Yea, you read that right. Side effects (to name a few) of being a mouth breather include bad breath, TMJ, headaches, and symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome because I wasn’t sleeping well for pretty much my entire life. For a long time I didn’t know what was wrong with me and I thought I could power through and live a normal life. Then after 2 wonderful kids, it got to a point where I couldn’t power through anymore. I didn’t have anything else to give. I realized I had to do something.
Through my adventure of getting braces (again) I found out that the shift in my teeth will continue to reoccur if I don’t take care of the actual problem: my tongue thrust.
And of course it doesn’t end there because my “real” problem is why I have a misplaced tongue: I haven’t been able to breath through my nose. This forces my tongue to drop down, pushing against my bottom teeth, so I can breathe by sucking in air through my mouth and this has created a decades-long bad habit. Lovely, I know.
So I started with allergy shots to help my breathing, consultations for surgery to straighten my deviated septum, appointments with a myofunctional therapist to basically do physical therapy for my lips and tongue. I am literally re-teaching myself how to breathe and what scares me the most is realizing that I am just scratching the surface. I’ve had to force myself to slow things down enough to recognize that breathing controls how I react to every aspect of my life.
Maybe this doesn’t sound like a big deal but our breath is connected to… well, everything! Basically, when we breathe through our nose, it signals our brain and nervous system that everything’s chill and okay. When we breathe through our mouth, it signals our brain that something’s wrong and it switches on our fight or flight response. I’ve pretty much been living in fight and flight mode this whole time! It makes me feel anxious. I have constant chattering in my head. I have long internal dialogs that lead to competitiveness and fiery reactions. My reactions to life can be exhausting and make me feel imbalanced but I don’t exactly know how to live any different.
So now I’m here. I need to heal. I want to change. So what am I doing about it?
What I’ve discovered so far is that mind, body, and spirit are all connected. I cannot deal with one without dealing with the other. I cannot heal from one and not from the other. What this means is that this is a way longer and harder journey than I ever expected.
I’ve discovered my first step is to go inward and that’s what I’ve been avoiding. I’m fully grasping that change is so difficult and there is a strong part of me that just doesn’t want to let it go…it’s my preeeecious. It’s more comfortable to live this mouth-breather life since I know what to expect than to try to change and face the unknown. And with that said, I also know it has taken me hitting my rock bottom (figuring out what that was wasn’t much fun either) to really let go and fully commit to change.
I realize that as I proceed to change, I am constantly falling back into old habits. I fall off the wagon, as they say. And I realize it’s inevitable. It’s really hard to break any bad habit, especially ones that I specifically put in place to keep me from going inside and addressing the real cause of my feelings. Sometimes I don’t even realize that’s what I’ve done. However, each time I recognize my set backs quicker, and I have more confidence in myself that I will move back into a healthier direction by shifting my perception of myself, adjusting my expectations, and giving myself grace to make mistakes.
I started this journey with poor sleep, tension all over my body, and chronic fatigue…and I still have all of those. Now I’m on a journey realizing that it’s much more than just feeling tired all the time. But through the time and effort I’ve put in thus far, I know that I need to teach myself how to listen to my body by slowing things down, way down, to trust myself and to give myself the recognition that I myself have the incredible power to heal myself.
So far I am working on my breathwork, meditation, speaking kinder to myself by breaking my negative reel and seeing a therapist to deal with old emotional trauma. That’s A LOT and no small feat…and that’s just the beginning! Oh! And did I mention we’re in the middle of a pandemic and I’m with a 2-year-old and 5-year-old all day long with nowhere to go? Plot twist!
But here I am. None of this is easy or will be easy and I’m going to have to do the majority of the work by myself for myself. I do know I want this, I want the change and I’m ready to shift towards a healthier, happier, easier way of living.