Casey’s Wellness Journey Part 8: Casey’s Hormone Levels

Casey’s Wellness Journey Part 8: Casey’s Hormone Levels

By Published On: August 24th, 2023Categories: Blog

The good news is that there is bad news…

In this journey of bettering my overall health I knew that one of the focuses would be hormones. Over the last few years I have been in a steady decline of feeling worse, consistently lowering the bar of what my “normal” was and ignoring the gentle messages my body was giving me. It is hard for me to use the word ignore, so maybe dismissing would be a better word because overall that is a feeling I have become used to: feeling dismissed. 

To explain where I am currently, I need to rewind a bit and offer some context on how I got here. I will do my best to keep things concise, but in my opinion, this is all relevant and confirms the fact that health issues do not manifest overnight. 

I grew up in a “suck it up” household and was often dismissed when I would talk about how I was feeling both emotionally and physically. This started a pattern of not only dismissing myself, but also feeling like I could not bring up genuine concerns as it would be received as complaining or that I was being dramatic and too sensitive. Other people had “real” problems and me feeling “off” was not one of them. 

One of the ways I felt “off” started in high school. I remember making a statement to a friend, something along the lines of “you know how you black out every time you stand up”… I was met with a concerned look and her replying “yea that’s not a normal thing.” I finally brought this up to my parents/doctors and was put on medication of some kind. I do not remember the details or any conversations of how long I would be on this medication but was told that I had low adrenal levels and that this medication would solve that. I stopped blacking out and carried on with my life. At some point I stopped taking that medication (probably when I went off to college) but then we had to address alleviating severe period symptoms. 

On that note: I had no idea that period symptoms of any kind were not considered normal and that periods are not meant to be extremely painful. For as long as I can remember I would start having symptoms two weeks before my period would even start and would experience painful cramping to the point of needing to lay down. I thought this was how periods were for everyone and that this was just my lot in life as a woman. I would “power through” (as I was supposed to) by taking an unreasonable amount of Advil and would not say anything so that I wouldn’t be considered a wimp about it all. I was also experiencing what I would describe as debilitating acne. Painful cystic acne affected my self esteem and self worth, feeling the shame of needing to cover it up like it was a secret and trying everything under the sun (both topically and with medication) to clear the neverending breakouts. I was put on Accutane twice and only saw temporary relief before the acne would creep back. 

I was then put on the pill. It was presented to me as the solution to all of my problems, and honestly for a while it was just that. I had clear skin for the first time in my life and did not even have to have a period at all. This felt like the answer I was always searching for, and for a few years I carried on loving my new lease on life. 

Fast forward to 2019 when I started having unwanted symptoms from being on the pill and started doing research on why this may not be the best option for me. I also became aware that the pill was not actually solving any of my problems, just masking the symptoms and that the second I came off the pill, all the problems would still be there. In an effort to get to the source of what was causing all of my hormonal issues, I went cold turkey off the pill. I will not pretend to know if this was the right choice or not, but this is what I did. 

I experienced post-pill Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), the acne was back, and bonus–my hair started falling out. With no one to guide me, I relied on my former learning: “suck it up” until my body was able to self-regulate back to whatever my new normal was. After about two years my acne came to a less extreme place where I would only break out around my period and eventually my hair started growing back in. Maybe I was just trying to focus on these small positives and settling for “this is as good as it gets” while ignoring the other major symptoms that were still very much present. 

If we can just pause for a moment–I feel that I have not accurately described to the people in my life the magnitude of just how badly I have been feeling the last few years. The most that I have said is that I am just tired all the time and that I don’t sleep as well as I used to. I have not mentioned that it is more than just being tired, it is a total lack of energy to the point of strategizing how I will use the limited amount of energy I have so that I still come across as a functioning adult. Or how I have been eating healthier than I ever have, but continue to pile on weight in an uncontrollable and confusing manner. That when I would try to do workouts, instead of feeling energized afterwards, I would immediately feel exhausted to the point of not being able to stay awake, and would have to sleep for hours to recover. Or how I had the desire to do things that I normally enjoyed, but could not bring myself to do them because it would “cost me too much energy.” I have been dismissing and shaming myself for feeling this way, blaming it on being stressed, being out of shape, or telling myself that I was just lazy and needed to suck it up. 

I believe that I am not alone in the “suck it up” messaging I received growing up, and that this is part of the reason why we all ignore what we know is not right and dismiss ourselves for wanting more. The reality is though, I deserve more and so do you. If I can stand on a soap box for even just a second, it would be to say “do not discredit yourself, listen to your intuition, and trust that you know when something is off.” I am not going to indulge in the “what if” and “if only” statements of wishing I had addressed all of this sooner. I know that I would still not be addressing these things, and that the only reason I am is because Companion Health has asked the questions and has not dismissed a single thing I have told them. I have had the safety and space to say out loud the things I have only said to myself and have been met with empathy every time. 

Let’s go back to my statement of “the good news is that there’s bad news” and to offer an explanation on why I gave you a brief history on my hormones/adrenal issues. I got my ZRT results back, and they are not great. While this offers an explanation and validation of why I have been feeling so bad, I feel overwhelmed at that validation. None of this has been in my head or an over-exaggeration. I am not dramatic or lazy. I am truly exhausted and do not have the energy or internal resources to continue on the way I have. 

Stay tuned for my next post when I will dive into the specific levels that need to be addressed and the plan moving forward. But for now, I am still processing and I wanted to paint a full picture in an effort to practice my commitment to vulnerability and transparency. And the good news is, we have some answers and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. 

 

Summary/Check In:

Feelings this week: Overwhelmed with testing results and a little nervous talking about both my past and present issues.  

Favorite moment from experience: being offered affirmation, empathy, and support while processing through my feelings. 

Something I am currently loving: Knowing that I am not alone and do not have to figure everything out on my own.

 


 

Missed the first parts of Casey’s journey? 

Find out more about Casey and what her wellness goals include, and read about her Initial Appointment here.

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About the Author: Companion Health

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Charlotte-based husband-and-wife team, Carlos and Nathalie Jorge, created Companion Health to reconnect with true medicine, deliver world-class care, and help you achieve the wellness you deserve.

This is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute any practice of medicine or professional health care services of any type. The use of information on this blog is at the user’s own risk. The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, for diagnosis, or for treatment. Please seek the care of your health care professionals for any questions or concerns.