I Have a Confession

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I Have a Confession

I have a confession to make.

This time last year, I embarked on a journey to change my physical health because my emotional health had become unmanageable. In July of last year, I experienced an extremely stressful event that was both traumatic and life-altering. By October, my stress and worry had taken a mental toll on my physical body, and I was on the verge of taking a leave of absence from the work I love as a psychotherapist, and the group practice I’ve build over the last ten years. My heart was breaking, and my body was shutting down.

During one of my appointments, I felt like room close in on me, everything turn grey, and I almost passed out. I took myself to the emergency room then continued a battery of tests over several weeks which all came back perfectly normal, making me feel like a real hypocrite. Not because I was sick, but because I spend every working day of my life helping others get emotionally back on track, and all the while, I’d completely neglected my own rising emotional strain.

The very nice and through neurologist whom I visited to help me figure out the cause of my passing out, memory loss and extreme fatigue said, when she found nothing in my brain, “The next step is a neuro-psychiatric exam. I know you know what that is, and it’s your choice.” To which I simply lowered my head and said, “No, I don’t need one. I know what the problem is.”

From that day forward, I vowed to fully, once and for all, practice what I preach in all senses of the word. I vowed to take my emotional AND physical life into my own hands, and change my health. It was essential. It was a matter of life and death.

Before, I was falling asleep while playing with my then 2-year old daughter. I’d wake up and find her playing along beside me, luckily, because she very well could have wandered off and gotten into something dangerous. I couldn’t focus, my insides were shaky, I couldn’t remember the context of simple conversations, and all I wanted to do was sleep the day away.

Because there was nothing physically wrong with me, I knew that meant only two things: 1) it was purely a result of overall stress, most likely from the trauma I’d experienced the prior Summer, and 2) change had to come from me and me alone. But, I was desperate. I couldn’t function.

Admittedly, in looking back on my struggles now, I can see that I’d been unhealthy for a very long time. I just ignored my daily stress and kept trudging along, like most of us do, hoping it would all disappear and my life would miraculously be back on track (whatever that meant) and wonderful one day. Obviously, that didn’t happen. It was up to me to make a change. And I did!

Part of taking my health into my own hands meant changing my diet (among other things). That change alone has changed my life dramatically. With the help of a nutritionist and integrative physician, my diet changed in several key ways and within just a couple of months of having, what I felt at the time as a complete emotional and physical breakdown, I can say I am, as I write this today, 100% back on track and feeling way better than I have felt in years and years.

I hope to tell more of my story in future posts. My journey is ongoing, as is all of ours. For now, and in future posts, I hope to impart the critical message of physical health and nutrition as part of total emotional and mental health. Therapy is my life’s work, but a lifestyle of emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health is my personal journey. I hope you’ll begin to explore new ways of being wholly healthy in your life, too.

Two people I have to mention here, because they’ve been monumental in my nutrition changes are Dr. Mark Hyman and Faye Elahi. Faye is the most genuine, gracious, and giving person. When I was extremely sick, I emailed Faye on a Saturday, desperate, asking for relief to help set me on course nutritionally. She invited me to her home that day and gave me vitamin B12 and other nutritional staples to help set me on course. I’ve known Faye for many years because I’ve referred to her as a therapist. Of course, during this case of therapist-heal-thyself, she was and has been a Godsend. Truly.

You can find Faye Elahi and Dr. Hyman’s books in the ICC Bookstore.

Photo credit here.

About the Author:

Jennifer Slingerland Ryan knows a thing or two about kids and families. First, she knows they are joyous, exhilarating, loving and so darn fun. Second, she knows they suck your life dry and make you weep like a baby.

By day she’s a psychotherapist; by night she’s a mom and wife. She claims to love therapizing couples, educating parents, reading dystopian fiction and sleeping in her free time (read: she never sleeps).

Jennifer has spent over 12 years in private practice working with individuals, couples, and parents who are faced with kid-drama, mamma-drama, and family-drama, and she claims that although some stories make a grown woman cry, she loves it.