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Long time coming.

The past two months have been a bit of a rollercoaster, both physically and emotionally. Since early May, I stopped training with my cousin and also haven’t been eating all too well, I’ve received news that I still have a material hormonal imbalance, I flew (for the first time in five years) to Vegas for a Bachelorette party, started playing softball again, got into a verbal argument at a volleyball match, I had a few rounds of physical anxiety, my boss had a baby, I took over the day-to-day trading operations at my firm, started stress eating, and most recently (between yesterday and today) my family has had issues with our next-door neighbors. It is a lot of stuff, I will try to make it all make sense.

Since January I trained with my cousin, who is a certified personal trainer. We stopped, temporarily, training in May because he was going on a trip and then that eventually became permanent because my work schedule became completely erratic and I couldn’t commit to specific times. As of result of not having my cousin and his sessions to motivate me and my new work schedule, I’ve fallen off the wagon a little bit. I did however join a new gym and have at least been going once per week. I went today and I’m hoping to go more this week, but I haven’t been that great at being consistent. My diet has been pretty crappy as well as I’m basically stress eating at work, which I will explain later. Hopefully this is my week though, I need to get into a groove.

Midway through May I got the results back from a saliva test that I performed over the course of the month of April. The results were packaged and sent out to a lab in Washington State and my naturopathic doctor received the results. She called me up in the middle of the month and we scheduled an appointment. At that visit, she told me that I still have a progesterone shortage, otherwise known as estrogen dominance. I’ve been off of the pill for almost fifteen months now and I have gotten a lot better. My estrogen levels have normalized now, but my body has not been able to raise my progesterone levels naturally, which has thrown off my periods, caused PMS, and I also have been told that at my current level, I’d have a hard time conceiving a child and if I did conceive, I’d have a hard time carrying the pregnancy to term. Needless to say, I was speechless. I thought that my body has had enough time to heal on its own and regulate my hormones once more. However, that’s clearly not the case and not only that, but now I’m facing potential fertility issues. The good part is that I’m on a progesterone supplement program for the entire summer and hopefully that will help to raise my level.

In a short note, I went out to Las Vegas for a friend’s bachelorette party. This was a huge deal for me as I have not been on a plane in five years and more importantly than that, I wasn’t sure as to how I’d react to flying with my anxiety. I will admit that I took a 0.25 mg Xanax during takeoff on the flight there and home, but beyond that it was fine and I actually enjoyed myself on the airplanes. It sounds silly, but this was a big accomplishment for me.

At the beginning of June, softball started and I’m on a new team. All of the ladies are fantastic and I’m having a lot of fun. I still play volleyball as well but it hasn’t been all fun and games recently. I play on a co-ed team and there is one man on my team who is constantly trying to move me around and control my play simply because I’m female. Well eventually I became fed up with him and at a game a few weeks ago I called him out. He claimed that he was trying to help the team out and even tried to guilt me by saying that he respects women and his mother is dead. Really? I’m sorry your mother is dead but I don’t think that she has anything to do with volleyball. Case closed. We recently played together this past Thursday actually and barely spoke to each other, but that’s OK. We played well together on the court and that’s all that matters.

In the middle of June, I had major anxiety. I wasn’t sure if it was a side effect of the Xanax in my system, stress from work, or both. I’m thinking that it was a combination of both. I didn’t have a full-blown panic attack, thank God, but still, I did feel defeated that I reacted so badly to my thoughts.

Literally a few days after my mini-breakdown my boss gave birth to her son, which then put me in charge of the daily trading operations at my firm. Needless to say I was nervous then and I’m still a little nervous now. I’m two weeks into this experience and it’s been quite eye-opening. I’ve been able to prove to myself that I’m able to handle this job and it has also helped to spark a fire in me and reignite my interest in the stock market and finance in general. However with all of that positivity, I have started to stress eat. I visit the snack closet multiple times a day to help calm myself down when I get nervous at work. This is a terrible way to relieve stress and this week  is the week where I hope to stop this phenomenon.

Last but not least, the issues with the next door neighbors. They had an early Fourth of July party yesterday and didn’t invite my parents. It really hurt my mom’s feelings and made my dad angry. As a result, it made me livid. But on top of that, I felt physical symptoms of anger and anxiety. When I saw my neighbors, I felt my chest tighten and felt pain in my head. I wanted to go over there and start screaming at them. I felt awful for my parents. I always tried to be the bigger person and continue to say hi to them even though they have basically phased my parents out of the neighborhood social circle over the years. I never wanted to be the person who just straight up ignores people but at this point I feel as though it’d be best for my health and psyche to just ignore these people. I have slowly removed myself from them as I have unfriended them on Facebook (which I’m still trying to get rid of) and have limited my communication to just the next-door neighbors but now I’ve really had enough. I really can’t afford the stress anymore and this weekend was the last straw for me.

So that has been my last two months. Lots of good, productive things and a few bumps along the way. My focus right now is to continue healing and working on my health in addition to participating in activities that I like with people who like and respect me. One thing that I’ve learned in the past two months is that I cannot hide my feelings (like being nervous about work or mad at a teammate or neighbor). I have to feel what I feel, take the appropriate action(s), and move on.

 

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An estate piece and home alone anxiety.

The past three days have been weird to say the least. It all started on Wednesday when my mom and dad went shopping during the day (they’re teachers, so they’re off from school all week). My mom received tons of gifts from her students, one of which was a necklace from a jewelry store. She returned the necklace and decided to buy me something instead of herself, which was a nice gesture, but not necessary. She called me at work and told me that she had bought me something but didn’t tell me what. She went onto say that she dreamt about this object and had to buy it. When I got home later that night, she gave me a small jewelry box. I opened it up and inside was a brooch; an estate piece. It was dainty, made of white gold and it had a small sapphire in the middle. Honestly, it was beautiful, but I don’t own brooches, nor do I know how to where them properly. My mom waited in angst for my reaction and I guess it was less than expected. I thanked her, but I probably had my go-to puzzled look on my face, which isn’t very nice. Then I went on to tell her that I was concerned that I’d never wear it and it (plus her money) would go to waste. She told me to “do whatever I wanted with it” and walked away. Minutes later, we were in the living room and talking and she started crying. I asked her what was wrong and she insisted that she was worried about the cruise that her and my dad were going on today (I’ll get to that in a minute). Then yesterday morning I wakeup and my mom says “why is the pin on my dresser” in a nasty tone. Again, puzzled, I wondered why she was so mad. Then last night, we barely spoke and when we did, it was awkward, at least on my end. So I basically let loose on her, at first I told her calmly that I’m sorry if I offended her and that I thought I was doing the right thing by expressing my concerns. Then she pretty much dismissed me, so I got angry and raised my tone. My parents left for their 4 day cruise this morning and my mom still seems pretty awkward to me, so I’ll have to see what happens when they come back on Monday.

Now onto their vacation. I’m happy that they take trips, especially since when our family dog, Boomer, was in his later years they couldn’t travel much because he required constant care (he was very sick at the tail end of his life, we put him down on April 5, 2010). Since his passing, they’ve been travelling more and… my anxiety developed, peaked, and lingered between then and now. When my anxiety was at its worst and even as it got progressively better, I had a hard time when they took trips because of the agoraphobia that I developed as a result of my anxiety. I would fear being alone in the house without anyone to have close by “if” something happened (a big issue with anxiety is the “what if” scenario). I also feared being embarrassed if I called someone and asked for help, thinking that they’d think I’m a lunatic. Clearly, these were all irrational fears, especially since I lived and worked away from home while I was in college.

Anyway, today my parents left at 4:30am and I got a little nervous as I watched the taxi drive off with them and their friends in tow. I went back upstairs to my bedroom and tried to relax, go back to sleep. At first it was tough because I thought back to how badly I felt during their trips past with my anxiety, so I turned on Jersey Shore to distract me, which inevitably relaxed me and got me back to sleep (weird, right?). When I woke up later in the morning for work, I decided to think through my mild anxiety from earlier – I pinpointed my thoughts and realized that they’re really terrible thoughts. I never really looked at them and understood why I was so afraid sometimes, but once I became cognizant of them, it all made sense.

Here’s a list of my thoughts when I get anxious (I had all of these when it was really bad, now I only get a few of them):

– What if I can’t breathe?

– What if I choke?

– What if I get hurt and no one finds me for days?

– What if I need to call 911?

– Who in the neighborhood or surrounding area can I rely on for help?

When driving, my mind raced (sometimes mildly races) to these thoughts:

– Drive in a populated area in case you need help

– Where is the nearest hospital?

– Does this road have a shoulder (emergency lane)?

– What if I’m in the left-hand or middle lanes and I lose control of myself and subsequently the car?

When I look at these thoughts on paper, they’re astounding. I’ve never worried so much in my life than I have in the past almost 2 years. More importantly than that, I’ve been worrying over the worst case scenario during that time. At first I thought that writing these down would get me anxious today, but as I analyze them, it’s actually helped me because logically, my mind is saying “no, that’s not going to happen” and “you have plenty of people to call in case something does happen”. I used to never be like this, that’s what gets me, but I am almost 100% sure (there’s always that inkling of doubt) that this is hormonal, especially because I’m currently in the week before my period, also known in my life as PMS time. If you read through the PMS link, it explains:

“PMS may often be triggered by hormonal changes. It tends to begin at puberty, after pregnancy, after starting birth control pills, after hormone related surgery as hysterectomy or tubal ligation or around the onset of the menopause. In fact, it is not unusual for the PMS sufferer to confuse her symptoms with those of an early menopause.”

I never had PMS before I started on Yaz in March of 2008, which is used to treat PMS/PMDD and as a result of taking it for almost 3 years (ended it Sept 2010), I’ve had several doctors mention that it possibly gave me PMS, which I’m still dealing with today. I have to admit though, it’s gotten better and I’m getting more and more comfortable by myself as time goes on. I’ve been taking Women’s Menocaps (per my Naturopathic doctor) to restart my endocrine system, which was shut down by hormonal birth control. My naturopath also has me on larger doses of vitamins B & D, which were depleted by the pill.

All in all, I’m doing well so far up in New Jersey and I hope that it stays that way. My parents are in sunny Miami on a cruise ship that will be heading for the Bahamas.

Needless to say, I’m jealous of them.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Family, Women's Health

 

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A little night anxiety.

I’m over 8 months off the pill – my “pill-versary”, as I call it, is April 7, 2011, so I hit 8 months exactly one week ago today. I have become more healthy by the day and I’m really feeling like myself again for the most part, which is great. My depression is gone, but my anxiety still lingers, although the rate at which it comes around has decreased over time since quitting hormonal birth control.

Anxiety reared its ugly head last night, but let me back-track for a minute. I just finished my period on Monday – it lasted four days, but wasn’t too bad, just uncomfortable at best. Fast-forward to yesterday, I haven’t been feeling good as I’ve had a cough and some congestion over the past 2 weeks, so I coworker/friend of mine and I went to Starbucks to go for a walk and grab something hot to drink. I decided to drink tea – black tea also known at Starbucks as AWAKE TEA. I should’ve known better, but I really needed something hot – although I could’ve asked for something decaf. In any case, the tea was huge and I drank the whole thing throughout the last few hours at work. By the time I left at 5pm, I felt kind of nauseous and I could feel parts of my body shake/tremble. Caffeine bothered me before I was on the pill – I would get trembling hands, higher heart rate, etc. But after I’ve been on the pill, I get all of those symptoms, plus anxiety. I really need to be more careful with caffeine, especially if I have to drive.

Anyway, last night I had a packed schedule – I had an appointment from 6-7, then I had to pickup a friend of mine and go Christmas shopping with her, and it turns out that I was out with her so late that I was able to stop by my boyfriend’s house for a rare weekday visit. Even though I’m happy to be busy and have things to do, this means that I also have a lot of driving to do and when I’m anxious, driving gets to be uncomfortable for me, especially when I’m alone. When my birth control reaction started, it started while I was driving; the one activity that always made me feel great and I loved it – whether it was alone, with people, in the day time, at night – I loved driving ever since I started at 16. It helped me to calm down when I was mad, it get me an outlet to sing at the top of my lungs, my car was kind of like a sanctuary for me. However, once I had my first panic attack on the highway at age 24, I’ve never looked at driving the same (although it has gotten somewhat better).

I didn’t leave my boyfriend’s house until about 12:45am this morning, which is obviously way too late, but I always have a hard time leaving him because I get so comfortable hanging out with him. He walked me to my car and then as he walked away, I sat in my car. All of a sudden these negative thoughts swarmed my mind. Thoughts such as “you’re going to have a panic attack on the bridge” (there’s only one bridge back to my house and it’s been such a sore spot for me to cross especially when my panic issue was really bad), “you’re going to need assistance” (this I think relates to the idea of being embarrassed by my anxiety), etc. I just sat in the car and thought to myself “why now? why are these irrational thoughts creeping into my head?” It was so weird; I haven’t had thoughts like that in a while, then I remembered the tea. As I started driving, I started worrying, anticipating my anxiety – this worry peaked as I crossed the bridge, but as I crossed, I was able to swallow and breathe with minimal discomfort. That helped me calm down and then my anxiety immediately dissipated.

http://stresshelp.tripod.com/id7.html

The above link gives more information on the connection between anxiety and caffeine.

I really need to be conscious of my own caffeine consumption.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Women's Health

 

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Two weeks worth of thoughts…

I have done what I vowed not to do! Or at least tried not to do! I haven’t written a blog entry in 2 weeks! So this may be lengthy, please bear with me.

The last two weeks of my life have been pretty busy with work (of course), looking for new work (interviewing, applying, etc.), the inception of fall softball and volleyball leagues (I love me my sports), watching American football (Go Jets!), and various wedding activities as I am in my college friend’s bridal party (she’s getting married this weekend). Needless to say, I haven’t had too much time to write, but I’ve had a lot of thoughts – so why not take a break at work and post something, right?

I’ve been applying/interviewing for several positions as of late within the NYC area and it’s been going well so far albeit slow, but in this economy, it’ll have to do. I thought that I’d have a much harder time with it considering my anxiety, but it’s been going pretty smoothly (knock on wood) and I’m hoping that it continues to do so.

In addition to playing sports this fall, I’ve recently joined the Junior League of Bergen County, a women’s volunteer organization that helps a plethora of people throughout Northern NJ. My decision to join this group in essence was to “pay it forward”. After what I went through last year and surviving it, I feel as though I owe it back to the universe, as it were, to pay my good fortune forward; to help others the way that I myself was helped during my time of need by my family and friends.

In terms of my recovery from my birth control reaction, I’m almost six months off the pill (Oct 7th to be exact) altogether. It’s amazing how time flies – I’m already 1 year off of Yaz as of Sept 18th, which is a blessing because that’s one of the most dangerous drugs on the market. I’m still dealing with irregular cycles and PMS issues, mainly anxiety, but things have been so much better and easier to deal with. I think that’s in part to my naturopathic regiment of 10,000U of Vitamin D, a dropperful of Liquid B12, 6 Gentian Root capsules, and 2 Min Chex capsules per day. I got my period this past Saturday (in between a 28 and 35 day cycle) and I still have it today – I had some anxiety last night into today, but it’s seemed to pass. This cycle has by far been the easiest and oddly enough, it’s the first one in which I’m on this natural plan, so I’m hoping that all the vitamins have helped. I see the naturopath this coming Monday, so I’m hoping that it goes well.

I’ve noticed this strange thing that happens with my period, or at least it’s been happening since I’ve stopped taking the pill. I chart my periods now – Apparently, I get my period for 3 days, then it stops on the 4th day, only to come back on the 5th day. And on the 4th day into the 5th, my anxiety flares up. After reading up on this online, I found these sites, explaining how this can be caused by a hormonal imbalance or stress.

http://periods.blurtit.com/q961078.html

http://www.simple-remedies.com/home-remedies/womens-health-issues/period-starts-and-stops.html

http://www.everydayhealth.com/anxiety/why-anxiety-spikes-with-your-period.aspx

http://www.midlife-passages.com/page121.html

This morning, I had told a very good friend of mine about this. She’s currently on Yaz and has been taking it for almost 5 years (although she’s taken Ocella as well in addition to using Nuvaring once). She’s always been pretty skeptical about my “birth control reaction” being that she’s on the pill herself. I can understand that; I wouldn’t want to hear about someone having terrible side effects as a result of a medication I was using. But I always preface our conversations with “this doesn’t happen to everyone”, etc. – I’m not preachy about this, I really try hard to be objective and PC, if you will. Anyway, this afternoon she e-mails me with this:

“So I don’t mean to pry or anything, but do you think there could be some other underlying factors behind your anxiety?  You’ve been off the pill for a while so I was just wondering if you think there could be another reason for it other than hormones?”

My response:

“No worries… Well, I’ll always been an anxious person, that’s how I am by nature. What kills me now are the physical symptoms of anxiety, which used to be extremely inconvenient and now just scare me into anticipatory anxiety (i.e. what if I have a panic attack, etc.) as they are less intense and fewer and further between.  I’ve never had this prior to the pill, nor is there any history in my family of anyone having these symptoms (anxiety itself is another story). What I think happened (so does my psychologist and my naturopathic doctor) is that the pill exacerbated my anxiety and brought on the physical symptoms. That would make sense because I haven’t had a panic attack since being off the pill almost 6 months ago (Apr. 7th to be exact). There was even a HUGE change with me just getting off of Yaz and switching (Last pill I took was Sept 18th) based on this http://action.citizen.org/content.jsp?content_KEY=2316&t=notmypill.dwt . I did have panic attacks after that while on Levora (2nd gen) and Zovia (1st gen), but they weren’t nearly as bad as they were on Yaz – which has been proven to cause such reactions in women, as are other forms of hormonal birth control – ring/implanon/depo (shot)/IUD/etc. – http://www.ditchthepill.org/

I’ve been off of the pill for almost 6 months, but the synthetic hormones in the pill can stay in your system anywhere from 3 months to over a year, depending on the length of time you’ve been taking them, what type, etc. So it’s very possible that it can still be a hormonal imbalance. Also, my anxiety on the pill (since 2010) up until now is like clockwork when compared to my cycle. Now I get it around my period and that’s it, like PMS. I also had blood work done last month and I still have a high testosterone level caused by the pill, in addition to deficiencies in B12 and D – which is caused by the pill and I’m currently looking to correct. http://www.virginiahopkinstestkits.com/everywomanbc.html and http://www.healingwithnutrition.com/newsclips/archive/drugdepletion.html

I honestly couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. And I’m not the only one. There are thousands of women going through this

http://www.aphroditewomenshealth.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=postlist&Board=7&page=1

http://www.createforum.com/yasminsideeffec/viewforum.php?f=1&mforum=yasminsideeffec

I’ve gone through a lot with this garbage and it’s very very real – in addition to my anxiety, I developed agoraphobia, and  I was so depressed last summer/fall that I was suicidal. I also lost a ton of hair, (especially once I switched off Yaz but also when I got off all together), plus my scalp became oily, I saw changes in my skin, my periods were completely off (the pill shuts down your natural hormone production, hence why some women have problems having periods/conceiving post pill) and I had little to no sex drive. My both my gynecologists (I switched drs in Feb) have admitted that the pill can cause issues – unfortunately, their remedies were more pills, which I finally declined. I do believe very strongly that the pill caused this damage – this isn’t me and most of these symptoms have corrected themselves since I’ve stopped taking hormonal birth control.

I’m not saying that this happens to everyone, because it doesn’t, unfortunately, I’m one of the unlucky ones.”

Sometimes it’s hard describing this to people because I have to get into extreme detail in order for them to understand it. Although I’m lucky because my family and boyfriend completely support me and agree, especially since they saw my symptoms at their worst and have seen how far I’ve come since 2010.

It seems as though I still have some time to go in this recovery, but every day that I don’t take synthetic hormones and other unnecessary drugs is one day closer to a healthier, happier me.

 

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The first day of September

Today is September 1st. I remember my life around this time last year… I was still on Yaz, severely depressed (to the point of suicidal thoughts) and constantly nervous to the point where I was ready to take myself to the ER due to my heart palpitations, sweaty palms and difficulty swallowing. Not a pretty sight and certainly not a way to go through life.

Fast forward one year later. I’m much better and I’m on day three of my naturopathic regimen. I take 2 5,000U Vitamin D pills and a dropperful of liquid B12 in the morning, I take 6 Pepsin & Gentian Root capsules during the day with my meals, and I take 2 Min-Chex pills before I go to sleep. I know that’s a lot of stuff to take, but according to my doctor, it’s only for the month, then she’ll start to decrease my dosages.

It’s only been three days and Lord knows that I don’t want to jinx myself, but I’m feeling different. I feel a little clearer, a little less quick to get anxious or mad, a little brighter even. I’ve also been spotting… a lot. This hasn’t happened since I first came off the pill. I’m currently in the second week of my cycle, although 3 out of my 4 cycles since being off lasted 5 weeks instead of four. So I’m not menstruating, but I wonder if this new regimen is affecting my cycle, perhaps even helping to flush out the remnants of synthetic hormones that are still in my system? That would be great; I want that GARBAGE out of my system. My naturopathic doctor suggested that sometimes the chemicals from the pill can stay lodged in your system for a period of type and may need to be pushed out. Next month when I see her again, we’re going to discuss a naturopathic cleanse.

At this point, I’m willing to try anything to rebalance my body and get it 100% healthy again.

 

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2011 in Changing My Situation, Women's Health

 

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