I began blacking out due to hormones (and possibly other reasons) when I was pregnant with my first born, who died of congenital heart disease. While pregnant with her, I was an undergraduate and would have to leave class so I could pass out on the bathroom floor. I would feel the symptoms coming on — lightheadedness, a ringing in my ears, vertigo, a racing heart, a feeling that I am going to vomit, a cold sweat — and I would excuse myself and find a cozy place to pass out on the floor so that I didn’t fall and hurt the baby.
After Aislinn died, I thought my days of passing out were over.
However, blacking out slowly became a hallmark of my panic disorder, which set in due to fear of my own body, after she died. When panic gets really bad, I experience aphasia, aura, vomiting, losing control of my bowels, migraine, and blacking out.
Over the last nearly twenty years, I’ve gone through many articulations of my disorder. But facing my fears through meditation and gentle, conscious yogic movement, and nourishing my body with proper nutrition and spiritual inspiration has aided me the most in healing my momentous fears around just being alive.
So, this morning when I woke up with bleeding from my menstrual cycle, which was extremely heavy (more than 2 ounces across 4 hours), I could guess why I felt so “off.” Hormone imbalance, iron deficiency, and the effects of the full supermoon last night.
Taking a shower, I began to feel all of those sickening sensations that come before passing out — when it isn’t from panic. I was taken aback because I hadn’t had a black-out like this since I was pregnant with Aislinn back in 2001.
I turned the temperature in the shower down to cold and ran it over my head, hoping to redistribute the energy in my body, but it was too late. I made it out of the shower and to the rug just in time to pass out in child’s asana.
When I came to, which was only a few seconds later, I cried a little bit because I was scared, and then I laughed in a jovial way. It felt really scary to have experienced something that signaled a very emotional time in my life; but it also felt amazing to be over with it. The passing-out was done…and that felt good to know. Now, I just had to let go of it.
When I stood up, my legs were numb and it took awhile to work sensation back into them.
My hormones have often felt imbalanced, which has been evident to me during the premenstrual phase across the last ten years or so. But since becoming vegan, I know I haven’t been diligent enough about getting enough iron, for one. I know that without proper nutrients (especially magnesium), my body can feel especially unbalanced before and at the beginning of my cycle.
The body is exceptionally skilled at sending warning messages. Listen up!
After eating a quick breakfast with lots of nutrition, I headed for the yoga mat. I rubbed a few drops of Sweet Orange essential oil into my palms and passed them over my eyes as I inhaled and exhaled slowly, massaging the palms in front of my face until I felt settled.
I got into a tabletop position and stirred my hips around generously, articulating every corner of the hips, which ached after my legs gained sensation, as they sometimes do at the start of a cycle due to fibromyalgia. If I’ve had any amount of refined sugar across the month, I notice that my hips get inflamed around this time of month.
Then I drew a card from a stack of cards that called to me, and pulled one that happened to resonate with my current financial woes, and I focused on its message while I sat in pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) asana on each side, and drank some tea in the posture, taking enormous breaths into my hips.
When I rose, I felt that the feeling of worry about passing out has dissipated and that I could connect with my inner strength.
A lot happens in our everyday lives that tells us a story about our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. I hope that you pay attention to the messages and that you take some steps to nurture yourself in a way that feels appropriate for you at the time.
I have found that just taking a couple simple steps — asking your body and spirit what is required in a moment of need — can make a world of difference for suffering.
When you are faced with darkness — blacking out or otherwise — how do you nurture yourself to banish fear and settle the nervous system, or reframe the spirit, or open the heart?