An interview with Lucy on trauma, creativity, and the nervous system

An interview with Lucy on trauma, creativity, and the nervous system

The Apollo community is a diverse community who all share a common belief – that the human body is powerful and we have the capacity to heal. We'll highlight powerful stories from Apollo users and their causes through a series of member features. This month’s feature is Lucy.

When Lucy first reached out, she explained that she’s been suffering from an overactive nervous system for nearly two decades after two traumatic accidents – once skiing and the other from being attacked in London. She was seeking answers to explain the web of symptoms, including seizures, restlessness, and anxiety. She went on to explain that after discovering Apollo, she is sleeping the entire night “without nightmares or nervous jolts” and “nothing has worked like this, not even sleeping pills.” We knew we needed to learn more about Lucy’s story, and she was kind enough to share tea over a video chat. Here’s what we learned.

Q: Tell me a bit more about yourself.

A: I’m an artist living in Bath, which is in Somerset, England. I work full time as an artist, and I’ve been a full time artist for six years. I love painting the natural world. I’m inspired by the changing seasons. 

I didn’t think I could ever be a full-time artist, so I took my Graphics degree and specialized in illustration commercially. But it didn’t light me up, it was a different type of creativity. You have to be able to draw everything. You have to draw what the clients want, and I wanted to draw flowers and nature. 

Lucy Auge sitting on a bench
Photo credit: Roo Lewis

Q: What made you decide to go full-time with your art?

A: I was burnt out. I was having terrible seizures following being attacked in London, and I wanted a space away. I wanted to be surrounded by trees. The trauma from the attack made it impossible to keep up with my life before, so ultimately I left my job. I eventually bought a studio out in a field in a farm up the road from where I was living for a space to create. 

This all leads up to how I found Apollo. I found Apollo when I became obsessed with finding answers. 

Q: Can you tell me more about your medical journey that led to you finding Apollo?

A: I’ll work backwards. I had a traumatic ski accident at fifteen that compressed my spine. In England, to see a specialist, you have to see a GP first. So for months to years, I was on waitlists as I got more and more ill. There were no answers, and it became ten years of this.

I now know that there was nerve damage from the ski accident. I was getting progressively more and more ill. For two years, I was in bed. I was having so many seizures, and the weaker I got, the more anxious and stressed I got. My body was so inflamed and so tired. I was losing my hair, I couldn’t eat, I was throwing up, and I had horrible brain fog. I couldn’t remember how to spell my last name or my phone number. Looking back, this is all classic flight-or-flight, I didn’t need food, i didn’t need my hair, it was survival. 

Q: Could you leave your house at all?

A: When I’d go to London, I had to take my mother because my nervous system was so alert for danger. Having her with me felt safe. It makes sense now to me, that it wasn’t her necessarily, but it was the feeling of safety that I needed. The feeling of safety from being with my mother would stop my brain from tripping into fight-or-flight.

At that time, I couldn’t understand why whenever I went to London without someone I trusted, I’d be sick, physically vomiting and really, really tired. I was in a wheelchair. No one could figure it out. Finally an alternative medicine doctor said “I think it’s PTSD”. There was a lot of misbelief previously. Even I thought PTSD was for people with harder situations than me. 

For chronic pain, I would be prescribed pain killers which damaged my stomach liner, cause more pain, cause more seizures. It was a terrible vicious cycle. I was so scared this was the new me.

Outdoor workshop with pots and paintings
Photo credit: Roo Lewis

Q: How did this doctor’s diagnosis change things?

A: From that, I was tipped off to understand how the trauma was impacting my nervous system. I researched relentlessly. I changed my lifestyle to try to deactivate my nervous system. I would journal, do yoga, and tried to be gentle. My medical journey has helped me love life and take care of myself. But I would have liked to find my path without all the trauma. 

In my research, I joined wellness communities online, and I found Lacy Phillips on To Be Magnetic. In an episode, she talked about how much she loved her Apollo, which led me to buy one - I’ve always trusted her recommendations. 

Q: What has your experience with Apollo been like?

A: Before Apollo, I was up at least four times a night. If there was a bang outside or the boiler turned on, I’d be awake. I was so alert. No matter how much meditation, journaling, baths, and yoga I did, nothing would tell my brain to not be so alert. Apollo changed that. I also have much less brain fog and I feel less distracted.

In the early stages of the pandemic, there was so much isolation, and we weren’t allowed to touch and give hugs. But we were all so nervous. I really think Apollo is the gadget for the pandemic. If we all had one, maybe we’d be a bit lighter. All those years of panic from my trauma, I knew I needed to feel safe, but I couldn’t uproot my entire life. I needed to learn to operate. I needed to be able to go to London, and I didn’t want to have to bring someone safe every time.

Q: What have you been able to do now that you’re using Apollo?

A: I always loved going into town. I love exploring, but before Apollo, I was always looking for danger. It was exhausting.

Recently, I went to London with Apollo and I didn’t get sick. That has never happened since the attack. I was in tears, I couldn’t believe this actually works.

Paintings sitting on a shelf
Photo credit: Roo Lewis

Q: What are your favorite Apollo modes?

A: My favorite, by far, is the sleep mode. I do it at 32% for 120 minutes. When I’m watching TV or journaling before bed, I use Relax and Unwind. After I cycle, I use Rebuild and Recover. I use Clear and Focused for emails. Most of the intensities are between 15-19%.

With Apollo, I’m retraining my brain as I go around my day-to-day. I don’t lose time like I was before with my endless answer seeking. You don’t even have to think about Apollo.

Q: Lucy, your story is so powerful. Thank you so much for sharing. 

A: During all of this, it meant so much to me to be able to read other people’s stories. I had no diagnosis, so I could only hold on to other people’s stories of getting better. If I can get better, so can you.