Health and wellness have not always been my passion…though as a theme, it’s always been at the forefront of my life. As a child, I ate well, mostly homemade whole-foods, often totally plant-based. Due to skin complaints like eczema, I didn’t consume dairy, refined or sugary foods, because in the 70s and 80s it was more commonly thought symptoms like eczema were triggered by foods and environmental factors like laundry powder.
My Mother was great at implementing healthy habits and teaching me to eat foods which were natural though. I was also very active, taking part in several sports throughout my youth, as well as living a very outdoor lifestyle, growing up near beautiful countryside and coast to explore almost daily. So based on what modern medicine was teaching us at the time, it didn’t make sense that I was afflicted by skin issues, plus problems with my teeth not growing fully, eventually having five missing by my mid-teens. It wasn’t conjuring up the best look in the midst of adolescence I can tell you. I did find a way to manage…but this sometimes felt restrictive though. Is this what my life was going to be like?
More physical symptoms
As I began my 20s, vitiligo showed up. Big white patches totally covering my armpits, so I looked like I’d overdone the antiperspirant…and I didn’t even use the stuff! It then showed up with patches on my arms, legs and shoulders too. “Autoimmune”, they said, “Nothing we can do. Your body is attacking itself basically. You’ve got it for life.” This just left me with more questions and an inner knowing that this commonly believed truth was not the truth for me.
Just before I went off to University, while on a three-month expedition with Raleigh International in Zimbabwe, having already begun to explore health from a new paradigm through kinesiology, acupuncture and aromatherapy, my body started to show me new symptoms out of the norm. My menstrual cycle totally stopped for eight months altogether. And I experienced an anaphylactic reaction to a sting from some African wasp-type-insect, having never reacted like this before. I was paralysed (albeit thankfully temporary) and swelled up Verruca Salt! All this further fuelled my quest for answers. Why would this happen?
The changes in my menses could be explained by my GP – it was just my body’s way of communicating that it isn’t a good time to reproduce, due to the stresses I was under while on that expedition. Great I thought. I get that, it makes sense. There was no such explanation for any of my other symptoms though…and yet why not? How could my body simply and clearly communicate that it wasn’t safe or appropriate to reproduce due to perceived stress and yet in another biological system in the same intelligent body, it was unexplainable or simply my body reacting against itself? To me, this was incongruent biology. The body as a whole physiological organism cannot be intelligent in one system and yet unintelligible in another part of the same whole.
During my final year at University, I continued to experience symptoms, which made sense in one respect – massive weight loss due to study stresses (a known sympathetic nervous system symptom) and yet at the same time, eczema, which was literally head to toe…just didn’t quite add up any more. I was still struggling, even under the expert guidance of Jan De Vries naturopathic doctors, as well as extensive personal study in nutrition.
Can ignorance be bliss?
What followed was an almost blanking out of what was happening to my body. I just wanted to live a simple, happy life of adventures outdoors, helping others to experience the same freedom within themselves…and yet I still knew things were incongruent within me. After living a few carefree years in New Zealand, I got the nudge I needed when more unexplainable symptoms showed up. I’d just completed another 10km charity run, and cycled across the Eastern Himalaya from Lhasa to Kathmandu (after being told by a well respected NZ orthopaedic surgeon that I’d never be active to the same extent again after some knee surgery) and here I was in the clinic room of another well-respected natural health practitioner in England, because I knew deep down something wasn’t quite right. “You’re in tip-top shape,” he said. “You consume a balanced diet and your physical health is also great. Where the imbalance lies is with your emotional/mental health. Release the trapped emotions and change some deeply held beliefs and you’ll see and experience a positive shift.”
Answers at last
This was my first proper understanding of the real extent our emotional and mental health plays on our physical health. I knew it played a part, due to being encouraged to practice meditation by my Mother. It took till I was 30 to fully realise the depth of this knowledge however…that it’s even more than being active, with a bit of yoga, meditation and plenty of vegetables in the mix too. So I studied and certified in Life Coaching, EFT, and more recently Ayurveda (the oldest, continuously practised medical system in the world) and META-Health® and Lifestyle Prescriptions® too (a scientific art and approach to health and wellness, which analyses the root cause of symptoms, based on the experience of the individual). After many years of reading about and applying the latest glossy mainstream research about health and wellness, I finally knew what it meant to feel my best. To live a lifestyle which is healthy, balanced and sustainable, leaving me feeling energised and full of vitality, I truly needed balance, mind-body-social-soul balance…which is what Ayurveda and Meta-Health are all about.
Through all this, I’ve been my own best case study. Having lived in Christchurch, New Zealand through all the main earthquakes, since 2010, including being in the city centre on 22nd February 2011 when the main quake took almost 200 lives, I know what major stress and trauma can do to the mind and body…It wasn’t until overseas for study, that I fully realised how much these major events had had an impact on my physical and emotional health. Being physically away from Christchurch for an extended period of time, my body was able to relax somewhat, because it felt safer and was no longer needing to be in this state of hyper-vigilance, in case of another earthquake event. Therefore, my sympathetic nervous system was able to finally begin some regeneration and repair by relaxing into a parasympathetic phase…and with this came a whole list of physical and emotional symptoms.
We’re all different
Through my work as a practitioner at The Herbal Dispensary in Christchurch, clients have come to me with symptoms more serious than my own and it’s reminded me of that stark, very distinct and obvious fact – we all experience and perceive events from a very subjective perspective because we are all very much individuals. Therefore, we all respond physically and emotionally with very different symptoms. No two people ever have the exact same symptoms, ever.
So at the heart of my approach to guiding and supporting clients in achieving their version of balanced health, is the premise and belief that everybody, every person, is different. How one person came to experience their symptoms will be different to that of another…and so in the journey to healing, health and wellness, what works for one, will not work for all. I learnt this first-hand in my own journey, because I saw time and again, that I wasn’t getting better and yet I knew my body was more intelligent than what I was being led to believe.
Therefore, I take a very individual approach to support my clients in finding the root cause of their medically diagnosed symptoms and together, we create a healing plan, which works at their pace to meet their health and wellness aspirations and expectations. My work is integrative and holistic. I believe there is a place for all forms of healing to support the overall wellbeing, health and personal fulfilment of the individual.