If I were to give a detailed account of my health journey, the first part of it would be a depressing tale of countless visits to GPs, endocrinologists, gastroenterologist, dermatologists and others, countless symptoms and complaints, and various diagnoses.
It would possibly be a slightly inaccurate account as for most of the time I struggled with severe brain fog so, looking back, bits of my story are a little blurry. Maybe that’s for the best. Anyway, who cares which symptoms developed first and which came last. I was a mess and now I feel great! That’s all that counts.
Well, perhaps one more thing is important for you to know – there are others like me out there. Others who managed to turn things around for themselves. This means you can turn things around too. There is so much you can do for yourself to get better and I’d like to guide you on your healing journey. Am I qualified to do that? Oh, yes girl, I am!
As a ‘side effect’ of my health adventure, I ended up rediscovering my passion for physiology and biochemistry and qualifying as a nutritionist. Hurrah! Apart from the 3 year training at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London I got advanced clinical training (=hands on, practical, if clinical sounds too technical) from one of the biggest authorities in the field of autoimmunity, brain and gut health Dr Datis Kharrazian at the Kharrazian Institute.
The combination of personal experience and professional qualifications gives me a unique perspective on autoimmunity and thyroid disease.
I’ve been there, done that, I know what it’s like. I also know how your body works and what it needs to recover so if we do end up working together to get you where you want to be you’ll see I’m compassionate but firm.
I had always been the healthiest kid around. No flu, no colds, no chicken pox, nothing! The picture of health! During uni I picked up a couple of stomach bugs on my travels (eg. travellers diarrhoea in India) but recovered pretty quickly. I felt I had a never ending supply of energy and could cope with anything. (Oh boy, did that feel good!)
I started going downhill in my late 20s, soon after I graduated from uni and moved to London. At first I really loved the busy city life but soon I started feeling tired, sort of demotivated, and sort of sad for no reason. I didn’t feel like hanging out with friends much or exploring the city, still so new to me. This was completely out of character for me. I also put on a bit of weight, my hair looked miserable and my skin was awful – dry and old-looking. My eyebrows thinned out; the outer parts actually disappeared. I felt I was ageing fast, mentally and physically. I felt like a shadow of myself.
Just before my 30th birthday I went to see a GP about a cold that wasn’t going away and, for a laugh, I asked “Would you happen to know why my eyebrows fell out?” She didn’t think it was funny. She thought I needed to get my thyroid tested.
I was diagnosed with an under-active thyroid and put on Levothyroxine.
Initially I felt much, much better. More energetic, happier, keen to do things again. I lost a tiny bit of weight and I looked a bit more radiant. I thought I was fixed! The miracle of modern medicine was solving my issues – all I had to do was to pop a pill once a day and I’d be back to my awesome self in no time! Hurrah!
Unfortunately, this honeymoon period didn’t last very long and I started sliding down the slippery slope right into the dark hole again. Why? Why did my meds stop working? Should I increase the dose?
I went to see the GP who tested my TSH again and said it was within the norm. I was fine.
But I wasn’t!
Getting worse, not better
The next few years are a bit of a blur. I kept feeling worse and trying to readjust my thyroid medication to see little to no difference. Apart from under-active thyroid, I was diagnosed with and treated for pernicious anaemia, acne rosacea, H. Pylori (gut infection), carpal tunnel syndrome, histamine intolerance, migraine, anxiety, depression, and PMS.
My list of symptoms was long, especially for someone who used to be so super healthy. Some of them fitted into the picture of hypothyroidism, some didn’t. The constant mental fogginess was the one that terrified me the most. Often I would forget what I was on about half way through my sentence or find myself unable to recall the names of the most common things, like shoe or pen. I felt stupid and embarrassed talking with people.
Going out for meals was the worst because I reacted to most foods. My face would blush bright red, minutes after I ate, and my cheeks would tingle. It looked and felt terrible. The brain fog and the blushing made me feel real bad about myself, which made socialising difficult and put a strain on my relationship. I hated all this, I hated myself. I was broken.
Aaaand than I developed a small lump in my breast! This scared the living daylights out of me but it actually prompted me to look for some answers on my own. I finally started asking myself how did I get here? Why was my body doing all this to me?
First I tried to find out what to do about the breast lump. I couldn’t just wait for another specialist appointment. This was urgent! After extensive internet research I decided to come off the contraceptives, and, guess what, the lump went away within a month.
Next, I moved on to researching natural solutions to thyroid symptoms and came across a description of Hashimoto’s disease, which at first sight is a thyroid disease but after you have a closer look it’s much more than that.
I got my GP to test for thyroid antibodies (boy, was that a difficult discussion!) and the results were positive. I felt relief. Now that we knew what was wrong with me, we could fix it, right? To my dismay, the doctor didn’t offer anything more than the medicine I was already on.
I knew I was on my own with this but I didn’t mind any more. I knew there was information out there and, as they say, knowledge is power.
Getting better, fast!
I wasn’t sure where to start but adjusting my diet seemed like a good idea. I tend to go all in, whatever I do, so I went for a proper elimination diet – nothing processed, no gluten (I had to learn what gluten was first!), no grains, no dairy, no sugar, no vegetable oils, no nightshades (I had to learn what these were too), no eggs, no nuts, no shellfish, no coffee or alcohol. It sort of felt like a ‘no food’ diet! All I was having was veg and meat plus a bit of fruit, like apples and berries.
For the first time ever I also started having breakfast, rather than just a coffee or two…or three on a rainy day!
I wanted to try some supplements too but couldn’t decide what to go for so I simply got some vitamin C and vitamin D. I took medium high doses of both.
The first 3-5 days were rather difficult to say the least but after about a week, the way I felt was unbelievable! Literally, just a week and my energy was so much better. My brain fog thinned out and I wasn’t feeling so short of breath any more. I slept much better and was in a good mood. The change completely blew my mind!
For the first time ever I saw that what you eat does matter. And it matters a lot!
I felt inspired, enlightened, empowered! I was able to do things to help myself. How liberating!
Becoming a nutritionist
I’ve always been interested in biology. My favourite course at uni (and everyone else’s nightmare) was physiology of sports and learning about my body now reminded me of my old interests. Nutrition science was my new passion and I soon enrolled on a Naturopathic Nutrition course at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I also got additional, advanced training focused specifically on metabolic health, gut health, autoimmunity and Hashimoto’s disease at the Kharrazian Institute.
Thanks to what I’ve learned, not only was I able to sort myself out, but I can now impact the lives of others.
My approach to health care
Both the general public (= you) and the conventional medicine (= your GP, the NHS) are beginning to wake up to the role of nutrition in health care. The role of stress management, adequate sleep, and movement is also slowly being acknowledged.
This is great news because disease prevention and treatment require an integrative approach where all available tools (the right medication and all the natural/‘alternative’ methods) are used to ensure the best outcome for the patient (= you).
We need this for ourselves, more than ever before, and we need this for the future generations. And I want to help make it happen.
I want to show you what you can do to get better instead of solely relying on popping pills to resolve all your problems. I want to show you how you can create health with simple daily habits that promote your body’s natural ability to heal itself. I want to give you the tools you need to be your own health advocate and your own ‘doctor’ because I fully agree with the old saying: “If you are not your own doctor, you are a fool”. I certainly felt like one until I took the responsibility for my own health and learned to do the things I need to do to feel good. The truth is that your health problems are your own and if you don’t fight your own battles, no one else is going to do it for you. Having said that, remember you’re not alone. Plenty of people, myself included, are on your side. Just reach out and the support is there.
Remember, you don’t have to be defined by your diagnosis – I live with an incurable disease but I’m virtually symptom-free and feel great. Better than ever, actually!
Start your own healing journey today and see where it takes you. I’m here every step of the way to guide you and help you out if you stumble.
Here's how to kick start your health journey today!
Farewell Fatigue! is a free, practical guide I’ve put together to help you develop the habits you need to put an end to your fatigue, the foggy brain & the wobbly belly! Let the healing begin!