I boldly proclaimed 2019 as my year of leveling up and did in multiple ways, but boy oh boy, I was not prepared for how “leveling up” was going to manifest in my life. The best way to describe 2019 is it was a thrilling, terrifying, gratifying, frustrating rollercoaster with the highest of highs and lowest of lows. Last year was a big lesson in living in the moment, even when the moment is not what you want it to be. It’s a lesson I’m still learning and probably will be for the rest of my life, but in the meantime I want to share what I know now.
You can’t rush the process. You’d think I’d know this by now from my history with Topical Steroid Withdrawal, but apparently I needed to learn again. The same way I attacked my goals in the beginning of 2019, I planned to attack my healing while going through withdrawal by doing everything in my power to aid the process. I didn’t take into account the debilitating adrenal fatigue symptoms I’d have to face. My experience with adrenal fatigue deserves a post of it’s own, but just know for now that it took me out physically and emotionally for much longer than I expected. My go to approach for healing has always been, “lemme dive in headfirst to whatever protocol I need to do so I can heal faster,” but that ain’t how it works, especially with TSW. When your whole body is completely out of whack, sometimes you can only handle one problem at a time. My method of “attacking” my healing was failing miserably, and I had to learn to give myself a break and accept every stage of the healing process. This leads me to my next lesson.
The only way out is through. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and shortcuts. I’ve been on this road of natural healing for quite some time and honestly, she’s tired. She is me. That’s why I started the Dr. Aron Regimen in June of 2016 and took so long to abandon it (April 2019) when it didn’t work. My quick fix failed me and I knew, I KNEW, I didn’t want to go through TSW again, but I was backed into a corner until I didn’t have any other choice. I had to remember that I’m going through this for a reason, and I’ll be so much better for it on the other side. However, constantly wishing I was on the other side and wallowing in self pity didn’t do me any good. I had to learn to accept what my body is not capable of right now. After doing that, I finally allowed myself to rest, watch copious amounts of Netflix and Amazon Prime without judgement, and capitalize on the times that I did have energy and motivation. I’ve been pushing myself so hard for so long that taking a break has been really difficult for me, but it’s also helped me understand that I have to have more balance in my life to maintain my sanity and better health. With this new knowledge, I’ve slowly been eliminating destructive habits and developing better habits that will aid my current state, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Working on bettering myself while I get healthy has also taught me the most important lesson I’ve learned thus far.
Taking a step back is not failing but preparing yourself to win in the future. I’ve spent so much of this year feeling like a failure, because I was unable to work, unable to accomplish simple tasks, and unable to financially support myself without the help of others. Before I realized how much adrenal fatigue was affecting me, and honestly even after, I couldn’t understand why everything was so hard; getting out of bed, doing my hair, cooking, writing and learning lines. As my therapist put it, I lost my zest for life. I judged myself incredibly hard without taking into account what my body was going through. It took me a really long time to accept that I don’t know how long it’s going to take to heal, and I can’t push myself too hard while I am healing or I’ll just keep finding myself with the same health issues throughout my entire life.
I’ve also had to work through feelings of shame. My health has been an ongoing battle since 2012, and after everything I’ve been through, to now have to say to myself and others that I’m not well enough to hold a full time job and some days I only have the energy to stay home and sleep has been really hard. Not only do I have to deal with expectations from other people about what I should be doing with my life and career, there’s my own hopes and ideas about my future that I’ve had to put on hold indefinitely because of my health. These past six months have been a long journey of shedding those expectations and accepting where I am. As I continue to learn to accept the process, I’m also learning to release the shame of not living up to where I’m “supposed to be” right now. Honestly, it’s a daily practice and some days are better than others, but the longer I go through this, the more the good days outweigh the bad. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’m not going through TSW again, so I have to really take the time to heal now so I don’t find myself back here.
Equipped with this knowledge from 2019, I’m leveling up in 2020 in a different way. I’m carrying over the I Am Worthy mindset and adding in more self love and acceptance, and taking away the judgement I’ve been holding onto for too long. Instead of “attacking” my goals and healing, I’m really listening to what my body needs and making more space for things that bring me joy and peace. In yoga I’ve often heard instructors refer to downward dog as an active rest position, and I think that’s a beautiful way to approach 2020: A Year of Active Rest. What do I mean by that? Constantly creating space in my life for my body to heal and get stronger by making time for myself, continuing to develop healing habits while nourishing myself artistically without judgement and not overextending myself to meet previously conceived standards of “success.” I just spewed out a lot of words, but basically this year I’ve been doing more yoga, resting when I need to, committing to my breathing exercises, writing almost everyday, reading more, being very mindful about what I say no and yes to and reminding myself that I already have everything I need. There’s no use in worrying about the future, because I’m not there yet. All I can do is actively (there’s that word again) live in the present and do what I need to be healthy and happy now.
If you are going through TSW, dealing with health issues, or you just need to recharge, I encourage you to approach 2020 with an active rest state of mind. How are you overextending yourself and what habits are holding you back from being your best self? What can you start doing, right now, this second, to give yourself a break and recharge? Remember that you can’t rush the process, the only way out is through, and taking a step back is not failing but preparing yourself to win in the future. A lot of my anxiety is rooted in worrying about the future and not living up to expectations. If you’re anything like me, I encourage you to work on letting go of those expectations and live in the now. Assess where you are and what you can do to be happy and healthy now. I know that’s A LOT easier said than done, because I’m still working on it friends, but I’ve added some tools below that I use that can be a help to you as well.
I do breathing exercises every week. I use the BreathWaves & Music 6.5. You can also read up on what biofeedback is and why it's important.
I've been doing 30 Days of Yoga with Yoga with Adriene. She has tons of videos at all different levels so you can do yoga from home anytime.
I hope these tools are as helpful for you as they've been for me! Let's live in the moment in 2020 and create space for ourselves to thrive mentally, emotionally, and physically. Thanks for reading friends. Until next time!
I'm Lauren, aka Just Du Pree, and I want to thank you for reading. This is a space where I share my very personal journey healing from topical steroid withdrawal, life lessons I've learned along the way and occasionally the thoughts of an awkward Black girl (no Issa Rae). I'm also a performer and filmmaker, so if you feel so inclined pop over here to see what goes on in my mind on the regular. If you like what you see you can stay up to date with my work here. Much love, friends!