Speaking Your Truth
Written by Jessica Drummond, MPT, CCN, CHC, Custom Hormone Healing
My personal burnout backstory – or, why I have so many letters after my name…
It was August of 2009, my fatigue, and physical and emotional burnout were so intense that I literally found myself on my butt in tears with my toddler in my lap and the glimmer of a new pregnancy in my womb on the floor of the Raleigh Durham Airport. I didn’t even have the endurance to get on that plane with my 4-year-old daughter and move (again!) to Houston, Texas.
It was time to find another way!
I embarked on a major health quest, determined to get to the root of my overwhelming fatigue. Most doctors tried to put me on antidepressants, or suggested warm baths & naps (gee, really?) It wasn’t until one thoughtful doctor tested my adrenals that we found the real culprit — my hormones were completely haywire. And my body was burned out!
For the next year, I learned how to heal myself. But, in order to take this new understanding to clients and my colleagues, I knew that I needed more training. So, I went back to school and was trained as a health coach at both The Institute of Integrative Nutrition and Duke Integrative Medicine. Then, I got my certification in clinical nutrition (CCN) from the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board. And, continued on to doctoral studies in holistic nutrition.
Then, I began to test my method – combining my years of experience as a women’s health physical therapist with my new understanding of holistic nutrition, and the results were phenomenal for women with stubborn weight gain, hormonal imbalances, pelvic and sexual pain conditions like PCOS, endometriosis, and interstitial cystitis (IC) irregular, painful, and heavy periods, painful ovarian cysts, post-surgical pain, and even orthopedic spine, pelvic, and hip pain.
The Fifth Chakra
I have been working with patients with women’s health conditions including thyroid and other hormonal conditions for over 15 years now. But, only in the past 5 years or so, have I come to truly understand the importance of emotional health to physical symptoms.
Today, I would love to share with you a bit more about how improving your ability to both listen to the thoughts, ideas, wisdom, and opinions of others, and to confidently share your thoughts, ideas, wisdom and opinions are key to your thyroid health.
The fifth chakra, or the fifth emotional center, is physically represented by your throat, neck and thyroid. At this time, there is no published clinical research that I could find that has studied this connection between a person’s ability to listen with an open mind and speak with confidence to the health of the thyroid. But my clinical experience and that of medical intuitive authors and teachers of Eastern healing wisdoms, including yoga, have made this connection for centuries.
The neck was understood by these traditions as the connection between the mind (thoughts) and the body, especially the heart (emotions). When a person doesn’t feel comfortable expressing her thoughts or opinions (her truth), then there can be an emotional blockage that may manifest as physical symptoms in the thyroid (or neck or throat). Similarly, if a person is only willing to listen to ideas and opinions that are in agreement with her own, and she is unwilling to pause to listen with an open mind (and heart) to another’s perspective, that can also cause pain in the fifth emotional center.
The case of a woman with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Consider this case of a woman that I saw recently in my practice. She was experiencing common symptoms of autoimmune thyroid disease, otherwise known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. In her case, her symptoms were consistent with hypothyroidism, or low thyroid function. Her bloodwork showed high normal levels of thyroid stimulating hormone, and low levels of free triiodothyronine (T3.) She was fatigued, had weight loss resistance, sensitivity to cold, hair loss, brain fog, and constipation. We started with a physical approach to her symptoms. I recommended nutrition changes to help to support stable blood sugar, other lifestyle changes to support her adrenal function like turning off her electronics by 8pm, and having a consistent bedtime. She added more nutrient dense foods to her diet, along with some nutritional supplements to support her thyroid function like selenium, zinc, and vitamin A. We also addressed her digestive function to allow her to better absorb the improved diet that she began to enjoy. Her energy soon began to improve, along with her temperature sensitivity and hair loss, but she had a difficult time with her relationship to stress, thus her sleep was still a struggle and her weight was not improving as quickly as she would’ve liked.
Thus, next we dug into the sources of her emotional stress. She shared with me that at work she was feeling less and less accomplished. Her new boss was becoming more and more intimidating, and she felt that every time she spoke up with her perspective in a meeting, her boss would do whatever she could to tear down her ideas and make her look foolish in front of her peers. This conflict was so uncomfortable to her that she said less and less in each meeting, and felt paralyzed in her career growth. She didn’t know how to get out of the situation or who to talk to for fear of looking like a failure at her job, or a troublemaker among the higher level executives. You can see how emotionally she was feeling very blocked in her fifth emotional center (or fifth chakra) and thus she was stuck, unable to completely resolve her physical thyroid symptoms. Her complete healing would require her to address her health at a mind-body-spirit level. It was time for her to address the stressful situation at work, in order for her thyroid symptoms to truly heal.
Are you experiencing something similar? Are your physical symptoms improving with nutrition, lifestyle shifts, and/or medication, but you just can’t seem to feel 100% better. Can you see any areas of struggle in your life where you are unable to speak your opinion and ideas without being shamed or criticized? Do you allow others to speak without pushing your will, or opinions “down their throats”? Has addressing these areas of communication stress allowed fuller healing of your thyroid function? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.
Fortunately for my client, she was able to find a higher level employee in the company to support her ideas, and while she eventually sought employment with another company, she was able to do so gracefully with the glowing recommendations from colleagues who had respected her years of service. And, once she transitioned to a work environment that was much more supportive of her sharing her ideas (and openly listening to the ideas of everyone on her team), she was finally able to dramatically reduce her adrenal stress and restore her thyroid function including the improvement of her most stubborn physical symptoms.
About Jessica Drummond
Jessica Drummond, MPT, CCN, CHC, the Founder and CEO of The Integrative Pelvic Health Institute and Custom Hormone Healing, is passionate about caring for and empowering women who struggle with women’s health conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS, IC, hormonal imbalances, weight gain, period pain, painful sex, and post-surgical, orthopedic, or pregnancy related pelvic conditions. She is equally passionate about educating and supporting clinicians in confidently and safely using integrative tools to treat chronic pelvic pain, bowel and bladder, and other women’s health issues.