I know, it’s been a while. First I launch a bunch of articles about well-fitting bras, natural hair care and my curious affection for Bruno Mars, then I dabble in food writing and travel, and then I disappear without so much as a swoosh after a few slightly downer posts about anxiety.
Well, friends, I have to be honest. As much as the Torrid Forties is about rocking your gorgeous greys, loving your curves and being flat-out certain that Bruno would also love them to distraction were the Versace indeed on the floor, it’s also about riding the waves of mental and emotional angst that come part and parcel with that same territory. Some women sail into middle age without so much as a pimple, while others, like yours truly, wrestle with hormonal and psychological beasts that creep up unbidden and unnoticed in the dark of night, turning morning into a carousel of fear and sadness.
I’ve been working really hard on this for the past year, I must tell you. And I’m proud that I’ve been proactive about getting the help that I knew I needed. I reached out to family, who let me know that women in my mother’s generation suffered just as greatly as I had been with both depression and anxiety–in point of fact, a 100% rate of infliction. The genetics of mental illness, psychological issues, whatever the hell you want to call it, is undeniable and scientifically documented. And for me, it was therefore impossible to sweep under the carpet. I took action, and thank God I did.
When anxiety kept me from sleeping through the night, I knew something was truly wrong. I never, ever, never have had trouble sleeping. I was the kid who racked out until 11 AM on Saturday mornings, only getting up then because Kidd Video was on (holla if you remember that one). I can sleep in cars, on flights, on trains, anytime you please, and if you try to get my ass out of bed before 6 AM, you’d better make sure you have all of your appendages protected. Yet there I was, sweating on my bedroom floor, heart racing, doing yoga poses at 3 AM in a last-ditch effort to siphon out some of the electric fright flying across my nervous system. Sleep was not even elusive; it was just plain absent.
My first stop in unraveling this freaky mystery was an emergency therapy session with a career counselor that I had been working with the previous year. My state was acute, and she provided a few coping mechanisms that took me from boiling to a rapid simmer.
Next was my regular physician, a lovely man who had always been open, caring and immensely reassuring about every health anxiety worry I’ve come to him with. On this visit, he and his medical student again assured me that I was healthy, chalked up my anxiety to life stresses, and wrote me a prescription for Xanax, which I did not request. I took one half of one pill on a very rapid boil day, and then ditched the rest. You see, we have addiction in my family tree, and therefore I choose to stay as far away from narcotics as possible.
I did not hesitate to embrace alternative medicine early in my quest to be well. Having been a practitioner of yoga for the greater part of the last 20 years, I’ve seen firsthand how breath, movement and energy dance together, and I know how the mind can benefit from this holistic way of caring for the body.
Acupuncture was my first stop on the functional health anti-anxiety tour, in the shape of a marvelous women-run integrative wellness practice near my FL town. These top-notch practitioners helped me to turn the heat from simmer all the way to low through a combination of needling, herbal supplements, dietary changes and something called the “womb room.” The nutritional intervention, though aimed at detox for my hardworking liver, not only cleaned me out but also caused me to drop both 20 pounds and six tenths of a point on my A1C. I also began learning to meditate, and got back in touch with my spiritual side. Listening to God and myself in God–now there’s a revelation.
All smooth sailing from there on, eh? Not so fast, my friends. They don’t call mental health a roller coaster for nothing. Emerging wellness is dependent upon maintaining adherence to whatever it is that has brought you to that wellness–self-care, nurturing, a routine, rest–a comfort zone. Lately I’ve pulled my clan and me out of that zone by switching jobs and moving us out of state to Atlanta. New job, new home, new environment, new school for Scooter–it’s all upending the apple cart. I still take my D3 every day and chug a whole bunch of water, but my yin and yang are out of whack again, and it’s taking its toll on my mind. Worry is worming its weaselly way in to my waking thoughts every day, keeping me from focusing on all the good that has happened for us and all the doors that have opened and continue to open wide before us.
But since this isn’t my first rodeo with anxiety and depression, I’m fixing to act on what I’ve learned during my last rides around the ring, and lasso that horse’s ass with a potent mind/body/spirit lariat. I have a new doc here in the ATL–a functional physician with both an MD and an IFM certificate. I’ve got my family, my crystals, my essential oils, my dog, my cat, and my mat.
I also have my classes in functional medicine coaching through the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy, which I signed up for earlier this summer and which will continue for almost a year. I’m going to embrace it all. I’ll sink into this abundant well of wellness and wealth and chronicle it all for you, my friends, in hopes that it helps someone else who may be riding the same bronco, bucking and flailing but holding on and hell-bent to stay in the saddle. Hats off to you, partners.
Image Credit: “Rodeo Cowgirl” by C.M. Russell. In the public domain.