Mind-body connection: dealing with vertigo

Several years ago I suffered from vertigo attacks. This unbalanced disturbance was like literally spending the day in a whirlwind at a carnival, except the ride never stopped. The first time this happened to me I got out of bed and hit the wall, the room and the floor were spinning. I spent the rest of the day lying on my back afraid to move my head for fear that this inner turbulence would start again.

It took several tests and two doctors to determine that she had vertigo. In medical terms, this is a condition that does not pose a real threat to health 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 hit me, didn’t move my head quickly, didn’t look up or down, and kept my eyes straight ahead. When a coworker suggested that maybe my vertigo didn’t just have a physical cause, I started exploring other possibilities.

His comment was well directed, at that moment I was like Cinderella living with the two evil stepsisters. My two teenage daughters were a constant challenge. They were like a wrestling team, one would weaken my resolve and then just when I thought I had a game plan, they would disconnect. He was definitely out of balance, both literally and figuratively.

Medical science looks for the causes of cancer, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, and a host of other conditions, but often ignores one of the more pervasive factors that lead to disease, the hidden stresses embedded in our daily lives. As I read countless books on 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 that I had with my daughters. The first was a classic. My oldest daughter had just quit her summer job to go to the 1999 Woodstock concert. She would be back in time to pack for college. She seemed to have little concern about the lost income from more summer jobs. That bothered me, but what bothered me the most was the concert itself. Four days of what seemed like a total debauchery. I handed him a bucket and a roll of toilet paper and told him to have fun. The whole time I was away I was tormented by watching the webcam at the concert, it seemed to be a gathering of the best of the wildest and I was miserable knowing that my daughter would be joining this event.

It took me a while to make the connections, but I realized that emotionally I was entangling my daughter’s decisions with my own self-esteem and was left with a heavy knot. I felt the weight of judgment that I believed was coming. I was diverting 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 spinning, and I couldn’t even look up or down.

Fortunately, time, self-reflection, and the decision to let love be my guide have contributed to my personal evolution. I also found an excellent ear, nose and throat doctor and between the two of them vertigo is a thing of the past.

I recently shared this story with my youngest daughter, who is now a medical student. He marvels at the mysterious mind-body connections that have been revealed to him in the gross anatomy laboratory. She said that proof of this can be found by studying the erection of the male penis. All it takes is a thought transmitted to the primitive brain for the blood to rush and engulf the penis. How this all happens is really a medical mystery because physical change begins with a thought.

Do we really need more evidence to know that our emotions and thoughts have a powerful influence on the health of our body?

It is not just about what we do, but what we think and how we think. I have come across many women who have experienced vertigo. As I share my story, I ask you to reflect on this; Who or what keeps you off balance? I don’t know why this condition seems to affect more women. Perhaps it is because, as mothers, our self-image is reflected through our children. It’s hard to find balance that way. Perhaps what we need is a mirror that focuses on something more than a reflection of ourselves.