Simone's health story
There is nothing extraordinary about my health journey so far. I have had no serious illnesses or health scares. I thought I would share my journey with you because it is still a testament to how you can reclaim your health and create the life you want when you look outside the medical model for answers.
As a young child, I had both eczema and asthma (I know now that this is a common childhood combination). My earliest memories are of being at friends parties and wishing that I could breathe as easily as the other kids.
I sat on the sidelines a lot as a child because running around didn't make me feel good. My doctor suggested swimming and this has been something I have enjoyed all my life.
As often happens, I grew out of my asthma at about the same time I started to menstruate. I had many issues, with terrible pain, problems that I thought were a normal part of getting a period!
At 16 I went on the oral contraceptive pill, which didn't improve my symptoms at all and I remember many days missing out on school, uni or work because I couldn't have my period and cope with a normal day.
In my early twenties I started working for the Navy and they required a full medical. This is when I discovered that I have hereditary hypertension and thyroid goitre. I was immediately taken off the contraceptive pill and for this I am now grateful as I was able to start making my own natural hormones.
Just a few weeks before my 30th birthday, I gave birth to my eldest daughter. She was an easy baby and I was lucky to get a reasonably easy start to motherhood! I struggled with breastfeeding and tried really hard to be the perfect mum.
We soon discovered that breastfeeding is not a fool-proof method of contraception! Less than 14 months after number 1, our second daughter arrived! She was also a beautiful baby but our circumstances had changed and this was the start of 3 years of terrible stress for my husband and I.
What stress can do to your body
I won't go into all the stressors that were going on for us at this stage but the result was that I developed anxiety (which was wrongly diagnosed as post-natal depression). I was trying to be a (too) perfect wife and mum and hold everything together and I didn't let people know what we were going through, or ask for help.
During this 3 year period of stress and postnatal depletion I suffered with constant cycles of sinus infections, antibiotics and then thrush. I started to struggle with my weight and I also started to get acne for the first time since adolescence.
I had terrible fatigue, pushing myself to get through every day, due to an undiagnosed iron deficiency and I underwent an operation to remove my gallbladder.
On the day of my father-in-laws funeral, I developed the first of 2 bleeds into one of the many cysts that had developed on my thyroid gland, which was a very painful and scary condition. This is what stress can do!
"I like the smell of the earth, the touch of waves, the taste of berries, the sight of trees, the sound of laughter and the feeling of being fully alive"
Working with a naturopath
I remember a point in time when I realised that I had to make a change. I had to do something differently if I wanted to be well. Returning to the doctor every few months to be prescribed with another round of antibiotics wasn't an option any more if I wanted to steer the direction of my health.
Looking back I can see that the run of poor health after my first two babies was related to postnatal depletion syndrome.
I laugh to think back over all the health problems I had at the time because I presented to the naturopath complaining about acne! To be fair, I had no idea the huge range of conditions that a naturopath can deal with.
I'd like to say that all my problems disappeared at once but for years I stood in the way of my own improvement. I found it hard to change my diet, especially since I was working and managing a young family at the same time.
One of the best things I ever did as a mum was to attend a workshop run by my naturopath about managing childhood illnesses naturally. My children have had an easier run thanks to the wonderful instruction I received about childhood nutrition.
Baby no. 3
When our son came into the world, 4 years after his nearest sibling, I had been under the care of my naturopath for a few years and I was able to manage the pregnancy, birth and post natal period much better for having her help and support.
I was an older (35) and wiser mum and I understood that I had choices in the way I cared for his health from birth.
I have had my share of menstrual changes and problems in the last 10+ years and I have managed to navigate them quickly and easily using herbal medicine.
I am now in my 50s, peri-menopausal, and hoping to transition through menopause without too many problems.
Sinus infections are now a thing of the past, my thyroid function is normal and most days I have great energy.
My weight has fluctuated up and down since my first pregnancy and I have never been able to feel like I was in control. In 2011 I had an experience which forced me to evaluate if I was truly enjoying my own life. And it turned out that I wasn't!
I wasn't depressed, but I was working in a job where my skills were being under-utilised and then rushing home to taxi children to sport, shop, wash, clean, make the dinner and then do it all again the next day.
You often hear people say that it's important to put yourself first but it can be hard to do. I sat down and decided to create a life that I enjoyed! I started doing Zumba, playing tennis, swimming, playing my guitar (after 20 years of neglect) and creating some mosaic art.
Of course something else had to give! I rationalised my other activities, I stopped cleaning the house to the levels of perfection that I had previously demanded and I became more discerning about the things we were invited to. Over the course of the next 10 months I lost 15kg. I was easy really, I was much happier and I was exercising.
I have put 8kg back on over the last few years but I know that I'm in control and I know that the right diet, enough exercise and feeling happy about my life is the recipe for my health. Funny enough, now that I feel like I have a life that I love, the number on the scales doesn't really bother me anymore. :)