Health/Fitness

My Holistic Journey: Adrenal Fatigue & PCOS

Those closest to me already know the deal with my health but many of you would have no idea I struggle every day with trying to heal the imbalances of my hormones. Let me catch you up!

Like many girls I know, I went on birth control per the advice of my primary care physician at the wee age of 14 (somewhere around there, anyway). I got my first period when I was really young. It was the summer before starting 5th grade and I was at the beach with my mom. I was horrified to say the least.

Around 8th grade, I didn’t get my period for 8 months or so and we didn’t know why. My mom took me to my doctor and they gave me the magic pill: birth control. I didn’t ask many questions because it seemed to be safe and okay… so many people are on birth control. It will regulate my period, they said.

Over the course of the 10 years… YES, TEN WHOLE YEARS, that I was on birth control, I had to switch brands a lot. The estrogen was giving me really bad headaches. Then I was getting nauseous. Now my hair is shedding. I kept reacting differently to different brands and couldn’t really find the perfect fit. Around 5 years ago, I noticed my hair had gotten substantially finer and my hair shedding was worsening. I was losing way too much hair in the shower, then even more when I brushed, and I don’t even want to talk about the hair I would find on my pillow when I woke up in the mornings.

After lots and lots of self research on birth control and my symptoms… I decided enough was enough… I went off the pill. I made an appointment with my GYN to update her on my decision and she did not seem very enthusiastic… reminding me that I could get pregnant and that my period may still be very irregular. I told her it was the best decision for me and my goal is to get to the bottom of my symptoms and heal myself from the inside out rather than mask the symptoms for any longer. She did not understand and after the holistic research I did, I didn’t expect her to. After all, big pharma needs to make their billions somehow and throwing birth control at every girl between the ages of 10 and 30 is one sure fire way to make it.

I had 5 very rough years. My periods at the beginning were very irregular. I went several months again without a cycle and my hair just kept falling and falling. I made appointments to see endocrinologists and dermatologists to get their opinions and just like I suspected, they all recommended going back on the pill. It blew my mind that none of them could understand my desire to truly heal myself rather than treat my symptoms.

I reached out to an old family friend who was my nurse when I was a baby. She is a holistic nurse practitioner and she relocated to Florida many years ago. She would guide me through messages about some supplements and dietary changes I could make to try and help myself and for once, I felt understood.

After a few more visits with doctors, I was diagnosed with PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I was so confused and shocked about this because they didn’t perform any tests. It was more a Q&A about my family medical history and my own medical history and symptoms (chin hairs, hair shedding/thinning, irregular periods, PMS, debilitating cramps). I asked what it would mean and what I’m supposed to be doing… and I’m sure you aren’t surprised at this point but once again I was recommended to go back on birth control. Nobody could answer my questions about how this would help me besides the fact that it would just hide my symptoms a little bit. I was recommended to take certain medications that had many scary side effects that my doctors downplayed significantly. Of course I turned those all down. Another recommended I take spironolactone but stated I cannot be prescribed it unless I am prescribed birth control because it can cause birth defects if I were to get pregnant.

Hmmm… so this medication can harm my hypothetical baby, but it’s safe for me? I don’t think so.

I felt so defeated and discouraged. I walked back to my car, called my mom and cried. I told her how they told me it may mean I struggle to get pregnant and that I can go back to see them if and when the time came to discuss options. I still didn’t understand how they were so sure I had PCOS and why they had no answers for me.

I went back to my family friend holistic NP to tell her the news. She asked me what tests they did and I sent her some blood work, which she agreed meant nothing really. Especially considering the blood was not taken at a specific time in my cycle. They did not do an ultrasound to see if I had cysts on my ovaries, but I guess you don’t necessarily have cysts on your ovaries to have PCOS. Very confusing.

Cathy, my holistic NP, guided me further.

After a lot of time passed, a lot of supplements taken, a lot of me being hardcore on board and then very inconsistent with supplements and diet… I finally reached back out to Cathy. After realizing that I can see Cathy as my holistic NP via telemed, I registered as a new patient. We went back over all my health questions and concerns as well as the lab work I had done out of her care. She suggested based on some symptoms that I take a Cortisol Saliva Test. It was determined through that test that I have Phase Two (out of three) Adrenal Fatigue. Western Medicine does not believe in adrenal fatigue but my test results showed my body does not make enough and it explained why I am ALWAYS FUCKING TIRED.

I struggle to wake up in the morning even after a solid 8 hours sleep. I struggle to stay awake while I work during the day and I become extremely exhausted in the afternoon. I get a little more energized around dinner time and then I’m back in my slump. Then I struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep… and so on and so forth. It’s a great time.

I am now taking supplements to help balance my cortisol as well as supplements to help regulate my other hormones. I swear by Organic Olivia and her products as I have seen some improvement with consistent use. My biggest hurdle is cleaning up my diet. By definition I have an addiction to processed sugars and carbs and per Cathy, I need to cut the shit to reduce inflammation in my body that worsens my symptoms. We have not determined for a fact that I have PCOS but she believes based on my symptoms and some of my older blood work that I have a metabolic condition and she would treat me the same as she is now regardless.

I look forward to our next appointment coming up to discuss blood work that I will be needing to get done. I enjoy talking to her about how I’m feeling and what I’m struggling with. She understands that it is not easy to cut out processed sugar and keeps motivating me to do so. I was doing extremely well for the first month or so and then I caved and spiraled out of control. It is hard to come from a borderline eating disoder where I was so obsessed with “eating clean” or tracking macros etc, to finally living my best life with food freedom, and then to have to eliminate foods again. It takes a toll mentally but I know I can do it in the most healthful way and I look forward to a day I can say I have succeeded. I feel like today is my fresh start with my health journey. Cleansing my life of social media and processed sugar is just the beginning. I look forward to updating you along the way.

If you, too, struggle with PCOS or Adrenal Fatigue, comment or send me a message.

xoxo,

Ari

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