About Emotional Overeating

Emotional overeating occurs when a person uses food to comfort or soothe themselves. The person who emotionally overeats will do so to avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings. Emotional overeaters can be fat, normal sized, or even thin. All have an eating disorder, or a dysfunctional relationship with food.

Why do people emotionally overeat?

Many people learned in childhood that feelings were things to be avoided or ignored. Some come from families of food pushers. Those are people who use food as a salve for everything. If you’re happy or sad, mad or glad, there’s food shoved your way. Some people also had significant trauma in their lives like sexual assault or abuse. They use food to deal with their feelings surrounding these issues. It’s not a bad thing, but it is something that can affect their health and well-being.

Why does the US have such a big obesity problem?

In the US, we are ripe to succumb to the disease of emotional overeating and I do believe it’s more of a food addiction. We have a culture where food comes into play for everything. We are conditioned to eat to handle emotions and just about everything else. We are given mixed messages too that make us desire to eat and then shame us for eating. This sets up a very big emotional dilemma, one that many people don’t recognize, and fewer understand.

How can we begin to overcome emotional overeating?

First, you have to recognize and accept that you eat for emotional reasons as well as physical reasons. Well, in fact, you may not even know when you’re physically hungry because you’re so busy feeding the emotional side of yourself. That’s why we start with the food/mood log. It will help you get in touch with why and when you eat so that we can see if there are patterns we can examine further and work on. Using a food/mood log and the hunger and satiety scale, which we will discuss next time in more depth, can help us figure out our pattens and begin to alter them.

Lessons of COVID

Recently, I got COVID. It was a difficult experience but not as difficult as I anticipated. As I write this, it’s been over three weeks since I was officially sick. I’m testing negative but I still have a cough and am tired all the time. I don’t think I have long COVID, but I do think that we don’t fully understand the lasting effects of the virus.

However, this is not really what this article is about. Rather, I want to talk about the things I learned about life while I was sick with COVID. I had a bit of down time. Sure, most of it was spent sleeping, but I did have some time to think.
For example, when I get a tattoo, for a few days afterwards, I feel as if I can conquer anything. Being able to withstand the pain of the needle makes me feel invincible. Of course, that feeling is short-lived. With COVID, I felt something similar. I stared down the face of the beast that has been tormenting our planet for nearly three years. It wasn’t as bad as
I thought which is another life lesson. Usually when we anticipate something, we think of the worst possible case scenarios. Our brain likes to play the ‘what if’ game and spur our anxiety on.

Of course, what’s ironic about this is that the brain feels like it’s helping you and protecting you by planning for every contingency. That’s simply not true. In fact, the brain is working against you and making you doubt yourself. Human beings are resilient and adaptable. We will overcome anything. If you don’t believe that, you aren’t a student of history.
Throughout the centuries, we have faced down many pandemics like the bubonic plague and the Spanish flu. We have survived and thrived after them. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t take COVID seriously. We absolutely should, but we should not underestimate ourselves.

For example, when my family got sick, I didn’t crumble. I spurred into action and made sure everyone saw a doctor and got the rest they needed. We went into survival mode. I worked because I couldn’t take the time off – if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. That’s the life of a private contractor and small business owner. I accept it as my lot in life. There’s no one I can hand the reins over to if I’m sick. It’s just that simple, and I am more than okay with it. I am compensated well and happy to have the job that I do have. I appreciate it.

Yes, I was able to work and do what I needed to do so long as I allowed myself to rest when I could. I practiced extreme self-care. I rested, relaxed, and tried not to stress out about anything. I knew it wouldn’t ameliorate the situation. I realize that I am very fortunate to have the opportunities that I do, and I do not take them for granted. Not everyone is as privileged as I am.

Of course, that’s not to say that my life or having COVID was easy. Life is difficult, with or without COVID. COVID puts this shadow over everything, or it did until I got it. Now, I know I can stare the beast in the face and come out okay. I am not underestimating COVID, but I am no longer underestimating myself and my problem-solving skills.

No matter what life throws my way, I’m going to be okay and that goes a long way towards building up my self-confidence and self-concept. I am not glad I got COVID. Just want to make that clear. However, I am glad I survived it and learned to appreciate the blessings I have in my life more than ever before. A COVID world can be difficult and scary to navigate but it’s not impossible or unmanageable. We got this! All of us.

Deanna Goodson is a mental health and wellness coach specializing in nutritional counseling. I can work in any area of life. If you are interested in chatting with me, please set up a free, 60-minute chemistry session to see what we can achieve together. You can do that via https://calendly.com/dcgoodson. I look forward to chatting with you!
 

Treating Endometriosis

Endometriosis affects the female reproductive system. It causes endometrium tissue to grow outside of the uterus in places like the ovaries, abdomen, and bowel. The condition can spread outside the pelvic area in some cases, but it’s usually isolated to the reproductive organs. Symptoms of endometriosis are varied but often include pelvic pain which can be mild, moderate, or severe.

Although there is no cure for endometriosis, treatments can help manage the symptoms. Traditional treatments include pain medication, hormone therapy and medications that block the production of estrogen. If you’re looking for alternative treatments, certain herbs may be effective in treating the condition.
Some of the more commonly used herbs to treat endometriosis include:

·        Curcurmin is the active ingredient in turmeric, curcurmin has anti-inflammatory properties and may be able to reduce estradiol production. A study in 2015 suggested that the remedy could suppress tissue migration of the lining of the uterus.
·        Chamomille has long been known to reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Chamomille tea can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of endometriosis. Chrysin, a compound found in chamomille, has been shown to suppress the growth of endometrial cells.
·        Peppermint, which is often used by pregnant women to reduce nausea, also has antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that it can be effective in reducing pelvic pain from the condition and from menstrual cramps.
·        Lavender helps women reduce the pain of menstrual cramps even in small, diluted doses. Lavender oil massage is effective in decreasing the pain of periods and of endometriosis flare ups.
·        Ginger can reduce menstruation-related pain and may have a similar impact on endometrial pain.
·        Ashwaganda can help reduce stress-related hormones such as cortisol, which is found in higher levels among women with endometriosis. By reducing cortisol, Ashwaganda can be effective in reducing the pain of endometriosis.

There are a few people who tout the benefits of diet in treating endometriosis. Of course, I am not a doctor. This article is not meant to take the place of medical advice. It’s just information. I would encourage you to bring anything of interest to your doctor’s attention and see what he/she says BEFORE you change your eating plan or add herbs to your regimen.

What does the endometriosis diet look like?

·        Increase in intake of Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce lesions and inflammation
·        Reduce trans fats because women who consume more trans fats are nearly 50% more likely to have endometrial pain
·        Increase intake of antioxidants which can reduce the chronic pelvic pain that often goes hand in hand with endometriosis
·        Try an anti-inflammatory diet because it can help alleviate endometriosis symptoms
·        Avoid sugar and processed foods. Whole fruits and vegetables are best for most of us but especially for women with endometriosis.

More traditional treatments of endometriosis include medication and surgery. Medications may include NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen to reduce inflammation or hormone therapy. Surgery may be used to remove endometriosis growths and, in some cases, a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) or oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries).

No matter which route you go, please know that endometriosis is a difficult condition to manage but there are measures to provide you with some relief. I wish that there were more and that women didn’t have to struggle with these types of conditions, but – that is not to be.

Please stay tuned to this blog for more information on women’s health and hormones among other things. If you wish to work with me, please send me an email at dcgoodson@gmail.com. I offer a 60-minute complimentary session to anyone looking to work with me.
 
 

Endometriosis – Basic Information

Endometriosis is a condition that millions of women struggle with worldwide. It’s estimated to affect between 2-10% of American women of childbearing age. Endometriosis gets its name from the endometrium, which is the tissue that lines the uterus and is released during menstruation.

Women with endometriosis develop tissue that looks and acts like the endometrium outside of the uterus, usually on other reproductive organs in the female body. This misplaced tissue responds, however, to the hormonal changes caused by menstruation monthly. It builds up and breaks down as the endometrium does but this tissue causes bleeding inside the pelvis. (Ouch!) Obviously, this leads to inflammation and pain as the swelling and scarring of tissue occurs. When a woman’s ovary is involved, the misplaced tissue can form a ‘blood blister’ surrounded by a fibrous cyst, called an endometrioma.

Endometriosis’ causes are difficult to pinpoint so it often makes it equally as difficult to diagnose. Some believe there’s a genetic component to the condition. Endometriosis can occur in the following locations:

·        Ovaries,
·        Fallopian Tubes,
·        Uterosacral Ligaments (ligaments that support the uterus),
·        The posterior cul-de-sac               or the space between the rectum and the uterus,
·        The anterior cul-de-sac or the space between the uterus and the bladder,
·        The outer surface of the uterus,
·        And the lining of the pelvic cavity.

Sometimes, endometrial tissue is found in other locations such as the intestines, rectum, bladder, vagina, cervix, vulva or in abdominal surgery scars.

The symptoms of endometriosis are varied and are often missed by doctors, causing women to feel ashamed for or decide not to seek treatment. These include:

·        Pain, especially excessive menstrual cramps that may be felt in the abdomen or lower back,
·        Pain during intercourse,
·        Abnormal or heavy menstrual flow,
·        Infertility,
·        Painful urination during menses,
·        Painful bowel movements during menses,
·        And gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea, nausea or constipation and/or nausea.

Please note that the amount of pain a woman experiences is not necessarily related to the severity of the disease. Some women with severe endometriosis don’t experience any pain while others with a mild form of the condition may struggle with severe pain or other symptoms.

Although it’s difficult to get a diagnosis of endometriosis, a woman should not give up on herself or the medical profession. We must fight for our rights to be heard, understood, acknowledged, and treated. Some ways that endometriosis can be diagnosed include ultrasounds, CT scans or MRIs.
 
Treatments for endometriosis are based on:

·        Your overall health and medical history,
·        Current symptoms,
·        Extent of the disease,
·        Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
·        Expectations for the course of the disease
·        The patient’s desire to get pregnant.
 
If symptoms are mild, the provider may determine that pain medication is necessary. Treatments include:

·        Oral contraceptives with combined estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone) to prevent ovulation and reduce menstrual flow,
·        Progestins by themselves,
·        Gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist, which stops ovarian hormone production, creating a sort of ‘medical menopause’
·        And Danazol, a synthetic derivative of testosterone.

Next time, we’ll focus on natural remedies for endometriosis which can be very beneficial for women still seeking a diagnosis or who don’t want to use hormonal therapies or medications. Please note that I am NOT a medical doctor and this article is informative only. It is not meant to replace medical assistance. If you suspect you have endometriosis, it’s advisable to seek out the assistance of a medical professional.
 

Overturning Roe vs. Wade

This morning my husband broke the news to me that Roe v. Wade will most likely be overturned and given over to the states as a ‘states’ rights issue’. The change will not go into effect for a few months yet, but it is disheartening to say the least.

I am a woman who has had an abortion. I had just turned 22 and well, I didn’t feel that I had a choice. I did not have the means to keep the child nor did I have the desire to take on that responsibility. I had just graduated college and was preparing my Fulbright proposal. 

I, however, was staunchly Catholic at the time. I remember when hearing about girls in high school and college who had abortions, I was judgmental and really adamant that I would never ever do that. It was a sin and I was no murderer.

Boy, did I swallow the Catholic party line, hook line and sinker. 

Cut to 1995. I was dating my old boss and had gone to see him in Colorado Springs. He had moved there and my graduation present to myself was to see if we could make things work as a couple. I had high hopes that we could. He was successful enough to run his own store and, at 27, he was not much older than I was. He also had a used Porsche, which I absolutely loved. I wanted one of my own. 

Unfortunately, the trip was a bit of a disaster. Things did not work out for us as I had hoped. I ended up leaving Colorado Springs early. I was heartbroken. When I returned home, an ex of mine called up. Despite the fact that he was married, I agreed to meet with him. I knew it would end in sex because that was what our relationship was primarily about, but I did not care at that point. I was hurting and thought that sex, even with a married man, was going to help soothe my wounded ego.

I was wrong. I felt awful about myself and vowed to cut out my promiscuous behavior. My friends, many of whom were also Catholic, thought I was a slut and well, I was inclined to believe them at this time. I did not own my sexuality yet and was using sex to get love, which is what I really wanted. It would take me years to figure that out. 

Around my birthday that summer, I missed my period. I was scared shitless. I told my friends and they made me get a pregnancy test. I didn’t think that was a possibility and couldn’t believe that this had become my life. Two tests later, it was confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. My friend, Millie, told me I needed to tell Bill, the now ex in Colorado. 

I couldn’t admit to her at the time that he may not have been the father. I told myself I was a slut and couldn’t wait to leave my friends’ company. I needed to process this on my own. The following day I made an appointment with my gynecologist to confirm whether I was pregnant or not. It came as no surprise when the test came back positive. My gynecologist talked to me about my options. It was an unreal, out of body experience. 

I told her I didn’t know what I’d decide, but was pretty sure – I didn’t tell her that – that I was going to have an abortion. No way could my family find out. I would be disowned, or so I believed. Excommunication seemed like a less scary option.

My friend, Millie, decided to come over that day and ‘forced’ me to call Bill. I told him I was pregnant. He assumed it was his. It could’ve been. He asked me to marry him, but I did not want to get married just because of a pregnancy. I also didn’t want to marry a man who hurt me so much and I wasn’t ready to saddle him with a kid if it wasn’t his. I knew that that would not be a smart move for either of us or for the child. 

I broke protocol and shocked both Millie and Bill by telling them that it might not be his. He hung up on me. She stormed out. I sat on my bed and cried for a few hours. Then, I decided to ram my stomach into the wall. I prayed for a miscarriage. 


The next morning, I called the other candidate. I refuse to say his name because I still can’t believe what he said to me that day. He told me I couldn’t have the baby because his wife was pregnant. He also said I was on my own and to ‘take care of it.’ I knew what he meant and was devastated. I immediately called Planned Parenthood in Brookline, the same one where John Salvi, a maniac, opened fire a few years previously and killed several employees because he didn’t believe in abortion. 

I will not comment on the Salvi case here because it’s not the place or the time. I can imagine you can guess where I stand on the issue. Regardless, in talking with the receptionist at Planned Parenthood, I was told I’d have to wait two weeks before the fetus could be ‘removed.’ Her words, not mine. I was given an appointment and had to pre-pay for the procedure. I put it on a credit card because I could not afford it otherwise and there was no way I was asking my parents or friends for financial help. 

My financial situation cemented my need to have this procedure. However, the next two weeks saw a lot of tears and banging my stomach against walls. I even tried to throw myself down the stairs at my parents’ home – yes, I was still living at home. I had thought better of it because if they caught me bleeding, I was sure they’d figure out my ‘secret’ and my ‘shame’. 

I kept to myself largely for the next few weeks and made sure I had the day off of work. I was working at Harvard as a phone operator, part-time. I had no means and no desire to have the baby, but I felt immense guilt and didn’t know how to cope. I turned to food to soothe me as I had done so often before. 

Those two weeks seemed to pass in slow motion. I became convinced that God was cruel because he didn’t listen to my prayers for miscarriage. I begged for His help so I wouldn’t have to do this. I didn’t see any other options. 

Finally, the day came. My friend, Millie, despite her anger at me, drove me to the clinic where we were greeted by protestors who called me a ‘murderer’ and a ‘whore’. I was visibly upset as the security guard buzzed us into the clinic. I walked slowly as if I were about to be executed. 

When I got to the receptionist’s desk, I told her I was there for my ‘appointment’. She handed me some paperwork to fill out and told me to wait. I cannot remember what the paperwork looked like. I can, however, remember crying while filling it out. 

The wait seemed interminable and I watched a young woman with her mother. She looked like she was still a teenager and, again, I noticed I was judging her for doing the same thing I was about to do. I was such a Cathoilc hypocrite.

When they called me back, I thought it was for the procedure. Unfortunately, no. I was meeting with a social worker who tried to convince me not to do it. I was very upset about it and told her that I had made up my mind. I felt as if she were judging me too. I know now she was not and I also know that Planned Parenthood really tries to present you with options. They are not the ‘abortion-factory’ that many conservatives would have you believe them to be. 

I was crestfallen as I went back out to the waiting area. It seemed endless. I don’t remember how much time passed before I was called back to see the doctor. He was cold and clinical. He told me to undress from the waist down and left me so I could do it. I was so nervous and shaking. I started to cry as I got myself hoisted up into the stirrups on the table. I was starting to rethink this. Maybe my parents wouldn’t kill me. Maybe they would and I wouldn’t have to worry about this at all.

As the doctor returned to the room and began the procedure, I could hear myself think NO in my mind but I didn’t say it out loud. I just cried. He sent me back to a recovery room and I could feel myself bleeding. It was quick and I felt dirty. I was devastated. 

Nothing about my abortion experience was good. It wasn’t a happy day for me. It is a day I will always remember. I still regret the decision but am grateful that I had the opportunity to make it. I am scared that women now in states like mine – Texas – will not have the same option. My own daughter, if anything should happen to her, would have to go to Mexico or another state to have the procedure. She’ll be vilified worse than I was.

It’s not right. It’s not fair. No one should tell a woman what to do with her body. If these so-called pro-lifers actually cared about life, they would make it easier for a woman to have a baby and get services she needs for herself and her child. If I had had more options, I may have made a different decision.

I may not have. It was my decision to make and I still deal with the consequences of it to this day. I do regret what I did, but I cannot take it back and I would not want to take away the right of another woman to make the same choice I did. Actually, abortion is not a ‘choice’ per se but a nuclear option so to speak. If I could’ve seen another way forward, I would’ve taken it. 

I am sad, disappointed and angry that the Supreme Court, as shaped by Donald J. Trump, takes women’s lives into no account. It’s a sad day for the United States and I can only hope that there will be another decision someday to restore our reproductive rights under Roe V. Wade. I don’t think it will happen in my lifetime.

Ironically, I was born in 1973, when Roe v. Wade was passed. Less than 50 years later, we are overturning it. I can’t believe what has become of my country during my lifetime. I’m not surprised to be honest, but I am upset. 

Food As Medicine

Lately, if you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll have noticed that I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about the medical industry, doctors and specialists, in particular. I know that many doctors and specialists are doing their best, but it’s not good enough for women’s health needs. I believe that medical schools lack the tools and resources to assist their students in learning what they need to in order to provide the best possible health care for us in the United States.
I do not know what it’s like in other countries, but I’d hazard a guess that this situation is similar in much of the Western world.

So, what’s my solution? First and foremost, I would like all doctors and specialists to be trained on hormones and their impact on the human body, particularly female bodies. I believe that medical schools should teach more about nutrition – currently, they don’t teach much if anything at all. How we feed ourselves really impacts how we feel internally and externally.

Food is medicine and has been for millennia. Eastern medical traditions understand this. Ayurvedic practitioners, for example, often take what a client eats, into account. They also provide suggestions on foods and spices they can include in their eating plans to improve their physical health and mental well-being. For example, turmeric is an anti-inflammatory agent and very helpful in warding off disease.

As a nutritional counselor, I work hard to bridge the knowledge gap that most people have between food and wellness. I encourage my clients to eat foods that are health-promoting that also like them back. For example, I’m not going to encourage a client to eat kale and quinoa (both of which are superfoods according to most nutrition experts) if they don’t enjoy kale and quinoa.

There are a lot of other foods that are just as healthy. Everyone is different. At the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), we learned about the concept of bio individuality. I take my client’s lifestyles, food preferences and goals into account before I come up with a plan that works for them. I do not tell people what to eat. I merely suggest what they could eat to help them improve their health and mood.

I very much encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods (i.e., foods that come in a bag or a box.) The Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of processed foods. They are not healthy for us but many times that are the cheaper and easier option. That is not to say that people don’t want to be healthy. However, many don’t know how.
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With so much conflicting nutrition information out there, it’s hard to know what to eat and how much to eat. Should you intermittent fast? Should you eat intuitively or stick to a more rigid schedule of eating. Some people like to eradicate entire food groups like fruit and carbs. I do not advocate for that. I prefer that people eat foods from a variety of sources.
I can help you discover what foods would be most beneficial (and tasty) for you to include in your eating plan as well as to look at food in a functional way. Food is neither good nor bad. It’s just food. However, some foods like us back a lot better than others.

Contact me today to get started on creating an eating plan that supports your health and your hormones. I am here for you.
 
 

Women’s Healthcare in America – A Sad Story

Women face a significant health crisis in the United States and perhaps worldwide. We are not treated with the respect and encouragement we deserve. Our health issues are often dismissed or swept under the rug. We are treated as body parts and not as whole people.

Alternative practitioners, usually from modalities based in the East and the Orient, understand holistic health care as do naturopaths and nutritional counselors. Each has a unique take on women’s health and a specific understanding or sneaking suspicion that not only are these health problems not in our heads, but they are systemic and endemic, affecting our entire bodies and minds.

I feel strongly compelled to help women find their voice and speak out about what they need. However, the first step in that process is for women to figure out what it is they want and need from their practitioners. Women are culturally taught to subjugate themselves and their needs in favor of their children and families. Many women overlook symptoms until they get to critical mass.

We don’t need to suffer and struggle. Taking care of ourselves is vitally important. We are the backbone of the family, and we are the backbone of this country, the United States of America. Our contributions aren’t always honored, but they are significant. We are significant.

It’s time we treat ourselves with the love, attention, and respect that we give to others. We are precious individuals worthy of love, respect, and support. It is through us that new life is formed and sustained. We are creators whether we are mothers or not. We birth family, friends and ideas/businesses every day.

For women with reproductive health issues like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Pre-Menopausal Depressive Disorder (PMDD) and endometriosis, the time it takes to get a diagnosis is egregious and, in my eyes, criminal. Women are made to suffer often in silence because no one seems to know how to help them. As a result, they put the responsibility back on the woman and make her feel as if she is to blame for her pain.

What a ridiculous notion! Unfortunately, so many of us fall for that deception. We come to believe that we are a bother and often give up on seeking a diagnosis. One can only get so many nos before they give up. I am asking you not to give up – demand more from your doctors and be willing to fire them should you need to. You are also a consumer and health care is a product. If it is not working for you, then move on to another provider who will listen. Over time, I plan on this site to make a list of caring, compassionate caregivers nationwide that women can go to to receive the help they so richly deserve.

Thank you for indulging me – yet again – on my soapbox. I am currently writing a book tentatively titles “Whore”-Mones. It’s about how primary care doctors and most specialists don’t have a clue about what hormones do to and for women’s health, especially estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

Want to work with me? Great! I’m always on the lookout for new clients. Feel free to set up a free, 60 minute complimentary session with me at https://calendly.com/dcgoodson. I look forward to assisting you.




 

Three Women Struggling within Our Current Healthcare System

I can not sit by any longer and watch kind, intelligent and intuitive women who know their own bodies being told by medical professionals what they should do when they know nothing about hormones and how to help these women. They don’t know what’s wrong with them so they make them feel like it’s their fault. These women are not failures; the American medical system has failed them.

Yevgeniya’s Story

Yevgeniya (not her real name) is 30 years old. She has pre-menstrual depressive disorder and is trying to get pregnant. She struggles so much with her PMDD that she sometimes fears for her life around ‘that time of the month.’ A nurse practitioner at her gynecologist’s office prescribed her with an antidepressant because she couldn’t figure out what else to do.

My big question is why a NURSE PRACTITIONER at a gynecologist’s office would prescribe an antidepressant to a patient? Why? She had no right to do so. She also prescribed the wrong medication as it was making Yevgeniya feel worse. She had nausea, vomiting and wasn’t sleeping. When I talked with her, she was at her wit’s end and crying uncontrollably.

I urged Yevgeniya to get a second opinion on the medication and to do it soon. Even her husband seems to think that the medication is ‘making things worse.’  

Anastasia’s Story

Anastasia is 19. She has struggled with her hormones since she hit puberty. Her PMDD was so bad that she sought out the help of her pediatrician who prescribed her with birth control/Estrogen. The estrogen lead to migraines, one of which lasted a month long and Anastasia had to be put into the hospital to ‘knock it out.’ There, her new neurologist referred her to a reproductive endocrinologist who told her that she needed to ‘exercise more and eat less.’ Anastasia was not very overweight at the time.

The doctor then prescribed her with a progesterone implant that worked for a while. When it stopped, Anastasia began bleeding profusely and the PMDD returned in full force. Then, she was put on Depo Provera by an adult doctor, a gynecologist. Anastasia was 17 at the time. Now, at 19, the depo is not working very well. She has fibromyalgia and a strange gynecological issue that no one can seem to find.

It seems she has endometriosis but without a diagnosis or a doctor who even believes her, I don’t hold out much hope that she will get the treatment she’ll need and she will continue to feel demoralized with each doctor’s visit. She is now working with an acupuncturist to see if Eastern medicine can provide her with the relief she so desperately needs.

Martika’s Story

Martika is 26. Up until recently, everything was fine with her. A thin young woman who is vibrant and pretty, she began having episodes of feeling something ‘pop’ in her reproductive area. She’d go to the hospital scared out of her mind and the doctors would do an ultrasound and say they couldn’t find anything because it had popped already. She’s been to multiple doctors who have all told her to just ‘cope with it.’

Her way of coping with it is to change her entire diet and life. She’s afraid to leave the house and moved back in with her parents. She feels a shell of her former self and it pains me to see what is happening to her. In our work together, I have encouraged her to seek help from an Ayurvedic practitioner to see if there’s anything they can do for her.
There is more that I could say about each of these women and many more that I see in my practice and throughout my life. It seems that many women have these stories and it’s appalling, upsetting and well, it makes me angry. I want to help and I will figure out a way to do so.

If you have a story to share or wish to work with someone kind, compassionate and caring, please reach out to me. I am not a medical professional, but I am a credentialed and trained mental health coach. I can help you feel less alone.

Having an “Invisible Illness”

I have fibromyalgia. To many people, I don’t ‘look sick’. The truth of the matter is that some days my pain is so severe, I just want to scream and cry. It hurts so much.

When women especially – sorry, men, but I have more experience with woman especially since I am one myself – have invisible illnesses, they often feel invisible and that their needs are ignored, misinterpreted and poorly understood. I am here to say that we are not crazy. It’s not all in our heads.

Our pain is real and it’s debilitating. Some days it’s a struggle to get out bed and work. I am a mental health coach and assist people daily. Some of the women I work with are very ill, but they hold it in. They don’t complain. They’d rather that people didn’t know about their pain. They don’t talk about it, but it’s there all the time.

It’s real and really difficult to cope with. Depression goes hand in hand with chronic pain. That just compounds matters, heaping the mental on the physical. Personally, I know that when my emotional pain gets too strong, my body feels it. This somatic response is not unusual. The body and the mind are solidly interconnected. When one hurts, the other usually follows suit.

If I had a dollar for all the times people told me, “you don’t look sick” and I felt sick, I’d have quite a bit of a nest egg by now. The thing that hurts me the most, however, is that my youngest child also has fibromyalgia. As a 19 year old, they work very hard to do ‘normal things’ and lead a ‘normal life’, but they know that sometimes their body won’t cooperate with them. They can’t do all the things they’d like to.

I was a bit older when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia so I don’t fully understand my child’s unique challenges. I can sympathize but I cannot say I’ve walked a mile in their shoes. I can say, however, that I understand that when they say they’re in pain, they’re in pain. I have no question about the veracity of that statement.

But I know that no everyone does and that annoys me beyond belief. My child is not ‘lazy’ or ‘unmotivated’ or ‘depressed’ – although they also struggle with bipolar depression like me. They are in pain and trying to take good care of themselves.

I call that extreme self-care or survival mode, when you do every thing you can to just get by. The bare minimum. Some days my bare minimum is meeting with clients, exercising, eating right and resting whenever I can find the time.
How survival mode looks for people varies. Some can’t even do what I can. I implore you, my reader, if you don’t suffer from an invisible illness, to not ‘guess’ that someone is doing well just because she looks well. I suggest that you give people grace and compassion no matter what the situation looks like. I encourage my invisible illness warriors to remind themselves that they are doing the best they can and:

WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAY AND DO SAYS MORE ABOUT THEM THAN IT DOES ABOUT YOU!

 

It’s Not All in Your Head

Recently – well maybe not so recently – I have encountered a lot of women who are struggling with getting proper health care. Many times, their complaints are ignored or discounted. Doctors, both male and female, seem at a loss as to know how to care for their female clients. Many issues can be attributed to hormonal imbalances, but I have found, from my own experience and those of my clients, family and friends, that doctors don’t really understand hormones, especially female hormones. This includes specialists like gynecologists, endocrinologists and reproductive endocrinologists.

This is unfortunate, troubling and infuriating at times. My youngest child has fibromyalgia like I do. They have had hormonal problems since puberty and doctors just tell them to change sexual positions or to eat less and exercise more. That is ridiculous. I believe they have endometriosis and perhaps polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
When we went to the doctor on Friday, I was shocked and appalled at how dismissive this female gynecologist was of my child. When we got home, my child looked me in the eye and said, “Mom, they think I’m crazy, but I’m not. I’m in pain and I’m concerned.

So am I, my child, so am I.

As a result, I am taking it upon myself to learn all I can about fibromyalgia, hormones and ‘women’s health issues’. It is now my mission to empower women, including myself and my child, to speak up for themselves, to understand their hormones and be willing to fire unhelpful doctors.

When I got my fibromyalgia diagnosis in 2004, it had taken me about four years to get to that point and a lot of missteps by the medical community. Nearly 20 years later, I have been struggling with some doctor mismanagement (prescribing a toxic medication without checking out all my conditions and drug interactions) and am dealing with lipidemia and lymphedema on top of my Fibromyalgia and menopause symptoms.

Something is wrong and I’ve gone back and forth to my primary care doctor with very little satisfaction. He’s great but he admittedly doesn’t understand what’s going on. He led me to a wonderful lymphedema therapist who is doing manual lymphatic drainage massage but it seems the lymphatic system is as poorly understood as fibromyalgia and women’s hormones.

Ugh!

So for all of you out there who are struggling to feel heard and seen by the medical profession, I see you and I am here for you. I would love it if you’d email your stories at dcgoodson@gmail.com. I am going to use them as a launching pad for my research. I will keep posting here and appreciate your readership.

In good health (I hope!) or better yet – better health for all of us. We matter and it’s not all in our heads. It’s time our pain is acknowledged.