Flic Manning 0:00
No one's speaking for the people who are actually experiencing a lot of these conditions. And the only way that I can see there being a change or any way I can see existing in this world in a way that feels good, is to be that voice.
Welcome back to the pyjama interviews. I'm your host, Michelle Irving. And this is a podcast for every woman living with chronic illness, who also wants to have an expanded powerful life, a great relationship with herself, and with others. This week's guest is flick Manning. Now flick is the author of her debut memoir, living human, and has a very powerful experience to share with us about how she has navigated the shame of illness, which really stepped in for her when she was a teenager. Into now being a global speaker, and a corporate really consultant around living and working with chronic illness. This week, we also have a beautiful special gift for you. I know that the holidays can be super triggering for you. So stay tuned at the end for my tips about how to make your way through the holidays. And let's just say navigating other people's expectations with ease. Alright, let's dive in to the conversation with flick. flicks, thank you so much for joining me, I'm really excited to talk to you and you have such an interesting, eclectic career. You're an ambassador for Crohn's disease. And you have a lot of practical wisdom especially around physical capacity and exercise and a sense of vitality no matter what your experience of chronic illness. So welcome to the pyjama interviews.
Flic Manning 2:11
Thank you so so much for inviting me on it feel it's such a privilege to to be able to come on to a you know, a programme or an interview that really targets people that are dealing specifically with things like chronic illness, it's a conversation that needs to be had. So, so much. And so any opportunity just feels like an absolute gift. So thank you very much for that.
It's my absolute pleasure. What I'd like to ask you firstly is what your conditions are, and then what diagnosis pathway was like for you?
Flic Manning 2:44
Sure, we're like probably everyone you meet with a chronic illness, the pathway has been less than linear. Now, which is probably the best way to describe my whole life. Frankly, I have got Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, I've got anxiety, depression, post traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive compulsive disorder, and also fibromyalgia. So a bit of a mixed bag of things going on there. And each of them has been sort of a different, I guess, journey for the diagnosis and a different timeline. But in I guess you say the initial ones were Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and obsessive compulsive disorder, in particular, those all came in my teen years. And the pathway there was very complex, very, very drawn out, and unfortunately, not pleasant at all, when it came to my first experiences of the medical system, as somebody with an invisible illness in particular. So I spent a very long and disturbing amount of time being told that I was making myself ill, that it was in my head, that it was stressed that was causing absolutely everything that was going on, essentially a lot of gaslighting that occurred for a very long time. And that left me very much unable to trust myself and quite convinced for a significant amount of time that I should be ashamed and that I was making all of this happen to myself and I was a big burden to my family and all of these sorts of things that essentially had been told to me over and over again in that vulnerable period of time as as essentially a child and it took a significant amount of effort really on my part to keep pushing forward. I truly don't think I would have got to any diagnosis had I not continued to walk the path and being willing to admit to myself that I actually know something was wrong. And it was going to be on me to find out what was going on. And so eventually I got there eventually got there. And you know, the pathway was not necessarily any easier once I went I had got the diagnosis. I did go through some misdiagnosis along the way As mentioned, it was, you know, places I only had mental illness initially that was thought and then there was, well, you've got reflux, you've got ulcers, you've got an eating disorder, you've got just a huge spectrum of things that I was labelled with until we landed on the appropriate diagnosis. And then Fibromyalgia has actually been very recent. And that has taken probably two and a half years of very consistent work on my part for, again, for the medical system to even recognise that I needed to see a specialist. And even then that was not a pleasant experience. So I experienced gaslighting again. So this is sort of an ongoing thing that sometimes happens. And so you could probably say that my journey, really, with all of the illness and things that have gone on has has certainly spent over 20 years.
Wow, it's a very intense pathway. In terms of the Crohn's disease. I mean, we hear this that it takes a long time to get to diagnosis for a very, very real condition, with very serious sort of symptoms and side effects of having the condition. When were you diagnosed? And how old were you?
Flic Manning 6:12
Well, so this is the this is the tricky thing. You know, I think a lot of people like to look at a particular timeline and say, Oh, this is the point where I had Crohn's disease, I can sort of look back and say, actually, there's there was signs of it existing even as young as maybe six or seven. But all of the symptomology was too spread apart for it to be consistent enough to be noticed. And then, of course, I came up against the fact that when the predominant symptom showed up, which sort of coincided with puberty, that sort of became much more aggressive and much more noticeable, then, unfortunately, I was born and recognised as female. And being a female teenager, held me no helpful ground at all, when it came to dealing with stuff going on in my abdomen, or on an emotional reaction to physical pain that I might be experiencing. So a lot of it was really labelled as just being, you know, teenage angst hormones, you know, being me being worried about my weight. So that's why it wasn't eating properly, and all of those kinds of things. So it took a lot of testing, I had a lot of scraping done, I can't tell you the amount of stool samples that I do along the way. And look, sometimes they just it's very common thing with these conditions that sometimes the testing just come back over and over again, normal, even though you were showing really aggressive signs of something being incredibly wrong. I was so incredibly unwell and so skinny, I was just an absolute bag of bargains, and I would say seven or eight scopes deep before it finally actually showed up as something. So yeah, that pathway was really difficult. And then I would say it was probably in my very early 20s, when the doctors were able to reconcile that there was actually irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn's disease coexisting in my digestive system. So that was a very difficult one to get around because the symptoms are so similar. And yeah, then recently Fibromyalgia has been sort of over the, as I mentioned, sort of a two year pathway, lots of MRIs, and, again, blood screenings and checking for all sorts of autoimmune conditions. And, you know, lots of being pushed and prodded and poked around and really having to advocate for myself, again, to say, this is not going on in my head just because it's invisible, it does actually exist. And we eventually got there.
So this is quite a journey. I mean, to think that you started as young as six or seven, but really intensely, symptoms are showing in your teenage years. And the actual clean diagnosis before you can actually start treatment and actually working with the condition comes in your 20s. And part of what I'm really curious about is that you're also an ambassador for Crohn's, Australia. So how does that journey go from? Okay, medical community, not really that great for me to diagnosis, treatment, and then becoming in a really powerful way a community advocate?
Unknown Speaker 9:17
Yeah, look, it's been a really strange timeline and a strange journey. So, you know, before I had reached, I guess what I would call a definitive diagnosis, I was certainly receiving some treatments, but it was all very hit and miss. And I can say that largely, a lot of it was very, very damaging, because I was ultimately trading things that I didn't have with medications that proved to be really ineffective and have terrible side effects for me. So sort of, it's all kind of goes a little bit back and forwards. It's a bit skew reefy with my timeline, but largely during that that period of time. My parents thankfully bless them. I have incredibly supportive parents, which is rare with invisible illness and they recognise that whatever was going on medically was much Bigger than maybe what the doctors were able to recognise. And so out of I think really desperation, especially at the time when it was very taboo to do. So they took me to see a naturopath. And that was the first time that anyone recognised that someone was true that something was really, really going on, I still remember sitting across from her, and just crying because within the first 60 seconds of speaking to her, she was able to say, Well, you've got very, very least you've got to have irritable bowel syndrome. And all of you know, she was listing off all of these things and asking questions that was so poignant that had never been asked to me. And she was listening to my answers and providing me immediately with steps that I could take. So there was an integrative thing going on with me immediately between holistic health and Western Health. And what just became really clear for me, along that pathway was that holistic health worked for me significantly better than anything that was being proposed by the medical system. And so I stayed away purposely from the medical system for years, got laughed out of many specialists room for thinking that my approach was going to work. But I just simply wasn't willing to live with the side effects, which were equally debilitating as the actual conditions themselves.
Unknown Speaker 11:12
I just sort of said, well, it's got to be quality of life over existence. And so even at sort of, I guess, that young age, that was my thinking straightaway is if I'm going to make it through all of this, then it's got to be about quality of life. So I steered in that direction, went on this whole huge journey of largely not really having a system that could help me. And that spurred me on with such curiosity in such passion. And I think in a way defiance, I refused to believe that I was going to be forced to live this low quality of life and that it was in my head. And I refuse to believe that there was no hope. And so I went off, and I did all of my own studies and became a wellness coach and a personal trainer, and I studied advanced neurobiology, and neuroplasticity. And there's all these different qualifications around the brain, the mind and the body, purely to understand what it was that was going on inside myself, and use myself as a guinea pig trying all these different things until I found sort of a system I guess, of self care, that was working for me. And once I sort of became empowered through that, and recognise that I had no shame to carry, the shame that had been placed on me by the medical system was not ever mine to have had to have carried in the first place. And then I was speaking to all of these clients, it sort of became my passion point to work with clients similar to myself facing with chronic pain conditions and autoimmune conditions. And I recognised over and over again, the story was the same again and again and again, that that were being told that it was in the head, and that there was no hope and just take this medication. And if you don't take this medication, you're labelled as a bad patient, and then your treatment becomes even more difficult. And all these sorts of things were going on. And I thought, no one's speaking for the people actually experiencing this, the the medical view, and perhaps the training, or actually lack thereof, of a lot of these conditions, is us making this invisible, it's continuing with this stigma. And the only way that I can see there being a change, or any way I can see existing in this world, in a way that feels good, is to be that voice. And so I started to talk about it more openly, I started to drop that shame that I had been in for years and just say, actually, this is the stuff that you might not ever see, because I've not shown it to you, I've been too ashamed. I've been too embarrassed to show it to you. But this is the stuff I actually deal with every day. And I started talking about it in graphic detail, posting, you know, hey, I'm going in for a scope. And I've just spent the last five hours literally pooping my life out. And I was just being blunt and open and just saying this is how it actually is for me. And there's nothing embarrassing about this and trying to show people that a battle with disease is courageous. And it shows strength and resilience, not weakness. And, and so in that you could go off and do have this amazing life is incredible life still with having a chronic condition. And so that kind of led me to Crohn's and Colitis, Australia where I just wanted to be an alternative voice, not from just the pharmacy to call the medical industry, but actually from the holistic point of view and actually saying, well, there's that and that works for some people, but there's a whole bunch of people it doesn't work for and we need to start having conversations around medical trauma, we need to have conversations around people being comfortable advocating for themselves. And knowing that there are some alternatives worth looking at. That could work just as not people only having one option and one label and having to sort of sit in this uncomfortable space forever. And it's been such a beautiful blessing to have had their support and they've been so open minded. And we've really done a lot of work in the wellbeing space that they had not tackled before. And it's been really received well so It's been beautiful.
So there's so much in your story. And there's so many points of agreement really between you and I and the way in which we see the purposefulness of what illness can bring. When we start to look at holistic or alternative medicine, it's a bit tricky. It can be a bit of a minefield, like when you want to be so well, there's a lot of risk that you're willing to take. And not all of it is what I would think of as almost reasonable risks, like well calculated risk. And you need a lot of discernment in this space. I went at one point where like you medicine, the side effects wasn't working for me. And they gave me five years before organ failure. And I was like, I'll take the five years. But in the end, for me, it was really clear that Western medicine was the part that could actually deal with the condition. What did you learn about discerning, had a move in the wellness space? What were your tips about how to make decisions about what's actually worth and practical persevering with? And what are the red flags where it's cut that quick?
Unknown Speaker 16:22
Yeah, that's a great question. So look, a lot of it honestly, a lot of it was just throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks for the beginning part of it, a lot of it was trial and error. And I refer to myself all the time time as a guinea pig, I really did try everything, and made some significant mistakes along the way, I really dug myself into a bunch of problems that I had to then try and climb back out of. But the way that I sort of looked at it was that there had to be sustainability. So that's the way I reference what works and what doesn't, if something is sustainable for me. In other words, I can either deal with the side effects for it, it doesn't make me less functional, there is some sign of improvement, or it integrates into my lifestyle in a way that he does not feel like this huge burden is thing to place on top of what I'm already dealing with, then that's worth my risk. If it's unsustainable, if it takes away more than it gives, if it reduces my quality of life or my functionality, or it is incredibly difficult to fit in my lifestyle in some way, shape or form, then it's not worth my time or my risk, I have a finite amount of resources, in terms of energy, in terms of finances, in terms of my emotional, physical, mental space, and it has to fit into all of those things. So I try and fit everything into my life as part of self care. So if it cannot fit in on essentially a day to day basis, and it is not sustainable for my body, my mind, my emotions, it's gone. And that goes for providers as well. So I learned very, very quickly on there was a sort of defining moment, I guess you could say, where I recognised whether I was dealing with a holistic professional or a western medicine professional, that I needed to categorise these people in a similar way to I would if I was going to a specialist accountant, or I was going to get a plumber to come into my house, or any of these other sorts of things where they have a specialised field of practitioner, whatever they do, and I'm going to spend money and time and listen to their advice, then they need to treat me in accordance to those regulations and rules into a way that feels respectful, and again, sustainable for me. So I have had many specialists and many doctors over the years where I have seen them maybe only once or twice and I've dropped them immediately. Because of the way that it it has made me feel what has been an unsustainable environment and unsustainable relationship for me to continue on with. And it's taken me probably more than 15 years to really craft what I call my team. And they are absolutely a team of holistic and Western people that work in in an integrative way with one another, they are willing to share information talk to each other. They're open minded about what each other does. And that's really come down to me, focusing on sustainability, and being willing to cut anything and anyone toxic from my life out with immediacy in the same way that I would if I went into an accountants office and they laughed in my face, or raise their voice at me, I would not do them the honour of continuing to pay them for their service. And I had to think of doctors and holistic providers in exactly the same way for that to kind of click over and everything goes through that filter now.
Yeah. For me, I really came to it through the practitioner, the specialist, they're giving me the advice from their specialty and I am the decision maker and that is how this relationship goes. And I had this with a specialist because I have a life threatening auto immune condition. And like you side effects of drugs and treatment quality of life slipped ad Now 24 hours a day, not sustainable, shopped in some ways, but just kept hunting for somebody. And I actually found it through public health. And this specialist was the head of the gastroenterology at the Austin hospital. And we made this agreement that the day he said I took treatment, I took it. But up until then we were monitoring it. And that Cade day came. And it's like, okay, this is serious. I'm going to do what he said me, because in this position, he is the specialist. And we've already done all the values conversation before we got there. Yeah. So I'm really curious when you talk about your team, what sort of specialties are on your team? What are their expertise and how many people had this work?
Unknown Speaker 20:52
I have a lot of different people. So I look, I haven't been to health professional. I have a counsellor. I have a Hypnotherapist. I have an osteopath. I've got a naturopath and nutritionist. I have got a GP over the specialist physician. I have a rheumatologist, I have a gastroenterologist. And they're just the ones that I can think of off the top of my head. So it's a very wide team with all differing specialties and modes that they operate in. And I guess similar to yourself, you know, I think it's just if what they're offering has an element of sustainability, if there's a feeling of general collaboration. In other words, my voice is being heard, my opinion is being taken care of. I'm not being treated as this is what fits into the category of my illness in a one paragraph text in your medical book, but I am actually an entirely whole person, deserving of a quality of life and to be treated accordingly. If all of that is in place, and then one of my specialists, for example, says, Click, I think this is probably really the next step, this is where we need to go. They will, you know, we've worked to that point where we've got that rapport and that trust that more than likely I'm going to jump when they say that, because they've taken into consideration my entire life, my background, the opinions that I'm bringing forward, the things that I have tried. And so that's included, there's there's no sort of medical bias included in that in a traditional way. It's very much these people know me truly know me, and I feel comfortable enough to be real and raw and vulnerable with them. So they know exactly where I'm coming from. And so it's it's much easier than to kind of go, Hey, look, yeah, there might be some risks in trying this medication, for example. But we've tried these 20 things here, all the things that you've said, you've done, this is this is where we've got to go. And if that doesn't work, you know, there's very clear outlines on like, we'll try it for 10 days. And I'm very much monitored, and then my entire team is informed. So it's not one specialist just doing their thing. It's my entire team, then working in conjunction with that decision to say, right, well, if here, all the potential side effects for that, here is how we're gonna change our treatment accordingly to try and buffer that counter that or be just be prepared. And it's the most wonderful thing. I have text messages, calls, emails, all sorts of things coming through from my entire team. Every time I I steer the ship in a different direction, checking in making sure that I'm okay, like if I go into a hospital for a scope, I'm hearing from everybody, not just my gastroenterologist. And so it's an absolute team effort. And so I feel very safe, very seen very valued, very heard. And I think that's incredibly important when you are facing chronic health conditions.
And how did you set up that level of communication between them? Because I know, certainly specialist speaking specialists can be a bit tricky, or some people are only interested in one aspect. And you're not going to get everybody on top of every single thing. So how did you advocate for this level of communication between the people that are supporting you?
Unknown Speaker 24:01
Uh, look, I think some of it just comes down to a good personality fit. And I think that's also really important as well, you know, you need to kind of be able to gel really well with your your specialists or whoever it is on your team. A lot of people with chronic illness too. And I'm sure you may be in the same boat yourself. But you learn to work the system, you learn how to be a patient that they want to take care of, that you are willing you are you have a good attitude about what it is that you're doing. I learned how in a chameleon way to mould myself to the environment that I was in, in order for my own survival, something that happened very early on. And then as I got more comfortable and more confident in my skin and my own expertise, I would lay it out on the line really, really clearly at the beginning as soon as I would meet any specialist or any holistic professional. I would be very upfront and very honest with them about what my expectation of them was going to be and what I was going to bring to the table how inclusive I was gonna be, and that I would not be offended if that was not the road that they wanted to take. But I needed to know up front, because it's my quality of life on the line. If they don't want to be part of that. That's absolutely okay. But I need to know now that that's not a road that you agree with. And so some people just got weaned out immediately, like, No, I don't believe in holistic health at all. Okay, that's fine. Thanks very much. I'm moving on. And you know, same with Holistic Health, I don't believe in going on any of those medications. All right, well, that's not going to work. Thank you very much for your time. And I waited them through until I found people that were effectively open minded enough to work with each other understood the expectations, but then could see that I actually did come to the party, you know, I will show up to my appointments with an itemised list of each body part every trigger every symptom, so that as we're going through our appointments, they have every say it's every three months, I have an appointment, they have got the most up to date, and accurate information from my side of what is happening with my body, all the things I'm trying and all the patents that I've recognised. So I am giving them every tool under the sun to make their job as simple as possible. And that was what my agreement was with each and every one of them. And it's worked really effectively.
Yeah, I think this is super interesting. Because turning up to a specialist, it takes time to work out how to run the appointment, which comes back to the fact that I'm the decision maker. And just from a super practical perspective, what I've done is every where the appointment is in my diary, then anything related to that issue. So I've got vertigo, I just write down 5am, Tuesday, the 27th of January, work with vertigo, because it's a lot of information to try and track. And I found the most effective way to do that is actually to do it in the electronic diary for the appointment. Rather than have all of these lists that I'm or like I've done the Excel spreadsheets here. I'm really curious for you in the triggers, how do you keep track.
Unknown Speaker 27:05
And there's a series I guess, are a series of different things that I do. And brain fog being one of the very severe things that I deal with in memory loss. I have real struggles putting things from short term into long term memory. And so as a result of that I've been really absolutely brain trained myself. I've taken all the information I have about neuroplasticity, neurobiology, and I apply it and I apply it hard. So every day I do a gratitude practice, which includes writing things down, I will also within there I also frame what has happened in my day, hey, I had a bad moment here. This is what happened on such and such a date. And I've made these things so routine in my life. You know, last thing at night before I go to bed I kind of like is vent out what is what has been happening in my day and then retrain my brain to pull moments of gratitude from within that. So all my information is there itemised. I also sometimes add those things in similar ad itself in the calendar. If something sort of pops up in the moment, like the Notes app on my phone has become brilliant because it saves the date and the time immediately without me having to think. But usually if I'm going for, particularly if I'm going to a new specialist for the first time, I will actually set aside time in my calendar to sit down for you know, a period, on and off over two and three days before I go into that appointment to compile that information and make sure that it's in a either a printed out version for them or in an email version for them. I've got into the habit when I book appointments of actually asking, do your specialist like to receive things electronically? Can I send things before I arrive so that I've had an opportunity to read through it, or I'll even ask the receptionist, your doctor's open to Holistic Health, I try and screen everything so that I'm as as informed and prepared for that appointment. If I who I'm going to say I do my research, I google them, I do a nice bit of online stalking, I read people's reviews, I do all of that stuff. So there's a lot of those things where I say to people, whether it's getting a carrier pigeon to send you a pen and paper or you want to do a Google spreadsheet, or there's an app that you like on your phone, or whatever it is there are so many different things out there. And like I've learned about everything there is no one size fits all for anything. When it comes to chronic illness. It's really about trying things out and then finding what works for you. And you might have to try 20 things before you find the thing that clicks but I encourage people to to find whatever it is, and I found it very helpful to look for patents Patents has been a really important part of me being able to have a quality of life with chronic health. Yeah.
And so in all of this process, like this is the nitty gritty of the practical that you're working with. Yeah. And then there's life like then that's the chronic illness management. And then there's love life things that you do you know, someday It's a great somedays arm. Yeah. How do you live in what I think of is your circle of wellness, the capacity that is flexible and a bit fluid? How do you make decisions and live? You know, in a life that works for you?
Unknown Speaker 30:17
Yeah, absolutely. Look, again, probably all comes through that same filter. For me, it is all about sustainability. And within sustainability, it's, I had to recognise really early on that all human beings are going to face good and bad, and everything in between life is not linear, our brains place it as linear in order for us to process but life is not linear, nothing is as perfectly laid out as we like to think that it is in our minds, things are going to come up. Sometimes those things are really amazing and exciting and spontaneous and wonderful. And other times they are devastating, shocking, and throw you for a loop. And with chronic illness, I recognised that that was going to happen more often, my extremes were going to be more extreme, and potentially that they were going to happen more regularly than for the average person. And so I had to get my head around that really, really quickly. And sort of just say to myself that life has to be about it being sustainable. So there is no point in me looking at what the person next to me is doing. That person may have no chronic health condition, that employee or that colleague might not face, anything that I face. So trying to make my life like this, it's not going to work either is always going to set me up to fall, what I have to do is work out how I work, what works best for me physically, mentally and emotionally. And can I sustain that on a day to day basis. And that means on my worst day, so I don't work on the basis of what can I do on my best day, it's What can I do on my worst possible day. That's real sustainability, everything else, then that gets laid in on top just adds to the quality of life that I have. But if I set myself up as being this is everything I can do on my best day, then every day that I have that is bad is a disappointment. And it makes it harder to deal with the pain or the symptoms that I'm dealing with. So it's always kind of working from that extent, and then backwards, what can I actually manage on the worst possible day? And what am I coping mechanisms on that day? What am I going to do? What are the system things that I'm going to train myself to do one after the other, to try and move the needle, and then have that moment where sometimes nothing that you do will move that needle and that's a day where that's life? Yeah, it's a rite of day, and that happens. So it's kind of it's been a process, it's not something that happens immediately or overnight. And I would encourage anyone that's listening to set your expectation for it being bite size, you're not going to know everything that you need immediately, it may take you years to get all of the pieces of the puzzle in line. And to keep in mind that the human body is a living and decaying organism, you will change even when you've worked out what works for you at age 30. It's going to be different at age 40. And age 15, age 60 If you have the privilege of getting there, and it's it's sort of making your life sustainable and adaptive enough to accept that you need to roll with the punches. People without chronic illness have the privilege of not recognising that they are living in something that lives under case, they don't see it happen in real time, we are living with it like it's under the microscope, we see every bit of hair that falls, every bit of skin that flakes, every little joint that swells up everything that doesn't feel good inside every pain that feels different to the pain you had yesterday, we see it all in real time. And that's a lot for the brain to process. It's a lot to emotionally process. So I just encourage people to keep finding self care, find the things that nourish you, nurture, you, sustain you, make you feel, you know, seen, valued heard. That's so, so important. And it's so important that it comes from you that it absolutely has to come from inside you. Because the world is not designed for us. It's just not right now. But you can make it design for you. So yeah, that's where I come from,
on a very personal level. What is that for you? Like? I see dancing and choreographing and you have a beautiful partner. So share with us. If your life is designed that way, it's really curious to me, what is the lived experience for you of the design of your life?
Unknown Speaker 34:32
Sure. So look, every day is probably a little bit different. I have my base things that I do. So every day I will do some form of exercise. And that includes even on my worst day, I've worked out what types of exercise work for me and where to include them. What kinds of exercise or appropriate on a particular day on my best possible day that's going to be dancing. And even if that's in my living room, that music goes on for 10 minutes, I dig around, I get my endorphins, I get my dope For me, I am sweet, I am flying everything in the world is great. On other days, I'm in significant pain. And that's where I'm going to be doing something like the vagus nerve breathing. And I might combine that with specific stretches that I've learnt over time work for me in conjunction with that breathing cycle, to help me to disable my sympathetic nervous system, calm the fight or flight response. So I can just stay in my zone, recognise the pain and not allow it to carry me and my entire being away with it. But you know, it's also living my life a little bit different to other people. So I am a CEO, I do have a business as well. And even when I was a choreographer, and doing all of those sorts of things, it's not going well, you know what I'm going to do 10 classes back to back. That's not realistic. For me, that's realistic for the person next to me. It's not realistic for me. So it might be that I do six classes. And in between those six classes, I actually schedule 15 minutes to go and meditate, or 15 minutes to go and have nourishing food or to lay down in a dark room to desensitise. There's all of these different things that are built in. So my calendar looks really different to an average CEO. Because you will see exercise, walking all these different things on a like I won't, I won't work when I eat my lunch I there's all sorts of barriers that I have placed to protect my time and to allow me to be at my absolute best as often as possible. And I'm also really honest and clear with the people around me, I do not hide away from my condition anymore at all. Whether it's with my partner, or whether it's with my colleagues or my team, or anyone that I'm working with, they know upfront that my quality of life, my well being is priority number one, and always will be. And that means I may have to cancel, reschedule, remove something, you might sit in a boardroom with me, and I'll be laying on the floor, in the boardroom, I'm not going to be sitting up in the chair, because I'm just in too much pain. And I've normalised it so much that the people around me then begin to normalise it. And this is the beautiful thing about wellness and wellness, wellbeing, if you are willing to see what works for you, you create more wellness around you. After people get over the initial shock that you're doing things differently, they start to mirror much of what you put in place. And so even my own team mirror much of what I actually do. And I've learned to live their lives and to create their own schedules, including appropriate rest breaks and nutrition and to be able to speak up and say, Hey, flick these projects too much for me, or this is not nourishing me and me going. Okay, cool. Thank you for letting me know, let's see how we can change that. So well being first, all the time. And so I make a lot of calls that probably seem really tough. And a lot of calls that are not normal for the average person to make simply because at the end of the day, my true belief is the more human that I can be, the better I am at everything I do. And so I must nurture and respect that that takes my mental, my physical and emotional to be onboard and to be nourished at all times. So I just simply will not live my life through any other lens, but that.
And so in terms of your business, this is wellness and exercise. Share with us a little bit about what your core mission is. And then what does your team look like? How many people what does that mean for you on a daily basis? Sure.
Unknown Speaker 38:22
So my system is a wellness system. So he does include things like dance and exercise, but it's done in a way that's very, very much following and tracking the chemical movement within the body. So in other words, the release of different types of chemicals that allow us to reduce the feelings of pain to improve overall well being to change mindset and brain activity. So I've taken all of my experience and also all of my training around you know the brain and actually systematically put it in place. So I'm not just going to immediately say, hear, go and do 1000 crunches, because you simply might not be in a physical position to withstand that pain, or be present to do it. I'm going to take you through different exercises that are going to access sentimental memory, they are going to make a chemical change in your body and positioning you to be able to do a an exercise routine at a graduated pace that is more comfortable for those with chronic pain or autoimmune conditions, things like that. We include meditation, we include breathing techniques, and practices and mindset training. We have a wellness coaching platform so people can come to myself or my team for one on one sessions. And we also do things like on into companies. So we go into corporate companies, and we help them to build well being or self care into the DNA of their company so that they understand that you can draw a direct link from the founder of the company through the bottom line and that wellness is actually the link between the two. So we try to kind of undo effectively what came out of a lot of the industrial year era where we were kind of taught to flog ourselves to death and to value ourselves based on how much damage we were willing to do each week. ourselves, rather than how much we can get out of ourselves if we actually build in appropriate care, and helping us to define what that is on an individual level. My team were a small little team of about five people, we bring in other people ad hoc as needed. And, yeah, it's been beautiful. We, we ran most of it online, because for a lot of people with chronic illness, the reality is not being able to leave the house. And so we're very mindful of that. And while we have clients that are not all, in those chronic pain or illness categories with that is our predominant client base. And that was definitely the lens in which I, you know, created it through, it was me effectively showing up in the fitness and wellness industries, and recognising that there was nobody actually doing anything for people like myself, and that we were in many ways often shunned from having a place a safe space for us to go. So I decided, well, I would create one, then. And that's what I set out and did
was really heartening to hear. And one of the reasons it's so deeply touching is, for me, women, all of us living with chronic illness, our dreams are in our heart for a reason. And there's a lot of spaces that chronic his illness isn't represented. And one of the things that I found is, there is a lot about getting well from illness, but a lot of that wellness doesn't actually help you emotionally stabilise in the illness experience that you're having. And a lot of there's no conversations that I can say it's the reason I've stepped into the space to have these emotional conversations. Because the reality is that when you are in relationship with your illness, then you are in relationship with the personal development and the sovereignty that you can gain from what I think of as the portal that illness can be. It is not a portal to decimate your life, it is a portal into your power. And I love that you have looked at the fitness and wellness industry and you've nailed it isn't anything in chronic illness. And I really want to take this moment in this interview from both you and I to say to the women listening, listen to the dreams that are in your heart. And if you look at it and say there isn't a place for me, you don't have to work it out all at once. But find the next step towards you making a place for yourself. Because the rest of us will join you there. We're looking for you
Unknown Speaker 42:45
100% 100% I couldn't, I could not agree with you more on every single thing that you just said that it's so incredibly important that we do that. The world will tell you the absolute opposite, all the time, there is no place for us that we should be ashamed of what we are, that we do not deserve the care and quality of life that no one really cares about what it is that we're going through. There is all of this placed in the realm of every pocket of industry, every part of the community, it's on TV, it's in books, it's everywhere, that we are discounted or labelled incorrectly. And I think that, you know, I think there's just sometimes the experience of leaving with your illness. The world will tell you that that has made you weak. The reality is, is when you get up every day, and you face adversity every day, you are damn strong, you are incredibly resilient, you are tough as nails, but you do it with your vulnerability at the front. And that's truly courageous. It's truly human. It's the gateway to the quality of your life. And so if you're able to systematically day by day, just one microcosm at a time, start to reframe that as Oh, I'm weakened or what you know, I'm suffering with all of these to looking at it and going. I am incredibly strong. Look at what I get through every single day. There is a whole world of love and nourishment in connection and space that is beautiful, specific to you. That you can not only define inside yourself, but you can help to build outside of yourself. And it does take time. And he does take putting a lot of work into what's going on in your own mind and your own self over and over and over again whatever is reinforced in the brain the most wins. And if you've got a lifetime of dealing with chronic illness, you might have 20 or 30 years worth of stuff that you're trying to work around. But it is possible and you are not less than you're incredibly powerful. You are so so powerful. And I just encourage you to sit in your power in those moments where you sit with your pain or your symptoms, and the battle is real. And it feels like there is no way that you can get through this. Remember that there was another day that you said the exact same thing to yourself. And there was another day that the world said, you don't fit here, and yet you did fit. He didn't just fit you enhanced yourself. And I think when we start to see these differences between ourselves, not as things here to suffocate us, but here to actually enhance us here to help us to embrace our experience of life, a lot will actually change.
And I think this is such a great conversation to have, and that we're having it peer to peer. And what we are demonstrating here between us is two women who have found their heart have stepped into the depth and said, You know what, exactly what you said, the grit, the vulnerability, the tenacity, and the intuitive wisdom that comes because I have to listen to where is the best place to spend my energy? And the only answer for that is internally, and we had the time to find that quiet. And that is a guidance system. Everybody will come face to face with a level of adversity. I'm 50, I'm now seeing my peers start to come to this conversation in themselves, that I've been doing for two or more decades. And what I have is beautiful to share with them. And I know that that's critical. For our own self esteem to know that this is you don't have to share this, you're not obliged to share it. But there is something beautiful that you have to give.
Unknown Speaker 46:53
Absolutely, I think that you can look, I have the privilege, and I'm sure you do with what you do every day of speaking to people that are facing the toughest of toughest situations over and over again, where life throws the biggest, most terrifying curveballs at people. And in their lowest moments in their moments where they feel that they are falling apart, what I see is beauty and strength and perseverance and knowledge, and a willingness to share and a willingness to be exactly who they are. That whole rounded humaneness that includes all of it. And I think one of the things is we just don't get taught when we're young, how to live in a human body, how to get the best out of a human mind, we're not taught any of that stuff. And it's in a crisis that we're expected to suddenly understand all of that a lot of people don't get to that until much later in life. And for them. It's an incredible shock, that an incredible trauma that they have to deal with for the first time because they've never had to think about it. It's just being normal everyday I get up and I do what I do. People like yourself and myself, we face it over and over again, sometimes many times a day where we have to face those sort of adversities. And those questions and as challenging as some of those moments of being by sort of see it like the concept of binary opposition. By no good because I have known bad I know bad because I no good. And it's a privilege that I get to see the full spectrum of this human experience that I get to see in real time, the experience of living inside something that lives and breathes and decays and dies over time that is purposely fragile, that is not meant to be here forever. And that gives me such fire for my journey and such passion, to have the best possible quality of life. And to share that information as I go. I think we all have that insight in some way, shape or form, when we let go of what we think we should be, and what society has prefaced for us as being the only way that we can live and we recognise that information is already inside. It's already there. We just have to learn to tune into it, and then be willing to take those steps in that direction. It's an incredible journey. It's an incredible journey. There's all of it easy, no. Is all of it lovely? Absolutely not. But the human experience is not supposed to be. It's meant to be all of it.
And some of it is beautiful. Some of it is exquisite, and you can be present for that as well. And I really think we have been told such stories that are many evil about illness, you know, a lot of it has not changed. And we need to write that story not just for ourselves, but for family and friends who are unconsciously layering in this. Have you have you tried meditation? Have you tried green juice? Have you tried this in a way they want to help to heal us? And we want to be well but we need to be well in a way that works for us. Especially For our mental and emotional relationship with ourselves,
Unknown Speaker 50:03
yeah. And I think it's sort of it's one of those things when you first start doing and if you first sort of think, you know what I'm going to start to really orange, the full spectrum of who I am, I'm going to talk about my symptoms, I'm going to talk about the things I struggle with, I'm going to talk about the joys that come out of the things that I'm experiencing. In those first few moments, it can be a little terrifying and a little confronting, and you're not always going to meet the person that's willing to hear it the way that you put it out there. But my experience overall has actually been when I am speaking to people that do not have chronic illnesses, or chronic pain conditions or disabilities, when I speak openly and honestly with them about it, and I do it with heart and passion and authenticity, that it changes them in a really positive way. They slay go home, I've got stories of them actually going home and starting conversations that they never would have had with their family, they one by one start to change the world that we live in just that little bit at a time because they confront their own privilege, they confront what it is they consider to be normal, and they start to become more empathetic and kind. And so we can offer the world something so incredibly valuable, that's positive and healthy, and reframes things in a way that's actually sustainable for the average person, as well as for people like ourselves. And I think it's such a gift that we have, and there are a lot more willing people that are out there that want to listen. And, you know, I feel more confident every time I do it. And that's been a really big, you know, added bonus of his evening, when you get those occasional times where someone doesn't really get it. Well, you know what, 90% of the time when I've spoken about it, people are floored, they are absolutely jaw to the ground, my gosh, she goes through all of this stuff, how do you do it, you know, and they really get a new perspective on life. And it's, it's, it's just so incredible. I just think it's such a privilege that we can share it if we choose to. And it does change your self esteem and your self worth and your confidence every time you do it. And so I think you know, again, you are human, you are wonderful, you're beautiful, you were flawed, you were rallying, you're fighting, you're prosperous, suck the juice out of all of it out every single bit of it, The Good, the Bad, and the ugly. And then decide what you want to do with all of those pieces. But don't let the world around you decide for you. That's not your journey, your journey is already inside, you just need to tune in and follow that. And then life will be a spectrum of beautiful colour and beautiful flavour and beautiful experiences.
I really appreciate your sharing with us flick. And what I want to just remind people is we'll put in the show notes, the link to flicks website and her programmes and where you can catch up with her. And your new book and memoir is going to launch this year. Is there anything you'd like to share with us about keeping in mind that when that hits the shelves, we want to pick it up?
Unknown Speaker 53:05
That would be great, thank you very much. Okay, let me just put my head on and do my plug. But I really really do appreciate it. The book is called living human. It is a memoir. It's my story of going from invisible illness and struggling with that as a dancer and choreographer, and then taking that journey, all the way through to really having exploring life and becoming an entrepreneur, speaker and author. And it's been a huge, very nonlinear crazy journey that I look forward to being able to share. I'm very raw and open with a lot of it. And I do share some wellness tips and tricks along the way without being prescriptive. So I really tried to be purposeful about breaking the mould of what a self help book is. It is a combined memoir and self help book. So it is not prescriptive, I'm not going to tell you exactly every single step that you need to take because I recognise all of us are different. And that would be an absolutely ridiculous thing to suggest I could do. But I do provide a space where I hope that you will, at the end of the book, embrace your humaneness and recognise that your journey is worth taking so that we'll be hitting the shelves this year. And I feel really privileged to have been asked to write it by my US publisher Indigo river. And, yeah, you can jump onto my website and you can sign up so that you'll get an email when it's coming out. And we have some little giveaways and stuff. We've got a whole music soundtrack that's going with the book because hey, as a dancer, you got to have music for everything. So hopefully that will give people a little bit of a feel of what my life was like to read each chapter and each part of that journey. And you get to kind of ride that out from a sentimental memory and chemical point of view, not just from the written word.
That's so gorgeous. Look so much for reaching out. We found each other on Twitter and I really want to social media. Yeah, I really want to encourage women there's an amazing chronic illness community on Twitter. I'll also put some of that in our notes as well. It's been an absolute pleasure speaking with you. And we would like to wish you very, very flourishing happiness and life, as well as compassion and courage in the very human fragility of life. And I think you and I would like to wish every woman who is listening to this today, reach out to either of us to anybody that you hear in the interviews, we have wisdom for you, and we are in your corner. Thanks so much for like,
Unknown Speaker 55:34
thank you for this absolute privilege and pleasure, thank you.
I adore Fleck, we've really formed such a deep friendship over our relationship that really started with this interview. And now here's this week's beautiful way for you to connect and navigate through the holidays while living with chronic illness. I'm opening up 10 spots for you to have a free strategy call with me, where we'll talk about whatever is important to you at this point in time and work out a quick strategy for you to navigate the holidays. I've also opened up some spots in my bespoke mentoring. And I only offer these sessions one on one privately with me, really over December, January and February. So booking feel free strategy call and we'll get you sorted for Christmas. And if you want to go deeper and really work with me personally, you can book in for your mentoring session. All right. Join us next week for another episode of The pyjama interviews
Transcribed by https://otter.ai