Lauren Rose had to stop working due to chronic pain and felt that she has lost her purpose in life. This is her story and she is resilient.
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Trigger Warning: The Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult. The listener’s discretion is advised.
About the Guest:
Lauren Rose is a disabled wife and mom living with chronic pain (degenerative & inflammatory arthritis, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, & migraines), major depressive disorder, & paralyzing anxiety.
She was adopted at 9 weeks old. She has had chronic pain since she was 15 (nearly 30 years), & depression & anxiety since she was 8. I just didn’t know back then that these things she was feeling weren’t normal. In her late teens, a cousin sexually abused me; she was too ashamed to tell anyone. Soon after, she was raped & then physically abused by a “friend” for nearly two years. She’s been in therapy most of her adult life & is on a continual healing journey.
In 2015, Lauren had to stop working due to severe chronic pain. Over the next two years, she was in a deep depression. She came out of it by 1) intentional daily gratitude, & 2) realizing God can take my broken life & make something new & beautiful.
Our circumstances don’t control us or determine our destiny—we do! Lauren believes all of her pain has a purpose: to equip me to encourage & bring community to other people. She started a podcast & blog as ways for her to put good into the world & help others with chronic pain, mental illness, or previous trauma.
trigger warning, the Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult, the listeners discretion is advised.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Hello friends, welcome to radical resilience, a weekly show where I Blair Kaplan Venables have inspirational conversations with people who have survived life's most challenging times. We all have the ability to be resilient and bounce forward from a difficult experience. And these conversations prove just that, get ready to dive into these life changing moments while strengthening your resilience muscle and getting raw and real.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Welcome back to another episode of radical resilience. It's me Blair Kaplan. Venables coming in with another episode, I'm here today with my new friend Lauren. Lauren has quite the story. And she is inspirational. Not only has she had quite the journey that she's going to share, but she's turning her pain into purpose. She is a disabled wife and mom living with chronic pain. And she also has major depressive disorder and paralyzing anxiety. And she has a podcast and she's created a whole community around her experience. You know, she says, our circumstances don't control us or determine our destiny we do. And I absolutely love that. And, you know, without further ado, I'm not going to tell her story because she's here. She's here to do it for us. So welcome to the mic. Lauren.Lauren Rose:
Thank you, it's so exciting to be here in such an inspirational project that you've got going on. So thank you for being interested in my story.Blair Kaplan Venables:
You know, I mean, it's somewhat relatable, like parts of it, I can see some of my story and your story. And it's just I think a lot of people have gone through some stuff, and they don't. They're not open about it. And I love your vulnerability and honesty. And you know, it's a really important conversation. So thank you for being open to sharing it with us. Sure. Yeah. So let's dive in.Lauren Rose:
Yeah, a little bit about me, I was adopted when I was nine weeks old. My birth mom was 15, when she got pregnant, and 16 when she had me, so she put me up for adoption. I didn't know much about my birth parents, except that she was 16 when she had me and I knew my my birth name. But I didn't know if that last name was my maternal last name, or my paternal last name. In 2020. I actually, through a DNA test on Ancestry matched with a first cousin and he got me. You know, he led me to my birth mom, which has been really exciting. I know. So I've got I've got a brother out there. And I've got some cousins and uncles and some aunts and the grandmother, and it's been really cool. I've met them twice so far.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Are they in Texas as well?Lauren Rose:
No, they're where I was born. I was born in North Carolina. So most of them are there.Blair Kaplan Venables:
You know what, sorry, I know this is about you. But quickly, I did a DNA test. And I learned I had a half brother, who my dad didn't know he he got someone pregnant. And she didn't tell my dad and she was 15. And had them had like my brother and put them up for adoption. But my dad didn't know. And I just met him a few years ago.Lauren Rose:
Yeah, that might be how I ended up finding my birth dad, because he doesn't know anything about me.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Wow, they're so wow. I mean, yeah. And it's cool. Because I met my met my half brother, he just wanted to learn about medical history. And yeah, anyways, I just like your story. It's, it's very interesting, because I'm, I'm in a similar, similar, like, DNA tests learned. I had family situation.Lauren Rose:
Yeah, it's exciting. I was very blessed that my family, you know, wanted me and allowed me to come into their lives and didn't just stop and say, Nope, we gave you you know, 40 years ago, we don't want to have anything to do with you. So I was very excited about that.Blair Kaplan Venables:
I'm excited for you, because that's amazing. Okay, back to you.Lauren Rose:
That's fine. Um, my, my adoptive parents. I mean, they weren't bad people. But my dad was verbally abusive. My mom was basically just submissive to him all the time. We didn't grow up with my brother and I did my adopted brother and I didn't grow up in an environment where we were allowed to have our own feelings or opinions or thoughts about anything. My dad would shut us down. He would tell us, you're just a child, you have no reason to be angry, or you have no reason to be sad or whatever it was that he didn't like. So I learned at a very young age just to stuff all of my my emotions and my opinions and my thoughts and my preferences down and just keep it all to myself. At 15, I developed an eating disorder. I lived with that for about a year and a half. And then when I was 18, out of nowhere, I mean, even looking back, I didn't see any signs. But I've nowhere I had a cousin who sexually assaulted me. But I was too ashamed to tell anybody about it. So I didn't until I was 28. And that didn't go so well. They my family not don't think they believed me, or they just I think mainly, they just didn't care. So I moved out of my house because I was dealing with that, at age 19. And, unfortunately, got involved with somebody who was also abusive, physically, emotionally, sexually. And I was there for about two years until one day he, he picked me up, we were just having an argument over something stupid. He picked me up and he body slammed me into the floor, and I lost consciousness. And when when I woke up, I just, I just remember saying, Oh, my God, not again, not again, oh, my God, not again. And so I just, I got up, I grabbed my purse, and I just walked out, I had no idea where I was gonna go, what I was gonna do was with a goal. I just knew I was done. So I ended up calling a girl that I worked with at the time and ended up you know, staying in with her for a little while. Then, you know, had some, some years of just difficult relationships. Maybe not difficult relationships, but unhealthy relationships. Because after just having so much abuse in my life, I just wanted to be loved, right? Luckily, in 2004, I met my now husband, Thomas. And we were friends for about 10 months. And then he finally asked me on a first date. And then after our first date, we were basically inseparable.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Thomas, what took you so long?Lauren Rose:
I know, right? I was like I was I was flirting with him, flirt with him like crazy. And it took him a while. But after our first day, it took him less than less than eight months to finally propose. And part of me was thinking, Oh, that's really soon. It's only been about eight months. But the other part of me was like what took him so long, because we were completely on set inseparable we knew we were gonna get I knew I was going to marry him. Oh, I love exactly. So yeah, so we we had our daughter in 2013. And that's been amazing. She just turned 10. I've had chronic pain ever since I was about 15. Not sure if it was related to the eating disorder thing or not at that same time, but I started having near daily migraines and tension headaches. In 2015. I've been suffering from these headaches for almost 20 years for basically 20 years. So I was 35 at that time, so I went on a four week inpatient pain recovery program in a hospital. And I learned some things about pain. One major thing I learned was that, depending on the expert between 50 and 80%, of physical pain is from emotional pain. And that's kind of why I tell some of this backstory because it's all related.Blair Kaplan Venables:
You know, at Lauren, I just started listening. Like, I listened to books, and I read books, and I was listening to the body keeps score. Yes. And it just interesting that we're having this conversation about that because I was reading your bio, and I was like, this has a lot to do with, you know, the trauma. Anyway. Yeah, I think it's very like Exactly, yeah, it's very true.Lauren Rose:
It's definitely rated related, especially since you know, I didn't get any kind of help or therapy or talk about any of my previous trauma. I just I stuffed it and stuffed it down and just thought, Oh, well, it's in the past, it's gonna go away. But instead, I think it has manifested as chronic pain. So yeah, in 2015, I got out of the inpatient pain recovery program, I learned I had autoimmune disease within a couple of months after that. And then my autoimmune disease started flaring up. So I started having really bad spinal pain, really bad neck pain. I was working from home most of the time because I couldn't hold my neck up for more than about 15 minutes without having to go lie down for a little while. And then throughout 2016, I was really struggling with with just debilitating style of spinal pain, or a back brace every day I work from home almost all the time, I could barely walk. I ended up having to go don't go on short term disability in January of 2017. Just I just couldn't I got some steroid injections, and I didn't think my pain could get any worse in my spine, but it did get really bad. So during my time on short term disability on during those six months, I was doing physical therapy. I was getting more steroid injections. I was trying to help my pain get better so I could go back to work and get this awesome new job that I had this position that I had applied. I had for my company because it was a great company, great job, I had a great career, I was loving my life. But instead of my pain getting better, my pain actually started spreading. So instead of just being in my spine, it spread to my hips and my knees and my shoulders and my hands and my feet. And I developed Fibromyalgia was out while I was on short term disability, which I never had before. And I could never go back to work. So six months later, my short term disability expired and my company eliminated my position, which was devastating to me. Because I not just because I wanted to go back to work, but because I loved my company, I loved what I did, I love this position I was about to get. Over the next two years, I was in a really deep depression, I felt like I'd lost my identity, I'd lost my purpose in life. I am yeah, I'd lost my job. But I was also grieving the loss of my health, the loss of functionality, lots of things that I couldn't do, like a lot of normal 37 year olds could do. You know, I couldn't load the dishwasher. Without excruciating pain, I couldn't walk around the grocery store, because it can cause too much pain. So I was I was in a grieving period for about two years, I barely took care of my poor, five year old daughter, about two years into my really, really dark depression, I guess, I decided, I need something different. I'm tired of my daughter seeing me in bed all the time. So I joined a women's bible study at my church. And they were reading this book called, it's not supposed to be this way, which is exactly what I felt about my life. This is not what I've been working for. This is not what I planned. It literally is not supposed to be this way. So there was a lady in my group who kind of took me under her wing because I was a mess. Every time I went, I was just sobbing because I was just so upset about my life. And she gave me this little heart, and a little wooden heart. And she told me to go home and practice intentional daily gratitude. She has this nonprofit organization called grateful gratitude. And that's exactly what it's about. It's just about gratitude. So, I mean, for months, every single night, I would close my eyes, I would hold this little heart up to my heart, and I would think of three things I was grateful for. And at first, it was pretty shallow. But then I got into things like that I could really appreciate about my own body. Like, even though it hurts to walk, I'm thankful that I can walk. Even though you know, this, my legs are hurting really badly. I'm glad that I have legs. And that was definitely a perspective shift on my part of mindset shift. And the other thing that really helped was, this book made me realize that God could take my broken life and make something new and beautiful out of it. And that's what I hadn't considered. I was just so lost in what I had lost. I didn't think of what could be. And I think I needed those those couple of years. I mean, I was grieving a lot of things. So I don't regret that. I took that time to grieve, I don't, I'm glad I did. I'm glad I didn't just push it down and just tried to jump into the to the next stage of my life. But I decided that I would try to do something with with my pain, I figured there's a purpose for it. I don't know what the purpose is. So I started joining Facebook forums and groups and apps. And I started connecting with people who had chronic pain and depression, who had anxiety who had previous trauma. And that's where the beautiful really started, I felt joy that I hadn't felt in years just by connecting with these people, and giving them advice or giving them encouragement or just letting them know, Hey, you're not alone, you know, these panic attacks, this trauma, this pain, whatever it is. So I just kind of started realizing that even though I have to live with chronic pain, I don't have to suffer from it. Because suffering is a choice that people make. You know, it's just it's a mindset shift to realize our pain is not in control of our lives. And so I, you know, got into therapy, and I've been you know, working a lot on myself. And then kind of what came out of, of me finding joy is me starting this podcast. It's called it's hard to mom and I have guests on and we talk about parenting, we talk about life, we talk about health, we talk about pain, and that really gives me a new purpose in life. I feel like right now at this stage of my life, maybe my pain will go away. Maybe it won't. I have no idea. But at this stage in my life, I feel like my purpose is to be there for other people who are going through similar situations.Unknown:
I am,Blair Kaplan Venables:
what a story. There's a lot to unpack. So thank you so much for taking us on the journey of being adopted to where you are now. And, you know, like, thank you. And I'm so sorry that you went through, you know, the depression, anxiety, abuse, you know, all that really hard stuff and the chronic pain. You know, did you ever find out what, like, was there any sort of diagnosis of like, where, like, why you had it, like did the doctors trying to tell you like, what it was from?Lauren Rose:
Basically, the core is the autoimmune disease. So with my arthritis, I have both inflammatory and degenerative arthritis. So the inflammatory is the rheumatoid arthritis. But because my body is attacking itself, apparently, my body is attacking my joints, therefore, it's causing degeneration. And nobody really knows the fibromyalgia, I think the fibromyalgia was emotionally set on, just due to having to, to, to deal with a non short term disability through chronic pain and why pain getting worse. So I think that has that one has a huge, you know, emotional, and probably inflammatory component as well.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yeah, no, definitely. You know, it' like you came into the world with trauma, right? And, you know, this stuff that we're learning now, you know, about how like, the body keeps score, and like the, you know, what we go through and how it shows up in our body. Like, you know, imagine if we knew this in the 80s, then I don't know how old you are. But the 90s I was born in the 80s. And it's interesting, like, even just reading this, and like, sorry, I'm reading it as you're saying it. Like your your bio, like, depression, like in the early 90s, of course, I was depressed my dad who will like I was a daddy's girl, like, abandoned me. And I was writing, I guess, sad stories and poetry. And my mom got called into the school. And they're like, We think Blair is depressed. And my mom's like, she's fine. She's not depressed. But like, I was, and I had this whole journal entry about like, depression, like, am I Blair, Kaplan, the depressed girl? Well, guess we'll never know. It's like, Haha, Blair, like you are depressed. But imagine if I got that help when I was younger, and like, maybe I wouldn't have had to, you know, have, I wouldn't have had a substance problem. You know, maybe I would have had more self, I just, you know, it's so interesting, because we, there's all this research now. And you're able to look at, like your life and what's happening. And I'm wondering, like, is there any sort of science to help you manage the pain, because I know you're practicing gratitude, which I want to come back to, because I have to tell you about that. And, you know, like, you've you've welcomed God into your life, or you welcome welcomed him in more, I'm not sure like, what you were where you stood before that. And I think faith, whether it's to a higher Spirit, God, whoever you, you know, whatever you believe in, you know, I think having that in your life is really powerful. That belief. And I'm just wondering if any of that helps manage the pain.Lauren Rose:
So I have recently, the episode, my podcast, that's, as opposed to Jessica post next week or this week, but she's a doctor, especially specifically a headache doctor, and she talks on her podcast about how an element that the medical system is missing is the spiritual component of our lives. And she just talks about how how huge that is. So I am doing more spiritual stuff, not only with my relationship with God, but you know, meditation and, you know, the gratitude thing, and even just learning to do more breathing, and I'm not sure how it's gonna affect my pain, but it's certainly not going to hurt it.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yeah, I mean, like, none of that is poison, right? Like, it's all very beneficial. What's really cool, but what you said is with gratitude, so in about 2016, I saw a video on YouTube it was Sean a core video. I don't know if you've ever read The Happiness Advantage or if you've heard of him, but he talked about the concept of if you practice gratitude every single day, at the same time, and you list three things you're grateful for from the past 24 hours, and you do this for at least 21 days, then neural pathways in your brain change. So you see the world in a more positive way. And I have a gratitude alarm. So I opened up my phone at 9pm and I wrote gratitude alarm and everyday since then, I practice gratitude and some before the pandemic when parties were a thing Like, I'd be at a party and it would go off and everyone would do it. I you know, the day my mom the day before my mom like passed away me and my mom and sister all did it. My dad the day my dad passed away me and my aunts and uncles and cousins did it. Like we practice gratitude no matter what, because there is always something like you said about your legs, right? Like, I'm grateful I got to be with my mom when she died. I'm grateful that she had a very fast painless exit was painful, but like, you know, and there's always something like there's days where I'm like, grateful for Advil and that the day is over, but I do it right. And I mean, people are like blur. How did you get how are you still standing? Like with all that loss, you know, like everyone died? Like we're almost died in a very short period of time. And I'm like, I've learned how to strengthen my resilience muscle and like, I think I pretty sure I owe a lot of it to the practice of gratitude.Lauren Rose:
Yeah, I mean, there's a good amount of research on gratitude, and our brains are like so completely neuro plastic. There's that neuroplasticity that's going on, so we can retrain. And that's definitely what happened with me. I mean, what else would explain me? Literally being in bed most of the day, except to feed my kid? Yeah. Going from that to actually having a more thriving life. And I mean, I still suffer from depression. Because that's, you know, a chemical thing. Yeah. My antidepressants are working now. And they weren't working for that long period of time.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Hallelujah for antidepressants. Shout out to Zoloft for me. But yeah, like, I think I think there are things like I guess, is it called biohacking. Like I'm not an expert, but there are things you can do to help you through the hardships. And I love that you started doing that. And that you still do that. So I just thank you for bringing that to the conversation, because that's something so small that anyone can do that doesn't cost any money. That takes a couple seconds. Like who doesn't want to just like feel better? Right?Lauren Rose:
Well, some people,Blair Kaplan Venables:
some people Yeah, I mean, it's true. Some people, some people don't like to have the hope. Or like they don't see themselves being able to feel better. So they need to have that rock bottom moment where they're willing to try anything.Lauren Rose:
i There also are also people who thrive in being miserable. I've known a couple in my life. That's that's their, that's their identity is being miserable. Oh, darn. But for most of us, 99.9% of the rest of us. I think we all want to do small easy things that are going to make us feel better.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yeah. And so you you you started a group like you so you have in hurts mom like a Facebook group and a website, Instagram and a podcast. Do you gather women together online like on Zoom? Like are people Oh, I guess I sent her her mom because I said women because women mom, but like, how do you like how do you support moms living with chronic pain.Lauren Rose:
So I've got the it hurts to mom podcast. But I've also got a small group of ladies and they happen to all be ladies, that wasn't my intention, but a small group at my church full of ladies with chronic pain. And I had, I'd worked with my church for almost a year, and they weren't quite sure to put if they should put me in like a support group category or in just a regular group category. And finally, I just said, you know, just let me have a group, we'll figure it out. You know, if somebody somebody needs therapy, I'll direct them to the church counselor. And so for I'm on my second semester, and I've had two of the women tell me, they literally prayed for a group just like this. And I had no idea while I was thinking, Oh, this is something I should do, that people were praying for it and I think that's that's just really cool. I did it because statistically one out of five people lived with chronic pain, and one out of 12 people lives with chronic pain that significantly affects our daily lives. That's a lot of people should we maybe just for some people who are like what is actually chronic pain like what what is your definition or the definition of chronic pain? Chronic Pain is pain that basically pain that lasts more than three months, like sistent or is it like coming and going it can be coming and going but just some kind of pain somewhere in your body that after three months doesn't go away?Blair Kaplan Venables:
I suffer from chronic pain as well then. i Yeah, I was in 2008 I was at a music festival and I jumped over a fence and landed on my back and I broke my ribs. Oh yeah. And like just my back everything's kind of messed up but yeah, I mean one in five people live with chronic pain. So like I just had that realization I guess I that's me. You know interesting you're saying this and like I'm picturing like, I go through a lot of Advil. Like Advil should sponsor me it's probably not so good that I use that much Advil but um, you know, you're I think what you're doing is great what's next for you? Do you have something like anything exciting for it hurts mom coming up. Are you just, you know where Hang on your cadence of what you're putting out.Lauren Rose:
Yeah, right now I'm just kind of working on, on what I'm doing right now in the podcasts, I'm thinking about making some kind of workbook, that'll you know, I'm not sure if that'll be your freebie or what and, and I don't know if I'm gonna do an online course, or I'm not sure exactly where this is gonna go. I'm just kind of doing what my heart feels is right at the moment. And right now, you know, my podcasts are what feels right at the moment.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yeah, no, definitely. And that's great. I'm like, You everyone should check out her podcast. So how I know we talked about your links, but if people want to connect with you listen to your podcast, you know, follow you on social media. How can they do that?Lauren Rose:
So everything is called it hurts to mom. So it's, it hurts to mom.com My email address is it hurts to email@example.com I'm on Facebook facebook.com/at hurts to mom, I'm on Instagram at it hurts to mom. And my podcast is on Apple and Spotify. It's called it hurts to mom. So I try to keep everything easy.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yeah. Every it hurts to mom. I mean, that's gonna be the title of this episode, I think because it just it's on brand. You know. And one final question. What advice do you have for those out there, those those those mothers who are just realizing they're living with chronic pain?Lauren Rose:
So first of all, I would say look deep inside and see if you've got any suppressed trauma or emotions that you haven't processed. And if so, start working on that. And to like you said earlier, I'm just a big proponent. We're not victims, over our circumstances, we have control over our own lives and how we move forward. The secret to overcoming challenges is to learn to accept change, which is really hard for me. Yeah. And, and just, you know, I have to adapt it and move on with life. But yeah, I would, I would start by seeing kind of if anything is suppressed and, or repressed. And go from there.Blair Kaplan Venables:
That's great advice. And, you know, there's, there's lots of support out there who can, you know, help you you don't have to do this on your own. Like, there's, I'm actually looking into EMDR therapy.Lauren Rose:
I do that.Blair Kaplan Venables:
Yeah, I have never done it. But I've had a few recommendations. But yet anyways, this is about you and the listeners, everyone, there's support out there for you. You don't have to do this alone. And you know, the global Resilience Project, like we're here to provide the safe space to educate you to inspire you to help you heal. And, you know, give you a space to share stories. And Lauren, thank you so much for coming on to our podcast to share your journey with us. And you know, your story is quite remarkable. And, you know, I think you turning your pain into purpose is very beautiful. And you know, I think a lot of people are going to be able to benefit and find connection through you. So thank you for coming on radical resilience.Lauren Rose:
Thank you.Blair Kaplan Venables:
And everyone out there. Thanks for listening to another episode. We do this every Friday a new episode drops. You know, you've heard me say it but the global Resilience Project. Book number two is now accepting applications for stories. We have limited spots available book number one became an international best seller. Book number two is probably going to do the same fingers crossed. But we created this space for you to share your story. It's a beautiful coffee table style book where you get to share your story of resilience. You can learn more about that at the Global resilience project.com The link is in the show notes. If you want to get on a call with me to talk about it. You can book it at that link and just know that it is okay to not be okay. You don't have to walk this life alone. It can be very lonely going through hard times chronic pain, grief, anything in between. But we're here with you. So know that you are not alone. It's okay to be not okay and you are resilient.