Therapy Homework

I have been quite conscious of the fact that relationships take work for a long time and I really started being more thoughtful in graduate school when I noticed many of my relationships suffering. I lived far from home and really did not give them the attention and care they deserved. My initial thought was to just research and do better, which helped. Not enough though.

In seeking help lately, I was given the homework to be more assertive and express how I am feeling. Additionally, I need to keep others accountable for what they say or promise to me. It is really breaking an unfortunate habit I have created. And as I write this I am thinking about the fact that I am the gal who is constantly working on herself.

I am not perfect and I never can be, but I want to be a kind and thoughtful person. This homework though, while I feel it is thoughtful… I feel so unkind at times. I am struggling with this part of the homework. I know it is necessary to tell people what you need, however, I feel conflicted with relying too much on others. It takes a lot of reminding myself that sometimes the kind thing to do is to be blunt and clear.

At this moment I feel like I have put too much faith in what I was told, which is why I need to work on keeping them accountable. Everything I am being promised right now for both scenarios of how things could work out, they need to be followed. I can not let anything slide anymore. I am what is at stake here.

I would love to hear the kinds of homework you or a professional have given you to work on. Or maybe your working on the same thing as me, how do you feel you are doing? Right now, I would give myself a B-. I just need to pause to think more before saying, no I do not need anything.

Practicing Self Care

With feeling like life is not all together, I am glad I took some time last month to get back into some self care. I needed to do something for myself. I took a long break from working out and doing any extra stuff that cost money. I am always trying to save as much as possible without losing my mind.

Some self care is easily done on a budget. For instance, I really do not mind giving myself a manicure and pedicure because its very cost effective and I have all the supplies. Last month, however, I spent some money:

  • I got my brows tinted.
  • I got my first underarm and Brazilian wax treatment.
  • I got a real haircut from a salon where the stylist actually knows how to cut curly hair.

These were not cheap, but since I liked the results from the wax treatment, I got a wax pass through the European Wax Center. I also tried to extend the brow treatment as long as possible by picking up better products for filling in my brows and growing them. I am actually going my 2nd time today, so that is about 6 weeks between visits. I had not worn any makeup for 6 months, so it took some getting back into the groove of things.

Then the haircut, which was the most expensive per visit… I am hoping I can get away with maintaining it every 4-6 months, rather than the every 3 my stylist recommended. Also, that was the longest I ever spent in a salon and I feel like I just do not have time for that. The haircut was really the best cut I have ever had though.

I know I do not need to do these things, but it felt good to do something for myself for a change. I do not know if I will keep them up forever, but they are helping me deal with life for now.

This Mother’s Day Goes Out To All Women

By the end of this year I will have 1 niece and 5 nephews and no children of my own. I am not about to ask people to pity me, this is more about empowerment through sharing your story. As I have stated, I have infertility. I first started feeling like I really want children at the age of about 28, maybe 29. So 5 years ago. I knew it would not be easy and after a procedure, getting off the pill and doing everything I was told to do to regulate my cycle, I still have infertility.

I feel done with crying. I know there is a chance I may never be a mother. However, I still have hope. I just scheduled a midwife visit, since I now have insurance. I know I am not a good candidate for IVF and I have heard stories from many women lately about their struggles to get pregnant or even adopt. I feel like there is still more I can do and I know my life can provide something.

It has been a joy to welcome my niece and nephews into my life. I do not care that some folks tell me that the children of my cousin who I grew up with like a sister and my best friend of over 20 years, are not my niece and nephews. I am close to them and I love them. Even if I am not able to have children, I have these wonderful kiddos in my life. I send them books and see them grow and have all sort of hopes and dreams for them. Dreams of them being completely happy.

This Mother’s Day, I am thinking about all women. Those I know who are mothers, those I know who have lost their child(ren) due to miscarriage or tragedy, and those of us who want to become mothers, but it is not as easy as we once thought it would be. Happy Mother’s Day and may the beautiful children we are blessed to be apart of their lives grow up to be incredibly happy.

Everything in Life is Falling into Place

It feels like everything is falling into place. One of the great things about life is how it always seems to work out, especially when you put the effort into going with the flow. Focusing on what was really important to me seemed to help manifest changes that are making me really happy.

My health seems to be in a better place. I am feeling better mentally and physically. My cycle is not only back, but becoming regular. My face is clearing up. Both signs that my hormones are balancing out. I also have not turned to food for comfort in times of stress. I love checking out all the farmer’s markets in the area with their beautiful produce. We are not bringing home so much junk food. I am enjoying short walks and yoga. I feel like I am returning finally to being active.

Being active is just one way my life is feeling fulfilled right now. I started an incredible job a month ago where I feel valued, working with an amazing team and love what I am going. The opportunities for growth these job offered has already led to a promotion! I am glad I am writing a blog about this because the next time life feels uncertain I have a reminder that life works out when you put good efforts into obtaining what you want.

My partner had faith in me and was so supportive of me this past year. I am so grateful for our relationship. We have been working to spend regular quality time (my love language) together and still have the feeling that waking up next to each other is the best feeling.

Treat People How You Want to Be Treated

I touched on this a bit in my last post. Since gaining some weight, I have been fat shamed. People ask me why I stopped working out and say things like, “oh no, you have gained weight,” or “maybe you should seek a second opinion because I do not know why a doctor would ever want you to gain weight.” I also had a family member point out to another family member that I looked much thinner last year, thanks Facebook for those walks down memory lane. It makes me feel horrible.

Then after being put down so much, I start shaming myself. You should never put yourself down. I gained weight and that does not make me a bad person. It was the result of going through a tough time and hormonal issues. It is ok. I am working on the problems and feeling better. No one deserves to be treated poorly because of their physical appearance.

When I hear someone say, “they look disgusting,” I think, “no, your disgusting.” We should be bringing each other up, not putting people down because think about what it really does for your life to treat someone that way. I was bullied heavily as a child and what I regret the most are the times I bullied others. Even right after I did it I felt horrible about it because I knew what it was like to be in their shoes. I did not know how to handle myself though and had way too much going on at home to become self aware until I went away to college.

I am deeply sorry for the times I have passed judgement on or hurt others. I sometimes meditate on how I have moved on from these negative past behaviors and what I still need to work on. If we have children, I already know there is so much I am going to teach them. So much that I feel I was not taught that is valuable to becoming a great human being.

While their are still these negative attitudes in society about certain physical appearances, I have to say I am really loving some of the steps that have been taken to opening up everyone minds and expectation. Such as the inclusion of women of all shapes and sizes in clothing advertisements. I think the more we normalize things that no one should feel ashamed of, the happier everyone can me, and therefore, the healthier we all can be.

Just some food for thought. You are beautiful.

2 years with a Copper-IUD, My Experience

Disclosure, I have some TMI (Too Much Information) level stuff in this blog post. Nonetheless, I feel it is very important to share this information for women’s health reasons.

Before the IUD

Two years ago, I decided to change my method of birth control. I have been on 3 different brands of birth control pills since I was about 18.5 years old. Back then, I was a dysfunctional human being one day a month because my cramps made it impossible to stand unless I overdosed on analgesic and strapped a heating pan to my lower abdomen. Also, I had my first irregular cycle ever (likely due to the stress of my first semester in college) and  I was thinking about becoming sexually active.

The pill was what my doctor recommended and I figured it was the obvious choice because it seemed like the most reliable option. After I started taking the seasonal birth control pill though, I noticed a lot of negative changes. My sex drive was non-existent, I became anemic and my cycle slowly disappeared completely. I went from having a 5 day cycle to a 4 day to a 3 day pretty quickly. Slowly it dropped down to a 2 day cycle. Then as I was losing weight in 2015, I had a one day cycle and then no cycle for 2 whole years.

I was scared, especially after Googling all sort of things in regards to losing your period. On top of that, a conversation with my cousin about birth control pills made me connect the lack of sex drive, anemia and lack of cycle to the pill I was on. After doing more thorough research, I learned being on the pill for more than a decade is not well research and most of the experience others documented were similar to mine. So it was not just was type of pill I was on…

Making the Decision

Next step was to begin researching a new method of birth control, since now I am sexually active and hoped my sex drive would return as soon as I discontinued the use of the pill. I wanted something non-hormonal, which did not leave me many options that were easy to obtain and something that worked for my partner and I. I decided upon the Paragard copper intrauterine device (IUD) for the following reasons:

  • affordability (It did not cost me anything, but a doctor’s copay.)
  • non-hormonal
  • easy of use (in that once your doctor implants it you are good to go)
  • few and manageable side-effects
  • length of effectiveness (it protects you for 12 years).

Also, I had a friend who loved hers and it is the only copper IUD available in the US. However, with ALL forms of birth control there are risks. The risks associated with an IUD are serious and should not be taken lightly. The biggest risks in my opinion was the possibility of the IUD perforating your uterus and the rare chance of experiencing an ectopic pregnancy.

The first few months to year should be thought of as a trial period. Many woman get an IUD each year, but have them removed within a few months due to many reasons that I sum up to being just not the right birth control for them. It is common for women to experience discomfort with the device, birthing of the device (meaning your body expels it on its own), severe cramps for weeks, and more. That was not my experience, however.

My Experience

The insertion was not very comfortable, but neither is having my cervix scraped once a year for my pap smear. I mild cramping, in my opinion because the cramping during my teenage years was many times for painful, for less than 24 hours. I spotted a little, but it was not your normal cycle like spotting. I was discharging rubbery like tissue that was not as dark as blood and was tan in color at times.

The real test to me was how well it would work for my partner and I during sex, especially since my issue with my previous birth control was resolved with the fact that Paragard in non-hormonal. Here is where my over self-awareness came into play. Our first moment of intercourse with the IUD was very distracting. I was thinking about every sensation and suddenly wondered if I would know or more like feel if the IUD perforated my uterus. Needless to say, I did not get off. My partner said he could feel the strings (the strings that are attached to your IUD and allow your IUD to be removed eventually), but now does not feel them.

I could even feel the strings rubbing against the walls of my vagina for the first year. After half a year past I stopped over thinking everything completely. Sex is more enjoyable than it has ever been for me and my sex drive is more reminiscent to my teenage years. Additionally, it feels so good not to have to worry about taking a pill every day around the same time and about whether what I am consuming might effect my birth control.

Overall, I am happy with my choice. I do not regret it. I am going to end this post answering the 3 most common questions I had received from talking to friends about this. Please leave ANY questions you have below in the comments and I will respond as soon as possible.

Does it hurt?

Insertion was painful, but only for the brief moment they opened my cervix. I might have a highly tolerance for pain though due to having extremely painful cramps as a teenager. For the rest of the day after insertion (I had a late afternoon appointment), I experienced mild lower abdominal cramping. Since then I have not experienced any unusual pain. I am slowly getting more painful cramps with each cycle, but it is still a vast improvement over the cramps of my teenage years.

Are your periods painful and heavy?

Oh, yes they are heavy. The pain as I explained in the last answer is manageable compared to my teenage years. I have been going through 8 regular tampons plus 2 overnight pads in the first day of my cycle. Day 2 is more like 5-6 regular tampons and 1 overnight pad. Things greatly decrease from there. This is heavy for me and my previous cycle experiences. After I use up my current supply of feminine products I will be using a mental cup and period panties so reduce waste and save money.

When are you going to get it removed?

When my partner and I are ready to start trying to have children. Simple as that. Just have to make a doctor’s appointment to have it removed and can start trying immediately.

Fighting Negative Feelings

When I lost weight 2 years ago I got rid of my largest pair of pants. At the moment I could probably use those pants because I am being stubborn about buying any new clothes even though I only have 2 pairs of pants that really fit. Yesterday I even ripped a pair of pants trying to get them on. I immediately thought, “I am so fat.” Negative thoughts like that have crippled me in the past. I do not want to be crippled by a bit of weight gain and pants that rip.

On the positive side, I have officially had 3 consecutive months with a cycle! I have been doing short yoga sessions 6 days a week and walking 2-3 times a week. I have been eating when I am hungry. I have been increasing my vegetable intake and reducing my junk food intake. Chocolate is the item I can not resist, but I am working on making my own chocolate with coconut oil, cacao powder and maple syrup. Well, what I am really going to do is make Take 5’s with a pretzel, date caramel, natural peanut butter and my homemade chocolate. 🙂 Its really good.

I am also getting busy. With my volunteering and reading, this week I was out of the apartment the most I have been in months. With my 3rd consecutive cycle, I can slowly start working out again. This week I am going to do a couple short body weight routines I use to do. At least an upper body and a lower body routine. I am very excited because I miss feeling strong and working out.

I get to see my family soon. I feel like I have a wonderful relationship with my partner. He scheduled his defense for the end of March and we are going to New York at the end of April to look for a place to live. So why should I let a negative thought sabotage all the amazing things I have going for me?

Hormonal Update

I mentioned that I had a cycle in September, but then things were quiet for a couple months. Nothing happened in October and I only spotted for a few days in November. Exactly one month after spotting in November, I got an early Christmas present from mother nature. I was pretty happy and finally felt like I had an update to provide on the matter of my hormones.

All I have done was stop working out and focused on managing my anxiety. I have not full on binge ate since November. I did not gain a single pound over the holidays, but that could have been due to the food poisoning I experienced on Christmas day which made it impossible to really eat much for a week. However, I feel different when I am full. I keep thinking that I can not imagine putting anything else in my mouth. I just stop eating because I am full and not in an uncomfortable way at all.

My anxiety has mainly been due to not letting things go and avoiding things. I have avoided issues, such as responding to questions regarding planning my wedding when I am not even engaged yet, and tasks that for some reason seem daunting, such as completing a written sample that was requested of me. Of course, avoiding these things ends up increasing my stress levels.

One of my faithful readers who is a dear member of my extended family and my partner have provided me with much help. Telling me to go with the flow of the visit or family gathering and to remain calm with people or I will just be projecting my anxiety onto others. I do not want my anxiety to sabotage my life and hormones. It has not been easy, but what is? I am getting there the best way possible and enjoying it.

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

My partner received a job offer and we officially have accepted it on Thursday. We will be moving to the Hudson Valley area of New York in late Spring. I have never been to that area of the country and I am really elated to explore it for the first time. It is a relief that we have this figured out. We are also hoping to buy our first home when we move, whoa! So much excitement!

In March we will go scope out the area to look for housing. Then in May, after graduation, we will drive both our cars over to New York to get settled in and learn the area before he starts his position in June. There is plenty of time. I can also start looking into jobs for myself!

It just feels like life is coming together. We are in one place together. We will both be out of school. We can settle down. We can save more money. It is the beginning of the next chapter of our lives. I just keep breathing a sigh of relief and in disbelief that I will be a New Yorker. Life just keeps getting more interesting.

Additionally people can finally stop asking us when he will be finished. Something that is an anxiety inducing experience because a PhD can feel like it will never end at time. Regarding most questions though, if you think about it there will always be a question they will be asking. They likely have not seen you in a while so they are asking to catch up with you. So be nice, likely it is not their goal to make you feel like you are behind in life. That feeling is all on you.

Look for more posts regarding this in the Spring. 😉

Motivation and Body Image

I want to be completely honest with this blog and Wednesday morning I watched a YT video that made me realize that I was leaving out part of my story. I mentioned that I gained weight and I know I can get back on track. I had gotten up to 31 lbs heavier than a year ago and slowly it is coming off from the hard work I have been doing. Hard work being saying no to all the fried food and sweet temptations.

Motivation has been challenging. I see myself struggle to walk as much as I use to or put on size 12 pants I have not fit since early 2015. I have had times where I looked at my body in disgust and that action disturbed me because I know I deserve to treated better than that including by myself. Its so funny, 4 years ago it seemed like I was going through all these exact same emotions. I had just completed an internship at the end of August 2013 and then started a job in November 2013, which brought my spirit back to life.

Now, I may not have just started a new job, but within the last 2 weeks I have been seeing a upswing in my overall well being. I really needed this. I use to feel beautiful and sexy at this size. I know others see me that way too. Last weekend, I started to see it again. Granted initially I was trying on all the dresses I own to wear at the family wedding this weekend, but once I found one that would work I looked at my legs and thought, “I have nice legs” I smiled.

It is just proof that whatever may be going on, you have to remember to be there for yourself and love yourself as you are at that moment. Loving yourself is not this smooth easy going thing, just like our lives. I am still working on giving myself the love I deserve and keeping motivated during this period of healing and change. This stumbling is just part of the process to getting back on track.