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Michael Roesslein

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About the episode

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.” – Carl Jung

Working with trauma and the nervous system is a crucial part of addressing chronic disease. In recent years, functional medicine and conventional medicine are getting better at acknowledging that mental and physical health are not separate issues. They’re the same thing.

For many people, deep diving into labwork, supplement protocols, and complex nutrition and movement plans doesn’t yield the results they’re going for. It can even sometimes start making people worse if we don’t put these protocols into a context that also addresses the underlying root cause trauma. As practitioners, we have to learn a new skill set to help people heal both mind and body and feel more connected even when they’re hurting.

Today, I’m joined by Michael Roesslein to explore what it means to go beyond functional medicine. Starting his career as a trainer, Michael quickly realized that to help his clients the way he wanted to, he needed to be able to support them in their nutrition and overall health. Later, after years in the functional medicine space, Michael became a big advocate for the need to simultaneously address physical and emotional health.

In this conversation, Michael and I discuss why it’s crucial to address trauma and nervous system regulation in chronic health conditions, the interconnectedness of physical and emotional health, the role of societal and cultural factors in health challenges, the impact of loneliness and isolation, how self-compassion and personalized somatic healing practices can benefit overall health and well-being, and more.

Enjoy the episode, and let’s innovate and integrate together!

 

Highlights

  • How Michael went from an overeducated trainer to functional medicine
  • Limitations of conventional medicine in addressing chronic health issues
  • Moving beyond functional medicine to address trauma, nervous system regulation, and advanced therapies
  • Integrating the body and mind and why we need a holistic point of view
  • Defining trauma and understanding how it develops
  • The psychological impact of over-identifying with health conditions and the role of support groups in shaping our self-perception
  • The influence of subconscious programming on behavior patterns
  • Why it’s crucial to address the underlying root cause of unhealthy behaviors and addiction
  • How an underlying defensiveness often develops in chronic illness patients
  • Societal factors contributing to the stigmatization of issues related to somatic and nervous system dysregulation
  • Rethinking what it means to be ill or injured
  • Recognizing that humans are wired for connection and the healing effects of community support
  • The adverse effects of isolation and societal individualism on health and well-being
  • Contrasting traditional communal living with modern individualistic culture
  • The stigmatization of illness and perceived weakness
  • How technology impacts behavior and amplifies social pressures and judgment
  • Self-compassion and mindfulness practices in managing chronic conditions
  • Why we need to learn and teach emotional regulation and mindfulness practices
  • Helping clients discover the right tools and practices for them as individuals
  • Our role as health and wellness professionals in promoting healing through integrative approaches

 

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Click here for a full transcript of the episode.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:00:03) – Hi and welcome to the Integrative Women’s Health Podcast. I’m your host, Doctor Jessica Drummond, and I am so thrilled to have you here as we dive into today’s episode. As always, innovating and integrating in the world of women’s health. And just as a reminder, the content in this podcast episode is no substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your medical or licensed health care team. While myself and many of my guests are licensed healthcare professionals, we are not your licensed healthcare professionals, so you want to get advice on your unique circumstances. Diagnostic recommendations treatment recommendations from your home medical team. Enjoy the episode. Let’s innovate and integrate together. Welcome back to the Integrative Women’s Health Podcast. I’m your host, Doctor Jessica Drummond. And today I’m excited to introduce you to my friend and colleague Michael Roslin. And he is going to be introducing all of us to a fascinating summit called Beyond Functional Medicine. Now, this conversation is one of my favorites, because what I’m starting to see in integrative and functional medicine, where we’re really deep diving into labs and supplement protocols and complex nutrition plans and movement plans and exercise plans and sleep plans, and all the nitty gritty details, is that none of this works and actually can sometimes start making people worse if it’s not put into the context that also addresses their root cause trauma, their underlying trauma, their moment to moment nervous system regulation.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:02:03) – And that trauma includes medical trauma. We are among medical practitioners so that trauma can simply be triggered when people are in our presence, unless we are very careful and mindfully regulating our own nervous systems so that we can help to align with their nervous systems moment to moment, that’s actually part of the healing experience. That’s essential, and it’s foundational to everything else that we do. The rest of it could actually be of more harm without this piece. So listen in for this conversation. There are a myriad of amazing tools that Michael teaches us today, and I’ll see you on the other side for my key takeaways. Hi, Michael, and welcome to the Integrative Women’s Health Podcast. Hi, everyone. I’m your host, doctor Jessica Drummond. So Michael, I wanted to hear more about your story to help us understand how you began to transition to what you’re now calling beyond functional medicine, which I think hopefully we’re all moving in that direction to be truly more whole body, whole person, maybe even whole community. So what brought you here? What’s your own story?

Michael Roesslein (00:03:36) – Sure.

Michael Roesslein (00:03:36) – Thanks, Jessica. And it’s been a long kind of indirect route. I’ll keep it as concise as possible. I started in fitness. Actually. I have a master’s in exercise physiology, so I started as a very overeducated trainer, and I did a lot of work with rehab patients and people getting out of back injuries and things to help people kind of be able to move. And that brought me to nutrition and some more health coaching type stuff, because I don’t know if anybody out there knows this, but when you’re a trainer, it’s kind of like being a barber or I would guess what a hair salon kind of is like where you got an hour to kill with that person. So you hear about everything that’s going on with them, sometimes more than you need to. And people were saying, oh, I have this digestive problem, or I have this skin problem, or I have headaches, or I can’t sleep at night or whatever, physical health problem, mental health problems. So I started to try to figure out, I don’t know how to help them.

Michael Roesslein (00:04:33) – I don’t know how to exercise them out of digestive problems or these things. So I started to study nutrition and holistic health through the Czech Institute and also at Functional Diagnostic Nutrition. And I started to work more on that side of things. And I’ve spent the last ten years working with and around functional medicine practitioners and interviewing, I don’t even know probably 2 or 300 of them at this point. And so that was a huge step. I think functional medicine is a huge leap when compared to conventional medical care at this point, especially for people with chronic conditions or chronic health problems. If my leg is smashed in an accident, I’m definitely going to the hospital and conventional medicine 100%. But for chronic health problems, both on the mental, emotional, spiritual side and on the physical side, I think functional medicine has done a great job, but there’s so many people now, at least, that come to our platforms that I talk to, that they try the protocols and they try the lab testing, and they read the book that the doctor writes the book about the protocol that fixes everything or whatever.

Michael Roesslein (00:05:41) – And they’ve tried the supplements, they’ve tried maybe 17 different special diets, and they get marginally better, a little bit better. The symptoms are probably less so, but they still kind of relapse or they regress. And I know you’re no stranger to this with everything that you’ve been. Through, and that there are approaches and strategies and treatments and things that go kind of outside. When we created the event that we’re hosting called Beyond Functional Medicine, the name what we consider functional medicine is like the standard functional lab testing, the supplement protocols, the diets, what kind of goes outside that that I’ve learned about and witnessed in the last 5 or 6 years, out of necessity, both for myself and for my wife, who has multiple autoimmune conditions, and I’ve suffered with lifelong anxiety and depression and more on the mental emotional side of things in trauma. There’s the avenue, I guess I would say, of working with trauma and the nervous system and ways to release things that are contributing to chronic disease states and do it in a safe way.

Michael Roesslein (00:06:47) – And there’s a lot more understanding around that now than there was even 5 or 10 years ago. There was nobody talking about that in functional medicine when I started paying attention, maybe Doctor Kesha and maybe Nikki. I think there were two. And then that was it. And now it’s like a pretty hot buzzword topic. And then on the other side, there’s a lot of advanced therapies and advanced treatments and things, which you probably know more than I do about at this point because you’ve tried them all, but things that would go outside of the box. So we wanted to bring a lot of things together that people that find themselves stuck are not responding to the protocols that they’re supposed to. I’ll put that in quotes that they’re supposed to respond to. It can get really overwhelming. People might know that there’s trauma is an issue, but what do I do about it? Or they might hear that, oh, there’s this cool light technology, but what does it do or whatever. So for the event, we were trying to bring everything together into one place and introduce them to stuff that might be helpful.

Michael Roesslein (00:07:42) – And then for my own practice now I’m focusing and shifting entirely towards safely releasing trauma and somatic therapy and breathwork and meditation and things that can address what I believe are the deepest roots of much chronic disease that I think diets and supplements and a lot of the treatments really, really help mitigate symptoms. But if there’s psychosomatic or emotional or trauma related roots of a condition or a disease process in the body, those things are only going to go so far. And I know for me, doing that work has radically changed my own experience of life in a way that, aside from physical things, shifts the way that we can show up in the world, and we experience life and we experience other people and other people experience us. And so there’s a ripple effect that takes place. So there’s a pretty roundabout answer to your question, but I think there is something in there somewhere.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:08:43) – Yeah. So, you know, I think that in many ways we’ve been on a little bit of a parallel journey in the last five years.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:08:53) – Both of us had a real physical introduction to the world of healthcare. Right? I was a physical therapist. You were a fitness trainer, very embodied experience. And then when that’s not quite enough, we began to learn functional medicine and functional medicine. Functional nutrition. Lifestyle medicine is about kind of restoring the imbalances physiologically in the body, which also helps the mind. And I think functional medicine and even conventional medicine is getting better at recognizing there’s not a mind health issue and a body health issue. They’re the same thing.

Michael Roesslein (00:09:33) – It’s getting there. They’re being dragged.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:09:36) – Yes. And I wouldn’t say conventional medicine or any one practitioner’s really going to be able to optimize that because there’s too much to learn at some level. But okay. So we’re somewhat integrating the body and the mind, although that’s very hard to do in conventional medicine I think is alluding to because the conventional medicine in general is so siloed. You have to see all these different practitioners.

Michael Roesslein (00:10:03) – There’s the nephrologist and there’s an ologist for every organ or system.

Michael Roesslein (00:10:08) – And that has its huge advantages too. If I’m in kidney failure, I’m happy there’s nephrologists. But from a holistic point of view, I think that when you have blinders on with your one thing, it’s very difficult to see. But yeah, I think you’re right. I think they’re being dragged into seeing it now. If they could only get involved. The teeth. One of the topics we talk about event is oral health and dental health. And there’s a huge upswell now around awareness around how oral health contributes to heart attacks and strokes and all these things. But the teeth in our system are looked at as separate. Also, there’s the body, the teeth, then the brain, and the mind is somewhere else and it just doesn’t work that way.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:10:49) – It doesn’t. It’s really funny when you think about that. We have separate dental insurance. We have separate vision insurance like that. These are.

Michael Roesslein (00:10:57) – Separate. The eyes are not involved either. So the eyes. And then I saw a funny meme on the internet the other day that was like, how do we get our mouth bones covered the rest of our bones.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:11:07) – Right.

Michael Roesslein (00:11:08) – On the insurance. And when I first, I guess, switched sides, I’ll call it about five years ago, is when I started training in all of this mental, emotional, somatic trauma side of things. I still then looked at it like I was switching sides. I was switching from this physical health side of things to this other thing the spiritual, the emotional, the trauma, the mental. I even use the words sides. I’m moving to another side of healing. And the more I’ve trained over there, the more I realized that that whole concept of sides is ridiculous. It’s just as inaccurate as having siloed focus on organs. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, people hear that and they think, how is that true? But I mean, anyone out there can relate to some time in their life that they received some sort of really bad or shocking news. And if they think about that, the first thing that will happen is they’ll feel the sensation that they felt when they heard that.

Michael Roesslein (00:12:11) – And usually it’s something in the chest or the belly or maybe the neck or the head. There’s a physical reaction to that event. So that’s an emotional mental thing causing a physical reaction. And that never isn’t happening. It’s just different levels of it. That’s an extreme example of it, but it’s always happening. So if you’re chronically stressed, there’s always some sort of physical response going on to the external world. And traumas are when most definitions of it used in the circles that I’m learning in now include like an external event that creates an internal emotion or sensation or feeling that’s too intense for that individual, usually a child to be able to be with or there’s no holding of it, there’s no support, there’s no place for it. And so it can’t be expressed. It can’t be felt, it’s unsafe. So then the body’s really good at being like, oh, okay, we’re going to put that here. And then that lives in the nervous system. It lives in the fascia, it lives in the body.

Michael Roesslein (00:13:15) – And that may come up as chronically activated immune reactions. It may come up as tension or pain. It may come up as a whole lot of different things until there is the capacity in the space to be with that thing, or that emotion or that sensation or that feeling. And our culture is really, really good at rubbing dirt on it. And you’re fine. It’s fine. Everything’s fine. Be fine. Oh, your partner of 30 years just died. Here’s an ice cream cone. You’re fine. Let’s go cheer you up. And so not only do we not have the same level of support and connection that helps process those things, we have the opposite of it in a lot of ways.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:13:59) – True. Before we get into that, because I think that that is so important and it’s almost hard to break when you even are aware of it, because I completely see that. Let me take a couple steps back, and you were talking about how essentially trauma is when you get shaken up emotionally for any reason and you feel it physically and then there’s nowhere to put it, you can’t shake it off.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:14:23) – Almost literally. You could if you knew to, but you don’t know how and you didn’t and whatever. And so it’s in your body somewhere. I think also the opposite happens where let’s say you have an infection or you have a broken hip, or you have a broken leg, and it’s your senior year soccer season and you thought you were going to play D1 soccer or something, and all of a sudden that injury is also an emotional injury. What do you think about that? Do you think it’s both. Yeah.

Michael Roesslein (00:14:58) – And it happens with injuries. It happens with chronic disease. When my wife’s first autoimmune flare came, that’s when I wound up suicidally depressed within six months because it took our life and it completely ripped it apart. It took away everything that we thought our life was or was going to be, and I wasn’t able to handle it. And I didn’t have support either to handle it. I didn’t have any support or any help. We’ve created such like an individualistic culture and society. That’s not how we’re wired and that’s not how we’re meant to be.

Michael Roesslein (00:15:33) – And I see it so much in chronic disease circles. People’s then like emotionally identify with, I am Lyme disease, basically, or I am this. They’ll say I have it, but they identify with it. It becomes part of who they are. It becomes part of the. Story of who they are in their mind is the broken leg. And I didn’t get to do this and I didn’t get to do that. And then there’s this. Something bad’s always going to happen, or I never get to do this thing I want to do, or I don’t deserve it or whatever. It’s unfair or life’s out to get me. And then that projects onto everything else. So I think it definitely works both ways.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:16:11) – I want to highlight one thing you just said there. So I’ve seen this a lot in my practice. I’ve worked with women with chronic pelvic pain for 25 years almost now, and a long time ago, probably almost 20 years ago now, one of my patients was the local president of the Vulvodynia, which is a painful vulvar condition chapter, which was great.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:16:32) – There were support groups, there were speakers. I was working with her as a patient, and she never could get better because her friends, as you said, usually you have to do this by yourself. Her friends were people with Vulvodynia. What do you do if you don’t have vulvodynia anymore? You can’t function. And I saw that so personally when I had long Covid. Well, I still have long. I think maybe I always have long Covid. Well, we don’t have to talk about that here. That’s another discussion. But when I first was diagnosed with long Covid, I became the education chair of the long Covid, physical therapy, blah, blah, blah. Six months later, I was like, nope, because I could see exactly what you’re saying. You have to be careful of identifying with whatever the thing is. I think that’s really important for our chronic, whether it’s depression or a physical illness or chronic illness.

Michael Roesslein (00:17:27) – Then you’ll find ways to keep it, and not usually consciously. When people hear that, a lot of people get really defensive and angry.

Michael Roesslein (00:17:34) – And I’m not saying that it’s conscious. I’m not saying that somebody oh, I’m so happy that I have rheumatoid arthritis. I need to always have these symptoms so that I can hang out with the rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:17:46) – No, it’s not conscious for sure. Yeah, no.

Michael Roesslein (00:17:49) – It’s definitely not conscious. But there are communities that they can become part of. And then there’s like a camaraderie or a rapport or connection around this one thing, and it brings people together in a way that’s supportive and connective, which is what we’re supposed to have all the time. And then that’s missing before. So for a lot of people, this is like a new thing, because one thing that contributes to a lot of conditions is not having that. So then people have that and it’s like, wow, I have this thing. I’m part of this. Facebook groups used to be the best and the worst. Now Facebook makes it so you never see posts from groups or it’s harder to engage. But 510 years ago you could find a Facebook group for every health, symptom or condition that existed.

Michael Roesslein (00:18:33) – I know because I was in a lot of them, and people didn’t get better from those groups because they needed the group. The group is what they wanted. The group was the connection. The group was what they identified with. So the adrenal fatigue group, people would figure out ways to keep themselves stressed and never rest and never recover. But not consciously. People don’t realize. I mean, I know there’s all these buzzy things now about the subconscious 90% or I don’t know, whatever percent of the things you do are subconscious or the subconscious mind is. People are aware now that there is a subconscious drive to a lot of things that we do, but I don’t think that a lot of people realize how powerful it is and how completely they call it subconscious, because you have no idea that it’s going on, and it’s hard to conceptualize something that the whole point of it is that you don’t know what’s going on. So, Carl Jung, I’m not going to go off on Jungian psychology, but he has a really famous quote.

Michael Roesslein (00:19:30) – That is, unless you make the subconscious conscious, it will rule your life and you will call it fate. And a lot of the work I’m doing now is to help people realize what their subconscious programming is and where it came from, and what purpose is it serving, because it’s always trying to help you. Those people wanting to be in those groups, that’s great. Of course, you want to have friends and be in a group and be accepted in a social circle. So it’s providing something that you were not having before. Where can you get that? And people with food. Before I understood any of this, I was working with complex, chronically ill people, and I would spend hours reviewing their labs and creating a protocol for them and mapping out their diet and doing all these things. And then I’d have a three hour thing with them, and I’d give them this extremely detailed thing, and then I’d meet with them again in three weeks and they’d be like, Mike, I didn’t do any of the things I’m like, but you just spent how much money on the labs, the supplements, the new food, me, etc., etc. and I would leave these appointments being like, man, these people are so lazy, right?

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:20:38) – Right.

Michael Roesslein (00:20:39) – Why can’t they just not eat McDonald’s? They don’t actually want to get better. And the unhealthy food or the unhealthy habits or the. Whatever thing is that they can’t kick. I’ve now studied with Doctor Gabor mate quite a bit, who’s pretty famous now around like addiction, especially addiction and trauma and people here addiction. And they think heroin or alcohol or whatever. But no. Gabor. The reason he got so into addiction is because he had a compulsive addiction of buying CDs and then hiding them from his wife, and at one point, he was spending $5,000 a month on CDs and then having to embezzle this thing. And then his office was filled with thousands of compact discs.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:21:22) – No space for it, right?

Michael Roesslein (00:21:24) – Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. But then he was lying about it because he knew what was going on. But that is harmful to him and his finances and his relationship. But it’s just music. But why? What was that? And so his whole approach around addiction is what is the unhealthy food doing for you? What is that Facebook group doing for you? What is binge watching Netflix for four hours instead of going for a walk doing for you? And until you understand a that those things you don’t want to do anymore, those patterns you have or those behaviors you have, they’re serving like a very valid, helpful purpose.

Michael Roesslein (00:21:59) – And B, how can you meet that need in another way? You’re not going to stop doing that, or you’ll do another thing like outside AA meetings. And this isn’t a knock on. I have two really good friends whose lives were saved by AA, and I know it’s also not for everyone, but outside of an AA meeting, you won’t see anyone drinking alcohol, but you’ll see people smoking a ton of cigarettes and pounding lots of coffee. And not all of them smoked cigarettes or drank coffee before they went there. So some of those programs are very good at getting you to stop doing the thing that you’re there to not do. But unless you address the underlying reason, programming and trauma and stories behind why you did the thing in the first place, you’re going to do another thing. So that could be sugar, it could be cigarettes, then it could be coffee, it could be whatever. And they’d be like, well, I’m not drinking. So this is better than drinking. And like, sure, probably if you want to compare the two, it’s probably better.

Michael Roesslein (00:22:56) – But it’s not addressing.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:22:58) – The real root cause yeah.

Michael Roesslein (00:23:00) – Yeah yeah yeah. So that was a little side tangent, but I think it was relevant.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:23:05) – And I think what’s so important about that. And I want to circle back to this for a minute. In the world of chronic illness and chronic pain and these conditions, there is a problem with people going to the doctor like they’re going to their doctor over and over. They’re not really listen to their frustrated by functional medicine because the doctor is just like, well, go take a walk or you need to lose weight. Or I had a doctor tell me the other day, well, this will probably just get better on its own in 5 or 10 years. Like, okay, fine.

Michael Roesslein (00:23:32) – In 5 or 10 years. Sure. No problem buddy. That’s great.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:23:36) – So and it’s just like,, have a glass of wine and you’ll relax. There’s this sense of it’s all in your head. So then they go to functional medicine and they’re like, they get thousands of dollars of expensive tests.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:23:47) – And we deep dive. And that helps because at least we’re starting to get to the physical root causes. So then people feel better but then they don’t fix this piece is what you’re talking about here, which is like even if it was an injury or a virus, the original trigger was sort of not your fault, if you will. All of it is random, whatever that was. But then there’s this sense of if we start talking about this piece at all, the underlying trauma, the nervous system dysregulation, then it gets a little tricky, because there’s a little bit of defensiveness among people who have chronic illness. And I understand that completely because you’re just like, no, I really am hurting. I really do have symptoms. There really is some physical component of this, which there absolutely is, and it is in your nervous system. And so I think we have to be careful. It’s not dismissive to say it’s in your nervous system. It’s in your mental story, it’s in your fascia, in your brain.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:24:56) – But that is social, emotional, psychosomatic. And I think that what we have to do is destigmatize that because psychosomatic is still part of your body..

Michael Roesslein (00:25:11) – Yeah. And they’ve been gaslit so much. That’s where the reaction comes from I think, is that there’s a huge difference between it’s all in your head and this is related to trauma and nervous system dysregulation. But if that’s not presented in the correct way or if they’ve been gaslit so much, they’re going to be very sensitive. It has to be talked about in a very careful way. And it’s never their fault. There’s a blame, I think there with the doctors that don’t know how to help them. It’s all in your head, which I think there’s probably less of that now, although even that. Could be gas lady to some people hearing me say that, but I don’t hear it as often from people that come into our stuff as I used to. But I think younger doctors are more adept to know that there’s better ways to communicate things, but.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:26:02) – I think it’s still a huge problem.

Michael Roesslein (00:26:05) – I’m sure it is. Yeah. And so it has to be talked about in a certain way. And I think learning nervous system dysregulation, using terms like that are more approachable than saying it’s in your head, because yes, the brain is part of the nervous system, but there’s so much more to the nervous system that they’re figuring out. That doesn’t have to do with the brain as much. That causes a lot of dysregulation with the immune system and everything with the vagus nerve and digestion. And we’re learning now that just like those labs gave them something tangible that they could see there is something wrong with me. I don’t even like to use that language, but there’s something here that can be proven that is causing the symptoms that I’m experiencing. Because you run a functional AB test, you’ll 95% of the time you’ll find the thing that’s causing the symptoms. But even that thing is usually downstream from something else. And so usually I mean, there’s exceptions to that, like there’s toxic exposures and all kinds of things that don’t have anything to do with that.

Michael Roesslein (00:27:04) – But it could easily be argued that you’re more susceptible to certain toxic exposures if you have a lot of trauma or nervous system regulation, too. Like, my wife got really sick two times with autoimmune flares when we got exposed to mold, I didn’t. So there’s huge components across the board. But yeah, I think that speaking about trauma and fascia and the nervous system and the ways that these things actually happen and like poly vagal theory and the vagus nerve and like these kind of more Western scientifically based languaging, I think is more approachable for those people and more acceptable, like it lands better. And it’s not gaslighting. It’s all in your head. Because that’s just a ridiculous sorry, I get really agitated. It’s really lazy. And instead they should just say, I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t know how to help you. That would be way better. Nobody wants to hear that either, but that would be less harmful. But I know a lot of people in that profession would never say such a thing.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:28:05) – So well, they can’t because of their own subconscious.

Michael Roesslein (00:28:08) – Yeah, that’s what I mean, because there’s overachievers and type A prover to the world. People flock towards the medical industry.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:28:15) – Because that’s the only people who can get through the barriers.

Michael Roesslein (00:28:19) – Yeah, because that is an insane gauntlet of things that they do.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:28:23) – Yeah. I mean, I also think, no, that could be a whole conversation about how traumatized clinicians and health professionals are.

Michael Roesslein (00:28:31) – To get through residency and things after medical school.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:28:34) – It’s pure hazing.

Michael Roesslein (00:28:35) – I didn’t know a lot about that until Mira was in the E.R. as a nurse, and she would tell me some stuff about some doctors who were there in the E.R. and hadn’t been off work for 36 hours or whatever. And I’m like, if I go to the hospital with an emergency, the last thing I want is a doctor to be working on me, who’s been awake for 36 hours. Have you ever been awake for 36 hours? You are not in your peak state at 36 hours and they do it for years.

Michael Roesslein (00:28:59) – So yes, there’s and the pressure of medical school and you have to be in the 1% of the 1% of all the things. And it’s like we could talk for a whole hour about how traumatized medical students are by the time they get there. I don’t know what you get white coat or your thing.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:29:14) – So let’s back up, because I think that’s an important conversation. And it’s just important, I think, to acknowledge, because if you’re listening to this as a person with a chronic illness and you’re like, okay, the reality is some of this injury, chronic illness is in. And I also do kind of like to think of all of these things. You know, again, I come from a physical therapy background, a very embodied physical person, and I like to think of almost all of these things, whether it’s mold toxicity or a viral activation or, you know, autoimmune disease because of an infection or whatever. They’re all kind of injuries. And so the system is out of whack for whatever reason.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:29:57) – It’s a physical system, like your heart is out of whack or your mold titers are too high, or your EBV titers are too high or whatever. There’s some things we can measure. Sometimes we have relatively simple solutions a medication and acute medication, especially if it’s a newer issue like a more acute issue for you, something you haven’t been dealing with chronically. You know, we cast your leg and we do some rehab. There are times when things are more acutely able to be recovered, but one of the things I think about a lot is our actual conceptualization of what it means to be ill or injured is not correct. Almost all the time. What we think happens is someone gets sick and then they get a treatment that’s targeted specific. And they get better within a socially appropriate amount of time, which is about two weeks max. I don’t think that ever happens. It’s almost never happens. Then what comes in is everything you’re talking about. Your nervous system gets dysregulated because you’re socially now not right. And then that lands in your fascia, that lands in your brain because it took you too long.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:31:12) – So now, because we have this individualistic society, it’s all your fault. And that’s where I think the real problem comes in. So I would love to talk more about the individual tools that people can use to help undermine this mistake in conceptualization. But also, is there anything you think we can do about this society? Because I feel like ultimately that’s the problem.

Michael Roesslein (00:31:38) – I definitely think that’s the problem. If I knew how to fix that, I’d be doing it.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:31:43) – But any little sparks, though? I know we can’t do it.

Michael Roesslein (00:31:47) – Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve done a lot of training around grief work specifically, and there’s so much talk there around how it requires a village, it requires the community, it requires support, it requires connection. And then we just had a baby six months ago. And that’s another thing that you’re not supposed to do by yourself, that moms are raising kids on their own and even with a father. But I mean on your own, not with other people in the community, in the village and things for 99.9% of human history, that’s not how it was done.

Michael Roesslein (00:32:21) – And that’s not how grief was held as an individual. It’s not how any of these things were processed. If somebody was sick or ill or whatever physical, mental, emotional, whatever, the village would help them and hold them and like the healer. But then with the group and it was always a communal thing. And we’re wired for that. There are physiological reactions that happen in connection with other people that don’t happen when we’re not in connection. And I know that there’s a lot I can’t name them off the top of my head, but there’s a lot of studies and statistics now that show that loneliness is, I believe, the number one all cause mortality risk factor for premature death. I think it exceeds smoking and sedentary lifestyle and whatever is like a lack of connection.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:33:11) – True, because smokers with friends are less at risk than non-smokers with no friends.

Michael Roesslein (00:33:16) – Yeah, yeah yeah. And cultures where I live here, I live in Italy and you come to Italy, so they smoke way more than Americans and Greece smokes more than Italy.

Michael Roesslein (00:33:26) – And when I was part of a film project six years ago now, our filmmakers went to all these places in the world where people live exceptionally long and have low chronic disease, etc. they went to Italy and they went to Greece, and the videographer sent me a message like, dude, everybody here smokes. This is going to be a weird movie. We’re having to ask them to not smoke on camera because we’re making a movie about health. And they stayed up late at night, which, oh wow, they ate late here. Dinner is at 9:00. 8:00. We’re going to Spain next month. It’s even later there. And they break a lot of the things that. Now, if you follow Biohackers and functional health people on Instagram, you’re going to hear that if you do these three things, stay up late or eat late or smoke is off the charts. And I’m not advocating smoking, I’m just using this as an example. These people should be dead when they’re 50.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:34:19) – Oh for sure.

Michael Roesslein (00:34:21) – But they have way more connection to their family, way more connection to their community.

Michael Roesslein (00:34:25) – These things are very social. Are you going any trattoria restaurants at 9:00 at night and it’s packed and everybody’s talking to each other. Everybody knows each other. The elderly people are included in the society. They’re not put aside. You see them everywhere that you see other people, and they’re more self-sufficient and independent. And there’s more movement in the daily life. But the connection and the community and the support group that exists still more so in small towns now, the bigger cities are getting more modernized, but that overrides and the slowness of it. They eat meals for days. And so the slowness of it and the connection aspect of it in the community aspect of it, and that sense of belonging and being needed and all of that overrides the fact that breakfast in Italy is coffee, pastries and cigarettes. Yeah. That’s it. Yeah. It doesn’t exist. There’s no breakfast. If you tell them you eat eggs in the morning, they’re like, what? So it goes a long way. And we don’t have that in the States and in most Western cultures now, like modern cultures, we don’t have that.

Michael Roesslein (00:35:31) – It’s very, very, very individualistic. So when you get one of these diagnoses or you don’t get better fast enough, it could be a physical disease. You don’t get better fast enough. It could be a grief situation that you don’t get better fast enough. Nobody likes to be around sad people. So. You should feel better. It’s been three weeks since your husband died. Or it’s like, what? So if you’re not getting better fast enough, or you’re not physically able to do the things that you’re expected to do, we also have this thing around, like being productive in this society. If you’re not productive enough. What’s the point of view basically, and we internalize that we grow up in a culture. Culture forms those stories too, not just trauma and whatever culture forms it to. I’ll bring up Gabor one more time. His new book is called The Myth of Normal, and it talks a lot about this. And around what we’re experiencing is a result of all of these things in our society that are missing and that we’re wired to have, like, there’s real physiology behind all of this, you know, from oxytocin and other hormones that are released to neurotransmitters that happen.

Michael Roesslein (00:36:38) – And our nervous systems are like antenna, especially when we’re kids. So it tunes to and regulates to the people around us. And if we don’t have the capacity to regulate our own nervous system or to balance our self out, somebody else can help with that, or groups can help with that, even like church. And I’m not religious, but church. And like the group, the singing together regulates the nervous system. Group prayers regulate the nervous system. There’s these things that we’ve done traditionally forever that nobody was like, oh, we’re doing this to regulate our nervous systems. Even breathing the way that we breathe, the breath pattern that happens, reciting oh, sorry, Catholics rosary. Okay.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:37:25) – Yeah.

Michael Roesslein (00:37:26) – Is a certain inhale exhale length of breath pattern that increases heart rate variability and coherence from a heart math standpoint or nervous system regulation. So are a lot of the prayers with mala beads. So are a lot of the Sanskrit mantras and just the breath pattern that comes from reciting those things in chains and balances the nervous system.

Michael Roesslein (00:37:51) – So we don’t do any of those things anymore. And so that traditional way of living with those types of activities mixed with the connection and the community aspect and the support that we received, balances the nervous system where we’re a animal that if it’s alone, it’s scared, we should be scared. Traditionally, if you were alone, that was it. That was the end, right?

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:38:15) – Because you didn’t have your tribe. Yeah, yeah.

Michael Roesslein (00:38:17) – So physiologically, isolation to us is super dangerous. And that is going to happen in the body whether you mentally are like, oh, I’m isolated. I’m really scared. Doesn’t matter. And this doesn’t count.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:38:32) – Oh, yes. Your phone. Just for those on audio. Your phone doesn’t count. Exactly. And it’s interesting because of course, what’s happened is we’ve evolved away from a lot of those community things, whether it’s church. And I think that’s even one of the reasons why we have such polarization in this country is because some people are still there and they realize how much they need it.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:38:56) – They don’t realize it consciously. They realize subconsciously, right? There’s a group, you can’t leave the group. And, you know, it’s the same thing as a middle schooler getting kicked out of her friend group. It’s disastrous. Right? So I think that we’re very unaware of that. So we get attached to instead our diagnoses, because it’s the only place that you get that level of support. You know, you’ve lost your sports team. You’ve lost even like yesterday, I went to a school thing. I was the only person wearing a mask. I have to be a little careful because of my body. It’s interesting. I heard a thing like, why aren’t we just wearing masks for people on the train just for other people to come out? Because that’s not our culture. Our culture is not to support people who are weak in any way, whatever weakness means to you subconsciously.

Michael Roesslein (00:39:54) – And then that puts you in that category once you are sick or don’t feel well or whatever. And then there’s this story also that comes along with it, like something wrong with you.

Michael Roesslein (00:40:06) – It’s like a personal flaw, and then.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:40:08) – You’re sort of self kicking yourself out of the group.

Michael Roesslein (00:40:11) – Yeah, yeah, yeah. Then you’re compounding it. Then it’d be like equivalent of that middle school or having the kids around pointing at them and haha, whatever. But you’re doing it to yourself.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:40:21) – And that stuff is actually kind of amplified now because I watched the newer version of the Mean Girls movie the other day versus the old version that was very similar, but one thing they really amplified was like, if you do anything now, that’s not whatever the culture perceives as perfect. The bad stuff is actually amplified because immediately everyone’s turning a phone on you.

Michael Roesslein (00:40:45) – . Oh man. Yeah. My friends and I have talked about this how grateful we are that we were the last ones to go through high school and college without or middle school even, but phones with cameras that were good and effective really came after I got out of college. So there was like a kid who had one, but it wasn’t like everyone had them.

Michael Roesslein (00:41:07) – Not everything was being recorded.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:41:09) – It wasn’t 100 phones.

Michael Roesslein (00:41:10) – No. They still had those little camcorders or those little paper cameras. You remember the disposable cameras? Like if you wanted to take pictures and no one really cared about that because that was like that person’s camera, you’re never going to see that. There wasn’t the internet, really. There was. But it wasn’t. Every picture ever taken winds up on the internet. And so now I can’t even imagine,, our jokes are like, man, we’d have got in. So much trouble if everything we did was videoed or photographed or whatever, but also embarrassing or social faux pas, or breaking of social norms or whatever. It’s another layer. It’s like always being watched, always being seen, always being whatever. And then there’s that super strong reinforcement of what is the culturally dominant way to be has this weapon. Now it’s like the 1984. It’s like the Thought Police, but it exists. We do it to ourselves.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:42:05) – Yeah. It’s fascinating. So this is kind of depressing in many ways, but I do think that the awareness of it is extremely important because it begins to help people step back from, oh, okay, this is why I might keep doing this to myself.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:42:24) – Or this is why when other people say, I’m fine, you’re fine, it’s going to be okay. It feels bad even though they mean well. So where do we begin individually, since obviously there’s a lot of work to do culturally, where do we begin individually if we’re feeling that way, that we’re stuck in a chronic condition, stuck in chronic pain, we’re stuck in depression or anxiety? How do we start on sticking?

Michael Roesslein (00:42:50) – Well.

Michael Roesslein (00:42:51) – You said the person saying it’s fine and building awareness. The thing that I’ve noticed that super important is the self-compassion. So the pulling back in, the letting go of identification with the situation or the it’s more of like a mindfulness or meditation type practices. That’s one aspect I work with people on, is kind of using those practices to kind of you would observe the symptoms and the illness, just like you would observe the thoughts in your head, or you would observe the weather, or you would observe a sound that you hear and it decides, notifies you with it a little bit to kind of just witness it instead of I am.

Michael Roesslein (00:43:31) – It. So like those kind of practices can help detangle you from identifying with the thing, whatever the thing would be. But the real key to me in both not getting angry when somebody says you’re fine because they’re saying that they’re uncomfortable, so it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with them. They’re uncomfortable, like, oh, cheer up means I don’t like being around sad people. So if you could just not be sad, that would be great for me. The same thing with people with a chronic illness or some sort of chronic symptom. This makes me uncomfortable. This makes me feel something I’m not comfortable feeling. So you’re going to be fine. And that’s what I’m going to say instead, because I can’t emotionally handle saying what I actually feel or I’m not even conscious of it. But if you can have compassion for those people and realize they’re just uncomfortable and it’s not your fault, they’re uncomfortable, and that’s fine. So then you’re less reactive to other people and outside influence when you understand it a little bit more.

Michael Roesslein (00:44:37) – I’ll share. One little anecdotal thing from a client is I worked with this girl for 8 or 9 sessions, I think, doing breathwork and some other, the CIA, the Compassionate inquiry. And when I first met with her, she said, I have a lot of rage. And I was like, how does this show up in your life? And she said, well, one of my bosses at work, when she comes in my office, I want to immediately stab her with a spoon. And I was like, okay, you don’t. And she’s like, no, I don’t, but I really want to. And sometimes when she talks like, that’s all I can think about, and then I don’t even listen to her talking. I’m just filled with rage. I was like, okay, thank you. I’m glad we’re there doing this virtually and we’re not in the same room by the end, she said. I feel much more calm and I’m much less reactive. And I said, how does that show up in your life? And she said, well, you remember that woman from my work? I said, yeah.

Michael Roesslein (00:45:25) – And she goes, well, now when she comes to my office and starts talking to me, my first reaction is that I feel bad for her because everyone at work hates her, because she’s always complaining at everybody and making everybody’s life miserable. So everyone hates her. So she doesn’t have any friends. So I just saw her as this sad lady that doesn’t have any friends, that then lashes out at everybody. I still kind of wanted to stab her, but my first reaction was compassion. Essentially, she didn’t use the word compassion, but it was compassion for her. And she’s like. And then I started to think what had to have happened to her to make her like this? Because we’ve learned all these things about what made me like me. I’m wondering what made her like her. And so when you start to unpack some of these things and understand, I used to eat a pint of ice cream when I was really upset. Ben and Jerry’s the whole thing. In my 20s, I got this apartment that was right next to a 7-Eleven, which was the greatest thing, worst thing that ever happened.

Michael Roesslein (00:46:23) – And I’d have, like, a bad day. And I just walked 7-Eleven apartment, Ben and Jerry’s for dinner when I was a kid. If something bad happened, we’d go get ice cream. If something good happened, we’d go get ice cream. I was programmed as a young age that ice cream was like an emotional salve, essentially. And so the ice cream and then going in front of the TV, I was raised in front of a TV 80s sitcoms and comedy movies were like my parents, essentially. And like Bill Murray, John Candy, Dan Aykroyd, these people I felt for my family when I was a little kid. And so to this day, if I’m really dysregulated, if you give me some ice cream and put me in front of a TV, my body will calm down. Now, I don’t do that anymore. I found other ways to do it, but I used to have a lot of shame around that, especially when I got into this field and I started being a trainer and a nutritionist.

Michael Roesslein (00:47:19) – I can’t pound pints of ice cream. That’s a morally bad thing to do. I’m a terrible person because I do that because I know that’s not good for me and I’m still doing it, and I’m teaching other people not to do it, which means I’m terrible person. It took learning why I was doing that, to then have compassion for myself around it, and then find other ways to regulate my nervous system when I have a bad day or I’m feeling upset. But you can’t do that with shame. You can’t change behaviors with shame. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work on kids. To shame them into being different does not work. It may work temporarily, but in the long run it’s going to make it way worse. And it doesn’t work when you do it to yourself. So having the compassion for yourself and like forgiving yourself for whatever thing you think you suck because you did. And then, oh, I ate ice cream for years. I’m terrible. No, you just didn’t know how to handle anything.

Michael Roesslein (00:48:14) – And so that’s how you did it to self-compassion. Like. And that comes with that awareness of understanding your story, why you do the things you do. So the mindfulness meditation end of things to like pull back from identifying with it a little bit and observing it and then understanding. If it’s a behavioral thing or a pattern or something else that you’re caught in that contributes to this state, it’s really just having compassion for yourself. There’s a reason you started doing whatever the thing is and it was helpful for you. The alternative was not okay. For me, it would have been like I would have been in a panic. And the body won’t allow that. It’ll figure out a way to do something. The mind will figure, okay, this makes me feel better. Do this. But over time, this makes me feel better. Makes you feel worse because it’s not addressing the thing. So before you get into the deep dive of actually addressing the thing that’s driving you to the ice cream, you can become more conscious of the behaviors, you can become less attached to them, and then you can learn new ways to do that, whether it’s a breathing technique or a grounding practice, or just being in nature, or calling a friend or connecting with somebody.

Michael Roesslein (00:49:24) – There’s a million different ways to do it, but it’ll feel weird. It’ll feel uncomfortable or awkward at first because it’s like a different thing. Then you usually rewire the pattern.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:49:34) – Yeah.

Michael Roesslein (00:49:34) – It’s neuroplasticity. So then now when I feel that same thing, I don’t even think about going to get a pint of ice cream. I just know, oh, I need to go breathe for a minute and calm down. And I can do that. I didn’t have those skills before. Nobody taught me that. We also don’t teach any sort of emotional regulation or emotional anything in to kids in school. There’s countries in northern Europe that do. I was just reading like Denmark and a couple of countries actually teach like emotional processing and emotional regulation in schools for kids. And that is blew my mind to hear that. But we don’t learn those skills. So I don’t know. Does that answer your question?

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:50:12) – Yeah. So to circle back to the beginning of the conversation for the health professionals that are listening to this conversation, essentially what’s challenging for people that have chronic illness that we’re working with, chronic pain.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:50:25) – It’s not wrong to say you need yoga. You need meditation, you need breathwork practices. You need other mindfulness practices, somatic, you know, healing practices. And we should be learning them. We should be teaching them because the kids aren’t learning them in school. And so adults don’t know them mostly.

Michael Roesslein (00:50:44) – Yeah. No, no, no, I’m not blaming it either. You weren’t taught either. I wasn’t taught.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:50:48) – So we have to learn them. And that’s part of what Michael does and what Michael teaches and his platform teaches. So as health professionals, we have to learn that we have to practice it. These are new skills we need to add to our practices. And how we do it is actually as important as doing it, because when we just say to people with chronic illness. These symptoms are really all in your head. You should just do yoga. Doing yoga is not wrong, but the why has to be understood has to be explained. We have to take the time in the space to dig down into that person’s version of self-soothing.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:51:24) – I have so many stories I don’t have time for getting into on this.

Michael Roesslein (00:51:27) – Maybe they hate yoga. Maybe sending them to do yoga is not the right thing for that person and saying you should or you have to, or even the languaging around. That to me is triggering because I don’t like to be told what to do. So there can be a different way to talk about it. It can be, hey, there’s some dysregulation here, probably. And here are a number of things that can be useful for that. Do any of these feel good to you when you hear them or see them or whatever? Let’s try some of them. And then the ones that you like have added. There’s the real quick I know we’re almost out of time, but the biodynamic breathwork that I’m trained in, they also utilize meditations from this spiritual teacher named Osho. I don’t like the meditations. They’re like movement based meditations with sound and people moving around and all this stuff. I was more formally trained in Buddhist style, exceeded meditation.

Michael Roesslein (00:52:23) – So that’s almost agitating to me. But I had to do them during the training. Everyone has to do them, and for an hour I would just be like, oh man, I just want this to stop. And so for the whole hour, the hour would seem like eight hours because I was doing this thing that I hated doing, and then other people at the end would, oh, I feel so great. I’m like, what? I’m just agitated. But that’s because that wasn’t the right thing for me to do. And there’s nothing wrong with me and there’s nothing wrong with those meditations. That person felt great, so it just wasn’t the right tool for me. So it’s part of what I do when I’m helping people is help them figure out what’s their jam, what’s their door. To like that some people is just going outside. I feel great when I go on a hike. Awesome. How can we get more hikes into your time and what do you like about it, and how does it feel when you’re on a hike? Can we cultivate that feeling without you being on a hike, so that you can use that anytime and then lean into that sensation? Because what they don’t realize is it’s not the outside.

Michael Roesslein (00:53:27) – That feeling is always accessible and it’s always there. It’s just that triggers it. And so there’s other ways that you can learn to access that feeling for them being on a hike or for that other person that Osho meditation. So it’s like helping them pull back from the identification with the thing, become more aware of their own patterns and why they have done the things they did and do, their struggle with what they do with compassion, and then giving them tools, helping them discover their own tools of this is how I feel safe. This is how I feel grounded. Whatever their thing is they’re looking for, this is how I feel it. And there’s deeper work that can be done to release trauma and stuff that I wouldn’t recommend people try to do necessarily on their own, and it can’t even be done on your own. But I think those aspects of it will go a long way for people.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:54:18) – No, absolutely. Thank you so much. I really think this is such important work, because it’s the key to making it much more culturally normal to integrating mind and physical healing and spiritual healing and community healing.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:54:40) – So everyone should absolutely tune in to Beyond Functional Medicine and explore your work. We’ll share everything in the show notes and all of that, but thank you for sharing your story and the work that you’re doing. I so appreciate it.

Michael Roesslein (00:54:56) – Yeah, thanks for having me. I always enjoy our chats and I think I’ve been on that side for most of them, so it’s fun to be on this side for once.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:55:03) – Yeah, absolutely. All right. Thanks so much Michael. Thank you. Bye bye. Well that was a great conversation. It really helped me to explore my thoughts and feelings about what’s going on in the world of integrative and functional medicine, and why our patients are so sick now. And is it about our health systems? Is it about our community systems? And Michael really, really reinforced a few key takeaways for me. One is that we have to do a lot of work as health and wellness professionals to optimize and regulate our own nervous systems, even when we’re working with people who are really upset themselves.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:55:48) – And then we have to help them play with a myriad of tools, which you can learn from Michael and his new institute, which is coming out soon. And I’ll share all of the details about his Beyond Functional Medicine Summit and his new institute, or his new training programs, or his new training. Variances for people in the show notes. So we have to do a lot of work. We have to learn a new skill set, and we have to think about what micro things we can do for our community to simply help people feel more normal, even if they’re hurting. To feel more connected, even when others feel uncomfortable around their pain. I think that’s part of our work, is healers, is helping to heal our communities as well. So let me know what you think about that, what you thought about this interview, and I’ll see you next time. Thank you so much for joining me today for this episode of the Integrative Women’s Health Podcast. Please share this episode with a colleague and if you loved it, hit that subscribe or follow button on your favorite podcast streaming service so that we can do even more to make this podcast better for you and your clients.

Dr. Jessica Drummond (00:57:09) – Let’s innovate and integrate in the world of women’s health.

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