15 Things I Learned in 2020

Let’s be real- 2020 was rough. I don’t know about you, but a the pandemic and change of lifestyle forced me to look inwards, and ask myself some hard questions. I spent a lot of the year ridden with anxiety, and a lot of the year growing in ways I didn’t think were possible.

But, here’s the thing about growth- it can be really, really painful, messy and turbulent. And, just when you think you’re done growing, life throws you another curveball and you’re forced to decide, do you sink or do you swim?

After an exceptionally wild year, here’s what I’ve learned.

  1. You can only control what you can control: You can’t control a pandemic, or how fast it spreads. You can only control your own actions, beliefs and values.
  2. Connection is a lifeline: If I would have imagined what would suck about a pandemic before I knew we’d live through one I likely would have thought “Oh yeah it would suck to stay home and not shop and travel.” But, while experiencing the pandemic I realized the only thing I truly, truly missed was connecting with people, in person. But, through the pandemic we all got creative with how we connect, and it further confirmed to me that connection is true magic.
  3. Time doesn’t stop: Even if you so desperately want it to. Time continues to tick and you can either let it pass you by, or you can wake up and face it.
  4. Your body has memories: When the pandemic hit, my body went into full blown fight of flight mode. Having experienced trauma in the past, as soon as I felt in danger (thanks social media for further perpetuating that), my body literally collapsed and I realized I had unprocessed trauma that was demanding to be felt.
  5. Therapy is ESSENTIAL: I swear, I’ve never been so thankful for therapy before. My therapist helped me process the pandemic, and also helped me realize that despite the tragedy of it all, I’m not in danger if I’m taking proper precautions.
  6. Goals will guide you: In the first half of 2020, I spent it fear ridden and panicked. But, in the second half, after a ton of therapy, I spent it editing and publishing my Poetry Book, Undertow. Having goals has allowed me to focus on something other than the state of the world. It has also allowed me to contribute to the world in a way that feels meaningful to me.
  7. Food / essential item hoarding isn’t cool. Period.
  8. Substances won’t get rid of the pandemic: they’ll only make you feel less equipped to manage your feelings about it.
  9. My dog is literally my best friend, ever.
  10. Nature knows the way: In the earlier months of the pandemic, we sought out new nature trails, and tried to get into nature as much as possible. It was the single place I felt at peace, almost like the forrest knew more than we did about the future of the world. It was a strange comfort and I’m so thankful for the trees.
  11. Checking in on loved ones is so important: I literally used to never call or text me extended family. Not because I don’t love them, but because we all were so busy in our lives filled with stupid shit we didn’t need to do. Now, I have tons of time to connect with family, and it feels good.
  12. Slow the fuck down: I mean, really…did we all NEED to be living the fast paced lives we were living? Covid19 has really forced us all to slow down, and turn inward. What voids are we filling by constantly staying busy, being surrounded by people, buying shit we don’t need? I don’t know about you, but I’ve turned inward and have realized I don’t want to go back to my old life. I want to grow from this.
  13. Your health is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. If this means you lose friends because you’re not willing to party during the pandemic, so be it.
  14. Kindness will save the world. Look around- there’s hate and judgement everywhere. But, there’s also been so much kindness. People helping strangers buy groceries, gifts and meals left on porches, dogs being walked when people are in quarantine. Kindness is what will get us through this.
  15. Nurses, Doctors, Teachers, Paramedics and every other essential worker is a fucking hero. Words aren’t enough.

I didn’t edit this post, didn’t overthink it or tweak it. These are the things I’ve taken from 2020, though I could write an entirely different post on what I’ve learned from 2020 & facing infertility during it… Maybe next time.

Sending all of the love, health and care to everyone as we embark on 2021. I hope it’s kinder.

A Love Letter to Everyone Struggling & Surviving 2020

Dear you,

I know this year has been a shit storm of a year. And, I’m so proud of you for making it through.

I keep telling myself there are years we build, and there are years we break. This year, may be the hardest year of your life this far. It may be the year depression creeps inside your head, or the year you forget what a warm hug feels like. It may be the year you can’t remember the smell of your moms perfume, or the feeling of being surrounded by friends. This year may be the hardest year to get through.

This year, is the year we, globally, break.

We’ve witnessed so much sadness, so much heartbreak, so much illness and loneliness. We’ve been bombarded by social media updates, and covid case numbers, and new restrictions. We’ve had to adjust, quickly, to a life that makes our old life feel like decades in the past.

But, you’re surviving it. You’re waking up everyday and putting one foot in front of the other knowing damn well the day ahead might not be easy. You’re adapting to a life you probably thought was only a reality in your wildest imagination. And, above all, you’re here. I’m so fucking glad you’re here.

And, with breaking, comes building. This year we watched business recalibrate, and find success in ways they probably didn’t think were possible. We watched families drive by for birthdays, and video meets became our new way of hanging out. We survived school closures and lockdowns and essential item (Cough toilet paper Cough) shortages.

And, I know when this is over, whenever that may be- we will be stronger. And, I know, it sucks to have to break. But God, I also know how fucking strong we’re all becoming. Maybe these are the growing pains. I’m not trying to make light of the situation, because it fucking sucks- point blank. But, I am also trying to learn from it, somehow. Because I’ll be damned if I can’t take something positive from this and re-purpose it. I need to know 2020 had a purpose (besides ruining our lives).

Breaking hurts. And, it might hurt a bit longer. But, when you get overwhelmed by the brutal-ness of 2020- just remember:

“So far, youve survived 100% of your worst days.

Take it 1 day at a time. We can do this, together.

We need you here.

TJ

It’s Here

I sit here at 3:58 the day before I plan to launch Undertow. I’ve spent the last 2 years
writing, cutting, illustrating, editing, dreaming.

I’ve had doubts:
“Can I do this?”
“Will people like it?”

And, I’ve had determination:
“I know these words need to be heard.”

Undertow is so different than Waves. Waves was a ripple in the ocean on a calm day. Waves was beautiful, and angelic. Undertow is intense, it is powerful, it is hopeful and strong. I remember when I released Waves I was terrified, it was my first time sharing my writing on a large scale, and I was so afraid that people wouldn’t like it, or would hold my words against me somehow. But now, now I truly don’t care. And, I don’t say that in a way that means I don’t care about my supporters. I mean, I don’t care if people like it, because I like it. I believe in it. And, I know, the right people will hold this book and feel at home.

I’ve decided to stay with the ocean theme, because it’s one of the only places I’ve ever felt 100% at peace. It’s a place that means so much to me, and I will continue to dedicate my books to the ocean for as long as it feels right to do so.

It took me a while to decide on the title “Undertow.” At first I considered “Riptide” and then realized Vance Joy’s song would literally flood any millennials mind when they read it. I considered “Shipwreck” and “Shoreline” and basically every other ocean word. But none of them fully encapsulated what I think Undertow is.

=This defines my experiences over the last few years. From outer glance, I was moving in a linear, upwards motion. But under the surface, there were riptides, and they tried with all their might to pull me under the surface at times. They groped my legs as I stood on the shore, begging me to anchor down to the bottom of the ocean. Writing Undertow was proof to myself that I could fight the currants, I could stay on the shore.

And now, here I am, completely in awe that the experience of creating Undertow is coming to a close. I’ve come to realize, I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing. Each book I write holds so much, and if it can be a vehicle to help another person feel less alone in the weight of the ocean, that’s all I can really hope for.

I love you all, I wish I could do another book release party, but I know we’ll all celebrate in our own ways together. I’ve launched an online store where you can purchase Undertow, and feel free to use the discount code PRE15 at checkout for a pre-order 15% off. Printing is set to be finished in November, and shipping will occur in December (Aiming for before Christmas). It’s unexpected if COVID19 will cause shipping delays at that time, but rest assured I will do everything in my power to get Undertow into your hands before Christmas.

If you have any questions about Undertow, when shipping will occur, or any other questions for me, feel free to reach out!

xo

Here’s to Finding Myself (Again)

I can’t believe it’s already almost September. I see little kiddos geared up in backpacks half their size and I find myself longing for childhood again- the simplicity of it all. When choosing your backpack was a decision that weighed heavily as school approached. When back to school shopping was your favourite time of the year.

I think we can all agree this year has been one of the most challenging years of our lives. It’s a year that has broken me, and has built me, 100 times over again. A year where I slipped so far from the person I used to be. I morphed into someone I didn’t like hated. Someone who lost their zest for life, their passion for writing, their ability to socialize without anxiety, their kindness, which quickly turned to fear, which turned to anger, and then sadness, so much sadness.

I think this year, for so many of us, was a year of loss. Loss of the plans we had for the year- all 2020 resolutions down the toilet.

I know so many couples who had to cancel or postpone weddings. Cancel trips. Re-evaluate their career choices. Leave work entirely. Take on the role of home-schooler. Work while caring for children full time. The challenges have been immense.

I think many of us had a hard time adjusting to the loss of normalcy we were used to- loss of the life we knew. The life before we were bombarded by COVID19 headlines on Facebook. Before we checked the Ontario infected cases when we woke up in the morning (Cue Anxiety). A life before we had to distance from people we love. The life before we feared being a carrier of the illness and unknowingly passing it on to our loved ones. A life before Covid is a life that feels so far away.

We are in the waste land. None of us have experienced this in our life times. So how are we supposed to know how to navigate it? With so much conflicting information in the news, no wonder people are struggling to follow the rules:

It’s safe to go to the store. NO Don’t go out unless you have to. You can hug people with a mask on. NO stay 6 feet away at all times. You can eat at a restaurant outside. NO don’t, under any circumstances, eat at a restaurant.

The contradicting information created a sort of tug of war in my mind. In the end, I decided for me, I believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. It’s the line in the sand that we can’t step over.

With COVID-19, my anxiety sky rocketed. For anyone who’s experienced trauma, you may be familiar with the fight or flight response (heck even if you haven’t experienced trauma I think we’ve all felt this way at some point). When COVID19 hit, my body went back to a place I hoped I’d never have to re-visit. The haunted house on the corner of the street. The dark under the bed. I was brought back to a place of trauma, where my body only knows panic, only knows tension, only knows fight for your fucking life.

After months of high alert, my body was fatigued, my brain was muddled, and I couldn’t think clearly. I felt physically sick 90% of the time. I was so exhausted of being on high-alert. So, what do we do when we don’t want to feel? We escape. I escaped any way I could. I slept too much, or not enough. Ate to fill the loneliness. I drank until the wild in my mind would settle. I just couldn’t handle the noise anymore. I wanted quiet, and I was willing to abuse my body to get it.

That’s the funny thing about alcohol, it doesn’t feel bad for us. It tastes good. It makes us feel good. It’s a social experience. It doesn’t taste like poison. I mean fuck they market it for just about every activity. Having a BBQ? Beer. Going on a date night? Wine. Having a relaxing vacation? Cocktails. How was I supposed to know it was literally poisoning me? Oh, I know. By the fact that my body quite literally started rebelling. And when I couldn’t just have a glass of wine or 2. It was more regularly a bottle. And I’d pass out on the couch, waking up feeling sick and dazed. So, I searched for support.

My doctor told me the amount I was drinking was bordering on alcoholism.

My naturopath told me my reproductive system was shutting down.

My psychologist told me I was drinking when I was sad, not when I was happy.

When I finally took the time to sit with the discomfort. To sit with the noise inside my mind and check in with my body, I asked it “What the fuck do you want?!” And it replied “love.”

So, I searched for ways to show my body love. I saw my naturopath more regularly, who told me without pretty drastic lifestyle changes I will more than likely need fertility treatments in order to ever get pregnant. I remembered a phrase I used to tell myself when I was going through bouts of writers block caused by depression. “Nothing beautiful can grow here.” How can I expect a baby to grow inside my body when I’m addicted to pouring poison in it?

That was a moment of realization. A realization that even if life is hard, even if I’m living through a pandemic, even if I won’t be able to get pregnant easily- I can do hard things. Better yet, I can come out better from it. And also a realization, that I have a certain amount of control over the outcome. I can either sit and drink, or I can do the work.

I’m choosing to do the work.

Why I Want to go Semi-Sober

I don’t remember when it started. And by it, I mean that 5 o’clock glass (or 3) of wine to “decompress” after work. I don’t remember the last time I didn’t have a bottle of wine in the house. Or a time when I didn’t feel anxious if I knew I was running low.

I have spent the last few years of my life really trying to become the best version of myself. I have spent countless hours reading inspirational books, going to therapy, self-reflecting. I have left jobs that no longer brought me any joy. I have been honest with myself on my not-so-great coping strategies, and have tried to replace them.

Alcohol is the one thing between me and where I want to be.

1 drink after a shitty day turned into 1 drink everyday which turned into 2 drinks everyday, then sometimes 3. The quiet lull that lies at the bottom of each glass is what keeps me wanting more. The way it stops the buzzing in my brain, and just lets me stop feeling anxious for 2.5 seconds. But, I’m damn well aware that this is probably the worst coping strategy I could use (besides the hard stuff).

Our society is sick. Alcohol is commercialized and marketed as a fun, summer beverage with absolutely no consequences. Pretty bottles, convenient cans. Alcohol is part of our daily lives. It’s at weddings, funerals, baby showers, dinner parties…basically any social event. And I get it, it helps reduce social jitters. But, have we, as a society, forgotten how to live sober?

I’m not saying I don’t want to ever drink again. Because really, I love wine. But, I don’t want to need wine. I don’t want to wake up and think about the bottle of wine I’ll drink that night after work. I don’t want to continue spending money on a depressant. I don’t want to continue mixing it with my anti-depressants and wonder why I’m starting to feel low again.

I’m still miles from where I used to be. I’m more stable than I’ve ever been. But I know this habit isn’t sustainable, nor do I want to continue numbing myself. No magic happens when your senses are debilitated.

So what am I going to do?

Well…first I’ll start with only drinking on weekends. Then only drinking socially on weekends. Then, only drinking on special occasions (& I mean really special).

I’ll keep you posted…

Things You Probably Don’t Know About Lesbians Trying to Have Babies

*I can only write from my experience, as a lesbian. I imagine other members of the LGTBQ+ community have to face similar, if not far more difficult, obstacles. Sending love to anyone trying. ❤

  • Sperm is expensive. Like $950 per try (plus shipping).
  • So- some of us might try to find known donors. This can be extremely difficult and many of them end up changing their mind. Can’t blame them- but it’s definitely emotional. If you’re going that route- be prepared for the possibility.
  • You might wanna order in bulk (if you want more than 1 kid from the same donor) because donors max out. They can only help create a certain number of offspring. In Canada its 25 children per population 800,000.
  • You have no idea how many tries it will take.
  • You can only try 1 time per cycle. The fertility clinic monitors you closely to determine when the prime ovulation time is.
  • You have to do a number of tests before you can even think about insemination. Blood tests, ultrasounds, a tubal flush, more blood tests, a psychologist appointment… And even more testing if any of those tests have abnormal results.
  • Only 1 round of IVF is covered by the government. After that, accept the fact that you’ll spend thousands of dollars trying to conceive.
  • There’s no limit on the number of IUI’s you can try (government covered) but they can be less effective (up to 20% chance of success while IVF averages at 40-45% success rate per try).
  • You’ll probably have to take medications/hormones such as Clomid, Progesterone, Letrozole… maybe more?
  • The waiting game is insane. The wait for an IVF funded cycle is 1 year.
  • You have to pay for sperm storage. $500 per year.
  • The process is isolating. It’s hard to find people who have been through the experience and as much as we appreciate people saying “just stay positive” or “it will happen!” we can’t help but feel alone.

SO- if you know a queer couple trying to conceive, be kind. It’s an emotional rollercoaster.

We’ve only just begun our process, I can’t imagine what the couples who have spent years are going through. So. Much. Respect.

Sending so much love to anyone trying out there who’s having trouble or is just emotionally exhausted. ❤

My Favourite Skincare Products

I’m not huge on makeup, it’s definitely not something I’ll splurge on a regular basis.

BUT- I love skin care products. Skin is so delicate and truly mirrors how you treat it. Of course, what we put into our body is SO important when it comes to how our skin looks and feels, but the products we use are also incredibly vital.

Here are my all-time favorite products and how I use them. Notice some are definitely a splurge, while some are extremely cost-effective. If I’ve splurged on a product it’s because it’s 100% worth it.

Cleanser 1: I use two different cleansers depending on how my skin is feeling. When my skin is feeling dry or if I’m wearing a lot of makeup that day, I use the Midnight Recovery Botanical Cleaning Oil from Khiels.  I buy the 42 ML bottle and it lasts forever. This cleanser is an essential oil cleanser so I just use 1 or 2 pumps and add water to create a nice lather. It is by far the best at taking makeup off & doesn’t irritate my eyes either. Also, it’s sulfate-free!

Cleanser 2: Good ol’ Spectro Gel. I buy it in bulk from Costco but you can buy it almost anywhere. I use this pretty regularly and find it really gentle on my skin. I love that it’s fragrance-free.

Makeup Remover Wipes: I’m notorious for leaving my makeup on overnight. It’s a habit I’m really working to break. I find having makeup removing wipes handy helps because they’re just so easy and fast. I’m not picky about what kind I use but my current favorite is the Biore Makeup Removing Towelettes. Super affordable ($4.00 for a 30 pack!) and effective & I really like the way they smell.

Exfoliant: I use the Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant by Aveda. I love that it doesn’t have those tiny beads that are terrible for the environment (and our skin). It’s a gentle liquid that I apply with a cloth after washing my face. It smells really fresh and you don’t need much so it lasts a long time.

Facial Moisturizer 1: I use a few honestly but my favorite is The Ultra Facial Cream by Khiels. I find it really gentle on my skin but also combats winter dryness! It doesn’t create a greasy film on my skin either, super light-weight. Again, a bit pricey but you don’t need much so it lasts. 

Night Cream: I use Burt’s Bees Skin Nourishment Night Cream. I like it because again, it’s light-weight and I wake up with my skin feeling really soft and supple. This is the first night cream I’ve used that hasn’t caused breakouts.

Mask: I like trying different masks and have a few different favorites. I really love the Tumeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Mask by Khiels but I find I can only leave it on for 4-5 minutes or so before it starts to irritate my skin. But, I do find my skin does look very bright and radiant afterward.

I also like the Cup O’Coffee Mask by Lush. The smell is amazing (for anyone who likes the smell of coffee.) It definitely helps me wake up in the morning. I also love the coffee grounds that are in the mask that acts as a natural exfoliant. Wallet-friendly too.

Eye Cream: Sad to say I’m getting to the age where I’ll start noticing my skin doesn’t look as young as it used to. I’m already noticing fine lines around my eyes. I don’t hate them, but I want to keep them faint for as long as possible. I really love the Smoothing Eye Concentrate by Juice Beauty.
I bought it over a year ago and it’s still got some left. Seems pricey when you buy it but it lasts so long. I also find it’s really effective at reducing the appearance of dark circles which I am prone to.

Serum: Obsessed with The Midnight Recovery Concentrate by Khiels.
Not only does it work to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, it literally makes my skin glow. My favorite thing about this product though is the smell! It’s so earthy and comforting. It puts me right to sleep.

Peel: I’m hooked on The Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel. These are the most expensive product I own but I swear by them. I don’t use them daily as instructed as I find it’s too harsh on my fair/delicate skin. I use them twice per month usually which makes them more affordable as well. These peels are really easy to use- just two towelettes that you use one after another. They make my skin feel NEW! I can literally see the brightness after using them. They are also Vegan and Cruelty-Free. 🙂

Body Moisturizer: For years I have used Aveeno Body Lotion simply because I can buy it in bulk from Costco and it’s unscented which I look for in a body lotion. I find it’s good for the summer because it’s light-weight but for the winter I would recommend something a little more moisturizing.

So now that I’ve listed my favorite products. Here’s when/how I use them:

Cleanser: Morning in the shower
Makeup-Removing Towelettes: At night before bed.
Exfoliant: Daily/every other day depending on my skin.
Moisturizer: After cleansing in the morning.
Night Cream: After using the makeup-removing towelettes before bed.
Eye Cream: About 3 times per week or as I remember. Any time.
Mask: Once or twice per week, usually in the shower so the steam helps my pores open.
Serum: I’ll swap this out for the night cream if I find my skin is very dry. I use it about twice a week. (Thought I smell it before bed regularly lol!)
Peel: Once or twice per month, usually on a day where I’m not wearing any makeup.
Body Moisturizer: Daily/as needed.

I know Winter is almost over (I hope) but if you have a body moisturizer that you LOVE please leave it in the comments!

Why I Stopped Writing my Second Book

I’ve been wanting to write this for a while but wasn’t sure where to start.

My first book, Waves, took years to write. It was a bundle of poetry and prose written over the span of 7 years. It was a representation of personal torment and growth. Honestly, it came easily. It was burning inside my chest and I didn’t feel relief until I had it all on paper and in the hands of readers.

The words came easily. I would have dreams of ideas for poems and cool phrases and metaphors would come to me often. Of course, it was a process to write the book in its entirety, but overall the process was seamless.

But- here’s what I never talk about when discussing my writing- It kills me and brings me to life simultaneously. While I’m writing, I isolate myself behind closed doors with headphones on and dive into the darkest corners of my mind. Truly, it’s a scary place to be. But, it provides me with compelling content.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if my writing makes me sick, or better. If it provides me serenity or traps me in a nightmare. And the conclusion I have come to is that it does both. I turn into almost a zombie when I’m writing; not showering, sitting at my desk, or more often in bed, writing and deleting and writing and deleting… I forget to go outside, forget to experience life because I’m so consumed with writing about it.

All of that being said, I’ve been taking a bit of a break from writing my new book, Undertow. Partly because I have to go out and experience things before I have content to write about, and partly because I’m so tired of writing about the past. It’s exhausting and re-traumatizing, to say the least.

Here’s what I’ve been trying to do instead of write
(in hopes that it will give me inspiration when I’m ready to write again) :

  • Seeing friends. Instead of isolating myself and writing, I’ve been trying to connect with old friends and make new ones. Each person I meet inspires me in some way and contributes to new ideas.
  • Focussing on wellness. When I write, I get into a state where I literally forget to take care of myself, no matter how hard I try to remember. It just isn’t on my radar. So lately I’ve been using this break to focus on nutrition, work & relationships.
  • Planning activities that will inspire me. I’ve been planning trips, social events, even just listening to new music, reading new books (different types and genres than I usually read) and watching new movies and tv shows to spark inspiration.
  • Actually experience my life instead of writing about it: This is a big one. For a while, I was so consumed with writing that I rarely left the house except to go to work and do groceries. Now I’m seeking out experiences, staying present in moments instead of thinking about writing of them later and focussing on goals aside from my next book.

This isn’t to say that there won’t be another book, it’s just going to take longer than I initially thought.

Here’s to living, and experiencing.

TJ

Another Article I found Interesting:

https://www.bustle.com/articles/66871-5-reasons-why-writers-should-take-a-break-from-writing-every-now-and-then-and-what

Life Update/Recovery Details

Wow.

Not quite sure where to start as I feel SO much has changed since I began my naturopathic treatment plan in early December.

For Anyone Who’s New Here

I’ve struggled with depression (possibly bi-polar according to my family doctor [who I have since left due to her lack of knowledge and bedside manner]), anxiety, OCD and insomnia since I was a pre-teen. I have been to over 20 different therapists, tried countless different coping strategies such as yoga, meditation, and grounding techniques. I have been admitted to one hospital after a suicide attempt and have come close to self-admitting more times than I can remember.

Last year, after I began seeing my naturopath, she suggested I complete the Dutch test. So, I did. I trusted her when she said, based on my symptoms and history, she believed I was suffering from a hormonal imbalance, not depression and most definitely not from bi-polar.

After completing the test (which is basically just like a few pregnancy tests that you pee on at certain times of the day/evening at a specific time in your cycle), my results came back. She was 100% right- my testosterone and estrogen were sky high and my Progesterone was absent. My body also wasn’t releasing cortisol and was “hoarding” it which apparently can happen after trauma (even years later).

At first, I was skeptical until I got to the second page of my results and saw that my Dopamine and Serotonin levels were actually elevated… Likely due to the Zoloft I’ve been taking for nearly a decade thinking I simply was deficient of those two chemicals. 

Treatment Plan:

Currently, I take over 20 pills a day. The 20 pills consist of 10 different supplements to help regulate my hormones, and a low dose of Zoloft (that I may or may not need to take forever).

Other lifestyle changes I have made as per the recommendation of my naturopath are:

  • Limiting alcohol consumption. I only drink about twice a week now (socially). Before, I was drinking 2-3 glasses of wine every night. Limiting alcohol is essential. My liver has to be at it’s prime right now as I try to heal my Estrogen dominance (the liver eliminates excess estrogen.)
  • Limiting sugar. This one is tough for me as I love sweets! But I am being mindful and trying to limit my sugar intake.
  • Engaging in low-impact exercise. Before, I would kill myself at the gym. I figured pain was good and meant I was building muscle. My naturopath recommended I stick to yoga and other low impact activities like walking and tai chi. She said most people who have hormone imbalances are absolutely depleted and their bodies are already exhausted without pushing themselves at the gym.
  • Eating a hormone balancing diet of protein, vegetables (as many as possible!), and healthy fats. Fruit in moderation as it is high in sugar. (I’m working on this one and gradually making better choices.)

*So far, my body has responded very well to the supplements. I didn’t have any adverse reactions aside from a bit of heartburn at first and can confidently say I am experiencing far more positive side effects than I thought I would.

What I’ve Noticed so Far: 

  • Better sleep: I used to wake up every night, multiple times. I’d wake up in cold sweats, often with my heart racing and would often have middle of the night panic attacks. Now, I sleep through the night most nights and feel more rested.
  • Fewer panic attacks in general: I haven’t had a full-blown panic attack since I started taking the supplements (so more than a month free of panic attacks which means I also haven’t had to use Lorazepam!)
  • Increased Energy: For the first time in a long time, I feel human! Before I felt like a zombie, just wandering mindlessly through the motions, completely exhausted. Now, I have a lot more energy (like enough energy to clean the house and do things I used to put off for weeks.) This could be due to better sleep, but I also think my body is just recovering.
  • Fewer Cravings: I used to crave sugar like crazy. Now, I feel like I’m craving savory foods and foods that are high in fat. Not sure what this means yet!
  • Less severe PMS symptoms: I used to experience the worst PMS symptoms like acne, depression, almost constant anxiety, and panic attacks, and cramping so bad I would have to curl into the fetal position. Now, I still experience these symptoms, but on a much smaller scale.

Next Steps

Now that my body has gotten used to the supplements, I am going to get a bit more serious about my lifestyle changes. I’m going to be really conscious of the food I put into my body and try my hardest to stick to a hormone balancing diet (and try to eliminate or strictly limit carbs aka sugar).

I’m also planning to try different forms of gentle exercise and make it a more prominent part of my treatment plan (because I miss going hard at the gym.)

In another month, I will go back to my naturopath for a follow-up appointment where we will discuss how I have been feeling, and what she thinks our next steps should be. Ideally, in 6 months to a year, we will re-test my hormones and see some progress

If you Think you Might Have a Hormone Imbalance

I would strongly suggest you bring it up with your family doctor. See if you can get your hormones tested. If they aren’t receptive and blame your symptoms on mental illness (like my family doctor did) I’d urge you to get a second opinion and see a naturopath.

Love,

TJ

What do you mean I might not be mentally ill?

If you were to ask me 10 years ago where I would be at 25, “I don’t know if I’ll make it to 25.”

My mental illness (diagnosed as depression, anxiety & OCD) has been a shadow following me since I was 12. I remember the first time I thought there might be something wrong was when I started coming home from school at 4, sleeping until 7, eating and then sleeping till morning. No amount of sleep could cure the exhaustion.

It has stuck with me ever since. It has grown and morphed and squeezed into every single aspect of my life despite my best efforts to shield myself from it. It has progressed into a monster that I undoubtedly am no match for.

Now, at 25 I am married to a woman I adore, in a house I love with a dog I can’t imagine my life without. But, my “mental illness” has been worse than ever before. It has manifested into what my family doctor referred to as “probably bi-polar”, and has consumed me entirely as I tried to find ways to cope with it.

I’ve tried diet changes, medications (including an anti-psychotic for my “probably bi-polar“, exercise, socializing more, staying busier, taking time to rest, going on sick-leaves from work, life-coaching, therapist after therapist after therapist… To say the least, it has been exhausting and completely debilitating.

I have burnt bridges professionally, lost friends, and questioned my purpose during what I thought was “mania.” I have felt so enlightened and determined that I wrote half of a book in one sitting. A rollercoaster could not compete with the twisty ride my brain was on.

But, the one helping professional who has empowered me and helped me fight for answers is my naturopath. I’ve been seeing her for a year, and in that time, she has dug down to the roots of my being. She has asked questions no doctor ever thought to ask and wanted a full picture of my life (right down to when I go to the bathroom.)

So, when she suggested that I might not actually have a mental illness, but that it is a symptom of a larger problem, I believed she could be right. 

She then proceeded to tell me that she wanted me to take a test that tests the hormone, serotonin, dopamine, and neurotransmitters in the body called the Dutch Test
I trusted her. I trusted her wholeheartedly because I so badly needed an answer for why my depression and anxiety/OCD had morphed into this bi-polar like illness that was eating me alive.

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So- I took the test. I peed on little flaps of papers at certain times a day at a certain day in my cycle and then mailed it off in hopes that I would find relief. Nearly a month later, my results came back. I met with my naturopath who had taken the time to analyze the tests and what she told me frightened and enlightened me. “Your mental illness is a symptom of a hormone imbalance.” She also informed me that my serotonin levels, dopamine levels, and neurotransmitters were in the normal-high range. But that all of my basic hormones, including my cortisol, were not.

THANK GOD” were the first two words that popped into my head. Next were “who am I without it?” 

I never realized how heavily I identified as someone who is depressed, who is anxious, who has OCD. I never imagined it could be anything else. So now, I’m here. Sitting with the feelings that accompany my new diagnosis of having a “hormone imbalance” while not letting it have too much power over me (though I cannot wait to get my hormones back to a healthy level.)

For the next while, my posts will likely be about my experiences surrounding recovery & hormone balance, as well as my emotions surrounding this entire experience.

Love