Methotrexate, Prednisolone, Sulfasalazine, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), cortisone injections, radioactive injections and surgery; these are some of the treatments I received for Psoriatic Arthritis, an autoimmune disease, diagnosed at age 15.
In this reflection I will highlight key moments in my journey towards better health that lead me to study Naturopathic Philosophy, and will conclude with my future plans as a Nutritionist.

These treatments I undertook can cause other serious health issues, and only mask symptoms which are trying to tell us there is something wrong. Not to say that they do not have their place in the treatment of diseases such as arthritis. For me they allowed me to continue living my life as an active and social young person, during a time when I was seeking an answer yet alternative treatment was considered ‘quackery’. Deep down however, I knew there was a cause that needed addressing.

Many years passed, I often got very upset about the chemical concoction I was taking. It greatly concerned me that one day I would need to come off my medication to conceive a child, this would be very debilitating. There is also a high probability of a significant relapse after birth. Breast feeding is also out of the question once medications are resumed. Such concerns sparked my desire to find an answer and stop taking such toxic medications. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew it was diet related. We need to listen to our bodies, they are very intuitive.

At the age of 30 I finally found that I had a very high intolerance to dairy, a staple food in my diet. I had no idea dairy was causing me such grief until I avoided it. The results were remarkable. Slowly I came off my medications with no pain or swelling. It has now been over a year since I came off my medications completely. Subsequently I gained a thirst for knowledge about the food we eat. I read many books, in particular, Cyndi O’Meara’s “Changing Habits Changing Lives”, and was further inspired. I now live a life much healthier than I ever imagined.

I am also a teacher, teaching at a residential school. Every term students arrive with an abundance of medications, it frightens me to see what young people are prescribed. ‘Popping a pill’ is so often the first solution that many people take, usually from knowing no other option as I once did myself. The body has a remarkable ability to recuperate from major illnesses given the correct balance in lifestyle and diet. I love to teach, I always have. I now wish to educate others to heal themselves. This is why I am studying Nutrition and Naturopathy.

In conclusion, I aspire to one day qualify as a nutritionist. I may start my own practice, or join an existing one. I may start a health food shop or café, or perhaps I will continue to work in schools. Whichever direction I choose I feel very passionate about being a part of the growing interest and understanding within society, of the importance to listen to our bodies, and let them heal.

Danielle Willis.