive, and preserve any kind of life, or sense of sanity, I needed to learn to live with my illness, and do everything in spite of the pain. And I learned fast.
Most people who live with chronic pain quickly learn to do this. It’s the only way to keep on having any kind of life. In a sense, it’s like having a rock in your shoe, that you can never remove, and if you want to keep walking, you have to learn to step on the sharp rock each time, and learn to be ok with it. You learn to just live with the pain, you build a persona who can smile no matter what, and can focus on getting things done, no matter what is thrown at them. You learn to climb mountains, from morning till evening. You become a real fighter. You truly master the “I’m ok, nothing is wrong” mask, even if it feels like you are dying inside.
When you live with chronic pain and you are chronically exhausted, you also often don’t have the energy to tell people that you are in pain. It always turns into the same conversation, with the same reactions and questions, and so many people can also be so insensitive to chronic pain, it often can also be upsetting, so it becomes easier to just hold it in, and pretend that everything is good. It’s too exhausting to get into detail with each person (because most people want details). Talking about chronic pain can also make some people uncomfortable. Let alone potential employers, or people with whom you are having any type of relationship with, people begin to treat you differently, and they don’t really want someone in pain all the time around. Again, lying makes things much easier. Or sometimes, you might just want to protect the people you love from knowing just how bad you are.
And of course, sometimes, you just want to put on a nice dress, cover your dark circles, put on some lipstick, and feel good, and smile, no matter how miserable you are inside. One of the reasons why I sometimes like to take pictures of myself, on the days when I can manage to feel better about myself, and actually have a good time and smile – they are truly meaningful days to me.
Constantly doing things in pain of course takes a massive toll on your body. I always crash, and go through periods of time, where no matter how hard I try to be strong, and get up and do things, it just doesn’t happen. I’m helpless, and completely bed-bound, and no amount of determination will change that. My body constantly goes through periods of collapse, sometimes for a day, sometimes two, sometimes even a few weeks, where I am just too incapacitated by pain and exhaustion, unable to control my movements or reactions. And I also look visibly very ill, no matter how much make up I apply.
Some of the medical results that were coming back in the aftermath of my 3rd vaccine dose, were suggesting an auto-immune disorder, mainly Multiple Sclerosis, and potentially Lyme disease, and they were pushing for more tests in order to confirm and decide the best course of action. By then, my faith in conventional medicine was nearly gone though, and especially after my success with cannabis, I had no desire to be poked and experimented on anymore, and wished instead to research and learn more about natural healing methods. I also couldn’t really afford going to the doctor, throwing money at endless tests and consultations. So I distanced myself from doctors, from appointments, and dived deep into alternative treatments instead. I started to read everything I could get my hands on, related to natural therapies, and soon began experimenting.
I changed my diet, and began to remove what was toxic. At the time, I was a vegetarian, so I ate a very clean vegetarian diet, supported by supplements and many super foods. My fridge looked beautiful!
I lived in a beautiful environment, close to amazing nature, and was able to spend a great deal of time outside, connecting to the trees, to the animals, to myself. When my health allowed, I would even go out on walks and explore, cook, or on my really good days, I would even volunteer at a local animal shelter, and help rehabilitate abused dogs (something I’ve been naturally good at since I was a kid). This was incredibly therapeutic for me, and I eventually went on to adopt two beautiful dogs, which brought more unconditional love into my existence than I could have ever hoped.
I also went deep within, and spent much time in self-reflection and self-work, processing and healing a lot of emotions, thoughts, traumas, and learning how to relate to myself and to the world around me in a completely new way. I began to take responsibility for my behavior, for my actions, for my relationships, for absolutely everything. I also began to treat myself with more care, more grace and gentleness. With more love. I had incredible dialogues within myself, on a mental, physical and spiritual level, and overall I was experiencing many insights and many improvements.
I lost weight, my skin started to look better, I had more energy, my headaches were better, I experienced more clarity, my muscles hurt less, my sleep was better. I was lucky during the first few years to have access to a safe environment that allowed me to truly heal and focus on my own struggles. I was doing overall much much better, and living a much more functional life. I was still living with chronic pain, and some days, no matter what I tried or did, I was still bed-ridden and non-functional, but other days, the intensity would go down, and I would be able to regain a decent amount of functionality. Sometimes without needing any cannabis at all, which for me was huge. Even one day of feeling slightly better was a massive deal!
So I continued doing what I was doing, and in time, I developed my dialogue with my body to such a degree that I could really listen to it talking back to me.
One of the first things that my body let me know, was that the vaccine was actually the trigger for all my health issues. At the time, reports of countless girls suffering from Gardasil injuries were also just starting to come out, confirming my internal intuition. There were clear links between this vaccine and auto-immune symptoms.
The second thing that my body communicated to me was that I needed to stop eating a vegetarian diet, as it was actually delaying my ability to heal. I had been a vegetarian for quite a few years before then, and the thought of eating meat repulsed me. I couldn’t bear (and still can’t bear) the thought of taking life in order to sustain myself (it was painful enough taking the life of plants, let alone of animals, whom were so very close to me my whole life), and yet, my body was communicating quite clearly to me that it needed meat. So, after endless internal conflicts (which have ever since helped me tremendously in healing my relationship to the artificial nature of this construct and the imposed distortions of this reality, and the imposed “eat or be eaten” dynamic of this place) I decided to reintroduce meat, and experienced immediate improvements. My energy was returning, many of my body aches were slowly disappearing, I was in many ways recovering, and felt like my body was slowly beginning to fix itself, and my environment was fully supporting me also. This is a complex and very sensitive topic in my life, and I hope in one of my next articles to go into further detail, as it absolutely deserves its own post.
And the third clear message that I received was that I needed to step into my true role here. I needed to embody my purpose here on Earth, and align myself with the natural/original story of the universe. The only reason why I was here in the first place! My body needed me to follow my calling.
So I followed it. I allowed myself to flow with the pull that I was feeling within, and this ended up taking me on a journey throughout South and Latin America, the United States, Asia, and now Europe.
The journey has had many ups and downs. Periods of beautiful joy, but also periods of intense misery and suffering. The difficult parts of the trip have seen me lose my health many times. I’ve done so many things in intense pain, things that most healthy people couldn’t even handle perhaps….I’ve worked with children in the Amazon jungle, I’ve trekked remote islands in the Caribbean, I’ve been homeless, broke, threatened at gun point, lived in dark, cold basements, worked for farms, temples, even ran an entire restaurant by myself….I’ve worked 15 hour shifts building up a business from scratch, only to see it get stolen from under my feet, I’ve driven through 47 U.S. states, I’ve taught English to kids in China, just to name a few things (I’m sure in future articles I will get to share more).
Well, I am now going through one of my bad flares. I’ve been through so much within the last couple of months, I’m going through quite a bit of distress in my personal life, dealing with a lot of loss, a lot of changes, and am also recovering from being in China (which was very bad for my health). My body completely collapsed a month ago. My bones have been aching deeply, my muscles are convulsing and hurting a lot, my head is sore and heavy, my sleep has been awful, as my pain keeps me up, and I am beyond exhausted. I haven’t really been able to read, or focus, or do much of anything, and I haven’t left the house in a few weeks now. And of course, the stress of not being able to hold any kind of job at the moment, and having no income is also quite daunting. My health depends on having the ability to afford remedies and eating healthy, and whatnot.
It is a slow recovery, my slowest yet, and while I have many moments when I feel overwhelmed and hopeless, I am still fighting, and giving it my all to recover. I’ve had so many bad flares before, and I know what works and what my body has always responded to, in terms of getting better; and I am doing my best to follow that, hoping that this time around, I will begin to heal and once again recover some of my functionality back. I will share more about the things that have over the years made the most impact on my health, and the protocols that I am following, as I do feel that many others could benefit from my own trials and errors over the years.
But for now I just wanted to open up about a personal aspect of my life, and share from a vulnerable place. Talking about my health is always such a sensitive topic for me, and I so frequently want to hide, and go behind my mask, but I’m learning to share more about my own struggles, my pain, my fears, my weaknesses. I want to share that it is ok to not be ok. It’s ok to be exhausted. I am completely tired, and I often don’t know how to find the strength to keep on going, I am in a lot of pain, and feel so broken in so many ways. And I’m allowing myself to feel that way. I’m being gentle with myself, with my battles, with my pain. I’m giving myself the space to mourn, to process, to feel my own discomfort, while at the same time not giving up hope. But it is difficult, and I wanted to reach out, and let those closest to me know how I really am, in the hopes that maybe more of you will also open up back, with vulnerability, and share your own pains and sorrows. All the ways in which you are also not ok. The support of friends, the sense of community, of not being alone can really do wonders.
Thank you for reading and for being here, and as a side note, I am slowly getting Part 3 together, as my health allows, hopefully not much longer.