Loving Smackdowns from the Universe, Part 2
I have always felt invincible health-wise. Never suffered with illness, never broken a bone, never had any chronic conditions. Until recently.
It didn’t all happen at once, but very gradually. Over the course of six years I slid from being (what I thought was) a fit, productive, healthy human into feeling like a half-functioning zombie.
It started with weight gain. 20 extra pounds, seemingly out of nowhere. I hadn’t changed up my food or exercise routine, yet it came on quickly and wouldn’t budge.
Then a rash on my hands. Patches of eczema that I assumed were from giving massages all day and washing my hands more than the average human.
Then menstrual cramps. Some days so bad I couldn’t stand up. Sometimes making me miss work. Sometimes causing me to pass out from the pain.
Then mood disorders. Feeling hopeless, helpless, useless. Wondering what the point of it all is. Avoiding friends. Panic attacks. Feeling like everything I cared about could be lost in a moment.
Then exhaustion. Sleeping 10, 11, 12 hours a night and still struggling to get out of bed in the mornings. An ever-present sensation that I had invisible cement blocks tied to my arms and legs. Barely enough energy to go to work, and that was it.
I ignored each new symptom for a while. When they got so prevalent I couldn’t ignore them, I used punishment to try and cure myself. Harder workouts, tighter diet, rigorous schedule, negative self-talk. I resisted calling a doctor because a) I don’t have a whole lot of trust in them, b) I didn’t want to be labeled with a diagnosis, c) I wanted to believe I could fix myself on my own. Ha.
Finally one day, I waved my white flag. I was doubled over on the floor in pain, waiting for the four ibuprofen I had just taken to kick in, praying they would do so before I had to be at work.
At that pathetic moment, I decided I couldn’t live like that anymore and some medical help might be useful. I agreed to see a doctor, but stipulated it would have to be someone who truly listened to me and who wasn’t looking to mask any symptoms without finding the root cause of them. Enter, Functional Medicine. Functional medicine practitioners are different in that they really work to get the whole picture of a person’s health before diagnosing and prescribing. (You can find one for yourself in this directory.)
I was willing to travel to the next state to find this type of care and I’m glad I did. My first appointment was lengthy. My new doctor asked lots of questions and listened intently to my answers. Then she sent me away for lab work, testing not just a few things, but EVERYTHING.
A while later, the diagnoses landed. Hard.
Adrenal fatigue. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Endometriosis. Disthymic Disorder. Anxiety. …All autoimmune disorders stemming from PTSD.
What? PTSD? Me? I’ve never been to war. I’ve never been in a bad accident. What PTSD?
Well the causes of my PTSD could be multiple other blog posts, but in summary, it came from growing up with an abusive parent, as well as trauma surrounding my love life later on. Not to mention self-abuse in the form of eating disorders, exercise as punishment, and too little sleep. My nervous system was on high alert and had been for years. It couldn’t keep up with me anymore.
A few months later, I am feeling much better. I am on an intense (and expensive) vitamin/supplement regime. Meditating and working with a counselor. Easing very slowly back into working out after taking some time off to do yoga and walks only. Also joined the gluten-free club. 🤓 I am not on any medications at this point, although I wouldn’t be opposed to them anymore if I ever needed them. I trust my new doctor, because everything she has suggested has helped thus far.
Over the past several years, as I felt my health and vigor declining, I had many moments of anger at my own body. It felt so unfair, like I was being betrayed by her. I had all these grand plans for life and it felt like she didn’t want me to enjoy anything. Then one day, my beautiful, intuitive doctor said something profound. “Honey, you are so in touch with your body. If you hadn’t felt so crappy and called me, then 5 or 10 years from now, you would have been coming in with something much worse. Lupus, MS, cancer, I don’t know for sure, but it would have been bad.”
Wow. This whole time, I was trying to be tough and muscle through, but my body was signaling me. She was talking to me. She tried to be gentle at first, but I wouldn’t listen so she did what she had to do to get my attention. She is on my team. And my sensitivity is a gift. All this pain, all the exhaustion… I was being led in a different direction. To rest, to go inward, to heal what had been broken years ago, to truly care for myself.
I can’t help but think that this is what is happening with our whole planet right now. I hope we can sit with the discomfort of not being busy. That we can go inward and reflect on what we need to heal in ourselves, in each other, and on Earth. My body asked me to slow down a few months before everyone else did, so I feel like an old pro at the self-care thing right now. This is a gift.
I’ll close again with the loving-kindness meditation, which has become my mantra these past few days:
May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering.
Read Loving Smackdowns from the Universe, Part 1 HERE