It all started last October, a few months in to my new life (sans corporate job) I started feeling completely drained and exhausted. I didn't have energy to work out or cook or clean or even have fun. All I wanted to do during my free time was sleep and watch TV. It was super depressing. I knew what I should be doing, what I wanted to be doing, but I just couldn't do it. I had no energy. I started feeling hopeless, that I would never have my energy back. I let it go on for a few weeks thinking that maybe it was just a transitionary phase of this new lifestyle but after weeks of feeling exhausted I cracked and went on a wild google hunt for the answers to my problems. There were so many ailments to choose from that my symptoms conveniently matched; adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalance, depression, thyroid issues, IBS, I even at one point convinced myself I had crones disease.
Without wanting to fork over the cash to go to the doctor and have a rational and educated person oversee my health (who does that??), I decided to take matters into my own hands. Starting with the less threatening conditions, I began treating myself. To start, I tackled nutrition and hydration, the biggest factors for adrenal fatigue. I thought maybe I'm not drinking enough water since I'm not in front of a desk anymore drinking water out of boredom all day anymore. I added some more veggies to my diet as well (even though my diet wasn't super unhealthy to start with...except for cheese puffs and chocolate but I'm never giving those up). I saw some minor improvement but nothing major. Next I focused on exercise. I dug deep and found the motivation to start working out every day, and I started adding cardio in addition to my regular yoga routine. When this didn't work I cut out all exercise, thinking that maybe what my body needed was rest to restore itself. Nothing. I still woke up exhausted and had zero energy or drive.
So I moved on to curing what I thought might be a hormonal imbalance. I've always been interested in the mystery of hormones, and after having been on birth control on and off for almost 15 years I decided this was the root of all of my issues and it was time to come off for good. I did zero research before coming off, I just stopped taking it. BIG MISTAKE. The 8 weeks following my withdrawal from artificial hormones was nothing short of torture. If I thought the fatigue and lack of energy I already suffered from was bad, going off birth control took it to a whole new level. I felt like I completely lost myself. I went into a very dark place, for 2 weeks or so I felt depressed, sad, lonely, pretty much unconsolable. Then depression turned into a rage I have never felt before. I was a raging bitch for a solid 3 weeks. EVERYTHING pissed me off. My road rage was out of control, I was snapping at everyone (and by everyone I mainly mean my boyfriend, bless his heart) and just a miserable person to be around. By week 5 I needed help. I went to acupuncture which seemed to cool off my symptoms a bit, I had a massage and I started taking vitamins. By week 8 I finally started feeling like myself again, which I was seriously scared would never happen. Huge relief. But after all of my suffering through birth control detox, I was back to square one. Tired and fatigued. UGH!
So at this point, I'm eating relatively healthy, drinking a bunch of water, and my body is free of artificial hormones and had worked its way to a steady cycle. I had run out of options to treat myself. Then I realized that throughout this entire healing process I had been focusing entirely on my physical symptoms. When I finally spent time thinking about what may be going on internally I realized I had been feeling very unsettled emotionally. Like there was this brick of emotion that I'd swallowed at some point and never fully digested. I've learned enough through my yogic philosophy training to know that this was a samskara, or part of my conditioning that I had yet to heal. I had no clue what it was but there was something there. So I deducted that it was time to start working inwards. I committed to taking at least one Kundalini yoga class per week and I made an appointment with a therapist. I hadn't been to therapy since high school, so I didn't really know what to expect but I was honestly really looking forward to talking to someone. My first session was very healing, and I'm pretty sure my therapist said 5 words. Just giving my feelings, my problems, my concerns a voice was liberating, incredibly LIBERATING. I realized I'm a real person, with real problems, and even though my problems and suffering may not be as earth shattering as others, they still deserve my attention and compassion. So after a few weeks of therapy, I was feeling lighter, more motivated to get out of the house, but I still hit a wall at a certain point in my day and was shutting down. There was still something blocking me.
I had been hearing a lot about Reiki more recently, and because the universe works in very calculated ways (in my opinion), I met a yoga teacher that also has his own Reiki practice (Greg Wieting you are amazing). We chatted about Reiki a few times and I started feeling really inspired and excited about it. So I made an appointment with him, and even though it's not cheap, I was committed to my year of healing at this point, so money shmoney. I showed up for my Reiki session ready to heal. HOLY SHIT IT WAS AMAZING. Now that I had given my issues a voice through my therapy, I felt like an open book on the treatment bed. I went from feeling moments of complete euphoria to deep sadness, to the point where I was sobbing on the table. But I felt completely supported through the entire journey and I left the session feeling like I had just had a 3 hour massage. I had a smile PLASTERED across my face for the rest of the day.
The days following my Reiki session became what felt like a spiritual journey. My samskaras began to reveal themselves. Feelings of instability and lack of trust were very present for me, I've felt these emotions before but had never associated them with physical manifestations, it was different this time. I was aware of these feelings and instead of letting them fester in my body hoping they would dissolve on their own, I was motivated to find the tools to heal them. I researched buddhist teachings on trust and leaning in to instability. I was able to use these teachings throughout my day to remind myself that the only thing that matters is this moment, and in this moment everything is perfect. I was able to realize that I had innate trust in myself, and I didn't need to trust anything other than that. I woke up one morning about a week later and, I kid you not, I was cured. I was more awake than I'd felt in months. My energy stayed consistent throughout the day and into the night. I was able to go out with friends and have fun, like real honest exciting fun, and I realized I hadn't had fun in months. It was wonderful.
It's been three weeks since the morning I woke up. I'm still awake, and while every day hasn't been perfect, I feel alive. I'm motivated and inspired. I know now that healing is not about finding a quick fix, it's about doing this work everyday. Staying connected inwards to keep the mindfulness train running smoothly. It's about caring for ourselves holistically, so that we don't get knocked so far off track that we have to start from scratch. This will continue to be my year of healing, I'm going to stick with the therapy and Reiki sessions, I even signed up for a Reiki training! I'm going to keep nourishing my body with healthy food and lots of water. I'm going to be much more mindful of supporting my entire system, both physically and mentally.
My year of healing has showed me how powerful the mind/body connection is, and also how delicate this connection can be. If we aren't allowing ourselves to feel, process and digest our suffering and trauma, we're jeopardizing the foundation of our existence. So lean in to your suffering, use your practice, your breath and the endless resources available to you to prioritize your healing. You may not realize it yet, but we all need to create space for healing.