One of the things that I wanted to do when I created the Think Unbroken Podcast was to be able to share...
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One of the things that I wanted to do when I created the Think Unbroken Podcast was to be able to share stories of people who literally became the hero of their own story, and Mandy is a beautiful example of that.
In this episode, we have a guest speaker – Mandy Harvey; she is an inspirational speaker and trauma guide and helps people overcome past experiences. And for her, maybe more so than anyone, she knows what it means to overcome the past. I won't get into giving you all the details of her story. Still, I will say this, she had a harrowing journey of dealing with sexual abuse as a child, losing both of her parents to suicide, and other things that, as we go through this conversation, made me, to be frank, quite emotional. And today, she helps other people to do what she has done, which is to heal, learn, love herself, grow, and ultimately be unbroken.
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Michael: Hey! What's up Unbroken Nation! Hope that you're doing well wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest, Mandy Harvey, who is an inspirational speaker and trauma healing guide. Mandy, my friend, how are you today? What is happening in your world?
Mandy: I'm doing great. I'm trying to make time to enjoy the summer with my family amidst all the crazy busyness, but really enjoying it.
Michael: Yeah. Good, good. Same. I don't have family, but friends and things of that nature. I found myself today just thinking to myself, it's a beautiful day, it's a beautiful day, and I cannot wait to enjoy it. So, before we get to that though, I'm very excited to have you here with us today. For those who do not know you, tell us a little bit about your backstory, your journey, and how you got to where you are today.
Mandy: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for inviting me and having me be a part of your podcast community, I'm so excited to be here. So, I got into being a trauma healer, a trauma healing guide and inspirational speaker because of my own story. I always started off by saying I was born into trauma. And what that means is that I was born to a single mother and we were pretty poor, we didn't have a lot of money, which meant she worked multiple jobs, but she was living in her own trauma. She had not healed from her own past, which meant that she invited partners and men into her life who were not the healthiest and who were not the greatest in terms of being a supportive partner for her, but also, they took out a lot of their unhealthy habits and patterns to me, meaning I grew up in a home where I was sexually abused for multiple years with many different men. I grew up in a home where I was neglected. I was left alone a lot. I learned very quickly that I had to take care of myself. So, at a very young age, my boundaries, my sense of space and who I was was taken advantage of. And early on I learned I am the parent here because my parents was not there and anytime I tried to rely on her, she wasn't available to hold that space. So, I became very strong, very independent as a child, learning how to take care of myself in days when I was left alone. And this continued for many, many years until I was about 12 when she married her last husband. And I always describe him as the closest thing to the devil that I've ever met in the earthly experience, he was very manipulative, he was a police officer, so he had an outward appearance of being someone who you might find support or help with but in inside my home, he was very manipulative, very abusive. And the sexual abuse started to ramp up, the manipulation started to ramp. And this happened for a couple of years. At one point I shared with my mom, Hey, this is what's happening, we moved away from family, we were isolated in a different town. And I would tell her, Hey, this is what's going on. I don't think this isn't inappropriate, he shouldn't be doing this, can you please have him stop this? Can you talk to him? And I remember the first time I told her, she was like devastated. I could see her crying and she was like, Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry. Yes, I'll talk to him. Well, nothing happens. So, about a month later, things had continued and continued and continued and a month later I came back to her and I said, hey, it’s still happening. And I remember sitting in the kitchen table, she was standing directly across from me in the kitchen with her back towards me, like, you know, taking something out of a cupboard. And I remember when she turned around, it was like her soul had completely left her body and she was just this like shell of a person because she had no emotion, she turned around and she was like, I think you're just misunderstanding what's happening here. I think, you know, you're misunderstanding, he loves you, he wants to spend time with you. And I can remember her reaction and her level of no emotion, and it just kind of hit me like, oh my gosh, like if we are gonna get out of this experience, I have to be the one to try and find a way out because she is no longer here. I knew instantly that she had left, her soul was gone, her any semblance of compassion or you know, love or kindness was no longer there, she was gone. And so, in that moment I had to make a decision, like, Okay, I am going to befriend him and I'm going to pretend. But everything is fine, what is happening is, okay, I'm not going to fight it. I'm not going to push him away. I'm just going to act like this is okay, and maybe if I befriend him, I'll buy myself some time and I can figure a way out of this. And that's what I did. So, I was 13 years old in middle school just befriending this adult man who was abusing me and acting like everything was fine, compartmentalizing this part of my life with the child at school, you know, who had friends and all the things. And I had an uncle, which was my mom's brother, and I kept trying to think, how can I reach out to him? Because we had been isolated. This man had isolated us from our family s, I kept trying to think like, I'm gonna reach out to my uncle. He will pick us up in the middle of the night. You know, take us away, maybe that'll work. So, it started to become my plan. Well, one day at school I was talking to a friend and she said, Hey, how was your weekend? And I slipped up and I said something and she was like, Hey, that's not normal, dads don't do that with daughters. And she told a counselor at school, my friend Lori, and she said, you know I'm really kind of worried for you. So, we left that conversation, I didn't think anything of it, but she talked to a counselor. Counselor pulled me in and was like, Hey, I need you to tell me what's going on in your home. And that became kind of this like snowball effect of the disillusion or the destruction of the life that I knew.
So, I told her what had been happening. I said, can you just give me tonight to talk to my mom? Maybe, you know, if I can get her out of the home tonight, he's working. If I can get her out of the home, then you don't need to involve, you know, Child Protective Services, you know? And I asked, please, please, please. Can I just talk to her tonight? She was like, fine. So, which I don't know why she should have just, you know, reported it that night. But I went home, my mom and I went on this walk that we went on every night. And I started to tell her, Hey, this is what happened at school and we're gonna need to leave. And I remember her response was, how could you ruin our family? Why would you do this? You've destroyed everything. And in that moment, I learned to not trust my intuition. I learned to not trust my gut feelings that this was actually wrong and speaking up was the right thing to do. And in that experience, you know, after we had that conversation, she called my older sibling back into the home and said, Hey, I don't know what's gonna happen, but I need you to take care of her if anything happens. And I can remember watching them talk, going, you know, not really understanding what they were saying, but just thinking like something was gonna happen. So, I went to school the next day and for the first time, she showed emotion to me right before I left and she said, I love you, I am really proud of you and you are going to do great things in this world and I'm sorry that all of this has happened. And I can remember thinking, yeah, yeah, whatever, you don't care. I left the house. Well, when I got home from school that day, they weren't there and there were five suicide letters and they both had disappeared. By the time I had a social worker so, I called my sibling, I called the social worker and I told them what had gone on, then, as you can imagine, I was pulled out of the home and my life just continued to snowball and unravel with every waking hour, it was about two weeks later where they were found they had shot themselves and you know, someone aside along the road had found them in their car and that became the moment in which my life just took a really big shift. I can remember the depths of the grief that I was in, the guilt and the shame that I had felt for saying anything, the guilt I had, feeling like I was the one that essentially pulled the trigger that killed them. And you know, I was put into therapy, I was put into weekly sessions and I can remember a year of that as I started high school, I started these sessions, I can remember about a year of that, and I was like, I just cannot, I cannot talk about this anymore. I was so distraught, so deep in that well of grief and despair that I could not see out of it. Every day I woke up and I was in pain. Every day I woke up and thought, I just wanna see my mom. Even though my experience at home was horrible, that was what I knew, that is what what I grew up with. And ultimately as a child, we all want our parents or our parents to be there to take care of us. And at 15, that's all I wanted was just my mom, I just wanted to see her again, I just wanted to apologize.
So, at a certain point, my thoughts started to shift too. I can't be here anymore on this earth. I've got to find a way out. I've got to just find a way to see my mom again. So, one day during school, I decided I'm gonna take a bottle of sleeping pills. I will be the easiest, you know, that will be the safest, the way that I feel like I could handle leaving this earth.
So, I left school during the middle of the day, a free period, and I walked to the grocery store and I remember buying this bottle thinking, does this cashier know what's gonna happen? Like, does she have any inkling that I'm going to swallow all of these. You know, I can just remember having this experience of like, I wonder if she knows. I left the store, opened the bottle, and every step that I took on my way back to the high school, I swallowed a pill. And I don't remember getting back to the school, but I remember the moments before I woke up and I can remember being in this beautiful, bright, warm space, it was like this bright golden light. And I'm not kidding, it just felt like the warmest hug, felt like what home, what a safe, comforting, loving home would feel like and it just was like this, in this wrapping of love. And I can remember thinking, Oh my God, I'm here, I'm gonna get to see my mom, I was so excited. And as I kind of just took in this experience, I can remember a pressure on my chest and being pushed back and he only hearing the words, it's not time. And I woke up and it was the end of the school day. And the bells ringing, the kids are rushing down the stairs and I'm looking around so confused, like, wait a minute. I was just there where I wanted to be, and I'm here where I don't want to be, and I was so angry, but I was also having reactions, like I was dizzy and I couldn't really see very well, and I was, you know, didn't have great balance, but I made it to my friend's car. She drove me home and then I started to hallucinate and see things and I knew I needed to just call 911. So, I called 911, they admitted me to the emergency room, I was in ICU for a few days as they kind of monitored my body to detox what I had taken. And then I was admitted to a mental hospital for a period of time, about six weeks where I was diagnosed with PTSD and I was put on some medication and I was put on a very strict regimen of trying to recover and heal from this really deep level of guilt and fear and shame that I was swimming in. And you know, I made it through as I graduated high school, I kind of graduated from therapy and medication, and I worked really hard over those four years to get to a place where I could have some separation from that experience and have some level of awareness and have healed some level of pain and wounding around me being guilty for what it unfolded.
So, I graduated high school and I thought, Okay, I don't feel guilty anymore. I understand that was their decision. And you know, I was a child. I moved on with my life and as the years went on, every decade almost, it seemed like something new came up. You know, we don't heal immediately, we don't, I didn't heal everything that had happened to me in my childhood in those four years. I healed enough so that I could start to live my life and enjoy my life but we heal in layers. And as I got into my twenties, I started to have flashbacks to the abuse. And at that point in my life, I was someone who was a perfectionist. I was so controlling of my experience and wanted to create this outward like, an outward vision of everything's perfect. My house is perfect, got my perfect car, you know, I've got a marriage, I've got kids, you got the perfect outfit, you know, all the things. But really that was just a way for me to cope with not feeling perfect on the inside, having some level of disconnection on the inside that was starting to eat at me. And as I started to have flashbacks to the abuse, I started to get really deep back into the despair. So, I was back on medication, back in therapy and that healed to some degree. Then I started to have chronic health issues. I started to have thyroid disease and I was diagnosed with diabetes and all of a sudden, it felt like everything was like crumbling on the outside. You know, I was really stressed. I couldn't handle my job. I couldn't handle having two small kids. I couldn't handle my diet ‘cuz I was had to change it because of this diabetes. And all of a sudden, my diabetes starts to get out of control and I'm waking up in the middle of the night with such lows that I can barely get downstairs to eat some food to bring it up. And there was one moment where I started to realize I could actually, this is serious like, what happens if I pass out? I can't get down the stairs to get the food, and I'm home alone with my kids. Like I don't want to die. I don't want to lead my kids like my mom left me, that's not the story I want to have for my children. I know I'm meant to do more with my life. And so, one night sitting on the kitchen floor trying to reach that food, I decided I can't do this anymore. I've got to find a way to take control of this in an experience that I've never done before. And as the days went on, I started to find resources and opportunities to change my diet to, I started to eat paleo, I started to shift how I took care of myself, and all of a sudden, my diabetes started to get better and I had energy and I had vitality, and it was like, why didn't my doctors tell me about this? Like within 21 days I was feeling so much better. And so, that really became the precipice for me starting to research and go to school to become a nutritional therapy practitioner because I was so passionate about spreading the word that we have more power, we have more control over our experience than we think we actually do. And so, I went to that school, got educated, got the information, started a business, started working with people who had chronic health issues. And it was great, I was helping people recover from lupus. I was helping people recover from multiple sclerosis or improve their multiple sclerosis. I was helping people, you know, recover from autoimmune disease. And as I was doing that, the next decade of healing started to show up for me, and I've never been someone who holds anger. I've been someone who has always kind of swallowed their feelings, hid from them, and so outwardly I would present with kindness and compassion and understanding even if I should have been feeling angry or sad or mad. But in my thirties and my late thirties, I started to hold an immense amount of anger, it was like fire. I could feel this like tension in my body and it would come out towards my children, especially my youngest daughter. And she would have these outbursts, these tantrums like children do. And I couldn't hold her emotion because I couldn't hold mine. So, I would yell at her, I would scream at her, and then all of a sudden, I'd see her face and she'd be so afraid and so shocked. And there was a moment when I had another awakening of like, I don't wanna be that parent, I don't want to instill fear in my child in that way or at all. I want to be able to be a different parent than what I ever experienced. And so, that became the next layer of healing for me. And I had been in therapy off and on for decades, but I knew that I needed something different at that point because after decades of therapy, why wasn't it just gone? There was something left, and so I sought out something called Somatic experiencing Therapy, which was body based, and it helped me to understand and was still holding all of that trauma in my tissue, in my body. And I was still holding parts of me, younger parts of me that were still in my system that needed to be healed and I spent a couple of years really deep diving into healing those and at became when I decided to become a somatic experiencing practitioner myself, because I saw the power of how quickly we can recover our life and our experiences by healing at the body level.
And so, I went through education and certification to be trained in that. And so, today in my business, I work with people when I'm not speaking, I work with people, help guide them through healing the trauma at the body level, while also integrating functional nutrition practices that can help open up the body for the healing because it's a multilayer process. Our health often is influenced by our emotional state. Our emotional state can influence our health, and so I love the integration of those two when I work with people.
Michael: Thank you for going in and sharing your story of that capacity. You know, one of the things after having done this show for so long is sometimes, I get to sit here and bear witness to people's journey. And a part of that is really, really fascinating because I feel this immense sense of connection in general with people, but at depths with people when I sit across and have a conversation like this. And as I was sitting here at parts getting emotional thinking to myself, yeah, I resonate personally with so much of this. You said something that is still sticking with me and that, your stepfather was the closest thing to the devil, and that's how I felt about mine. I mean, the most dangerous place on planet Earth for me was in my house when he was home. Right. Going through and dealing with my mother being a drug addict and alcoholic who eventually overdosed, you know, in some city in the middle of nowhere, Indiana legless, after battling this thing and watching these events unfold in front of me, time and time again, falling into this false sensitivity of perfectionism and stepping into a healing journey, eventually becoming, you know, a certified nutritionist and coach and just going through this whole thing, I'm like, we're literally like cut through the same cloth. And I think to myself, you know, that fucking sucks. But I'm also really, I'm also really glad that we're here to have this kind of conversation. You know, to sit in here and to have that space, it's a reminder for me of a couple of things. One, why I created this show and the baseline for it was really giving people a space to understand that they're not alone because for the vast majority of my childhood, my teens, my twenties, I felt incredibly alone. And it wasn't until I got deeper and deeper and deeper into the work that I started to have a semblance of community and connection. And you know, I wrote about this in the book, in my first book, but I have not shared it quite often on this show, but when I was 14, I downed a whole bottle of Advil being like, I'm done. I want to escape this and come to find out, really the only thing that happens if you do that, you're gonna throw up all of yourself and wake up feeling like fucking half dead. And thinking about how desperately children in those scenarios want to escape. And one of the things that've always felt held very true was not passing judgment when people take their lives because to me, it makes sense, it's unfortunate and it's fucking heartbreaking but I get it. And I think holding space for people to share their truth without judging them or throwing them under the bus, or, you know, even going through your story, interrupting them when they're having this experience is incredibly important. There's a lot of parallels in our journey, both being speakers, both helping people transform and hear their life after trauma obviously, it being us doing that for ourselves first, which I think is, should be the predicating factor in anything that comes along in this kind of space, that's a conversation for another day. But you know one of the things that became most profound for man, I'm not sure why I would imagine you are, and so I'll just say it. You know, I was on YouTube about, I wanna say seven years ago. And so, I'd been doing some work, I'd had been in some therapy, I was stepping into some other avenues of healing, including yoga and meditation, all that traditional stuff. And I came across this guy called Dr. Felitti and the ACE Survey and the Adverse Childhood Experiences Survey. And for the first time in my life, I was like, Oh, this makes sense now because I had correlation, I had causation, I had rhyme and reason I was able to look at it and go, well, this is why I smoked two packs a day and drink myself to sleep, and I'm 350 pounds and I'm stoned from the moment I wake up to while I go to bed. And so, from that, that led into Bessel van der Kolk and Pete Walker's work and Gabor Maté’s work, and Dr. Caroline Leaf’s work and Anna Lembke work and Huberman's work and the list goes on and on and on and on. And I think that the place where I would like to go next into the depth of this conversation, ‘cuz obviously you've done a tremendous amount of healing. People cannot sit and have a conversation like this had they not, period. I know that from working for thousands of people, right, having these conversations with hundreds and hundreds of people. Right. What was one of the catalysts in this, was it finding the research? Was it like the body keeps the score? Like where did the practicality of the journey start to come into play?
Mandy: Yeah, absolutely. I think first and foremost for me it was starting that 21-day health journey when I started to have really lots of challenges managing my diabetes and that led me to the work of a functional nutritionist in the UK, Nikki Braddocks is her name. And she runs a facility out there that does a lot of this similar work, working with people who've had childhood experiences and who also present with autoimmune conditions and whatnot. And I attended a free webinar of hers and I can remember she also brought up this ACEs study and started to essentially like tell my life's story without even knowing me. You know, she's talking about how early childhood trauma can have an effect on your behavior, on your beliefs, on your biochemistry. And it was like, for me, I'm like, Check, check, check. Oh my gosh. I have been living and operating through my trauma. And even though I've been in therapy and whatnot, it was this understanding of the connection between trauma and chronic health issues that really started me down the path of also going to some of those influencers and those authors that you were just listing as well. But I didn't read the book right away really it was the research and the information from that webinar from Nikki Braddock’s in the UK who really started to open my eyes to the fact that my chronic health issues and my perfectionism and my workaholism and all of these things really were symptoms of an issue from the past that I was still not really addressing.
Michael: Yeah. And that held true for me as well because I sat and I looked at it and same as you actually, I didn't read the book for probably a couple of years after discovering it. I just wasn't ready honestly. I remember I opened it, I read the first like three pages. I was like, Nope, not yet. And that was just the response I had of wanting to step into some deeper things, but you know, there's so much evidence now about how the body truly does keep the score. How we keep those things innately in us, how they lead to these long-term detrimental health ramifications, early onset, heart attacks, dementia, diabetes, asthma, lung disease, PTSD is a part of the things that push you kind of into that. And so, one of the things I have discovered is that, you know, the body has this innate ability to course correct and to heal. And I think, I won't run with that, but I'll let you instead be the one to step into that. How do we do that? How do we give our body what it needs to actually be able to heal?
Mandy: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, I think it starts by understanding how this unfolds to begin with. You know, when we experience a stressor like that in early childhood, it could be an emotional stressor, you know, emotional wound, it could be a physical wound. If we experience any type of trauma or stressor that is intense like that during childhood, generally our body has an innate process that goes through activating our adrenals that releases our stress hormones, and it's meant to get our body ready for that fight or flight response which is a natural response in our body we need that. But what happens when we're a child and we've experienced that trauma in childhood and we don't have the opportunity to fight it, which helps us kind of work through and process that energy, or we don't have the ability to flee or run away from the situation. Those impulses cannot just switch off. So, what happens is that trauma gets frozen in our body and in our psyche, and then that stress changes our biology so that we essentially it takes less for us to get stressed, so our threshold to stimulate a stress response change, we just get stressed more easily now that this biology shift has occurred.
So, what happens is as we grow up, we're still operating in this kind of chronic low grade stress response, and we might have things in our adult life or our teenage lives that kind of activate that even more, and all of a sudden that threshold gets higher and higher, and now we are just chronically stressed all the time. We might be trying to recover from that through workaholism or alcoholism or perfectionism. We might be trying to cope with that in unhealthy ways, and it might show up then over time as these chronic health issues. So, I think understanding first and foremost, the underlying area there is that we've been operating in this stress state. Our body's kind of been pushed to a point where it's just chronically running and stress over here. So, to overcome that, to start to heal from that, it starts as a multi-layer process in my opinion first and foremost, it starts with understanding kind of where you're operating in your nervous system. We have the sympathetic nervous system, which is that fight or flight response. We have the parasympathetic nervous system, which is our rest in our digest state. But from stress and from trauma, we can get stuck in either one of those and we can either operate in a pattern of low Chronic fatigue, no motivation to want to do anything that might be where your kind of stuck in that parasympathetic state, or you could be stuck in the sympathetic where you're like, go, go, go, go, you know, constantly doing this. I've got a gazillion things going on. I just can't stop. I'm drinking the energy drinks. I'm smoking, I'm doing all the things, and I'm just like on hyper tribe. Okay. Neither of those is a good state to be in, we want some balance between the two.
So, one, first understanding, where are you operating from? What state are you in? Can start to give you awareness around what does your healing path start to look like? Two, from a nutritional standpoint perspective, from a functional nutrition standpoint, when we operate in that chronic stress, oftentimes that starts to affect our digestive system in many different ways. One of those being in the stomach so a lot of the people I work with experience low stomach acid because of the chronic stress state that they've been in. So, we have a level of stomach acid that's helps to digest our food, but when we are chronically stressed, it depletes that stomach acid. So, when we eat, all of a sudden, we start to have acid reflux or we start to get bloated and we start to feel discomfort because we are so stressed. So, oftentimes I will recommend, especially someone who's have had severe, chronic or severe childhood trauma, is to incorporate some type of hydrochloric acid, which is a supplement you can get that has, can help to replace the stomach acid in your stomach and start to help you digest your food properly. When we are not digesting our food, we're not getting those nutrients that can help us create the neurotransmitters things like serotonin that can help us pull out of some of the emotional states that we experience when we're healing from chronic childhood trauma. Other things I would add in there from a nutritional standpoint is slowing down. So, I don't know how many of you or if you've ever experienced this, I know I used to do this all the time, but when we eat stressed, when we are eating on the go, when our system is stressed, our digestive system is turned off, and that's really a biology that has followed us from, you know, the beginning of time when we were hunting for food and we needed to run and chase that bear, or we were being chased by a bear when we were in a stressed state, our energy resources all go away from our digestion cause we wouldn't be eating. And it goes to places in our body that helps us run or fight our heart, our lungs, our limbs, our blood pressure, our blood flow changes. So, when we're eating in a stressed state, we're actually eating at in a place that's counterintuitive for our body to digest that food. So, especially for people who've had childhood trauma, we might find ourselves eating really quickly or, you know, feeling anxious just automatically so at any time you're eating I always recommend slowing down, taking a few deep breaths, getting into the present moment, kind of looking around at your plate of food, looking around at the, perhaps the people that are with you or the room that you're in, and really slow down that process while you're eating, that starts to help your body get into a state of, Oh, okay, it's time to digest food. We don't need to be stressed in this moment.
Oftentimes people who have experienced childhood trauma also experienced chronic digestive issues, things like leaky gut or SIBO or bacterial infections, all of which I have had and experienced. And I would say you would know by if you are having food allergies or sensitivities or you're noticing, you just can't eat the same way anymore ‘cuz you get a reaction to it or you're constantly bloated, nothing feels good, or you don't have an appetite in the morning where you don't have an appetite at certain parts of the day, maybe your bowel movements are, you know, either really running or hard to come. And so, I would say if you're in a state like that, really seeking professional help to get you the right protocol that can balance your entire system. I could talk through it, but I think everybody's a little unique and different and there isn't one protocol that fits everyone's needs. And so, I would say seeking out support from a functional nutritionist or a health practitioner that can help give you some of the complete support in that area will be really helpful for healing from your past. And that's because when we've got all that inflammation in our body, we don't have the energetic space or the physical space in our body to hold the energy of those emotions that we would experience as we heal. And so, if we want to do that deeper healing, if we want to finally get to a place of peace and calm and joy, we have to also support the body. And sometimes that's done by just simple things like adding in that hydrochloric acid, slowing down, maybe even making sure you're eating the rainbow of wide range of vegetables, fruits, but sometimes also it requires a deeper level of support that can help you heal some of those more chronic things.
Michael: Yeah, I'm glad you brought meaning to that. And you know, there is space. I mean, we were built with this nervous system to be able to effectively exist in both spectrums. And I think if you get caught in one versus the other, that's a really important thing to just kind of make some meaning of it, think about like, what is going on? Why am I operating like this? Because ultimately, I think you need massive levels of stress in your life, but you also need massive levels of calm in your life because that helps you be resilient and it also helps you kind of exist in the world and that's just a part of the nature of being a human being. And to your point, especially around gut health and in this country, particularly if you are in the United States, this is an international show and I noticed that things are shifting and we're seeing, this happening, more and more people consuming fast food. You're seeing obesity rates rise in places where they've never had obesity before. You know, the processing of food and the way that we eat, how we consuming television while we're consuming food the whole nine, like bringing a lot of meaning to that. I think it's really, really important, especially because you wanna be in that rest and digest space to be able to actually do that. And I think people like miss the boat on that so often and to your point about gut health issues, cibo, things like that, I'm in the boat with you had all those same things. I had to go the extreme route on it and do that, no mental diet along with the FMT and some other things. But I'll tell you this, you have got to be the arbiter of your own health and you've got to be willing to step in to taking care of yourself. But here's what's interesting, I think we might go a little bit long here, so I want to, ‘cuz there's a couple questions I think are important to ask. One of the things that I experienced, and I'd be curious if this was for you as well. Growing up in the amount of violence that I did made me not want to take care of my body, made me fearful of doctors, of dentists, of blood work, of all the things. I mean, I have medical trauma that started when my mother cut my finger off. And so, from that, what I had to do was be able to get to this place where I recognized actually, by not taking care of yourself, you're reinforcing the same behaviors that they forced upon you. And this was me, I was so fucking stuck in that space that one day I was like, I was talking to my little brother and he said something. He was like, Dude, if I'm sick, I take care of myself because why wouldn't I? And I was like, Oh my God, that's so profound, but so simple. And so, I'm curious about not only in your personal journey, if that's something that you battled and struggled with but for those who probably battled and struggled with that as well, what kind of tools can you give them to be able to step into taking care of their physical bodies?
Mandy: Yeah, for sure, absolutely. I experienced that too. You know, for me it was perfectionism was really the one driving the train, meaning I wanted to please outwardly so that I could get that love because I didn't get that love in my home unless I did the things I was supposed to do or I was asked to do and so that just became the pattern that I operated in. So, when it came to my health for me, as I started to have more tension in my body and I started to have more outwardly stress, I tried to control my experience inwardly, meaning I restricted my diet and I looked out culturally like, what does a healthy woman? What is a healthy woman supposed to be like? She's thin, you know, she's got the long hair. She's, you know, got the gap between her legs, or, you know, whatever culturally those messages were. I started to take those on and be like, Okay, I'm gonna restrict my diet, you know, I would only eat maybe 1200 calorie a day that and 1500 if I worked out, and I would be the one doing the aerobics all the time. You know, working myself out so that I could eat the food and then at some point it got really unhealthy where I was like, I can't have this or I can't eat this. And all of a sudden, my life revolved around what food I could eat and what food I couldn't eat. And it just, the control started getting deeper and deeper and deeper and eventually I was getting sicker and sicker and sicker because my body had no nutrients. You know, I was eating like cottage cheese and like, no vegetables, and it was a very restricted diet. And I look back now and I'm like, Oh my gosh like I was like literally starving myself, not giving myself the right things. And for me, it was going through that paleo journey and changing my diet where I started to understand like, actually I could eat food, I can eat a whole range of food and I can still be healthy and I can still have, you know, muscles and I can be stronger than I ever was. You know, this beautiful, healthy body and it doesn't have to look like what's out in the magazines or what you know, cosmo is telling you as a healthy woman, and that for me started to become the shift ‘cause I had to shift this mentality of like, I don't need to please anyone else. Like I can be me and me looks like this and me is healthy when I eat these things. And so, the people that I've worked with when it has come to shifting those patterns has really come down to one, understanding their past and how did their experience in their past shift how they nourished themselves? Meaning how did they nourish themselves through relation, though relationships? How did they nourish themselves through food? What role does food play in their life today?
So, when they're happy and healthy, great, they're eating, they're enjoying the food or whatever. But what happens when you're angry or you're sad or you're depressed? How does food play into that? And oftentimes I see people who have emotional eating patterns or they're binging and purging patterns and they're using food as a way of comfort. And so, we work in understanding one, how does food play in your life? What role does it have? No judgment because food is a part of everyone's life and it shows up, we use it differently in different times in our lives, so no judgment, but it's like, how can we shift this relationship to food? And so, when I work with people, we look at that relationship and we start to implement healthier ways to handle. So, if I'm using food as a coping mechanism for my emotions, I'm going to walk them through my love methodology to help them understand how to process those emotions without needing the food as a part of that experience that might also be looking at any time you're sitting down to eat food, you know, you're thinking it, you are having a different relationship with it rather than, Oh my gosh, I'm so stressed it’s while this food is starting to nourish me and I can take control of my health and by eating this food, I'm going to have energy to do the things that I really wanna do.
So, for me, it's tying in those what is it that I really want to do with my life, and what is the role food has today in my life? And starting to slowly shift those patterns with one, starting to connect with your emotion. And learning how to process that emotion without the use of the food. And two really getting into the state of visualizing what you want to, how you wanna operate in your life, what would ideally you be doing, and really using that vision, that experience every time you start to eat something healthy and shifting your mindset around them.
Michael: Yeah. And it's so true, and I can't cite the paper and so I won't give the exact stat, but I recently came across a research study that showed a correlation between childhood trauma and malnutrition, which is like, to me, like, yeah, no shit and then you think about that and how that plays a role in your life as a child, as a teen, as an adult. And I think especially around food, it's either, and I've experienced this in my own life, the real deep end of the, just the gorging yourself and going through the chaos of that. And then the other side of it, of starvation, and then what you come to realize is actually, you know, and I think this goes about saying like, food is medicine like it really can heal you, it can help you but you have to fix the emotional relationship with it. And this was one of the things that I really understood after I became a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, I was like, Oh wait, so I can actually have the foods that I really like when I wanna have them, as long as I'm doing it from the right emotional state. And I think it was a parlay of like a – learning the nutrition and then b – like getting a lot deeper into a lot of the research and psychology of all this. And I realized like one of my favorite foods ever is gummy bears, right? No questions asked. But when I was a kid, gummy bears were actually a survival food for me ‘cuz I would go to the store, I would steal them ‘cuz I was fucking 10 years old and didn't have money, I would eat a whole package, like the whole box and I would lay on the ground in tremendous pain. And then as an adult, what it was like every time I was emotionally triggered, every time that I felt bad about myself, every time I didn't follow through, every time somebody pissed me off, every time I was angry, it was like, go to the gummy bears, Go to the gummy bears, Go to the gummy bear. And then now, like I can literally count on, eh, it might be two hands now, the number of times that I've eaten gummy bears in total in the course of probably the last six years. And so much of it was just realizing like why do I actually want them? Is pain or is it pleasure? And my hope is that people will start to understand the truth that they can enjoy the pleasure and not have to torture themselves with something. Especially like food, cuz it's, guess what? It's ever all the time. You can't escape it. It's the one thing like for sure, like water and oxygen you're gonna have in your life, whether you like it or not. So, spending some time and stepping into the vulnerability of the conversation with yourself and with a professional especially about that relationship is profound and I'm bringing attention to this and I love that we're in this arena around trauma because especially, and I know that there are a lot of men listening to this show, half the audience, you know, that's one of the things men do not talk about. There is no questions asked that I had an eating disorder in my twenties ‘cuz guess what? You don't fucking get to 350 pounds by accident. And by acknowledging that, making meaning of it, not judging it, learning about it, understanding it, healing it. Now it's like, okay wait. I can have that healthy relationship with food, I can talk about it, I can share the experience and I can understand, well, of course I had a bad relationship with food, it started with trauma, causation and correlation is everything here. And I think that's one of the things that, you know, through our mutual journeys, both having stepped through devastating territory I won't put words in your mouth, but I'll say this about myself. I'm not particularly special, I'm not particularly a guy who is a genius, I'm not particularly anything other than a human being that just became very, very clear about the want to heal this. And that created massive change for me. And so, I'm curious before we start to trail off here for folks, listen, where's the starting point? Where's the jump off? ‘Cuz I know there are people listening, they're suffering, they're hurting maybe they're where you or I have been and they hear as and they go, Well those guys are special, they figured it out. I'm not, I promise you, I'm just a guy who was really fucking determined. And so, I'm curious from your perspective, like what's the jump off point here?
Mandy: Yeah, I agree with you. I'm not special either. I grew up, I can remember being a child thinking there has to be more to life than this suffering. Like, you know, it started when I was very young just this knowing and this curiosity of like, what is beyond suffering like life just can't be suffering all the time, there has to be more to this. And that really became the determination for me to seek out and to keep pushing even when things were hard and horrible and devastating. And in the depths of the grief or the anger or the pain that really was always that shining light for me of like, there has to be more to this, I'm going to keep going, so that I can figure out what's on the other side of this. And so, I would say healing is an opportunity and is possible and available for everyone. I think it starts with, taking an assessment and looking at where in your life, you know, like, just like we were talking about with food, how do you use food for processing or managing emotions? Like how are you operating in your life today? What does that look like? What are the emotions you're constantly feeling? What are the physical manifestations of those emotions that you are feeling get, take stock, you know, without judgment, without comparison. You know, everyone's healing journey is different.
And so, I wouldn't want you to compare your healing journey with mine or with anyone else's but I think it always starts with just this awareness of like, Oh my gosh, I'm operating in this way. And you know, for me, when I was yelling at my kids all the time, it became an aha moment of like, Oh my gosh, that's not how I want to operate in my life.
That's not the kind of mother I want to be, that's not what I wanna teach my children, is an okay response. So, for me, that awareness started to unlock this determination and this deep this kind of motivation for me, which was I want to be a better person for myself, for my kids, for my grandkids, you know, as the generations go on. And so, I think awareness really is that first step to unlocking what is it you really want? What are your values? And where are they aligned and perhaps where they're not. And that can start you on the path of seeking the right type of support, um, or reaching out for those right types of resources to guide you on that healing.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely and it's possible. And I hope if anything, I want people to just realize like we are living testaments of that. And so, our hundreds of thousands of millions of people and because you're in a dark place and because today fucking sucks and because bad shit happened to you does not mean you cannot have the life that you want to have. But the hard truth about it, and this is the probably most devastating reality fucking baseball bat to my face was, there ain't no Disney moments, nobody coming to save you, you've gotta take, you've gotta pick up your sword and go to war at this because if you don't, tomorrow will be the same as today and ultimately that's gonna lead to a life unlived. Mandy, my friend, this conversation's been incredible before I ask you my last question, please tell everyone where they can find you.
Mandy: Thank you. Yes, I've enjoyed it so much. You can find me on Instagram I'm @mandylharvey, on Facebook I'm Mandy Harvey and you can also find me on my website, which is www.mandylharvey.com
Michael: Brilliant. And of course, we'll put the links in the show notes for the Unbroken Nation. My last question for you, my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?
Mandy: Yeah, so I think we are all born as these beautiful lights of the universe so that we have these beautiful souls and we are all unique and have very special gifts. And for me to be unbroken is to align to that knowing, to align to that, knowing that we are all unique, that we all have the ability to show up and use our past experiences to not only heal ourselves, but heal others in whatever ways and gifts we have to do that. And so, for me to be unbroken is to align to that knowing and to align to that truth and to keep following that.
Michael: Beautifully said, my friend. Thank you so much for being. Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for listening.
Please like, subscribe, comment, share.
Tell a friend.
And Until Next Time.
My friends, Be Unbroken.
I'll see ya.
Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.
Inspirational Speaker & Trauma Healing Guide
Mandy Harvey is a leader in the field of trauma healing who specializes as a healing guide for highly sensitive, overachieving coaches and is the creator of the LOVE Methodology - the soothing way to heal from any trauma.
Mandy is on a mission to guide purpose driven women and men to live a life free from unresolved trauma, stress & chronic health issues and leads them through a 4 step process to reprogram their relationship with themselves, their bodies and their healing.
The trauma healing process Mandy shares, helps leaders go from overwhelm and stress to being able to show up more powerfully for themselves, their clients and communities so they can truly make the impact they desire.
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