School, Healing, and Working on Me

Hello, all. It’s a very cold day in Chicago. When I woke up, it was about eight degrees, but the temperature is slowly working its way up.

I left off last Sunday. After baking some double-chocolate banana muffins and whipping up my “healthier” peanut butter cups, I went out to dinner with my family for my brother’s birthday. I ordered the grilled salmon with lemon broccoli and mashed potatoes.

It was pretty good, but I think my mashed potatoes are better! I have been really into using roasted or sauteed garlic in recipes later, so I think I’ll try folding it into my potatoes next time. When I got back, I finished up some prep for school and headed to bed. Monday was the first day of classes. Since I am teaching online this semester, things are a little easier. I published my course, released all of its content, and met some of my students in the introduction discussion. Work was pretty busy. Whenever the semester starts, there is an influx of calendar events and announcements I need to filter for story material. For lunch, I had some butternut squash, broccoli, and zucchini.

After work, I went to the gym and did some cardio and a small arm workout. One thing that is kind of interesting to note is that ever since I started to feel sick, I quit caffeine cold turkey. I have never been a coffee drinker, and I never used to drink energy drinks or much pre-workout either. However, one day back in 2015, I received a thermogenic capsule sample from GNC. When I tried it for the first time, I was flooded with some of the most mood-enhancing feelings I’d ever had. I had energy and felt great! I wanted to keep that feeling going, so I started getting more capsules and then added energy drinks to the mix. So, for about four years straight, I had a mix of energy drinks, pre-workouts, and caffeine pills or thermogenics. I know that for most people, caffeine withdrawals don’t last super-long, but sometimes I wonder if my body was more dependent on caffeine than I thought, and if that contributed to some of my sicker feelings earlier on, particularly since I’d usually max out at more than 400 milligrams. Anyway, I completed my workout just fine, but if I start to feel better, I may try out some of the non-stim pre-workouts available on the market.

When I got home, I made my homemade chicken soup with bone broth, kale, and cannelloni beans. It’s one of my favorite meals because it’s hearty and full of nutrients. Tuesday, I had a few meetings at work so it was a pretty busy day, but I had soup for lunch and then came home and did yoga using a Yoga with Adriene video. I made some avocado toast on gluten free bread with broccoli on the side. I got my lunch prepped for the next day with these new veggie burgers I found at Jewel. They are so good! I am trying to avoid soy, but these do have a bit in there. I like to pan-fry them because they get really crispy.

Wednesday was also fairly uneventful. Since I started feeling sick and experiencing panic attacks and frequent physical anxiety, I decided to start seeing a therapist. I think anyone can benefit from seeing one even if you aren’t currently suffering. I think it’s good for me to get a lot off my chest, especially when it comes to past issues. It also helps to get an outsider’s perspective. I’ve always been a people-pleaser and a bit insecure, unfortunately, but my therapist is helping me to see when I’ve been taken advantage of or how my feelings aren’t “crazy.” After, I came home and drank some strawberry basil kombucha and admired how quickly my herb garden is growing.

Thursday went by pretty quickly at work because I had to spend a couple hours on campus working the student employment fair. There are a lot of awesome internship opportunities available for students. When I attended, I was a student worker in the Learning Center and got to be a writing tutor. Those were some great times. After work, I came home and read for quite a while. I love reading and visit the library very frequently, but I haven’t taken the time recently to just sit and read, so that was nice. After, I made a dinner of chicken nuggets breaded in almond flour, garlic green beans, and sweet potatoes.

Friday was really cold! I was happy it was Friday because it’s a three-day weekend. I have never had Martin Luther King Day off work before, but it’s so much more than just “a day off work” and should be acknowledged by employers everywhere. Martin Luther King Jr. was an incredible activist and fought hard to show the world how necessary it was to start a civil rights movement and work toward ending racism and segregation. With the advanced technology and use of social media we have, people can become much more aware of important issues, and it’s critical to take a stand.

I had the space heater cranking in my office with an orange scent in my diffuser and wore my hat because it was so cold.

It was lightly snowing when I got out of work and it made me nervous because I absolutely hate to drive in the snow. I have a smaller car that slides around and it makes me an anxious wreck. Since it seemed light, I thought I would go to the gym and do a quick 30 minutes of cardio. Well, the snow was much heavier than I anticipated and it was extremely nerve-wracking driving home. Once I Got there, I could have kissed the ground! I decided to splurge with a Real Good Foods cauliflower crust pizza. For the most part, I do not have any dairy lately, but I had this okay with no negative reactions. My husband and I were exhausted from the work week and the snow stress, so we were in bed by ten.

I slept in a little bit on Saturday, which was nice since I know that healing happens while you’re sleeping. In the beginning of feeling bad, I was not sleeping very well at all, so I am happy to be resuming more normal patterns. We decided to run some errands. I needed some basic household necessities and wanted to do a quick trip to Trader Joe’s. I picked up coconut whipped cream. cashew yogurt, snack bars, herbal tea, organic bananas and avocados, kombucha, kale gnocchi, wild blueberries, riced cauliflower, and cauliflower and broccoli bites.

After, I did a quick leg workout in my living room. I did squats, lunges, deadlifts, leg lifts and raises, and a lot of stretching. I watched two episodes of You. As I am starting to feel better, I am so pleased to be doing more of what I used to, like reading and indulging in TV once in a while. Then, I cleaned my whole apartment and lit the “Flannel” Bath and Body Works candle. It smelled and looked great. My husband watched the UFC fights and I picked up dinner for myself. I got a salmon dinner from a local restaurant and it came with potatoes, mixed vegetables, and a side salad. We were in bed by midnight (so, a little later than the night before), but we both used to stay up much later! I think the weather (combined with me trying to recover) and the long working days have just done us in a bit. But we’re both excited for warmer weather. In the meantime, we’ll continue to explore forest preserves even in cold weather.

I wanted to add a quick note on my healing journey. Despite numerous blood tests, X-rays, MRI scans, and X-rays, the only thing I have actually been diagnosed with is subclinical hyperthyroidism and thyroid nodule. Besides getting off birth control and caffeine abruptly at the same time, I cannot say with certainty that I am experiencing post-birth control syndrome or caffeine withdrawals, but I believe they may have played a part since I am starting to feel better without any medical treatment. The things I have been doing include cutting out caffeine and alcohol, limiting dairy, gluten, and refined sugar, and eating whole foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables. I do gentle exercise, try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep, go to therapy, do yoga, and try to meditate and be more mindful. I still do not feel like my “normal” self yet, but I am hoping that these steps are allowing me to slowly improve and restore my health. While I can’t say I feel great, I feel ,much better than I did in October and November, and better than I did in December, so I will keep pushing and fighting for my health.

When I woke up today, I had half a sliced banana with my cashew yogurt and a fruit punch kombucha while I worked on grading. We may go for a drive through the woods later, but it’s so cold that we may just stay inside under all the blankets. Our apartment is on the upper level and even with out weather-blocking curtains, it’s quite drafty in here! I hope everyone else is staying warm out there.

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