Before we get into today’s post, I just wanted to share some exciting news: I have been asked to contribute to the brand-new online magazine Paleo Movement. I encourage you to go over and bookmark the site–even if you’re tired of me flapping my jaw (or hitting the keyboard, such as the case may be) there is already a ton of great content by some incredible bloggers from all over the internet, and there is much more to come! I’m proud to be contributing to such a great new source of information in the Paleo-sphere.
Those of you keeping up with my acne-and-amenorrhea saga know that things have been getting out of hand over the last several months.
The hormonal imbalance, the low thyroid, and the ridiculous amount of stress I have been under (both self-imposed and not) have turned my face into a war zone and destroyed my body.
I was convinced that seeing a functional medicine doctor was going to be a quick fix. All of my failed n=1 experiments aside, I was going to be able to get a few blood tests, pop some disgustingly expensive supplements, and be on the road to recovery.
Instead, I gained a ton of weight and my face got worse. Oh, and still no period.
Was this a detox reaction, like my doctor suggested? Was this just a response to my completely unmitigated 24/7 stress response? Was this a combination of the two or just a sign of my inability to heal?
Last week, we had a product launch at work, and everyone on my team was under a ton of pressure. We all worked late hours, woke up early, and took on tasks outside of our realm of comfortability. It did a number on all of us, no less me, most probably because my body, in stage 2 adrenal fatigue and conditioned to react with fight-or-flight, was ready and waiting for the stress: on Thursday night, my chin, which was sporting some lovely cystic acne–and then my whole chin decided to swell up.* I spent the next morning at urgent care having it looked at.
I walked out with a prescription for antibiotics.
Now, if you know me, then you know I don’t do allopathic medicine. The last time I did antibiotics, I ended up in the hospital (because my doctor didn’t believe me when I said that the medication was causing me to break out in hives). Since I’ve been “Paleo” I have relied on things like fermented cod liver oil and maca root powder to fix what ails me.
Holding that prescription in my hand made me feel like a failure.
Filling that prescription made me feel like a failure.
Popping that first pill? Yeah, you get the point.
But here’s the thing: I’m not a failure.
I’m not a failure because I’m not at the end. I am a work in progress, and progress is never linear.
We all have to make compromises in order to take control of our health. Sometimes those compromises come as long-term changes–giving up addictions or disordered behavior, starting an exercise routine (or stopping one), leaving or entering new relationships, jobs, or lifestyles.
Sometimes those compromises come in short, unavoidable bursts when catastrophes happen: taking an antibiotic for an infection that can’t be cleared up with tea tree or coconut oil, stopping an exercise routine because of a broken rib or ankle,** or abruptly pulling the plug on a food plan that is no longer serving you.
The ugly truth is that life cannot always be tied up in a pretty bow, that problems aren’t always solved the way we want them to be.
That doesn’t mean we’ve failed. It means we suck it up, take the antibiotics, and double down on the probiotics so we can get back to work.
But doing the acute management isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card. It’s the first step toward managing the bigger picture. For me, that bigger picture is calming the heck down and learning how to cope better with the stressors in my life. I’m not going to cure my adrenal fatigue, lose the roll of cortisol-inspired belly fat that has coalesced around my midsection, or fix my acne once-and-for-all if I’m busy living in a state of constant fight or flight.
I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie, and stress is my status quo. This is going to take some serious, conscious, mindful intervention, but I think I’m up to the challenge. Why? Because my health is too important to fail.
*TMI? I know, but you asked…+
**This example may or may not be drawn completely from recent personal experience…
+Okay, so you didn’t really ask, but you’re reading a blog post about acne, so you can’t exactly expect this NOT to get a little icky.