Several years ago I suffered with bouts of vertigo. This out of balance disturbance was like spending the day literally on the tilt a whirl at a carnival, except the ride never stopped. The first time this happened to me I got out of bed and ran into the wall, the room and the floor were both spinning. I spent the rest of the day laying flat on my back afraid to move my head for fear this inside turbulence would begin again.
It took several tests and two doctors to determine that I had vertigo. In medical terms this is a condition that poses no real health threat and is unexplained. Unfortunately the medication did little for me except to make me drowsy and dizzy. Like many things in life I learned to compensate when vertigo struck, I did not move my head quickly, did not look up or down, and kept my eyes straight ahead. When a coworker suggested that perhaps my vertigo did not have only a physical cause I began to explore other possibilities.
Her comment was well aimed, at the time I was like Cinderella living with the two wicked stepsisters. My two teenage daughters were a constant challenge. They were like a wrestling tag team, one would go in weakening my resolve and then just when I thought I had a game plan they would switch off. I was definitely out of balance, both literally and figuratively.
Medical science searches for the causes of cancer, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome and a host of other conditions, yet it often ignores one of the most pervasive factors leading to illness, the hidden stresses embedded in our daily lives. As I read through countless books about the mind body connection I began to see that what I might need more than a new drug was some insight and emotional self-awareness.
I began to track my episodes of vertigo and bingo they coincided with conflicts I had with my daughters. The first was a classic. My oldest daughter had just quit her summer job in order to go to the 1999 Woodstock concert. She would return in time to pack up for college. She seemed to have little concern about the missed income from more summer employment. That bothered me but what bothered more was the concert itself. Four days of what seemed to me total debauchery. I handed her a bucket and a roll of toilet paper and said have fun. The entire time she was gone I tormented myself by viewing the web cam at the concert, it seemed to be a reunion of the best of the wildest and I was miserable knowing my daughter was joining in this event.
It took me awhile to make the connections but I realized that emotionally I was tangling up my daughter’s decisions with my own self worth and I was left with a heavy knot. I felt the weight of judgment that I believed was coming. I deflected family conversations about her without realizing that putting so much energy into denying and hiding things was costing me my personal sense of balance, I was stumbling, I was twirling and could not even look up or down.
Thankfully time, self-reflection and a decision to let love be my guide have assisted in my personal evolution. I also found an excellent ear, nose and throat doctor and between the two vertigo is a thing of the past.
I recently recounted this story to my younger daughter who is now a medical student. She marvels at the mysterious mind body connections that have been revealed to her in gross anatomy lab. She said that proof of this could be found in studying the erection of the male penis. All it takes is a thought transmitted to the primitive brain for blood to rush and engorge the penis. How all this happens is really a medical mystery because the physical change begins with a thought.
Do we really need more proof to know that our emotions and thoughts have a powerful influence on the health of our body?
It’s not just what we do but what and how we think. I have encountered many women who have experienced vertigo. As I share my story I ask them to reflect on this; who or what is keeping you out of balance? I don’t know why this condition seems to afflict more females. Perhaps it’s because as mothers our self-image is mirrored through our children. It’s hard to find balance that way. Maybe what we need is a mirror that focuses on more than just a reflection of ourselves.