As MY MENTOR, Gabby Bernstein says, "Your story is what heals. Don't be afraid to share it..."
I was hesitant to share this with you since it's so personal, but I think now, as I begin my Health Coaching practice, is a good time and I couldn't be more aware and grateful than I am today. I've been asked time and time again by friends, family and you guys, my readers, about the spiritual journey I've been on for the past year. The answer is that it's exactly what makes most find God or seek a higher purpose, an obstacle, or as I now like to look at it, a transformation.
Think about it, people tend to live their fullest lives after facing some sort of obstacle or trauma – loss, addiction, tragedy, break up, failure. Obstacles, no matter how big or small, help to put life into perspective for us. What are we really doing here, on this Earth? How are we doing it? Why are we doing it? What's really important? But I've learned, you can look at obstacles as just that – something that prevents your progress – or you can change your thinking and look at them as an opportunity.
I have migraines to thank for seeking out spirituality and learning how to truly appreciate life for all it has to offer – through love, gratitude, service and living in the present. Here's what happened this year...
I suffered from my first migraine during my senior year of college. After 12 hours of being violently stomach sick with stabbing pains in my head, I laid in bed the next day very weak with a hung-over type of headache. They continuously got worse all throughout my 20's. I was rushed to the hospital time and time again to get fluids and pain medication. My dad, who lives in Jersey, would fly through traffic lights to get to my NYC apartment and take care of me – sometimes, just be there.
Hereditary and stress induced, they weren't getting any better. I became immune to the shots of Imitrex I would give myself in the leg at the onset to lessen the pain as well as the nasal sprays that seemed to ease the pain and knock me out. And my emergency oral prescription was no help, because I couldn't keep it down. I lived in fear of getting a migraine, because they affected my work, social life and overall well being.
When I was about 23, my NYC neurologist recommended I took a daily anti-migraine medication and I didn't question her. I would do anything to lessen the pain and if I could potentially prevent them from happening, I was game. Young, naive and desperate I began taking that medication and my migraines were less frequent.
Fast forward eight years, at 31, still reliant on the meds, my new health insurance made me seek out a new neurologist. (I saw my old one once per year basically just to get a refill.) I had no idea that this doctor visit would help me change my outlook on life and life forever.
"How long have you been on this drug," he asked. Shocked, he said, "That is extremely dangerous. We need to get you off of it as soon as possible." He went on to explain that the prescription is a short term answer (6 months max) to long term problems and could cause glaucoma and kidney stones as well as cognitive disfunction and the longer I was on it, the worse it could be. I was floored. Went home, did some research (which I never did prior) and decided I needed to get off of this medication as soon as possible. I felt deceived by someone I trusted for so long – a doctor – which was an ultimate eye opener and the reason I began studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
We came up with a plan to wean off of the medication (it took three months) and the results, including weight gain (10 pounds very quickly) are what sparked my new outlook on health and spiritual journey.
How was I going to keep my migraines at bay? I'm freelance, so I can't afford to skip out on work because of them. What if I get one before a big shoot? What if I get one during one of my friend's weddings? What if...
My whole body was changing and I was beyond uncomfortable. I couldn't accept this new body I was in. It wasn't me. While I always worked out and ate healthy, I was also "naturally" tiny so being skinny was easy and I loved it, but I had no idea that I wasn't living in a healthy body. I had no idea I was so skinny because of the medication. And looking back, I was too thin then. I thought it was just me. If that's what the meds did on the outside, then what did they do to my insides? I didn't only gain weight after going off of the medicine, I feel like I came into the body that I was supposed to live in and work with all of this time. It just was hard to accept, because the changes happened practically overnight and I was shocked. I went through stages of anger and grief before I came to accept the changes and recognize them as healthy and they were exactly that, healthy. I was and am now living in a healthy body.
Now that I was finally off of the medication and my body was responding, I took action. Things needed to change and I was desperate to become healthier and keep my migraines at bay. Throughout this year, I learned transcendental meditation and practice it twice a day, gave up caffeine and gluten (major migraine triggers), get acupuncture to balance out my hormones (another cause of migraines) and have been studying nutrition and the power of healing through food and am excited to become a Health Coach. (I'll write a more in depth post about how these changes are now helping my migraines.)
Since starting to wean off of my medication, I'm finally starting to feel more comfortable in my body as it's getting back in balance and I give yoga a lot of credit for my mentality and new found strength. It's been almost a year. Being able to accept uncomfortable changes and who you are is liberating. I'm now stronger and more fit than I ever was in the past and I'm proud of that. I work for it.
My migraines have, of course, been present, but they're less frequent. I suffer from them about once every eight weeks now, but am hopeful that with help from acupuncture, (I've only been going for two months), they'll eventually fade away.
Wellness and spirituality have now become a passion of mine. I'm eager to learn and help others through my writing and health coaching services. When the time is right, I also plan on doing yoga teacher training so I can help make others feel how my teachers have made me feel. I want to help people. I want to make people feel how I feel today. I am my truest, most happiest self.
I've learned that ability to accept who you truly are and realize what you have to offer others are the greatest gifts. Just now, after 32 years, I understand that we were placed here on Earth to serve a greater purpose that's not influenced by the ego and only now, can I truly appreciate my health.
It doesn't have to take an obstacle to be at peace, but we can sometimes get lost in our work, relationships, ego and constant thought of needing more. Try giving yourself the opportunity to look within you and find it.