I Read A Lot: Rushing Woman’s Syndrome by Dr. Libby Weaver

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I’m renowned as a book nerd by those that know me best. I Read A Lot is a semi-regular feature on the blog in which I share with you what I currently have my nose buried in.

The past week on the blog has been a bit quiet. Without going into specifics, the seven days previously have been filled with so much stress and chaos that it verged on the farcical. On Tuesday, the first of two spectacularly bad days, I went to the chiropractor. She could literally feel how tense I was and reminded me to breathe. On Wednesday I seriously contemplated taking up smoking again… yup, a smart, educated woman with a history of cancer in the family, yet I was stressed enough to think that this was a good idea.  Don’t worry folks, I didn’t do it. On the return to my chiropractor on Thursday, however, the jig was up.

“Did you go home and eat a whole load of sugar over the past couple of days?” she inquired, gently tapping one of the nerves in my back. “I may have” I answered, thinking of the chocolate biscuits, chocolate and ice cream I’d devoured over the last couple of days – not to mention the couple of mochachinos. “This nerve here links with your pancreas – your pancreas do not like that”. Stupid back nerve selling me out. She then went on to say that my liver nerve was also showing signs of inflammation, and seeing as I barely drink, she was pinning that down to the high levels of cortisol streaming through my body on a daily basis. She said that she had been reading through the book “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome” by Dr. Libby Weaver and thought that while almost every woman she saw coming through her practice should read it, she specifically recommended that I read it.

I am a rushing woman. The fact that I downloaded the book to my Kindle so it would be easily transportable and read it around the interviews I had at work (instead of having downtime) should have been my first indication. Chapter 1 alone states: “She is wound up like a top, running herself ragged in a daily battle to keep up. There is always so much to do and she very rarely feels like she wins, is in control and gets on top of things. In fact her deep desire to control even the smaller details of life can leave her feeling out of control, even of herself”. Oh snap. Get out of my head, Dr. Weaver.

It then goes on to explain the physiological effects of being stressed all the time, explaining how those increased levels of cortisol affect your body processes, including your sex hormones. This part really interested me, as my blood tests had come back with no indication of my PCOS hormones that had been an issue when I had been diagnosed. That being the case, I still wasn’t ovulating. No ovulating, no babies. Sigh. It also explained how although I have been limiting my caloric intake (apart from the Great Sugar Binge of April 2013), I still seem to be maintaining or gaining weight. Thanks cortisol, you are a bit of an asshole. Get back in touch when I need to run from a lion.

As I’ve got older, I’ve become a major people pleaser. The good wife, the good daughter, the good teacher and good friend: don’t rock the boat or make people upset, just get on with it. After my initial grief period and treatment for anxiety last year, I’ve “sucked it up” and endeavoured to be “just as good” as I ever was. Yeah, way to not deal with or process emotions. I don’t cry, I don’t yell… I swallow those feelings right down to my expanding gut and feed the cortisol monster.

As any rushing woman could tell you, as I was reading through this information (and it was all very interesting and useful information), all I could think about was “How do we fix this?”. Finally, we get to the Solutions chapter and a lot of the recommendations I am doing already. It hits me like a brick wall – although in all fairness, it is mentioned earlier in the book.

Stop Drinking Coffee.

Just for four weeks, then she recommends slowly reintroducing it as a treat when going out to meet a friend on the weekend or such. I freak out a little bit. It’s so much a part of my routine to get up in the morning, have my coffee and breakfast and get ready for work. The thought of actually giving up coffee fills me with fear.

That’s why, really, I need to do it. My cortisol levels are sky-high so I don’t need coffee for the stimulants. The fact that I feel so dependent on it is a good enough reason in itself to take a break. It’s pleasing that the book offers several case studies in which women are freaking out as much as I am about giving up this vice. Papa M thought I should give up on Saturday but I didn’t, because I wanted some decaf coffee in the house so that I could “wean” myself off the hard stuff.

It’s a month, and it will be worth it if I can get my stress levels down enough that I actually ovulate on a regular basis. I know that giving up the coffee is not the only issue – I need to learn how to a) relax and b) start displaying my emotions again – but I know it’s a good start.

Are you a rushing woman? Have you read this book? What did you think?

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4 thoughts on “I Read A Lot: Rushing Woman’s Syndrome by Dr. Libby Weaver

  1. Wow, sounds like the book really resonated with you! I think I’ve let stress really get to me since my grandfather fell into a coma under three weeks ago. From then on, I just let everything get on top of me. It was the icing on the cake when he passed away and we had to make hasty travel plans I was SO NOT PREPARED FOR. This also triggered a lot of other personal issues I’ve been dealing with in the past year – I was so angry, anxious, on edge and unable to chill out. I wish you’d posted this earlier 🙂
    It’s funny, but it was so healing getting across the country to shake our routines up and I really relaxed and remembered what’s important in life. I have a long way to go, but the fact that I didn’t gain weight (technically lost some) despite the pigging out and indulging with relatives was a clue I really did relax finally. Normally I stack weight on when stressed. I’ve got a way to go, so maybe I’ll check this book out myself!
    Great post xo

  2. You’re describing me in my 20s. Being a workaholic has seen me being treated for a raft of stress-related conditions – you name it, it has played up at some stage (back, neck, hand tendons, skin, PCOS, RSI/OOS/DPI, insomnia and a ruptured ankle ligament that took years to heal after surgery) and still I carried on until a friend dropped dead suddenly at 32. Then everything changed. I left teaching (HUGE decision) and spent a selfish year or so having fun – after working out what that was. Like you, I am too much of a people pleaser. I vividly remember the first and only time I have ever said no to someone – she was as shocked and incensed about it as I was, and it did come back to bite me, but it made me realise what a problem I had. As a workaholic, I still have tendencies towards being the person I used to be and know that I carry my stress on my body (far too many extra kilos – yuck!), but I’m getting better at guarding my personal time. I still worry too much about what others think and put too much time and energy into what other people want. I don’t think that will ever change. My advice to you from ten years on is to stop and slow down now before you body makes that decision for you – and it will.

  3. I saw Lou Draper talking about that book on Twitter the other day. I didn’t have to go past the title to know that it would probably be quite relevant to me …. but giving up coffee???? HOW WOULD I SURVIVE???

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