How Losing My Hair Saved My Life
I’ll always remember the day I finally had to accept something was seriously wrong.
I was in the shower, my normal pre-bedtime routine. Suddenly my heart started racing, fast, faster, until its beat was the only sound in my world. It felt like I had been running flat-out a mile straight uphill. I could barely breathe, and gulped at the air like I was drowning. I abruptly sat down on the tub floor, cross-legged, too dizzy to continue standing. With spots dancing in front of my eyes I held my hand in front of my face, and stared in confusion at the clumps of hair.
Since I was a little girl my hair was the bane of my existence. It was so thick, too thick, I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. It would tangle up and frizz out and even a pony tail was often too difficult to manage. I broke brush after brush after brush trying to keep it some semblance of neat. People always admired my thick, wavy, Dutch-German farmgirl hair, but I always wished for stick-straight, glossy, easy to manage locks.
Until the day I realized it was all falling out.
You’d think the years of slow-creeping full-body pain that never went away would have been my wakeup call, but you’d be wrong.
You’d think the migraines, nausea, diarrhea, and debilitating cramps that came for 10+ days every month would have been my wakeup call, but you’d be wrong.
You’d think the rotating psychiatric diagnoses, mood swings, and inability to concentrate would have been my wakeup call, but you’d be wrong.
You’d think the bone-deep exhaustion and 2+ pots of black coffee I drank each day just to keep functioning at the extreme pace I demanded of myself would have been my wakeup call, but you’d be wrong.
You’d think all the doctor’s visits, the pills, the sleepless nights worrying over what was wrong with me would have been my wakeup call, but you’d be wrong.
It took the nemesis I had vied to control my whole life being taken away from me to understand I needed a different kind of help if I wanted to survive.
17 years old, after 90 minutes with a flat-iron.
I decided I didn’t have to listen to the doctors, because their pills weren’t making me better, and their advice was to accept a life of disability. Hell-to-the-no. My spirit rejected every part of that vision for my future. Unable to work any longer, I dove deep into Google and PubMed (mega-nerd, here) and started trying everything I could find on the internet. Supplements, herbs, detoxes, heavy metal chelation, spiritual healing, meditation, shamanic work, fasting, restrictive diets, energy clearing, strict exercise regimens – I tried them all. I sold everything of value I had accumulated over the years to pay my bills while I fought against my illness, fought against all the ways I believed my body was betraying me, fought with everything I had left inside me.
None of the fighting worked. I still felt horrible. My life wasn’t getting better. I was functionally disabled, saddled with multiple “incurable” diagnoses, and in deep despair. I turned back to Asian philosophical systems, those nuggets of wisdom that had kept me going through many dark moments, and then at last it considered that there might be answers in classical medicine designed by the cultures whose concepts made my spirit feel free.
The first time I saw a Doctor of Chinese Medicine was like nothing I had experienced before: she took the time to read through my two-page list of symptoms, listen without judgement to my story, and then said simply: “That all makes sense, it’s not just in your head. You don’t have to feel this way forever.”
It is no exaggeration when I say that Chinese Medicine saved my life.
The full story of my recovery journey is for another day. It involved many treatments, herbal formulas, lifestyle changes, and spiritual recovery. Most importantly, though, it required me to learn to befriend my body and partner with my spirit rather than fighting against my inner nature.
If you are lucky, a moment comes along
that forces you to wake up
before chronic stress destroys your life.
The happiest, most successful people do things differently. Including stress management.
You have worked so hard to get where you are. Your soul came here to express your unique genius and you have dedicated yourself to that cause with a singular focus.
But still, some days, you wonder how you’re going to keep all the balls in the air. You’ve put everything you have into getting to this point, and sometimes it’s hard to see how you can make it to your next level.
Everyone experiences stress on occasion. And a global pandemic with no end in sight has taken what we thought was high stress to a nearly intolerable level.
You get up early every day and self-motivate to achieve more than the day before.
You create something from nothing, and inspire others to commit to your vision.
You wear a dozen different hats, changing directions on a dime and shifting your focus over and over to deliver tangible results.
You take care of everyone: your team, your family, and your community by showing up fully committed to greatness every single day.
But what about taking care of yourself? Have you cultivated a sufficient habit of quietude, restoration, and genuine loving actions that promote personal well-being to maintain the life you are living?
Your ability to share your soul’s unique genius is directly tied to how well you take care of yourself amid chronic stress.
Chronic stress leads to a host of negative health effects:
Aches and Pains
Exhaustion or trouble sleeping
High blood pressure
Stomach or digestive problems
Weakened immune system
Depression or sadness
Anxiety, irritability, panic attacks
Many people try to manage stress alone through:
Daily consumption of caffeine or other stimulants
Overeating or restricting food to avoid weight gain from stress hormones
“Zoning out” with social media, video games, or streaming services
Smoking, using recreational drugs, or drinking alcohol
These coping behaviors might help for a moment
but over time they deplete your inner resources,
wear down your resilience,
and dull your shine.
Your shine is what got you to where you are —
you can’t afford to lose it.
Your dreams are too important to pursue with anything less than a whole heart, clear mind, and joyous spirit of adventure.
Study after study after study has shown Chinese Medicine significantly decreases the negative impacts of stress without taking pharmaceuticals or following extravagant behavioral regimens. And it feels good, too.
Your body and spirit respond to stress based on the unique circumstances of your life — your family history and the stories you tell yourself about it, external influences (pathogens, pollution, environment, etc.), internal influences (genetics, constitutional deficiencies, and emotional stagnations), and lifestyle influences (the way you live). It logically follows that the way you care for yourself must also consider the interplay of these factors.
Classical Chinese Medicine is unique in its focus on a wholistic view of each individual and the influences factoring into their wellness. By gaining a deep understanding of the factors acting on your mind-body-spirit systems we are able to discover entry points for restoring harmony that are designed to work with the life you actually live.
Treatments include classical bodywork like Tui Na (Chinese Medical Massage), cupping and moxibustion, calming the spirit through touch and heat therapies that relax the autonomic nervous system and significantly reduce stress hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine.
Acupuncture points are woven together in a narrative that activates their spirit energetics alongside the physical impact on the interplay between organ systems, in a dance of Qi that shows your body how to build a bridge to a place of balance and elegant interactivity.
Herbal medicine is harmoniously blended into a custom design that will supplement deficiencies and clear excesses so your internal organ systems have all the necessary resources to function optimally.
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