• Cait Donovan

Elizabeth Collins: The Burnout Witch Talks Leaky Gut, Tarot, and Optimal Blood Work


“Just keep going, it will change.” This is Elizabeth Collins’s burnout story, simplified into six words. The Cait-proclaimed Burnout Witch, Elizabeth now specializes in helping others recover from burnout. However, she was only able to truly thrive in this role after confronting her own feelings of not-enough-ness and developing the boundaries and coping skills she needed to regain a sense of balance in both body and brain.


Elizabeth is the owner and director of The East West Company, an integrative wellness practice specializing in burnout recovery coaching, functional medicine, acupuncture and more. Elizabeth explains that functional medicine is a crossover between biomedicine and Eastern medicine; it uses a wide range of testing to identify and address the root cause of a presenting issue. Because the incredible breadth of functional medicine testing can seem overwhelming to someone who is burnt out, Elizabeth suggests starting simple with a blood panel and a stool test. This approach helps individuals correct any initial imbalances, which sets them on a more manageable path towards burnout recovery.


Tune into this week’s episode of FRIED. The Burnout Podcast to hear more about the intersections between functional medicine and burnout. Learn about the ins and outs of leaky gut, why Elizabeth uses tarot cards to broaden her clients’ perspectives, and why feelings of gratitude and frustration can and should co-exist.


Quotes

  • “I had ‘Big T’ trauma, so that very much set me up for a lifetime of perfectionism, a lifetime of not really understanding that I am worthy of love simply because I exist.” (04:00-04:10)

  • “My burnout story was: ‘just keep going, it will change.’” (07:26-07:32)

  • “That happens to people who are chronic people pleasers, who are prone to burnout….It’s very easy for you to set aside what you like because you’re more concerned about what needs to happen now, and it’s like, but what you like is what needs to happen now!” (10:49-11:05)

  • “[Functional medicine] is kind of like if biomedicine and Eastern medicine had a baby.” (15:14-15:17)

  • “When we’re in burnout, it’s very difficult to see anything other than what we’re focusing on, which is usually panic, stress and anxiety. And the benefit when I started reading my own tarot cards again was...oh, this card popped up and it means this. How does that relate to my current situation? What is it about this card that can give me the opportunity to stop focusing on the minutia and look at the bigger picture?” (31:28-31:55)

  • “Being able to address different aspects of your personality and speak to them directly like they’re individuals gives a sense of agency to the experience, and it really gives people the opportunity to fully integrate those personalities.” (36:28-36:42)

  • “We are complicated enough individuals that we can feel very bad about something that we’re going through and still be very grateful for the good things that it gives us or the other good things in our life….They’re not mutually exclusive, and the idea that we have to inhabit one thing at any given time is unsustainable and unfair and will absolutely perpetuate burnout.” (38:00-38:28)

  • “If you have symptoms or you are living a life that is in your experience suboptimal, but in the greater perspective not catastrophic....you are not crazy, and there is help.” (49:10-49:35)


Links

https://insighttimer.com/

www.theeastwestco.com

www.instagram.com/theeastwestco

www.instagram.com/thevintagemystic


XOXO,

C


If you know that it’s time to actually DO something about the burnout cycle you’ve been in for too long - book your free consult today: bit.ly/callcait


Podcast production and show notes provided by HiveCast.fm



TRANSCRIPT


Caitlin Donovan

Hello, FRIED fans and welcome to season four of FRIED the burnout podcast. I'm your host Cait Donovan and my mission with FRIED is to hashtag and burn out culture. On this pod, we end burnout culture by sharing stories of people who have been through it all sharing expert tips from the best in the burnout field, sharing hashtags straight from key episodes with my own expertise and some fun research now that I'm a student again, plus sharing actionable steps to help you end burnout starting today. If you're feeling burnt out right now and you need personalized guidance, you can book a free breakthrough burnout call with me, you'll find the link Bitly backslash call Cait in the show notes. Also, if you love FRIED and want to be part of our community, we'd love to have you just head over to Facebook and type in FRIED the burnout, podcast discussion, and click to join our group. It's a place for continued healing deeper conversations and connections with people who just get it. And now for this week's episode. All right, everybody. I am so excited about today's show because as you know, sometimes I get the wonderful benefit on this podcast of being able to interview my friends. And it's especially great because I have friends that know such cool stuff. And today we're going to be talking with Elizabeth Collins who is the owner and director of the East-West Company in integrative wellness practice specializing in burnout, recovery, coaching, functional medicine, acupuncture, and more. She uses her combined backgrounds and both Eastern and biomedicines as well as her training and hypnosis to approach healing from a perspective that seeks to fully integrate the mind, body, and spirit. After experiencing and recovering from burnout, she made it her mission to help others identify their values, explore their boundaries, and bring a sense of balance to both their body and brain. When she's not working with clients. She's voraciously consuming all forms of music, reading, sharpening her tarot card skills, and crafting custom cocktails from the random ingredients in her pantry, I can absolutely confirm that she does this last thing because she just posts them afterward. And it's always something real fancy. And this is coming from a former bartender herself. I bartended for many, many years. But this girl does some fancy shit in the cocktail department. Elizabeth, welcome to the show.


Elizabeth Collins

Hi, it's so exciting to be here. This is my favorite.


Caitlin Donovan

So now we start as we always start on Friday with your burnout story. And we will let that carry us through the remainder. Just so for everybody out there, we are going to dive deep into functional medicine today. And I'm so excited about it. And I can't believe it's taken this long in the podcast to get there because it was such a crucial part of my own journey. So we'll be excited to get there. But before we get there,

tell us about you.


Elizabeth Collins

It's funny, I think at this point, you could probably tell this story as well as I could. And you know, I've listened to your podcast for two years. And one of the bits that I love, my favorite part really is hearing about everybody's stories, because it's so many varied backgrounds to sort of all get to the same place of burnout in our in our own unique ways. And it makes you think about your own burnout story. So after I had listened to maybe like five or 10 episodes, I thought about it. I was like, What is my burnout story and my brain. Our brains are so lovely. The place that it went to, was the thing that it said I'm prompted was, well, you were born in 1982. And I was like, Yeah, and it goes shortly thereafter. That's about when it started. So I'm a kid of big T trauma, my biological mother passed away when I was 13 months old. And I know you've talked about this a lot on your podcast so far. So that that period between zero and six, where you're basically just a sponge, everything's going in, that's where all of your coping mechanisms are formed, or the majority of them. And any kind of trauma, big T little tea, you know, is is a part of that. And so I had big T trauma. So that very much set me up for a lifetime of perfectionism. A lifetime of not really understanding that I am worthy of love simply because I exist, which is not something that was hammered into me by my parents. And I should probably clarify when I say my parents, I mean my dad and my stepmom, we just call mom but for the purposes of not being confusing. I had a great childhood. You know, the the memories that I do have once I started making memories, we went to Disney World and we had vacations and I always had, you know, a roof over my head and my parents really fostered my love of music and dance. And so those became big, big coping strategies. For me as a teenager, it was a way that I expressed my emotions if I felt like I couldn't talk about it, I could dance it out, or I could sing at the top of my lungs. And I was still carrying that perfectionism and that not enoughness and that lack of worth and all of those things. And I was a very, very anxious kid in the 80s and early 90s When anxiety He was not diagnosed the way that it is now. So it wasn't treated the way that it was because you grew up in a middle class life with, you know, good parents who take care of you and foster things that you're interested in, you don't have anxiety, you don't have anything to be anxious about. So, you know, we didn't really understand where that programming came from. So I carried that into my 20s. And I was still using music and dance to cope. So I had outlets that were safe for me. And then as I got older, I got into my acupuncture degree when I was 28. And I started going to school for that. And I set aside the performance and the entertainment and some of the coping mechanisms that I had used. And that's really, when I kind of started to drift into burnout a lot more, I didn't have better coping strategies to express myself, like journaling wasn't cutting it, I could use it, and it was helpful. And I had done therapy through this time as well. So I was much more aware of my own circumstances, but there was nothing in place to prevent me from continuing down that rabbit hole, there was just the reassert reassurance from certain people that you don't have to be a perfectionist. And it's like, okay, but that's, that's from way back. So I got through acupuncture school, and I moved to Rhode Island where I did not know a single person. And I started a business, not really realizing that that's not what a ton of people do, I know you've done that, which is why I came to you when I was burnt out. Because I was like, Oh, God, this woman's done this twice, she's a unicorn start a religion. So you know, I did that. Not understanding that people don't do that, and the stress that comes along with it. And then I started to curate a business, not based in my own values, not based on my own understanding of what's best for me and not with good coping skills, or any really coping skills at that point, other than the idea that it will be better, eventually, eventually things will calm down, eventually something will be okay.


Caitlin Donovan

That is an extremely important point. Because so many people get into burnout with that idea. Exactly. And just as soon as I get over this hump, it's going to get better. And then when you get over that hump, you give yourself another hump to get over. So it doesn't ever get to the better part.


Elizabeth Collins

Yeah, and it's funny on your, on the Facebook page, the FRIED Facebook page, you had asked recently, in six words, describe your burnout story, and my burnout story just kept going, it will change. And it didn't. So I was about five years into my business and you know, burning the candle, the candle was on fire, the whole candle, the top of the bottom, besides everything, like I wasn't there were no ends, it was just a blob of wax and fire. And I had gone through a lot of physical changes. I developed food sensitivities, I developed a metal sensitivity that I had never had before. My body was kind of starting to break down on me my digestion was breaking down, because this is what chronic stress does to us over time. But it was insidious. It wasn't you know, I woke up with a metal sensitivity or I woke up with, you know, gastrointestinal changes. It happened slowly enough. And then an organization that I contract with that was providing about half of my patient base that referred me a lot of patients, they just kind of stopped referring overnight, not because I did anything, they stopped referring to external providers, kind of wholesale. So a lot of people were affected by this. But it got it my business. So at that point, I was like, I can't support myself. I've been doing this for five years. I I feel like a complete failure. And that's when I reached out to you because as I said, you had gone play someplace where you were completely new, and started a super successful business. So I actually came to you for advice on how to adjust the acupuncture side of things to get that business rolling. And you were like this, you were now you said it much more nicely than that. Probably not knowing me. But you did, I think because we didn't know each other quite that well yet. But yeah, so that's that's how I got to you and started working with you. And the coaching piece took about a year. I mean, obviously I'll still do occasional calls with you. Yeah, but the the big bulk of the coaching pace took about six months to a year to install that. And at that point, I was ready to tackle the body.


Caitlin Donovan

Yeah, and that was a that was a rough time. And you were getting some crazy advice from all sorts of people at that time. And I remember listening to and thinking okay, but what do you want? And you will not know, which, of course when you're burnt out, it's hard to know, right? Like, that's hard.


Elizabeth Collins

Yeah. And it's interesting because I've had pockets of that in my life, you know, with with my mom passing away. I didn't go through the normal phase of, of making and breaking relationships like you you learn how to Have a healthy break up by being a toddler. Like that's where some of that that programming comes from. That's where that template comes from. So my first depressive episode, because I have that too, because my not I'm an overachiever, let's collect all the things that came after a breakup. And in talking to my first therapist, that's what got me into therapy. I said, you know, she said, Tell me about your history. And I said, Well, my mom passed away when I was one, I don't really have any memories. It's not that big of a deal. She goes, No, it's a big deal. It's like the deal. It's the whole deal. If, if you will, at this point, because you don't know how to separate from people. What do you want? And she said that at the time, and I was like, I don't even know what I like. Yeah, I like music. I like dance. That's about it. But like, I don't know, small things that make me happy. And I've lost that several times over the course of my life. And I have to kind of eventually come back to that. And it's like, oh, shit, this lesson again. Yeah. But, you know, that happens to people who are chronic people pleasers who are prone to burnout, this kind of thing. It's you, it's very easy for you to set aside what you like, because you're more concerned about what needs to happen now. And it's like, what you like is what needs to happen. Now, that's going to inform what happens now.


Caitlin Donovan

Yeah, and I think this is such a big thing. We talk about preferences a lot in coaching, in my coaching, in particular, like, but what are your preferences? Well, I don't know. Well, you better start finding out. And sometimes I give people assignments, like, I'll write a list and say, you know, check off your preference from this list. And it's like, you know, the difference between skinny tomatoes and fat tomatoes on a sandwich? Do you prefer a thick slice? Or do you want a thin slice? Just know that about yourself? I didn't know those things about myself.


Elizabeth Collins

This week, I remembered something. I prefer curly parsley.


Caitlin Donovan

There you go.


Elizabeth Collins

I don't hate flat parsley. But I prefer curly parsley. And I remember when I finally decided that. I was like I'm today years old when I learned this about me.



Caitlin Donovan

Yeah, exactly. And there's so many little things like that where you don't feel like you're making a compromise. But you are. Because you don't know what your true preferences. So you're not meeting your true preference, because you can't because you don't know what it is because you're not paying attention. And sometimes it's much easier to play with silly preferences like that. First, to sort of get used to paying attention to yourself before you go into like, what you really need want desire on on deeper levels, like sometimes we just have to play with preferences, you know that that's so important. So what I want to dig into, there's so many things we could talk about, there's a million things we could talk about. But I needed functional medicine in my journey. And we've mentioned it quite a few times on the podcast, but not really like taking a deep dive into what functional medicine can do for people. And I know that now that you're coaching people through burnout, which is so cool, that functional medicine is a big part of it in your program. And I would have needed you when I was burnt out like I wouldn't have been enough for me, which is kind of a funny thing to say but but it's true. Because i you i did use a coach that wasn't a functional medicine practitioner. But I used a functional medicine practitioner, a coach and a therapist all at different times. But and the functional medicine sort of for me had to come in third place. Like it came after I did some coaching and after I did some therapy because I didn't have enough, like where with all to make the changes that functional medicine was gonna ask me to make right i If somebody would have told me in the beginning of my burnout journey, to do a whole 30 Where you are avoiding sugar and all sorts of other things. If you don't know what a whole 30 is just to live. Yeah, if you don't already have just Google it. I always describe it as eliminating soy grains, sugar, legumes, alcohol, dairy, sunshine, meaning to life, happiness.



Elizabeth Collins

Yeah. And I listed on to be done by patients religious, like they appreciate the fact that it's like, oh, no, it's gonna be tight. Like, you're up for a little bit.



Caitlin Donovan

Yeah, like, it's not a super fun thing to do. And I needed to do it. However, I couldn't do it in the very beginning of my process, because I didn't have the brain that would allow me to actually make those choices to really sit down and say, No, I'm not going to have that. Gluten chocolate drink whatever today, you know. So

it took me a while to get there. But without it.

I don't know that I would have ever fully recovered. Because I wouldn't have gotten some of my energy back that I wasn't getting, because I had a system wide candida infection that I didn't know about. So that is a very long prelude to a question that says, What the heck is functional medicine? Why do people need it? And what's common in the burnout realm?

In that regard,

is that too many questions at once?


Elizabeth Collins

No, I think we can. Okay. So, um, the best way I actually heard functional medicine described to me and it works very well with my view of the world because of my background in Eastern medicine and yours as well, is it's kind of like if biomedicine and Eastern medicine had a baby. So the purpose of Eastern medicine, Chinese medicine is usually to look at the symptoms and figure out the root cause, what's actually causing this? Okay, so you know, you have migraines? Are they tension migraines? Are they menstrual migraines? Are they you know, stress migraines? Are they emotional migraines? Is it something that happens every time you get angry or scared or something like that. So somebody can have migraines. Three people can have migraines, we may not necessarily treat those all the same way. in biomedicine, often not in all cases, they'll say you have migraines here is the sort of protocol that we would do. We'll start with this, if that doesn't work, we'll move to this if you know, we'll try the medication. If that doesn't work, we'll try a different medication. If neither of those work, let's try Botox. So that's, you know, a very sort of broad overview as to how that works. But there's usually some kind of lab testing involved something along those lines, functional medicine is taking lab tests, like stool testing, blood work, urine analysis, looking at those and then saying, Okay, what does this information tell me about the root cause of what is happening underneath all of this. And a lot of times, when we look at like functional medicine bloodwork, I'm not just going to look to see if your vitamin D is low, if your ferritin is high, what your your inflammatory markers are going to look at the relationship between those things. So we'll say vitamin D, I use that one a lot, just because I live in a northern climate. And I see a lot of vitamin D imbalances. Your you have several types of vitamin D, you have vitamin D to your vitamin d3, the d3 version is more bioactive, which means it's the one that your body uses more, your vitamin D two is the one that's usually measured. If you are getting enough vitamin D to because you are outside or because you are supplementing D two, but your body doesn't have the resources to convert it into d3, you are functionally vitamin D deficient doesn't mean that you don't have any in your body, it means that your body is not working in such a way that it converts it from a into b in order to use it for what you need. So we'll look at both of those markers on a functional medicine panel, we'll look at your vitamin D two and your d3, your D two is good, your d3 is low, something is wrong within that conversion process. That gives me an idea of where to look and how to fix it. On gut testing, that testing is a huge one that you don't see a ton in biomedicine. And I found it to be incredibly critical when it comes to dealing with burnout. Because your gut is where your nutrients and minerals and vitamins and all of that starts there's a huge immune component to your gut functionality. If your gut isn't functioning properly, there are a host of things that could be going wrong in your body. So looking at that balancing your gut microbiome, sharing up those tight junctions, if you've got leaky gut, that's all critical to the recovery. And I liken the body to a car in those cases, you know, you can eat a very, quote unquote clean diet, I put that heavily in quotes, because that's different for everybody means different things for different people, you can be eating a relatively balanced clean diet and still feel like trash, because if you have leaky gut, it's like putting premium car in a gap gas tank premium gas in a car with a leak in the fuel line. It doesn't matter the quality of what you're putting into your body if it's not making it to the engine. So these are the types of things that we look at in functional medicine as we really try to get to the root cause of what's going on. And sometimes we might use supplements. Sometimes we might use mindfulness techniques. The biggest thing as far as supplementation is concerned for me is that we have you on it for the amount of time that you need to be on it. And then we get you off of it because we've gotten your body back to homeostasis where it's naturally doing what it's supposed to be doing.


Caitlin Donovan

So you mentioned leaky gut during that and there's going to be people out there that are going to be like what?


Elizabeth Collins

Yeah, leaky gut is a little bit of a buzz term. I personally am shifting more towards intestinal permeability. There are some professionals out there that don't even think it exists. Basically, that essentially means that certain aspects of your intestinal lining what we call tight junctions that keep things nice and firm. They're kind of like the bouncers they lead in what you want in, they don't let in any of the nefarious things like toxins, and they keep things flowing naturally. If you have leaky gut, it's kind of like the bouncer called in sick and nobody's there and the barn doors just swinging open and closed and anybody can come and go as little or as much as they want. So in many cases, what you what that results Is you aren't quite getting the nutrients and the minerals into your system that you need for your brain and your body to function well. And you are more likely to have toxins that are produced from gut bacteria that isn't get clear getting cleared out. If you've got, you know, a Lyme diagnosis or something like that, it makes it much easier for things that should not be in your systemic circulation to get there. And all of these can contribute to the sort of general malaise feelings of burnout like foggy headedness, inability to focus, you know, lack of energy, not so much that you can't function but just that you don't feel great. In very severe cases, it can be, you cannot drag yourself out of bed. You know, I think I mentioned on one of your polls recently, what was one of your most extreme burnout things that sound stupid, but I couldn't cook dinner for two years. I would do it on occasion. But I didn't have the energy. I didn't have the wherewithal, I didn't have the ability. Because I had severe leaky gut. One of my markers was twice what it should have been for leaky gut., so


Caitlin Donovan

Yeah, so you weren't getting the nutrients that you needed. And there was space for things that your body is supposed to break down and get rid of naturally, to not get broken down and be gotten rid of naturally to sit around and hang out uninvited at the party. Yes, and just cause mayhem, and just cause mayhem. So you weren't getting the riffraff out? Exactly. The riffraff Okay, so you said in the beginning that there are stool tests and blood tests, and there's gut tests, and there's, you know, like, that's like a lot of things to think about, and I have sent in my poop multiple times for testing just for all of you out there. I just did it recently, with my friend, Isabel Smith nutrition, who we love around here.

And where would where do you start?

Right, like, so somebody's like, there's all these tests, and there's all these things, and then I'm gonna get all this information, and it's gonna be, like burnout. We're already overwhelmed. Right? So how do we how do we like, where do we start?


Elizabeth Collins

Yeah, that it's interesting when I started as a functional medicine practitioner, that was one of the things because we have an arsenal like we have a functional blood panel, we have a stool test, we can look at your cortisol and cortisone levels and sex hormones, we can look at food allergies, we can look at environmental allergies, we can look at Mercury, I mean, just the sheer volume of what we have to work off of is massive. So the place that I start with all of my burnout clients is I do a blood panel and a stool test. Okay, that's the first place that we're starting. Because you can catch some really kind of, quote-unquote, obvious things on a blood panel. Like, again, the vitamin D imbalance, my vitamin D was 20 points lower than the lowest kind of bottom level for what your vitamin D should be. And when you look at a marker, you have a range. So in, you know, functional medicine, the range, the bottom of the range for vitamin D is 35. That does not mean you have enough vitamin D to function. That's that's just the number, the arbitrary number that we have decided means you are not completely deficient, you can still be functionally deficient. Whatever mine was 20 points below that. Yeah, two weeks on a vitamin d3 supplement. And my energy had improved to the point that I could start cooking for myself. Yeah, that was critical for me to be able to do something like the whole 30. So we can catch that kind of stuff on a blood panel. Yes,


Caitlin Donovan

I have one question. I want you to clarify, I don't actually have a question for myself. But I do want you to clarify for people that are listening, the difference between a little bit deeper than you just did now the difference between deficient and functionally deficient? Because that's not something that people are accustomed to talking about or hearing about. And I think that that might be confusing.


Elizabeth Collins

Yeah. Okay. So deficient means you had a lab run, your results came back below the bottom rung below the bottom number of what it quote-unquote, should be and therefore, you are considered deficient. Functionally deficient means you may fall in the lower end of that range, which still looks normal, but it's not enough for your body to be functioning optimally. So we can see this with thyroids as well. So your thyroid hormones, some of them can be at sort of the very low end of normal, but you are what we call functionally, hypothyroid, you know, you've got all of the markers of hypothyroid, you've got low energy, you have difficulty losing weight, you need sugar in the middle of the day to kind of give you a boost. Those are just some of them. But those are the types of things that we look for. So yes, we'll look at your lab values, but we're also going to look at your symptoms. And if your lab values are just kind of within a range, but you're exhibiting a much more obvious presentation of what we're looking at, we can say all right, let's consider treating this You know, gently, and see if you improve?


Caitlin Donovan

Yeah. So this is one of the things that I asked you to differentiate this, because this, to me is one of the ways that functional medicine vastly differs from conventional medicine. And this, I think, is a really important point because we're not taught and nobody is taught. And this is not anybody's fault. It's just, we can't all know everything. But we're not taught that that range doesn't mean perfectly healthy. Right? That that range, if you fall into the range, that doesn't mean that you're optimal. And the range, just so people are aware, was mostly built on men between the ages of 18 and 30. So for women, some of those tests are just like wrong, which is, so I love science, and I love medicine, but everything is on a continuum. And there's only so much that we know. And functional medicine has broadened our available choices when it comes to seeing how well someone is functioning versus their lab tests. And oftentimes, in western medicine, if you have a lab test that says you're within range, your doctor is like, well, you're within range, like this has been my story for over 10 years, I have antibodies to different antibodies against my thyroid, which means that technically I have Hashimotos. But according to Western medicine bloodwork, my thyroid numbers are still within range. And my entire thyroid panel is still within range, all of the ones that you should test are still in range, but I have antibodies. And so my Western doctor just is like, well, there's nothing wrong. And I'm like button there is. And they're like No, there's not. And I'm like but but I'm not supposed to have these antibodies. That's not. That's not what's supposed to be happening. So I wanted people to understand that. Just because your numbers are within range doesn't mean it's great. And functional medicine comes in.


Elizabeth Collins

Right. And again, functional medicine. It's interesting that you say that lab values are based mostly on men between 18 and 30. Functional Medicine may look at men and women differently. And depending on who you train with, you will have different values for those groups of people who have different values for pre menopausal women versus perimenopausal women versus postmenopausal women. These are things that we take into consideration in functional medicine. So make sure that we're meeting you where you're at, in at any point in your life,


Caitlin Donovan

Instead of comparing you to men in the army that we can control all of their food intake and everything else, which is so wacky, but anyway, so you might not be optimal. You'll start with a blood and a stool test and then you'll use those to make some adjustments. And then and then what.


Elizabeth Collins

So usually with the blood in the stool test, those are just two big areas. A lot of people have gastrointestinal imbalances, whether it's small intestine bacterial overgrowth, leaky gut, H. Pylori, a combo platter is usually the case. So we'll consider some supplements and things like that. But again, we're doing that, especially with burnout, recovery coaching, we're doing that phased I don't start my burnout clients, even if we test with a whole 30 and a gut protocol specifically for the reasons that you say, there's a lot of stuff that has to go into that first. So once we start to get some of that balanced out, you should see some improvement in your symptoms. And usually with a gut clearing, we've taken out some of those more inflammatory types of foods like grains and sugars and things like that. We'll work those in to see if you have some sort of reaction to them. If you do, you minimize how much you eat them. If it's a real bad reaction, just kind of take them out. It's unfortunate, but sometimes that has to happen. If you're still dealing with symptoms, we're gonna again, look at the specific symptoms. What is the primary problem, all my energy still really off during the day and I'm really tired but wired at night. All right, now we're gonna consider a cortisol cortisone. Basically, an HPA Axis test, your HPA axis is your hypothalamic, pituitary adrenal axis. It's one, it has a lot of different jobs. But the basic thing that we think about it for Is your stress response. So if you're still stressed, you know, we can treat your vitamin D deficiency and your gut. But your stress is going to keep bringing that back around so that when we start looking at balancing out your stress hormones, a lot of that has to do with mindfulness. Hopefully, if we've done enough recovery, at that point, you've got the brain space for it. And again, if we've corrected some of those initial imbalances, we sort of put the fire extinguisher on some of the inflammation that you've been dealing with. It makes it easier to start doing those types of things. So we I try to do it in not an incredibly strict way because everybody's body is a little bit different. Everybody might need something else, you know, if you eat a lot of gamefish, I'm going to test your mercury. Not everybody's going to need that test. Yeah, because we do have so many and it's a time thing. It's a financing. You know, there are definitely considerations. So we're going to go about in a stepwise process, but in a way that is specific to the person that's sitting in front of me. Yeah.


Caitlin Donovan

Okay. So I think that that's a pretty decent overview of why functional medicine is important. And I'm gonna like, totally flip the script for a second. And I just want I like going for a little bit of shock value here, a tiny bit. So when you work with Elizabeth, you'll do functional medicine and some coaching. And also, she's gonna read your tarot cards, can you what the heck.


Elizabeth Collins

This is still also kind of a little weird for me, but because I've been doing this for myself for you know, on and off for 20 years. And something that I realized when I was kind of going through hypnosis training is the way that we look at the world. And they're actually these, this cool little pack of cards. They're called inner active cards, not like inter i n and er, interactive cards, and they have different scenes and images on them. And a lot of times people use them, I think they were originally made for internal family systems work, okay, like a type of therapy. But they're very useful in hypnosis. And I was like, Oh, I have a set of these, except they're different. And they're older, and they're terrible. And so when I sat down, and looked at tarot cards, I was like, Okay, so these are representative of archetypes and of situations. And it's not about telling your future, it's about taking the blinders off. So when we're in burnout, it's very difficult to see anything other than what we're focusing on, which is usually panic, stress and anxiety. Yeah. And the benefit when I started reading my own tarot cards again, for some of the stuff, it was like, Oh, this card pops up, and it means this, how does that relate to my current situation? What is it about this card that can give me the opportunity to stop focusing on the minutia, and look at the bigger picture. And so I will pull cards before I work with people. And it's amazing how it just directs my focus in such a way to ask questions that I might not think otherwise. So you know, you can go to people who read tarot cards and say, I'm going to tell your future, that's not really me. If that happens, that's cool. But I'm here to help broaden the horizon of what you're looking at. And so I was working with a client, I don't know last week or a couple weeks ago, and I pulled a card at the beginning of the session, or before the session started. And I when I started really getting into this, I associated cards with music, because I'm a very auditory musical person. So the card that came up was the card that I associate with the song Michael Jackson song, the man in the mirror. And that, you know, I'm starting with a man in the mirror, I'm asking him to change his ways. And it was this person's like, second burnout coaching session. And I was like, perfect. Alright, so we put out some of the fires today, I want to focus on you. What do you want? What do you need? What are you lacking, and we had some really great productive conversations about that. So it's a way to sort of direct the conversation, whether it's an internal one or an external one.


Caitlin Donovan

And the idea of broadening perspectives is really important, because there's something that happens during burnout, where your left and right hemispheres don't communicate real well, of your brain. So they're supposed to communicate real well, but they, but they don't. And that makes it more difficult to have a wider perspective. But by opening your perspective up on purpose, not only does it help you widen your perspective, but it helps your brain to reconnect at the same time. So you it engages parts of your brain that really need to be communicating with one another in a way that doesn't actually require you to do very much.


Elizabeth Collins

Yeah, exactly. I mean, I've literally do all of that work for you, and just ask you a bunch of questions. And they can be uncomfortable. Not everybody likes them. I'm never gonna press somebody to talk about a topic that they don't want to talk about. But if you're coming to me to work with me, you want to talk about stuff because you're not talking about it anyplace else.


Caitlin Donovan

Yeah, and burnout recovery. This is not fun questions. Yeah, it for a lot of times, some of it some of it can be super fun, and some of it is very

Oh, shit. We're gonna go there. Some of it.

You just mentioned another thing that I think we need to touch upon briefly, you mentioned ifs are internal family systems. Can you run through what that is for people? Because this is something that I think is incredibly useful during burnout recovery. It's not something I'm trained in. It's not something that I offer. But I do occasionally send people to practitioners who focus on ifs because I think it's such a valuable tool. Can you what, what does it mean? What does it look like?


Elizabeth Collins

Yeah, so ifs is often sort of generally referred to as parts work. So some people may have heard it referred to that way and IFS is a specific system of kind of a broader ego state therapy type of thing. And basically what it says is you've got these different parts. And some of them were formed in childhood. And some of them developed as an adolescent. And they're all sort of responsible for certain things. If you've got a particular coping mechanism, that's not very helpful in your 30s, chances are that developed when you were five. And so there is a part of you, it sounds a little schizophrenic, but it's not. But there's a part of you a part of your, your personality, that is still injured from that experience. And so what ifs seeks to do, or ego state therapy, however, you end up going about it. It seeks to find that part. And talk to that part, if that part is very shy, if it's very damaged, if there are other parts protecting it, you talk to those parts. And so it's almost like having a conversation with different aspects of your personality. And I think it's really important because most of our parts are under the surface, we have anywhere from maybe like five to 15 that interact on a day to day basis. So this is the part that drives your car. And this is the part that does your job. And this is the part that hangs out with your family. And then when you're triggered this very quiet part, that doesn't have to come out very much sends up a flare, even if it's not the one that comes to the forefront to interact. And then the parts that are normally interacting, you're like, alright, well, I have to interpret that. And then it comes out as this type of expression. And it can cause difficulty at work at home, when you're driving your car. So being able to address different aspects of your personality, and speak to them directly like their individuals gives a sense of agency to the experience, I think, and it really gives people the opportunity to fully integrate those personalities, that's what you want to do is you want to de traumatize anything that's kind of kicking around under the surface, and give it an opportunity to maybe take on an aspect of your life where it feels better, or where it's more functional, or hand over work that it's trying to do to a different part that's much more well designed to handle that type of work.

Sounds like a lot of self compassion,

very much. So it's a lot of holding space for yourself. And therapists who are trained in this are very good at holding space for the individuals that they work with. And something that I really took away from it that I I'm not trained in ifs specifically, I am trained in ego state therapy through ego state hypnotherapy. But something that I've been telling people recently, because under the best of circumstances, we have complicated situations, and now we've been through almost two full years of a pandemic. And it's, it's heightened everybody's stress. And so I get a lot of people coming to me with intense situations and saying, but I have this and I'm so grateful, or I dealt with this for so many years, but I want to look at myself and just be proud of the fact that I'm strong. And, you know, I often borrow your phrase of sitting in the muck, and just explaining to somebody, we are complicated enough individuals, that we can feel very bad about something that we're going through and still be very grateful for the good things that it gives us, or the other good things in our life that are not associated with this particular problem. And they're not mutually exclusive. And the idea that we have to inhabit one thing at any given time, is unsustainable, and unfair, and will absolutely perpetuate burnout. So even just giving people space and permission to say like you can feel both of these at the same time, and that's okay, there's nothing wrong with you, really goes a long way for people


Caitlin Donovan

To train was passing you guys, so I blocked it out for a second. This is one of the most important things to me, because one of my number one rule is we don't demonize any of your coping mechanisms. We do not demonize any of your coping mechanisms. We demonize Nothing about you. That's number one. And the second point about being able to hold space for different experiences at the same time is something that regularly brings me to want to bang my head against my desk because you read things online that it's like if you're fully in love in a space coming from love, then you can't feel fear or anger. It makes me want to throw up my double middle fingers and say like no, not no to that. I can be very angry and still love. I can do both of those things at the same time. Because it's just Oh, sorry. Go ahead. No, you go ahead.


Elizabeth Collins

I was just a guest on a podcast that centers on grief. And we had a big discussion about that of like there, there is no timeline. You get to grieve, and it's gonna come in waves and nobody can tell you that it's wrong. Yeah, you can have both of those things. You can be grateful for the time that you had with the person that you were with and still be utterly pissed off at what happened and sad and frustrated and In full of rage, it's possible


Caitlin Donovan

And enjoy your life and to be grateful, all at the same time. All of those things can be true at the same time. And we want it to be so much

more boundaries than that, that this thing happens. And that's where the emotions sit in that box with that thing. And then this thing happens. And that's where those emotions sit in the box with that thing. And life is just much more integrated than that.


Elizabeth Collins

And I think that's the interesting thing, when you get people who start coming in for things like burnout, coaching, and functional medicine, is you're giving them an opportunity to be accepted. In a situation where all of those things are true. You can be eating a quote, unquote, clean diet, and still have a ton of problems because your body is not supporting you. Yeah, you can, you know, feel really good about the fact that you're working really hard and still really depressed with the fact that it seems to be not enough.


Caitlin Donovan

Yeah, Let's pause on that for a second. I think it's, there's there are some theories in boundary research

around boundaries that are segregating and boundaries that are integrating. And what we're talking about here, I think, between ifs and acceptance and the different parts of your life is that we're looking for more integration and less segregation. And I think that it's important to talk about at that point that things happen at micro levels and at macro levels. And you as an individual person might be a micro-level. And you might say you're an individual person on a micro level, who's very involved in dealing with racism, and you want racism to end and like I'm 100%, behind you. And so you want integration of things of people of equalness, evenness, equity, equality, all the things. But then you go home and you hate parts of yourself. If you truly want to do work that is based in integration, you have to have an or create space where all of you is acceptable. And sometimes you need somebody else to create that space for you until you can inhabit it. I don't believe in I only do you know, three months of burnout coaching with people at a time, for the most part, because I don't believe in long drawn out processes. And I don't need you to be dependent on me long term, I want you to be dependent on yourself. But that doesn't mean that you can't lean on people. Sometimes. It's just that your power doesn't come from me your power comes from you. Sometimes I just need to draw a circle for you and say, no, no, you can inhabit this space, and you'll be okay. All of you can inhabit this space all the parts. Yeah, you have ugly parts. Welcome to the fucking club. Don't we all? I have some parts that are real nasty.

That's okay.


Elizabeth Collins

So I think in time they served you. Yeah, yeah. And I think I think that's the thing that like, when I do ego state therapy sessions, a lot of it has to do with thanking parts for coming forward, reaffirming that they did good work, regardless of what happened that day, thanking them for simply being honest and being vulnerable and allowing me as the practitioner during a hypnosis session, to hold space for that person. And that work doesn't stop when you get off a couch. That's the other thing that I love about this type of therapy is because you're talking to and about parts that are underneath the surface. So they're still functioning, even if you're not aware of it. And so I have some clients who come in anywhere between two to four weeks to do parts therapy. And I don't really like to do it a whole lot more than that, because it doesn't give time, give enough time for those parts, to have the conversations and to create that sort of integrated environment for themselves. And the more time in between sessions, a lot of times, the more transformation and change I see within people, and they'll come back and just be like, You will not believe the conversations that apparently happened. I don't know what it was, but I'm doing this today. I had a session last week with somebody and he was like, what happened? I went home. It was like I had narcolepsy. I fell asleep for two hours. I was like, apparently they were not done talking. Like they still have to happen. Exactly. Exactly.


Caitlin Donovan

That's my favorite thing about coaching in general that the work still happens like the work is happening in between sessions all the time. I had somebody recently say, I don't know if if the amount of calls you offer is going to be enough for me. I said, Well, I do offer extensions. But before we get to that part, let's just see what happens. Let's see what happens first because You don't might not think we're talking enough. But there's a lot of stuff happening in between those calls. There's a lot of conversation happening. There's a lot of internal processing happening, I had a call today, and we hadn't spoken in three weeks, she was away, or I was always something happened, you know, whatever. And she came on the phone today, and it was the shift, you know, I usually find that it happens between calls, like three and a half, and four. And this was the beginning of the fifth call. And she came on. And in Chinese medicine, there's a thing called Shen, which represents your spirit, and you see it in the eyes and in the glow of the skin and in the quality of the voice and etc. And she came on, and her Shen was like, sparkly again. And I was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, what happened? And she was like, Oh, my God, this happened. And this happened, this happened. And I just sat there with like, my Caitlin voice on and said that, you know, whatever it was. And that's why this stuff works. Because we're creating space for different ideas for bigger ideas for different perspectives. And it just keeps going. It just keeps going and keeps going. It's not about teaching people how to it. I mean, breathing helps, but it's not about saying, use this particular breathing exercise, you can learn that on Instagram in four seconds.


Elizabeth Collins

Oh, yeah, absolutely. I'm in the process of getting ready to record a one minute meditation that relax, progressively relaxes for different parts of the body. And I was just talking to somebody this weekend, because she's putting together an integrative online platform, and she wants me to talk about mindfulness and pain management. And she said, What can you do? And I said, I have three or four techniques. How long do you want it to be half an hour hour? And she goes, Well, what would you charge? And I said, well, one of the techniques is on Insight Timer right now. So why don't I just send you that? Because it's a meditation for anxiety, but I can, it's also used for pain management is the one I released happens to be for anxiety. I'll just record you. And when it's free, it's out there. So a lot of that stuff is already there. This is different. Yeah, in that way.


Caitlin Donovan

Yeah. Yeah. And there is so much stuff that's already out there. And you did just mention Insight Timer, which I do, does not sponsor the podcast, but could because I do mention them quite a bit. I love Insight Timer. Yeah, Elizabeth just held up a heart with her hands, because Insight Timer is so useful. If you have if you don't know what it is, is just an app that offers meditation. If you pay for a full year, I think it's $60. But their app is free, technically. And you when you pay, you get the ability to like fast forward and rewind and things like that. But without that you can still play almost everything that they offer, which is it's just such an incredible resource that I liked with much.


Elizabeth Collins

It was critical to my burnout, recovery, the attention span of a fork, but maybe a leaf, but probably a fork. And I can't I to this day, I can't meditate to me the quote unquote, the traditional way. And I need a guided meditation, I need something to listen to. I'm a very auditory person. And so even if it's a yoga nidra, something like that, to just give me enough direction that my brain doesn't spiral because I'm still recovering from burnout. And I'm still dealing with some of the internal stuff in terms of, you know, biomedical imbalances that I'm functional medicine my way out of, and it's such, it's a godsend for me.


Caitlin Donovan

Yeah, I agree. I agree. So we have probably, at this point in the show, within, you know, within the from the day that this releases through the first week, there's going to be about 700 people that listen to this. So I want you to picture that you are standing on a stage, and there's 700 people in front of you, and you have to tell them something that you think is really important that you just you really just want them to, at least if they if they learned nothing else, which would be crazy, because we talked about so much today, but if they learned nothing else today, you really want them to have this. Do you know what that will be?


Elizabeth Collins

So many things, but as you were talking about that the first thing that really came to my mind is that if you have symptoms, or you are living a life that is in your experience, suboptimal. But in the greater perspective, not catastrophic, because that's what a lot of functional medicine and burnout burns out people feel. You are not crazy. And there is help. A lot of people come to functional medicine because they have very severe diagnoses or they've had you know, Lyme for 15 years and they haven't been able to treat it and that's how a lot of people find functional medicine. But functional medicine is so useful for burnout as we've talked about and if you are living a life that is less than what you want, that is less than what you feel is right for you Because of general fatigue, because of brain fog, because you can't just go to a restaurant and eat what you want to eat and feel okay about it, because you don't know how it's going to affect you later. These things that we don't as a society treat as catastrophic problems, and that often get brushed aside. You're not crazy, you're not alone. And there is help.


Caitlin Donovan

I needed to pause after that to make sure that everybody could let that sink in for a second. It's incredibly important. And so often, I have clients that say, Yeah, but you know, compared to some people, I have such a good life.

I don't care what your life is compared to other people. I don't care.

I care that you're waking up and thinking this sucks. How is that helping other people for you to get up every day thinking this sucks?

Not useful. Yes, better. Elizabeth, tell everybody where to find you.


Elizabeth Collins

You can find me a couple of different places. My website is www dot the East-West co.com Like the East-West Company, and my Instagram, and Tiktok handles and Facebook. That's all at the East-West CO at the East-West Co. If you're interested in just tarot readings, I am actually started a new endeavor called the vintage mystic. You can find me at the vintage mystic.com, and also on Instagram, and Tiktok at the vintage mystic,


Caitlin Donovan

All of those things will be as per usual in the show notes, as well. Thank you so much for being here for telling your story. Oh, I'm gonna do one more shock value thing? Yeah, of course. Elizabeth is a trained opera singer. That always shocks me every time.


Elizabeth Collins

I haven't sung opera in a very long time that matters. But that was that was a part of like, that was one of those nice parts of my childhood that made me think that I couldn't be burned out because in high school, my parents were like, No, you enjoy this. You've got talent, we are paying for you to go to the Eastman School of Music for as long as you want. Because this fosters your happiness, like so. Yeah, they did that. And that was pretty stellar.


Caitlin Donovan

That's so cool. So functional medicine, acupuncture, tarot cards, hypnosis. I mean, this girl does it all. This woman should I say woman does that bother you? I don't I'm not bothered by the word girl. But sometimes people are

not at all. She does it all. Thank you so much for being here. I

love you so much.


Elizabeth Collins

Thank you, Caitlin. It was a complete surprise but absolute joy to be here. Thank you so much.


Caitlin Donovan

All right. FRIED fans. That wraps up another episode of FRIED the burnout podcast, please do share this with your friends that you think might need some functional medicine that is that have been bouncing around Western medicine not getting answers that are getting tests back that say they're sort of okay, but they're still feeling like shit like, this is the one to share with those people in your life. And until then, I've decided lately that usually, I tell people that they deserve all the goodness that's coming to them. I say that a lot. And my cousin, she'll be so happy to hear this. My cousin suggested that I use it more. So I'm going to start ending podcast episodes with that. So I just want you to sit back for a second and absorb these words. You deserve all the goodness that is coming to you.

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