Growing up I went to the doctor for 2 reasons: (1) I had (another) ear infection and (2) my annual check up. And as the years passed I stopped getting ear infections (thanks to herbal medicine!), and I would only go for my physical exam (usually on my birthday). If I was feeling sick or had a cough, I would usually tough it out because I did not like the waiting room. In high school I made a surprise visit to the doctor because I was getting heart palpitations and anxiety attacks because of school (I needed to maintain top grades for university admissions!), and I headed to the doctor ready to take any pill she had (in retrospect, it would have probably been an anti-depressant). Instead, I was greeted by an alternate practitioner of European descent who had me complete a neurological exam and told me to practice some yoga.
Obviously, this is not what I was expecting. But it began to open my eyes to the possibility that something beyond a pill could help give me relief. When I began at the Naturopathic College it was recommended that we see an intern to get a deeper understanding of what we signed up for. So I went – curious as to what I was getting myself into, and was immediately put on an elimination diet (past blog posts follow my journey). Later on when I found out I had hypothyroidism, I chose to focus on holistic remedies rather than taking synthroid, because I wanted to see what my medicine could do.
Fast forward to February, and here I am again – with an elevated TSH, only this time my adrenals are steering the ship and holding my thyroid and menstrual cycle hostage (a bit dramatic, but I’m sure you get the idea).
Without getting into super-scientific detail (because you probably don’t have enough energy or brain space for that), the two tiny adrenal glands that sit atop the kidneys, and are in charge of making and releasing the stress hormone cortisol, tells the body to conserve its energy during times of stress (my stress = almost 10 years of postgrad education + entrepreneur life + home renos) and so the thyroid – which is pretty much the switch for our metabolism, slows down to conserve energy and leads to hypothyroidism. And for a cherry on top, because my body is making so much cortisol, it’s taking from progesterone leading to an imbalance and causing spotty periods.
And that’s just the western perspective! (There’s a whole traditional Chinese medicine aspect too!)
The issue that I find, is that typically we (as a society) don’t understand that all of our symptoms are connected. Moreover, they go beyond what we see (hair loss or lab results). They affect our mind and spirit too. They can manifest in fear and worry – which we brush off as normal.
So in essence, I’m urging you to listen to your body. Your body just wants to feel good. And yes, that scoop of ice cream may do the trick temporarily, but it’s not going to solve the problem. Only you can do the work to get yourself where you need to be. But you don’t need to do it alone.
With that in mind, I’m dedicating the next couple of months to really taking care of myself. To me that means consulting with my health team (my Naturopathic Doctor, Osteopath and Acupuncturist) on which system to primarily support, what I can do at home (I just added foam rolling to my routine) and going in for acupuncture (my favourite) to tie everything together.
I’ll be blogging about my journey in decreasing stress (yes, it’s possible), healing my thyroid and patching up my period. I hope you’ll be following!