Where to begin... I’ve only told this to a handful of people, but I really feel like it is well-past time to share my story publicly. I hope it will give insight and inspiration for anyone who may be struggling with the same or similar problems. EDIT: I am now a Nutritional Therapy Consultant and know SO much more about the reasons behind my health journey and why I wasn't healing properly (more details near the very bottom)! But that's all a part of life. Failure. Learning. Success.
To make a rather long story, short... I over-worked and over-stressed my body so much that I practically went through menopause in my 20s. Or at least all the symptoms that are typically associated with menopause.
At first I didn’t know what happened, but later I came to realize that I ran my hormones to the ground and it was a long, steep road to get them back up. Poor diet, physical and emotional stress, inadequate sleep, caffeine addiction, birth control pills - these were all helpers on my journey to adrenal fatigue and hormonal burnout.
It took me several years of visiting multiple doctors (none of which were of any help) to find the road to regaining my energy and health back. BUT I’m finally on the right path and have acquired a burning desire along the way to help others out of the place I was stuck for so many years.
If any of this rings true with your story, I truly believe that you’ll enjoy reading my detailed story…
2012-2016 - THE PAST
Most women at some point, especially in their teens and young 20s, go on birth control. It's seen as the “norm”. Even if there is no reason for it, doctors are very adamant about pushing this pill - this lab-created pill compiled of synthetic hormones that are foreign to our bodies. I, personally, got on the pill shortly before getting married to prevent getting pregnant before we were ready. I didn't think anything of it at the time as doctors have always said there weren't really any alternatives. But boy do I wish I had looked into it a bit more! Little did I know, this seemingly innocent move was going to play a huge role in destroying my body from the inside out.
Just a few short months after getting married (I had only been on the pill for about 6 months at this point), I decided to get off my birth control. No, I wasn’t trying to start a family. I merely wanted a more natural and safe approach to contraception. I've never liked the idea of being on antibiotics or pills that I didn’t truly know the effect it had on my body, especially in the case of a daily, long-term pill. So I stopped taking the pill and started using an ovulation computer that my hubby and I had invested in. This computer tracks your hormone levels every morning by means of testing your basal body temperature upon awaking. It does take a couple months for the computer to learn your cycle, but it’s completely natural and is just as effective as the pill when used properly. Almost immediately after going off the pill, I began to have problems with my hormones. If you have ever suffered from hormonal imbalance, then you know it doesn’t just affect one small area of life… It affects every area of life! Energy. Mood. Sleep. Relationships. Cravings. This needed to get fixed ASAP...!
Now, I did have other emotional and physical stresses going on around this time as well that also played a part in my hormonal imbalance. My hubby was in the military and I was spending many long hours mentally preparing myself to have him gone for months on end. I also had recently started a new exercise routine in the gym that was probably too much for my body to handle during this time in my life. Plus, my nutrition was not the best - I was using multiple supplements and stimulants to “help” me reach my fitness goals, eating too much sugar and other junk food, and not enough healthy fats, fruits, and veggies. But even with these other stressors, it wasn't until I got off the pill that I noticed dramatic changes in my body and emotions. Getting off birth control was that big stressor that “broke the camel’s back.” I wasn't feeling myself. I was losing my connection with my husband. My desires and libido had plummeted. My energy and emotions were all over the place and a good night’s sleep was becoming a distant memory.
I started searching for answers the same way most people do - by seeing a doctor. I saw 4 different doctors along with 2 specialists within the first 2 years of getting off my birth control. But time and time again, they told me that nothing was wrong. Listen here, being tired all the time, having zero sex drive, poor memory, mood swings, night sweats, frequent headaches, spells of lightheadedness...these are not things one can just imagine. But all I was ever offered was various birth control pills, anti-anxiety scripts, and various synthetic creams. None of which would help me restore my hormones, but only bring me more harm than good.
Side note: If your doctor tells you there is nothing wrong and things you are just imagining things (as if they know your body more than you), run. I’m kind of joking here, but not really. Stop wasting your time and money and find someone who will listen to you and give you advice on healing your body naturally - the way it was designed - and without drugs. There are plenty of holistic or naturopath doctors that would love to help someone in need - you just need to look.
After multiple visits that led nowhere, I finally got tired of doctors telling me it was all in my head. So much for all that time and money wasted. I know it isn’t always the case, but sometimes I feel like doctors simply ignore your plea and try to push pills on you. I was tired of being treated like I didn’t know my own body. I had had enough.
I, once again, sat down to do my own research (thanks Google!) I researched hours upon hours upon hours for weeks that turned into months that turned into years. I'm still no expert and am continually researching, but there was one thing that kept popping up over and over and over again: eat real food and the right nutrients and your body and hormones will find balance. Thus began the quest to reset my hormones and to get my joy and energy back.
2016 - 2017
In early 2016, I took a leap of faith and decided to spend a little extra money to visit a doctor who specializes in bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. I thought for sure, I would finally find my solution. This was, after all, the first time in all those years someone was actually willing to perform a hormone test on me. But no. I only ended up wasting more time and money on inaccurate blood tests. Thankfully, I spoke with a dear friend of my mother who encouraged me to get a saliva test done saying it was the most accurate way to test hormone levels. It’s crazy, but my results were nearly the opposite as they were on the blood tests. BUT I was finally getting somewhere! I officially knew what was wrong: I had declining adrenal fatigue and low hormone production due to over-working myself, eating a poor nutrient diet, and letting stress dictate my emotions. This was the first time in 4 years that I was properly diagnosed. I finally knew where my hormones were and what to do to get them where they should be.
I have now begun the process of healing my body to balance my hormones. This is a long journey and I am far from knowing all the answers, but I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s been nearly 4 years now since my symptoms first appeared and I still haven’t healed completely (though I’m on the right track!) BUT I finally have a natural protocol that I feel confident *crossing my fingers* will heal my body, balance my hormones, and make me feel myself again soon...
2017 - Present
I wanted to learn as much as I could about my health and how to properly heal. And due to all the research I've been doing the past several years, my passion for health and helping others skyrocketed! I decided to sign up with the NTA and became a Nutritional Therapy Consultant shortly after.
I realized that there was more to my hormones and energy/fatigue than I originally had thought. You see, it wasn't JUST about the stress and hormones. It wasn't JUST about the BC I had taken or the medication I had once had in the past. This is where I decided to take another jump and get my gut tested and see if there was something at the root causing my hormone imbalance (since I had learned that the gut is at the root of all imbalances of the body in my NTA program).
Guess what I found out? I have SIBO as well as H. Pylori overgrowth. No wonder. SIBO is basically bacteria in the gut (small intestine to be specific) that eats all the good stuff! So instead of my body getting the nutrients it needed (you know, the ones I had been eating an paying for), the bacteria ate it first so my body stayed depleted. And SIBO is no easy thing to get rid of!
I'm still on a journey of balancing my hormones, but now I know the root cause -- my gut.
And now I have SO much knowledge I can use for myself as well as clients to help our bodies HEAL and stay healed! I still have a ways to go (like I said, this SIBO is no easy thing to kill), but I still am much more in tune with my body and can tweak things here and there to find what best works for me.
Does any of this relate to you? We all have different stories that need to be shared, so share yours (or something you relate to) in the comments below!