Three and a half years ago, I slumped on the couch at a dear friend’s home, drinking tea and catching up. While we chatted, I flicked through another health book I’d borrowed from the library. I was yet again reaching for the next ‘cure', hoping to try another protocol that promised a head start on healing an autoimmune disease, my autoimmune disease - Crohn’s disease, to be exact. For those of you who don't know, Crohn's is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes all kinds of gut issues. It literally gives me the shits.
I had gotten to the end of the book the night before and had brought it along to my friends place to vent about it. I was disappointed because I had really hoped that this book might conveniently give me all of the answers to all of my questions about healing this dreadful disease. And, man, had I been hopeful about this book. The author’s theory and her research made perfect sense to me. But after greedily devouring all of her words, I learned, yet again, that this book would only be able to take me so far on trying to heal. Sure, I had a few practical things to try in terms of a diet regime from the book, but apparently, if I were really serious about my health, I was going to have to pay up to $3,000 USD to do an online program. I would need to ‘invest’ in myself.
I wanted to cry. I was full of toxic, immune suppressing medication that at times felt like it was sucking the life out of me more than the disease itself. I was exhausted, overweight, depressed, anxious, and out of ideas. I knew I wanted to heal. I knew there were answers out there to be found but I had been sick on and off with Crohn’s flares for over 20 years and I was only working part time while raising our daughter so even if I could afford to do any of the courses or wellness retreats out there that promised healing, getting away from my family commitments wasn’t exactly easy. I felt that at some point my body was going to manifest an even greater illness within me if I kept going the way I was going. I became aware that it was imperative to do something, yet even with another book of information under my belt and armed with a few more fragmented pieces to some giant puzzle I couldn’t seem to put together, I simply had no clue on where to begin.
I closed the book and looked up at the ceiling, sighing and telling my friend that I really was just a lost cause. I felt so lost, so hopeless, so impotent of ever reaching some semblance of vitality. When did I start to feel so unwell, all of the time? Scratch that, when was I going to feel normal again? I did everything that was asked of me from my medical team, took all the drugs that were meant to help me function, yet here I was feeling like a shell of a human. Then the anger kicked in. I was angry at myself, my childhood, my gastroenterologist, the government, big pharma. You name it, I was mad at all of it. To be fair, I was also on steroids for a flare, which is always a wonderful catalyst for extreme, irrational rage. Bring out the beast!
My friend asked why I was angry and I theatrically declared that I was simply sick of all the gurus in the world who I felt were giving me false hope for a cure. They were always hinting at promises that a special way of living or eating or thinking could be the answer, only to snatch it away at the last second unless I coughed up big cash. I understood that these amazing people had taken years and years out of their lives dedicating themselves to their research and obviously had to pay the bills but I was irrationally angry, thanks to those steroids, and so I arrogantly announced, there and then on that couch, that if I ever found anything that even remotely helped aid me in a longer remission, that I would make that information freely available to anyone who was hurting. I would scream it from the rooftops so that if anyone wanted to question their doctors about alternative ways to treat their disease they could go at it armed with ideas and research - both anecdotal and scientific. I declared that I would experiment on myself and if I happened to find even just one tiny little thing to give me some relief then I would share it with anyone who wanted to know.
My beautiful friend said something encouraging like, You go, girl! Then we continued on with our day. The thought of it made me tired but wasn't I always tired? Over the next few hours I became infused with the steely determination of any woman who starts to prepare for battle. I would suit up, stand up, and God help me, I would find my own way out of the hot, inflamed mess I’d become.
The next day I started the journey of becoming my own wellness guru.
When I was a teenager, I would sometimes ask for my dad’s advice on certain things. My dad would say that I could do or say anything I wanted, anything at all, as long as I was prepared to suffer the consequences of my actions - good or bad. I used to think he was warning me that if I made the wrong choices, there would be hell to pay, but now I realise there really aren't any wrong choices if you can learn something about yourself from it. And whether I’ve made the right or wrong choices on this journey to better health, I can certainly say I’ve learnt a lot about myself, my strength, and my pure grit along the way.
Fast forward to now, after years of so many experiments, I’m here to make good on the angry promise I spat out on that couch that day. Here, on the Be Your Own Guru blog, I will be documenting the experiences I had and the successes and failures I went through. This is for anyone who is searching for their own auto-immune ‘Holy Grail’, whether you find it in the end or just learn something remarkable about yourself on the search.
But be forewarned, just like Tony Robbins’ doco so eloquently puts it, I am not your guru. I am only my own.
I am constantly learning, constantly making mistakes, and there are many, oh so many gurus out there for you to learn from that are much more qualified for you to follow their sage advice. All I’m hoping to give you is the starter key to a rabbit hole of information that might kickstart an adventure to finding a more ‘whole’ you. These keys are the ones that helped me unlock my eye-opening education on my body, inflammation, poor health and auto-immune diseases - which are a matrix all unto themselves.
Even the experts have trouble finding out how these diseases crop up and figuring out why we end up in these health predicaments exactly - though there are many theories out there, but here’s what I've ultimately learned; every single human being in their own body will have a different reaction and a very different journey to one experiment, so there’s never going to be that one answer or one protocol for all. Unlike your favourite fisherman pants at Ishka, there's no 'one size fits all' here.
What there is, however, is a maze of available information that took me years to wander through. Ideas to sift through to see what your body responds to best. I found a vortex of amazing information that was complex, so varied, so ‘out there’ and sometimes even things that were oh so simple. It was liberating, torturous, and time consuming. The thought of going through all of that again makes me want to crawl up into a ball and hide.
I don’t want you to have to suffer so hard through that 'dark night of the soul’ like I did, even though that’s essential for growth. For now I’d just like to help shine some light on areas I found helpful so that you might start to crawl your way out of the darkness that a chronic illnesses can surround us with. Being chronically unwell can get overwhelming at times. It can become so dense and static-like that at some point you’re going to look up and ask yourself where all your power went.
You don’t need huge courses or to shell out for heaps of information to start this. All you need to start is a mongrel-like desire to want to try to heal. And you need to be willing to not stop striving for that. You can divert and try something new, but you have to never stop never stopping because no one else can do this for you. I wish they could.
Currently I have two years under my belt of being off all medication. But it took me one whole year to even prepare to be at a stage where I could even try to start weaning off them, and I've had many hiccups along the way.
I still have a gastroenterologist, a GP, and access to medication should I fall down.
I do not, nor will I ever, encourage you to try anything that you don’t run by your health team. But I will share how I got my team to stand by me if you choose to walk down this path. Because, at the very least, once I started looking at alternative options, it was incredibly empowering to give myself another option. It was exciting to try something different for myself instead of doing what I’d been told to do for 20 years and not asking any questions on why I was actually doing it.
It seems daunting, doesn’t it? I know. It sucks. You’re already tired enough. Over the next few days, if you feel like you’re suiting up for your own battle, and it's time to start feeling your way around in the depths of something different, just ask yourself...what if you could feel just a bit better than you do right now?
I have waded through hundreds of hours of health and wellness podcasts, listened to an insane amount of Youtube videos, borrowed countless books, bought many more books - both tangible and ebooks.
I have tried every anti-inflammatory eating plan I could from The Maker’s Diet, low carb, no carb, all fluids, no sugar. I’ve tried diets that made my tastebuds want to give up and die, celery juicing, 6 day juice fast cleanses, and months of intermittent fasting. I committed to bone broths, then went vegetarian then on to being vegan, then back to vegetarian and then slid on over to being a flexitarian. I took supplements and experimented with probiotics from the health food store and tried fermented foods, too. I rubbed myself in essential oils, got lots of sun, no sun, decluttered my room, stared at myself in the mirror telling myself I love you, I love you, over and over. I replaced almost everything I could in my world with organic, natural, and low tox foods and products. I even started meditating and experimented with cannabis. I've done science, I've done woo woo.
Through all of this, I have crapped my dacks more times than a toilet training toddler. I have cried, and laughed, wanted to give in, then needed to step up. It’s been an emotional roller coaster of mistakes and learning and growing and thriving.
To be connected to other humans in similar situations and hearing their stories can help us to laugh more, learn new things, and encourages us to take a chance. So, I ask you...
What if I could shed some light and direction for you to follow on your own wellness journey?
What if I could direct you to places where you could read, research, experiment and maybe even laugh at me while I share my stories of this journey?
What if You could Be Your Own Guru?