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Don’t give up on therapy just because of healthy feelings

February 8, 2009
By MATTHEW GOODEMOTE For The Leader-Herald

I would like to thank everyone who told me how much they enjoyed my last article I would especially like to thank all those kind souls who asked me to play poker with them.

I had no idea so many people had games going I have to warn you all I do, in fact, know is that a full house beats three of a kind.

Over the last few weeks I have been sitting with a situation that was confusing me but this morning it dawned on me what is really going on.

I have a patient who came to me a week or so ago to thank me for how good he was feeling. In fact what he said to me was, "I haven't felt this good in over 15 years. I have tried all kinds of things in the past but nothing has helped me like at the Wellness Center."

Then he said something that left me speechless and for those who know me, being speechless is not a common occurrence. He said, "Today is my last day."

This person stopped therapy even though he felt it was helping and even though he "hadn't felt so good in years."

It wasn't because of time constraints or financial reasons. In fact no real reason was given.

As I thought about how often I have heard this type of comment, I realized it is a relatively common occurrence. The situation may not be exactly the same, but the sentiment certainly is, for example:

Have you ever eaten a really healthy meal or snack and felt energetic only to find yourself later eating beyond fullness so that you were so stuffed you struggled to breathe?

Have you ever said how great you feel after getting a good night's sleep only to burn the midnight oil almost immediately?

Have you ever started a new exercise program and were feeling good only to stop a few weeks later with a multitude of excuses as to why?

Have you taken the time to talk to a friend, go for a walk or play with your kids and felt wonderful about it only to skip these things and watch TV instead?

Have you listened to your body when it asked you to stop and felt the relief, only to push through your pain when your body screamed to stop and felt worse pain as a result?

I now see what is really going on in these situations.

A few months ago I was in my treatment room talking to a person at this point in her life. She knew she needed to change her direction, but she seemed to make the same poor choices again and again.

The more upset she got at repeating the same mistakes the worse her decisions became. Finally, she asked for and received help.

This is what I said to help explain to her what was happening:

"It's like your life is lived in this treatment room. Right now the lights are out so everything is dark and even a bit scary. It's hard to figure out what to do and where to go.

You know in your heart that there is a door that will take you out of the dark but you're not sure where it is.

So you start off looking for the door. You stumble around for a while and eventually run headfirst into a wall.

You decide that if you try real hard you will make it through this obstacle in your life. You plan and prepare yourself the best you can and then you back up and run head first into the wall.

Time and time again you do this. You review the process and plan a slightly different approach. Instead of running you will hop twice then run. Bam.

The more you do and the harder you try the more frustrated you get. This maddens you so you try harder and harder until you get tired of the headaches and decide maybe you need to look for the door again.

So you change your directions and run into a different wall. Now you are sure you can make it through this wall so you repeat the same series of running head first again and again getting more and more frustrated and a worse and worse headache. But this time you realize it a little sooner.

So you step back and try a different direction. This time you hit a wall and remember that past events have proven themselves less than effective. You acquire "wisdom" and instead of banging your head against the wall you stop and look for the door. This is the equivalent of finding your peace.

Then you notice that there is a small light coming from under the door. You were so determined to get where you were going that you forgot to find your peace first. Now that you found your peace the light calls to you and you simply walk up to the door and open it.

Here's where your life changes. You can either walk through or you can turn around and wander in the dark some more. Eventually you will find the door again and have the opportunity to walk through again. Some people need to take a few trips in the dark to really understand that it isn't worth the headaches.

There are no mistakes and nothing to get upset about. In fact we should be grateful that the door never moves and is always available to walk through.

Fortunately, this doorway is available for us physically, mentally/psychologically and spiritually."

If you want to be well it is available to you. If you can't seem to find the light then ask for help. People are available to help guide you if you need them. This is the part where it is appropriate to receive.

We think that we should give, which is partially true. We should give when we, ourselves, are no longer lost. When you are stressed or in pain all the time it is difficult for you to really be helpfulit's like you're giving directions of how to get around Gloversville and your map is from Denmark. It is the wrong language and the wrong direction. Your help is not so helpful.

It is OK to give what you are ablewhich may be limited to someone who just listens to a loved one. My point is trying to do things for others when you are struggling yourself makes the situation more stressful. These stressful situations, as we all know, interfere with our decision-making abilities.

Receive the help.

Get your feet under you and then you can help guide others out of the darkness. You can open doors for others, but they have to have it within themselves to walk through.

Ultimately no one can do it for you, you must do it yourself, but it is certainly OK to hold someone's hand while they walk the walk.

The key is to find peace first. So, whether you are starting a new weight loss program or trying to recover from an injury or illness, the key to lasting results is finding peace first.

The more peaceful you are inside the more likely you will make wise choices. These wise choices will in turn result in achieving Wellness.

It is never too late to start the program. Peace always is available to you. Finding it may take some assistance in the beginning, but once you learn how to find it, you won't need help again. Practicing peace will be your priority and your actions will demonstrate this fact.

Even if you have tried a thousand times to get well, the opportunity is still available. My staff and I are constantly learning so we can offer the best programs available. I know a lot of doctors, chiropractors and other therapists who do the same. So even if you have struggled in the past it does not mean you will this time.

In the past you may have made decisions from a stressed point of view. Or maybe you were led to the open door but you decided you weren't ready to walk through. Now is the time to walk through. If you are nervous let someone hold your hand and go with you. Start fresh. Find your peace and trust that you can be well again. If may take some time, but when you are feeling better, stick with it.

Matthew Goodemote, a Gloversville native, owns Community Physical Therapy & Wellness. His Health & Wellness column will answer your questions and discuss topics that are relevant to your everyday way of life. If you would like to ask a question, e-mail Matthew at



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