December 2014. Smiling on the outside, broken on the inside.
Christmas 2014, smiling on the outside, broken on the inside.
I remember the morning well.
Firstly, it was my turn to host Christmas, but the pressure was too much and thankfully my mum had recognised this, so she took the Xmas reins.
In the morning, I felt particularly fragile and when my sons started getting restless, noisy and argumentative I had to send them to my mums early so that I could go for a walk and gather some breathing space to get through the day.
But what had led me to a point in my life where I was struggling to get through most days without crying, having a panic attack, worrying about my health or constant migraines?
On my 41st Birthday, I was sitting in my summer house with my sister, mum and a close family friend.
It was then that my sister said that someone we all knew had passed away suddenly. This was the start of my hormone shift.
The lady that passed was a couple of years older than me, had a family, was larger than life, heavily involved in the community and the news of her death knocked me sideways. It shook my foundations.
This news started a cascade of issues, including health anxiety and hormone imbalance and within a matter of months I was left feeling overwhelmed, anxious, a sense of feeling that I was never fully present as if I was in another place – it’s difficult to express into words.
I lost weight, I sobbed regularly, felt little to no joy in life, I had lost my zest, I didn’t see my friends and at times felt I just wanted to run away. I was riddled with cold sores and migraines were triggered when I felt additional stress. My bucket of life was overflowing, and I was on a downward spiral. This went on for a long time and I needed help.
It was around this time that I started studying nutrition and it became apparent to me that I needed to start eating foods that nourished me, from the inside out. Whilst learning to become a nutritional therapist I discovered which foods help balance and support my hormones, and the ones that disrupted them.
I also knew the importance of supporting my emotional wellbeing and luckily had experienced the benefits of mediation and exercise before, which weren’t currently featured in my life.
If I wanted to find balance and joy again, I had to unlearn how to be anxious all the time. I had to rethink my nutrition and reduce stress. I needed to start meditating and exercising.
The first thing I focused on was my nutrition. Stimulating foods such as sugar, alcohol and caffeine were replaced with whole foods such as eggs, nuts, lean proteins and healthy fats.
I started jogging again, which helped burn off those anxious hormones but also blessed me with the healing power of mother nature as I was outside. Running also provided the much-needed headspace and endorphins.
I also decided to take a mindfulness course with a lovely local doctor, it was difficult at times as my mind was restless and liked to take me off to unhelpful places. However, I persevered, and although it was a bumpy road at times, we used to practice the mountain mediation which really helped ground me. The mountain meditation refers to the self as the mountain.
The mountain is always strong and steady; despite changing seasons and situations. If you can make yourself internally strong, it makes it easier to accept the changes that inevitably happen in life.
My health didn’t change overnight, it took time, recovery felt slow at times, but I started making small steps in the right direction and gradually when I woke up my first thing thoughts weren’t about anxiety, I no longer stood in the shower thinking how anxious I was.
My mind became less foggy, I started to feel like I was available and not on another planet.
I started to feel emotionally lighter, I wasn’t so easily stressed.
My bucket was no longer overflowing there was finally space to breathe.
There is no magic pill to become healthy, happy and balanced, you need to be ready to change, patient and determined.
It was also a collective of techniques that brought about my changes.
Over time my happy hormones became unlocked and started flowing again, I was able to find a version of my old self again that began to feel joy again. I was both physically and emotionally present. I finally felt comfortable and at ease in my skin, but most of all I’d found some much-needed peace.
It was all these things that helped me enjoy my life again, to get the most out of every day, to not be fearful of the unknown and be open and accepting of whatever comes my way.