Are My Sinuses Expressing Hidden Emotional Pain?

woman sneezing cold

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Hi there, welcome back to Kelly Martin Speaks and Happy New Year! I’m your host Kelly Martin and this is episode 79.

Today I am going to talk about how our physical symptoms and pain can be hidden or unexpressed emotional trauma.

Around 20 years ago I went backpacking on my own around Australia, I was 24 at the time and very shy, lacking in confidence and I pretty much was seriously insecure with next to zero self-esteem. It was both the best time of my life but also brought up some challenges I had not fully witnessed in myself until I went travelling.

Prior to travelling I was a student at University and my life revolved around drinking alcohol, partying and lots of inebriated socialising, hangovers and your typical young person activity when at college or Uni. I masked my low self esteem through alcohol and had a lot of issues that I was not prepared to face back then, most of them coming from my insecurities and my past.

So, when I started backpacking, even though it was terrifying to do on my own, I soon realised how lonely I was. I never linked it back to my childhood back then, but I really began to feel separate from humankind, an outsider, not belonging anywhere.

I loved the freedom of being on my own, as an introvert I like my quiet moments and sacred solitude, but when you’re backpacking you have a lot of mingling with other backpackers. Your life can revolve around living in overcrowded dorm rooms and socialising involves not just a couple of people but often 20-30 from your youth hostel and to a confident extrovert this might be a situation that would make them thrive, but for me it made me want to hide in a hole.

Back then I also started my spiritual journey. I learned all about Reiki healing and became a channel for healing. I also had my eyes opened to the bigger purpose of life and the Universe; I no longer saw life as simply a distraction, through food and booze. I wanted to know more about life and myself.

However, this made me separate from other backpackers who were more into the hedonistic place of travelling.

I’ve always related to older people, so I did my best to befriend the older backpackers and generally enjoyed myself with those people, but when I went off on my own again and each time had to settle in a new youth hostel, with new people, I found it really hard because I had crippling social anxiety back then and it got to the point when nearing the end of my year’s trip I would pay extra for single rooms in hostels, just to get some quiet time with me.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, it was while I was on a tour of Uluru (Otherwise known as Ayers Rock) with a small group of travellers, that I realised how painfully lonely I felt. I was unable to bond or connect with them. Back then I was still a people pleaser and was trying to second guess what other people wanted. So, I ended up sitting on the outside looking in.

When Chronic Rhinitis Began

boy sneezing sinuses

It was not long after my trip to Uluru, where we slept in bivvy bags (bivvy bags are sort of open sleeping bags) around the campfire, that I started to get sinus issues. It is now labelled rhinitis and because I have had it for 20 years it is chronic rhinitis and it’s not due to allergens.

So fast forward to today, I have been seeing an acupuncturist for several months for this, some days it helps, other days nothing changes. This past week the symptoms intensified and progressed into a cold virus and before sleep I asked myself what was causing this rhinitis and my dreams gave me the answer.

I dreamt I was back in my mother’s home, my best friend was there, who is suffering with neuralgia right now. In the dream he was really tired (which if you know dreams, all aspects of a dream are you), he didn’t want to stay up he wanted to go to bed. In the dream I had forgotten where he had slept last time and what he slept on. I’ve been suffering quite a bit of brain fog lately in waking life. And finally, I realised he had been in my old bedroom, the bedroom my parents gave me after I returned from Australia. It had felt very much like a prison cell to me after all the freedom of travelling and it had no window I could see through and was a horrible room. He lay down and I went to turn off the lights so that he (or rather me) could rest. I noticed a TV was on by his bed, a bit like the TV’s you get in hospital these days, but it was on a stand. I tried to switch it off at the power button, but I really struggled to switch the images off.

The images were a reflection of my teenage life. I even said to my friend, ‘Look that’s totally like my childhood’. The girl looked in trauma and in deep distress.

I eventually found a way to switch off the TV and then I realised I was tired too. So, I went to my current bedroom in my mother’s home, my younger self’s childhood room, and there was a child in the bed who apparently we were looking after for a few hours. She had a bald head, almost as if she had cancer or leukaemia but what was interesting was, she had a tube going into her nose.

I woke up and while half asleep started to think about the rhinitis and realised, the increase in symptoms this week were emotional. When I was staying with family at Christmas my symptoms vanished. Now even though my family can be hard to take, very drama fuelled, I must have had this sense of connection, not being alone, because when I returned home my symptoms came back in abundance.

I now realise that the rhinitis is two decades’ worth of loneliness and the grief from the loneliness. The streaming of my nose, the blockages there, all tears withheld.

I knew I felt lonely because I don’t see a lot of people, but I had no idea that my nose and sinuses were reflecting this grief and loss to do with a lack of human love and connection.

Is the Common Cold A ‘Loneliness Virus’?

woman lonely heart

I also think about how many people get colds in the winter, is it a simple fact that people are passing the cold virus on? Or is it because people are feeling isolated or alone and they are passing the loneliness virus on?

Are all contagious viruses symptomatic of a larger problem, that we are all connected yet find it a struggle to truly deepen that connection? The virus being an invitation inward where we can find our truest connection, that with Source, God, whatever you label it, then sickness draws us inward.

I find that when I have a cold or flu symptoms, my mind tends to be much emptier. It is like I am unable to think or analyse or judge myself harshly. The virus takes hold of my monkey mind and puts it on pause. Sometimes I feel at the beginning of a cold episode, how nice it is, to have the quiet that sickness brings, even though I rarely get sick in the conventional sense.

That sometimes the return to wellness also means a return to a ‘switch back on’ of the monkey mind.

And how much does this relate to other chronic health issues, how many of us suffer because when we are conscious and more aware, the mind feels more painful than the illness itself?

All thoughts to ponder and consider.

So, are my sinuses expressing hidden emotional pain?

Yes, but now they are no longer hidden. I now know there is grief and loneliness being caught inside my ears, nose and throat and perhaps becoming aware is the beginning of clearing a 20-year condition now…time will tell.

Thanks for listening to this episode of Kelly Martin Speaks

If you have a question or topic you are struggling with and would like me to answer on an upcoming podcast episode, please get in touch. Your name will be confidential. EMAIL me at or message me on Facebook via my page Kelly Martin Speaks.

And don’t forget, if you feel that others are passing you by and ‘The Not Good Enough’ voice is screaming loudly, pop by to find out all about my books, including Book 1 ‘When Everyone Shines but You’

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Until next time…bye for now

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Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin, author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ is a dedicated writer and blogger who fearlessly explores life’s deepest questions. Faced with a decade of profound anxiety and grief following the loss of her father and her best friend Michael, Kelly embarked on a transformative journey guided by mindfulness, and she hasn’t looked back since. Through her insightful writing, engaging podcasts, and inspiring You Tube channel Kelly empowers others to unearth the hidden treasures within their pain, embracing the profound truth that they are ‘enough’ exactly as they are.

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