THE BALANCING ACT / my hormonal healing journey
I know I have hinted here and promised there that I will expand on my personal hormonal healing journey ( and also why I stopped drinking coffee ) for a long while now. So why have I been so quiet about it? To be honest, it is a lot to digest and I feel like I have only put my little toe in the sea of healing my hormones. It is a road trip with no clear destination or estimate time of arrival - not even the route is clearly marked out and an open mind is needed to embrace possible detours. BUT, one thing is sure - very, very sure - and you can take my word for it -
it isl i f e c h a n g i n g.
How it all started
Like most other days, I started this specific Sunday morning in January with a cup of the goodness before we headed off to church. Freshly ground Legado beans extracted with our die-hard little Aeropress and a dash of almond milk.
At church a friend was sharing about her new book launch this morning: a bundle of powerful testimonies of precious women from all walks of life. I remember getting a little distracted in the heat of this hot summer morning until I heard the echo of a the words as she shared someone's story : "infertile, struggle, couldn't conceive naturally" and there I was, facing another wave of fear as these words are the very words that have been spoken over me time and time again.
Since I started menstruating in high school, I have never had a normal / regular cycle. I didn't think much of this as most doctors just brushed it off as 'you might have issues with conception one day, but it will settle as you get older'. In the mean time I thought that I have a sweet deal with my body and that it's a bonus to skip all the pain and drama for months before they visit me again in all their agony and glory.
At the age of twenty one I had my first gynecologist visit and it was at this very visit that she ‘broke the news to me’ and diagnosed me with PCOS. ( it was a complete foreign term for me )
A brief description, a PCOS pamphlet and a prescription ( for the pill ) later - I sat in my car with the banner looming over my head : "PCOS : your battle with infertility has just begun, but don’t fear when the pill is near.” I was scared and frustrated and I felt like my body failed me - however, something inside of me - that still small voice - whispered : 'the pill is not the answer."
And it wasn't. It made me feel absolutely horrific in my own body and I clearly remember trashing it 3 days later and promising myself : I will never, ever drink any form of contraceptive pills again. ( for various other reasons I also didn’t return to the doctor )
So I continued on my skip-here, cycle there rhythm and thought by myself - I'll try again when it really matters : one day when I want to start a family.
A year later I gathered new courage and decided to visit another gynecologist. He informed me that I if he looks at my ovaries, there is no sure sign that I have PCOS and then he sat me down and with all the kindness he could gather, told me that I am selfish for not using the pill as that is unfair towards my husband. ( gasp ). I brushed his words off my coat outside and tear his prescription for the pill in half and tossed it in the wind. ( I literally did )
And so I continued in my own hormonal darkness. Ignorant, frustrated, ashamed, fearful and with little hope for a solution and the fear that I will never have a family one day.
Until this very Sunday I mentioned above. When God invited and remindede me in the midst of waves of fear crashing over me, that He is my ultimate healer and that He wants to take my hand out of the darkness and into the light. Take nothing with you but your faith in Me and my creation : You. I knew something was about to change.
I got home and immediately texted my holistic health coach friend ( Caitlin from Nutritionsprout ) - I quote :
hallo friend, sorry to bother you on a sunday afternoon. i just quickly wanted to ask you if you maybe know if coffee is a baddy for irregular menstruation / healthy hormones? i know i can just go and google - but before i immerse myself in it i just wanted to check if you have a jay or nay about it...
hallo! No bother at all, this is my jam ;) Coffee is a tough one - I miss it often.
Yeah sorry to say but coffee is a hormone disruptor and for a few reasons. One of the first things I'd advise someone with hormonal imbalance or adrenal fatigue, just from personal experience and extensive reading over the years is to cut coffee ( at least for a significant period of time )
1. it can effect our estrogen / progesterone balance
2. regular consumption of caffeine disconnects you from your natural circadian ( rhythms of sleep )
3. raises cortisol levels ( stress hormone)
4. it can disrupt our gut flora which we are learning more and more, goes hand in hand with our immunity, our hormonal balance etc
There is more and I can definitely elaborate and send you some good stuff to read if you'd like. How are things going with your cycle ? x
There is more? What more? Tell me more? Where can I read more? Questions started flowing from my insides and I knew there and then, that I am about to embark on a life-changing journey. One without coffee - but with a hope of healing.
This was only the beginning. And where I am 6 months later is still just the beginning - yet it is already miles away from where I was.
What followed in the next few months and what I will share in the posts to follow :
- No COFFEE ( and I had 5 consecutive cycles since the day I stopped drinking coffee )
- PMS - how I learned the truth about my symptoms and that if my hormones are healthy PMS is totally ABnormal
- STRESS - my biggest downfall and probably my most impactful hormone disruptor
- FOOD CYCLING - how I started eating in a way that serves and support the four phases of my menstrual cycle
- My intro into FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE through starting to walk a path with an integrative doctor
- MOVE - learning how to cross train in a way that serves and supports the four phases of my menstrual cycle ( i.e. run / pilates / walk / yoga / rest and NOT to do grid classes 5 days a week )
- SUPPLEMENT - how I am learning the language of my body and what it needs outside of good nutrition
- CLEAN BEAUTY - how i cleaned up my routine from hormone disrupting toxins by changing from my facial products, to toothpaste to my lip balm, to my dishwashing liquid.
Dear ladies, I am no health expert, nor have I perfectly balanced my hormones yet - but I have uncovered many lies I believed about my body and menstrual cycle. I have shaken off all the shame I carried around this part of my womanhood and therefore I am braving it out here to invite you to do the same. There IS light at the end of the PMS tunnel. Our hormones are what makes us unique as women - they are our very essence and we should take care of them like precious gems. They hold the promise of an abundant life and leaving a healthy legacy for our offspring. Sounds impossible? I also thought so.
I have thrown a lot of hard work at healing my hormones and I am already seeing the fruit in some areas. Is it easy and instant? No. Do I get tired and sometimes frustrated? Yes. But am I still where I was in my black hole of anxiety and fear while being drenched in lies about my future and my ability to birth life? No!
If you can resonate - let me know. I don’t have all the answers, but I can encourage you and point you towards answers. We are all in this together.
A LITTLE MORE
My friend Caitlin and I are in the process of creating an ( online ) space where women can come to find well curated content that aims to serve and elevate them on their personal wellness journey. If you would like to stay in touch about our progress - please sign up with your details below.
Ps. We both have day-jobs that requires a lot of love and care, but we are working hard to launch sometime in Spring - however, this is a very organic process for us and we want to be transparent about that. In the mean time - keep in touch with us @sheisvisual and @nutritionsprout. Caitlin is also a holistic health coach - feel free to get in touch with her if you need more solid and structured support with your well-being. She is amazing!