I was recently asked this question: How did you make the final decision to quit your job? It wasn’t a decision that was made quickly – it took a few months to figure out what we really wanted. A large piece we factored into the decision was my health.
I kept saying, “I just don’t feel well. I don’t feel vibrant. I want to feel healthy.”
I got sick a lot more than usual in the year leading up to my exit. To describe a few examples, I had strep throat three times (which was unusual for me; I’m not someone who typically gets strep throat), I had congestion where I lost my voice, and I had a stomach bug/flu virus.
Yes, having young children in full-time daycare often means getting exposed to germs and getting sick. But this was different. In addition to getting sick, my menstrual cycles were inconsistent – dropping from a regular 28-day cycle down to 21 days, then skipping a period with a 45-day cycle.
When I missed my period, I thought I was pregnant. Every pregnancy test I took came back negative. With each negative test, my mind would race. Was it an ectopic pregnancy? Was my ovary going to explode? When I wracked my brain and realized that it had been 45 days since my last period, I called my OBGYN to make an appointment.
Wouldn’t you know, in the time between leaving a message and getting a call back, I started my period. When the receptionist called me back, I explained that my cycles were out of whack, and I had just gone 45 days before getting my period. Her response was, “well, you are thirty-five.” I was blown away, and a little pissed. What did she mean that I was thirty-five? Shouldn’t there be ten more years added to that sentence?
I pushed for the appointment anyway because something didn’t seem right to me. I didn’t feel well, and I needed to figure out why.
My midwife suggested I get my hormone levels tested – estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. My irregular cycles, fatigue, and irritability were the main reasons she though a test was warrented. She told me that so many people are stressed these days, and our bodies become unbalanced, especially in the endocrine system (I didn’t know anything about the endocrine system before this appointment). The test she preferred was a saliva test vs. a blood test. In her opinion, saliva tests were more accurate. I trusted her, so I took her word for it.
The results came back and showed that my estrogen level was low, my testosterone level was borderline, and my cortisol levels were too low during the day and too high at night – the reverse of what cortisol levels should look like. Having high cortisol at night means you aren’t getting quality sleep. I felt like I had some answers, but all signs were pointing at stress as the leading cause of my hormone issues.
What did my midwife recommend we do to fix things?
She prescribed progesterone cream to get my estrogen up, DHEA to naturally boost testosterone, and ashwagandha as natural support for my endocrine system. The idea was to get my endocrine system healthy in a more natural way to regulate my levels.
I was to apply the progesterone cream to my forearms and sides on the tenth day of my cycle and stop applying it as soon as my period began. It could have been in my head, but I truly did feel better within a few days of applying the cream. My parents were visiting at the time, and my dad commented that I seemed more relaxed.
I was taking the DHEA and ashwagandha daily. I had never heard of those supplements before, by the way. At this time, I also started taking Natural Calm (a magnesium supplement) on nights when I felt anxious or stressed. I made it a point to workout 3-4 days a week at the Bar Method location where I was a member.
I was trying to heal myself. But I didn’t want to use progesterone cream for the rest of my life, and these things I was doing felt like a band aid in lieu of a bigger change that I knew I wanted to make.
My midwife mentioned that I should try to reduce stress as best as I could, adding something to the effect of, “It’s probably not likely that quitting your job is an option” with a little smile.
In my mind, in that moment, I knew I wanted to try and make that happen.
It wasn’t that simple though. I felt torn between walking away from my career and staying home. My job had become a huge part of our lives – it felt weird to give it up. What do you do when your mind and your heart are at odds with each other?