I’ve always been the over-achieving go-getter type.
From a young age, I learned this was just the way things were. You work until you fall asleep and then you get up and work some more.
I cannot tell you how many times I watched my dad fall asleep on the floor, or on his keyboard, or wherever he currently was.
“I don’t know”, “I cant” and “I quit” were words that were taboo in that house. No whining, no complaining, and no stopping.
My dad lived like a work mule… and raised us in the same fashion.
I grew up thinking taking breaks was a sign of laziness. That watching TV and playing games was a huge waste of time, and that if you had time to sit, there was always SOMETHING that could be done so you were productive instead of being a couch potato.
As much as this drive in life has helped me power through some tough spots, it ultimately was my Achilles heel about 2 years ago.
Beginning of July 2016, I laid on my floor in the living room of my house, hands cupped over my face, deeply inhaling peppermint oil in a desperate attempt to get a full breath of air. Why couldn’t I breathe? What was happening to me? Is this a panic attack? Asthma? Lung cancer?
I literally felt like I had someone squeezing my diaphragm so tight that when I would breathe in, it would just stop before ever filling up my lungs. And it was terrifying.
That shortness of breath lasted for over a year straight.
I had graduated from Ashford University with a BA in alternative health and simultaneously completed a certification with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a health coach my senior year. Not only did I double up, I did it all very well. I had received the highest number of honors ribbons, cords, and metals that you could. …and during that 4 years I had 2 babies, and never took a break.
Shortly after graduation, I realized that my relationship wasn’t aligning right for me. I was a health coach, and he was VERY unhealthy. We had little to no communication or connection and operated as more roommates than partners. I couldn’t see my life progressing with this person.
I made a hard choice. And I left.
Now, prior to this, I had been a single parent before. But the compounding stress and neglect on my part to take breaks and take care of myself made this situation entirely different. With some tough choices at hand, I made a difficult choice in the best interest of my girls and I moved back to California to be closer to my family. I needed all the help I could get and this was the first time I was willing to ask for it.
The following year and a half was absolute MAYHEM. I was under chronic stress during that entire time in that house. Trying to take care of and homeschool 2 toddler girls under 5 by myself, no breaks, no financial support, no nothing…I started resenting motherhood.
My symptoms were compounding, but I was refusing to address them.
- frequent severe headaches
- extreme levels of fatigue (i was terrified to drive and once I got home I didn’t even have the energy to get out of the car)
- nerve pains down my leg (right side) and restless leg syndrome frequently
- weight gain
- heart palpitations
- I literally couldn’t find anything in my life I enjoyed. at all.
It wasn’t until a friend in a mastermind group reached out to me and said: “I think you may have adrenal fatigue, Epstein Barr virus, and heavy metal toxicity”.
I’m a health coach damnit. I can’t have health issues. I’m supposed to be the one helping other people get healthier lives, not deteriorating my own. But what I failed to realize was that by pushing myself to the max, staying in a constant fight-or-flight state, and enduring chronic stress without taking the time for self-care…. my body started to fail.
Stress is a causal factor for most of the diseases, disorders, and conditions out in the world today. Stress paired with a poor diet is a lethal cocktail.
And because of my inability to handle stress, state of victimhood but stubborn denial that I needed help, emotional binge eating because of my depression, and lack of emotional support, I was on the fast track to joining the rest of the world in checking off box after box of symptoms.
Here’s what I learned in my shit-storm of sinking adrenal quicksand:
- Epstein Barr is a virus that feeds off of stress and a poor diet.
- Stress was literally killing me. It has the power to really mess up some stuff internally
- I had complete control over whether I wanted to stay in that space and continue or if I wanted out
- Self-care is VITAL and really difficult to do once you’re already down the rabbit hole
- If I don’t get this shit under control, I’m putting myself and my kids in danger daily.
That last one is a doozy, isn’t it? As moms, we know mom guilt all too well. From caving and giving them what they want to accidentally trip over them because they insist on playing right behind your feet, or losing your shit and screaming like the Hulk came out in your living room over the 6th spill in less than 2 hours.
Taking accountability and honest inventory of what my actions were doing to me AND my kids, was what pushed the shift.
Something had to change.
With my friend’s help, I started taking action. Locating high triggering stress points and reducing them, drinking celery juice every day (it kills the virus and balances the system to help you cope), putting my business on hold and stop trying to force it to work when my health needed my attention more. I cleaned up my diet, switched to fully plant-based and took the processed emotional eating binges out, and started focusing on self-care.
It took a long time. It took a lot of effort. And I’m still healing.
But I can tell you this, I don’t snap very much at all anymore. I have a beautiful relationship with my children, minimal mom guilt instead of an overload, the TMJ, shortness of breath, headaches, and heart palpitations all stopped, and I started finding joy in my daily life.
This was all something I thought couldn’t be possible 2 years ago.
I seriously was googling women’s heart attacks and lung cancer. And if I can come back from that, I know there are women out there suffering from the same thing I was, that I can help. That I can coach and guide and support through their journey because I know just how terrifying it is and how you feel like you cant open up and talk to anyone because they just dont understand.
….but I understand.
You’ve got this. Use the mess as fuel to push yourself out of the hole you’re in. Find small steps every day, every week, to work towards. Clean up your diet. Make a change. And if you need a coach during this process, know that Im your girl.