I had a check up with my TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Doc, and was so relieved with my prognosis. I have been really worried about what is going on with me the past year, having transformed from an athletic, energetic, strong, positive woman, to a lethargic, slothful, fat, out-of-shape, weak, unhappy sufferer. I know the emotional turmoil and trauma I've been through the past two years has had a grave effect on my physical health, compounding the obvious emotional effects, and slicing my ability to manage stress and anxiety to one-tenth of what it was. Emotional strain, added to physical strain, maginifies any kind of daily stress I experience. I've done the best I can, but I have taken a pounding by recurring life challenges and the normal stress of teaching. If I was running at even 75% capacity, I would be able to manage the stressors of school, but because I am dragging along well below that number, I am barely managing to survive. I would like to change that tense to "was" rather than "am". During the past two years, I have continually worked to "get better": to heal emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I have struggled against the ever-encroaching depression that accompanies losing ability and aptitude; I have wondered if I would ever be healthy again or if this pathetic, spent life was what I would look forward to until the end. But Dr. Zhang gave me hope that I would heal!
I was thrilled to learn...
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My last ride was a 9 miler up north on Sept. 24, 2015. Slowly, I've run less, hiked less, walked less over the past two years as my energy has dwindled--but I will be back!
I have performed my own intensive research on acupuncture, TCM, women's health, and women's hormonal/emotional/spiritual shifts and transitions the past few years, and Dr. Zhang confirmed much of what I already thought was going on in my body/heart/mind/soul. As humans enter their 40s and 50s, hormones decline (well, it actually starts in the 30s, but evidences itself with symptoms after 40), as well as energies (physical, Qi, kidney, liver, etc.). Significant decrease in testosterone in women cause commensurate declines in (what is felt as) energies, termed as Qi in Eastern Medicine, and physical energy the West. In essence, we both think this decline is what is causing my lack of energy, which leads me into a black spiral of depression because I don't feel like myself. In fact, I was ruminating just last week on this feeling that I have had for some time: I don't even know who I am...who is the person I've become ... my personality has changed and I don't recognize who she is at all! That energetic, fearless woman who is so positive she can drive people nuts has transformed into a permanently (see?!) tired, fearful, constantly anxious, negatively black-mooded woman. WTF!!??
The good news is that I DO have a strong foundation of health because of all the running, cycling, hiking, etc., I've done throughout my life; ESPECIALLY all the running I have done for 25+ years! I've been a runner since I was in my early 20s and I also visualize myself running into my 90s, so this is a good indicator of a healthy lifespan. So while my health has declined --really only over the past year-- I have 46 years of healthy lifestyle compared to 2 years of health struggles, in comparison! Ok, that perspective helps me a lot! I admit how challenging it is to stay positive and keep a happy forward-looking perspective with all that I have been through since 2014:
- Life in Korea was a challenge and I had two serious health issues there, though I had acupuncture 3x a week for months which helped tremendously,
- Emotional trauma of abusive relationship in 2014-15,
- Unemployment and poverty that lasted from my return to the US in late 2014 until I was hired in late summer 2016,
- Decline in energy and mental/emotional health during this time that led to severe depression in 2015-16,
- Injuries and illness throughout 2016-17,
- Loss of resilience to stress that led to constant anxiety 2016-17, and finally, (FU**!!),
- My Dad almost dying earlier this summer.
So there it is, and hopefully, I am closing in on the end of my journey BACK to complete health and wellness and energy! I have been spending $300+ each month on acupuncture and herbal treatments to help me survive and get well. I am starting to feel more positive. I've also been doing intensive self-analysis to see what I need to do internally--spiritually, mentally, emotionally-- and what I have been doing that has increased my stress and decreased my sense of security and sense of self. While I felt I have lie on my bed doing nothing, in retrospect, I have been working my ass off emotionally to regain a foundation of emotional and mental and physical and spiritual health. I've learned that the most important aspects of life (for me) are health and a sense of security in all areas. I've stopped moving (from geographic place to place) so that I can rebuild the physical, emotional, and financial base I need to stand firm and strong. I've stayed out of relationships so that my heart and soul and truly heal. I've allowed myself the downtime I need to heal physically and emotionally. I've studied and read and researched women's archetypes and transitions, Taoism, Ayurveda, vulnerability and shame (Brene' Brown's work), women's health and wellness, acupuncture, Qi Gong, TCM... I know there is more... The self-critical aspect of me (who overshadows too much of my Self) has condemned me for my fat-inducing slothful ennui of the past year, but when I see it typed in black-and-white, I acknowledge all of the hard work I have done, and how it has been such a struggle against fatigue and ennui and depression to even remain moving forward and alive. At times I have only gotten out of bed because I was due in at school. In fact, at times, school is the only thing in life that kept me going. (I am grateful that I love what I do and where I do it, so much!)
So here I am, not only trying to get back to where I was, but perhaps, establish something new and not hold myself to the (currently) impossible standard of "where I was".
And here's the horses!