In this post, I am going to talk about something that has been so personal to me over the last year and a half of my life. It begins in my junior year of college.
Since my junior year of college, I have not been myself. Let me explain.
For the last two semesters of college, I was lethargic, I was irritable, I was HIGHLY anxious and depressed, I was losing weight, I was sick every time I ate, I was dizzy every time I worked out, and I was downright miserable. On top of all this, I served in a leadership position on campus where my job was to be there for other students… and I could barely be there for myself. This was no fault of anyone’s, but I could not quite figure out what was wrong with me. This behavior wasn’t normal for me and I was brokenhearted at the fact that I wasn’t having a super fun and outgoing life at school like my friends were. For two semesters, I made excuses for why I couldn’t hang out with people, for why I had to skip parties and get-togethers, and why I was honestly the flakiest person around. Something felt wrong with me every day and being the control freak that I am, I was embarrassed to admit to anyone other than my roommate (hello @Brittany… thanks for being the best) and to my fiancé (who is also the greatest @Matt) that there truly was something wrong.
The only way I felt I could finish my degree with sanity was to physically remove myself from campus, come home, and finish school online. I told people I was moving home to plan my wedding, but the reality was that I could not continue feeling the way I did for another minute longer. Sleeping for over fifteen hours a day and still struggling to function is an overwhelming feeling. Driving a car twenty minutes away and struggling to stay awake is scary. Not being able to eat without vomiting (or the other… sorry for that TMI) is embarrassing. Having cold sweats and jelly legs from unexplainable anxiety to the point of tears is humiliating. It was a lot to handle… so I cried, and I prayed a ton before I made the decision to come home.
When I got home to start my last semester, my mom and I decided to get to the root of what was causing this all. I have always been an energetic, overall happy, and healthy individual and the seemingly sudden onset of all of these symptoms were weighing me down. I have a wedding, future marriage, and a job to start preparing for! Life, especially at twenty-one, should not feel like this.
We decided to look into a functional medicine professional to see if we could see some turnaround. I had blood tests for everything under the moon… literally seventeen tubes of blood drawn (yuck). We sent those off for testing and then we visited the doc. My results came back and said this: I was extremely low on B12, low on vitamin D, my thyroid was slow, my liver enzymes were off, and my adrenal hormones were out of whack (thanks college). Oh… and I shouldn’t eat gluten and dairy. So, for the last month and a half, I have committed to eating on a super strict elimination diet which is pretty much brown rice, veggies, protein, fruit, and 65oz of water (note: this is not my forever when it comes to eating). I also started to take supplements and vitamins which I had been missing from my diet, probably due to eating like a college kid.
After a month of eating well and taking a ton of vitamins, I have seen an incredible turn around in my life. I have so much natural energy now, and it is not derived from caffeine. I have clearer skin, I have little to no mood swings, I can eat without getting instantly sick, I am no longer lethargic, and I feel like I have the capacity to do things with friends. The best thing of all is that I have experienced little to no anxiety or depression in this last month. That was something I had dealt with for all three years I was at college. I am by no means saying that you should never visit a counselor or seek help for things like anxiety and depression because I have and it has helped, but I have seen the most long term change from just tweaking some things with my overall gut health and vitamin intake.
Ninety percent of our bodies’ serotonin is made in our digestive tract and so many of us are failing to realize that. I was eating like trash and, as a result, I felt like it. Since I have been only putting good into my body, my serotonin levels are back to normal and my moods have been amazing! Another thing that is not talked about enough is sugar. NEVER in my life have I considered the grams of sugar we should be consuming each day. The average person should not be consuming more than about twenty to twenty-five grams per day. There are some Starbucks drinks that have over SIXTY-FIVE grams! It’s insanity. So, not only are you sucking down caffeine, which attributes to anxiety, but you are also feeding the bad bacteria in your gut. I am obviously not a certified nutrition specialist or a doctor, so I am probably leaving a lot of information out, but I just wanted to share my story and a piece of what I have been learning so it can maybe help someone who is reading this!
I felt so convicted by God to start caring for my body in a better manner, which is a huge reason for starting and committing to this health journey. I want to be able to care for it in a way that honors the Lord and I want to be able to provide a healthy home life for my husband and future babies someday. I am still learning so much and there are days where I still struggle with feeling really irritable. Sometimes I still get very anxious, but I am making an uphill climb and I am giving it all to God! I am thankful that He has been with me every step of the way through this.
I also want to put this out here to anyone reading: I have learned (through the help of my momma) that you need to be your own biggest advocate when it comes to your health. You know your body more than anyone, so if something seems off, go and get the help you need! I was very skeptical when it came to functional medicine, but through this journey, I have learned so much about healing my body naturally and it feels so good! I am also being very gracious to myself at this time and I don’t get too worried if I do slip up or even for the fact that I have had to ease into working out again. Life isn’t a huge competition to be the best and to look the most perfect all the time. Things pop up in life and we have to take care of ourselves. We can’t expect to keep up with some weird standard of “perfect” or “boss babe-ness” that we see all over social media, college campuses, and life in general. We have to live and we have to know when it is okay to take a step back and regain our strength.
I don’t really have a huge takeaway from this post other than:
1.) I want to apologize to everyone I was ever flakey to… it wasn’t you… it was me!
2.) If something doesn’t feel right in your body, or if you are struggling with unexplained anxiety/depression… go and have your blood work done! It will tell you everything you need to know! Take steps from there to get healthy! Take vitamins, eat clean, and limit sugar.
3.) It’s okay to take a step back in life if that is what you have to do for your health! I’m not saying to quit living, but it is alright to take some things off your plate in order to live a little bit slower in some seasons of life. In fact, it is very refreshing!
Prioritize your health and honor the Lord by taking care of the wonderful body He gifted you with!
Written by Sadie Plyler
Featured Image By Sandra Seitamaa
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on https://www.theboldandbeloved.com/post/my-health-journey