I had a stressful childhood with both parents suffering with mental illness and eventually separating when I was 13. I was the dependable, serious one and took on a lot of responsibilities, and tried really hard in everything I did, particularly school and helping others. I was always sick with the flu, stomach problems or aches and pains from a young age but no one could ever figure out why. This became normal.
When I was 20 I had a serious car accident and was in hospital for 8 weeks, and in a body brace for a further 3 months. I hurt my back badly and needed intensive treatment. I ended up finishing my university degree in speech therapy on time and started work at 21.
Quite quickly I realised that working with children with profound disabilities was my passion, and I worked part time in this for many years, doing volunteer work on my days off with refugees, volunteering in South East Asia or working with community groups.
Searching for a solution
Throughout this time I saw numerous specialists for fatigue, digestion issues and constant aches and pains. I tried a number of treatments such as removing my tonsils, faecal matter transplants (as unpleasant as it sounds), iridology, naturopathy, acupuncture and removing gluten, dairy and processed foods from my diet, as well as the FODMAP diet. Throughout this time I worked with a number of counsellors,
Steps towards recovery and some bumps along the way
I discovered that psychotherapy was the best fit for me. This has really helped me process my personality traits that were formed in my childhood. In psychotherapy I have discovered that how I viewed my work, my health and my childhood was detrimental to my mental wellbeing and I now understand how to balance this area of my life.
My search for an answer and strategies to deal with my symptoms lead me to a chronic pain physiotherapist, who thought all of my symptoms could be related. It was a huge shock to be told at 33 that I most certainly had fibromyalgia. This was a disease that as a hard working, no-nonsense person I had always thought was make-believe. My attitude soon changed. After the shock of this diagnosis I took some time to review my life, and gave myself permission to rest. 6 months later I had put on about 10 kilos and was quite depressed. Tests on my nervous system showed constant stress, and my insulin levels had increased due to excess cortisol in my system because of this stress. I was overweight and heading towards becoming a diabetic. As a fit person who ate well, hearing the word “pre-diabetes” was a wake-up call but I felt hopeless and at the point where I was ready to quit my job and give up my search from trying to ever get better.
With the support and guidance of my health professional team I began to understand that the effects of my childhood and the constant stress I put myself under was the driver of my body symptoms. I learnt about the integrative nature of the body, soul and mind. I started a low carbohydrate higher healthy fat diet 2 months ago and achieved the goal of nutritional ketosis. My stomach symptoms resolved immedately. I could sleep at night after having constant reflux, side pains and stomach pains for many months. I lost the weight I needed to and started to win the battle I had with comfort eating when I felt depressed with my lot in life.
I then started low dose naltrexone ( a prescription medication) which substantially reduced the constant joint pain and muscle stiffness that continued to affect every part of my life. I had been very reluctant to try antidepressants and other pain medications so this route was appealing for me, but I had little hope of it making a difference. The vivid dreams that is sometimes associated with taking naltrexone were an interesting side effect, but very slowly the aches and pains have started to reduce in severity and I have some days without headaches.
I am now on the hypnotherapy journey with looking forward to teaching my body how to relax and heal.
Mindfulness and Meditation
I also completed the “More than Meditation” course and realised that there was a way for me to reverse the damage caused to my neural pathways in childhood and other traumatic events that had happened along the way. This is exciting as I thought that once you were damaged, that was your future, and you just do the best that you can with what you have been given.
Having done a lot of work in alternative philosophies, medicine and lived in different cultures, I appreciate a holistic approach to health, and have intuitively understood how this treatment approaches just make sense. I’m looking forward to seeing where this journey takes me. I’m currently studying psychology as a way to start off a new career in child centred play therapy (psychotherapy for kids).
Initially, I was a reluctant participants and resistant to try various approaches but I now recommend this. It has changed my life.