My Journey: From Pain to Joy
I was recently asked to speak at a women's event where the focus of the night was how we can move from pain to joy. At first I didn't feel like I was qualified to speak, I felt like there wasn't enough pain in my story but as soon as I started to prepare my talk I realised that my initial reaction was due to how I have grown so much as a person since the painful events took place.
Here is my story 'From Pain to Joy'...
My own journey to wellness has been a gradual process. There have been ups and downs and good health is a constant work in progress. You don't simply get well and then stop!
I believe that we all have our own defining moments and yours might not have happened yet or it could even be happening for you right now as you sit and read this... your awareness about your deepest desires could be awakened.
Some of my own defining moments were incredibly painful and sad... but I believe they have led me to be here right now and to be in a position where I support hundreds of women each year to achieve fabulous health.
The First Defining Moment...
My encounter with health issues hit me when I was 24 years old and about to move to London with my husband. The extreme stress of making a big move in such a quick timeframe brought on irritable bowel syndrome and I lost 7kg within 4 weeks. The doctors were worried about the weight loss and sent me for a colonoscopy - thankfully besides from having a tortuous bowel (their words not mine!) there were no signs of disease. It made me realise that my body was highly impacted by stress and I needed to learn how to manage it better.
The ROUGH ROAD TO HAVING CHILDREN...
My next defining moment was on the journey to become parents. I first discovered I was accidentally pregnant after having a flu shot and a massive drinking binge on a night on the town in London. Once the shock wore off, the worry set in... but then a few days later the bleeding started and I lost the pregnancy. I thought it obviously wasn't meant to be but I promised myself that when we did try again I would do everything in my power to nourish my body from preconception rather than leaving it to late.
My next pregnancy was successful with my first daughter being born with a fast delivery, almost in the car with no pain relief. My birthing experience empowered me, I had visualised the heck out of having a drug free birth... And thankfully it worked! After a year we decided to start trying for our second child, we are both only children so we desperately wanted another baby and a little brother or sister for our daughter to play with.
I soon fell pregnant again but miscarried again at eight weeks, it was a horrible experience - I was in a toilet cubicle at my husband's work waiting for him to finish and had to walk out into a room full of his colleagues with tears streaming down my face.
Within months I was pregnant again but I lost this one at six weeks. My preconception care was the same and I was starting to feel very deflated. I was so obsessed with having another baby and we soon became pregnant again. But at eight weeks I miscarried again. I was now a statistic of recurrent miscarriage and we went off to see specialists to find out what was going on. A gazillion tests revealed nothing was wrong but the specialist put me on a special plan for the next pregnancy which happened soon after. I was taking daily aspirin and steroids and had to inject my stomach every night with clexane. It was an awful experience and at my 8 week scan a six week fetus was found with no heartbeat. I was devastated, I had to wait for my body to miscarry and it was an awful two week wait.
Four miscarriages in thirteen months left me feeling incredibly weak both physically and mentally. I didn't know how to go on especially since we were living on the other side of the world from our families. That period in time felt like a blur, I was so focussed on having another baby that I'd stopped enjoying the present and I was missing out on an important time in my daughter's life because of the obsession with having another child. We decided to take a break from trying for both my mental and physical health.
We moved back home to Adelaide and I started to see an acupuncturist so I could take charge of my fertility naturally. This was my first real experience with alternative medicine. Instead of taking steroids I was taking Chinese herbal concoctions and having weekly acupuncture. I was told to wait at least nine months after the last miscarriage before trying again and we fell pregnant straight away. I continued with the Chinese herbs and acupuncture and I'll never forget the tears of joy at my eight week scan when we saw my daughters heartbeat. Although we still had a long way to go the odds were now in our favour and our daughter was born seven months later. I have so much respect for acupuncture and Chinese Medicine - it helped us to complete our family.
The wake up call...
My next defining moment came a few years later. I was feeling incredible flat and fed up with daily life, I was starting to wonder 'is this it?' I've since discovered that this is an incredibly common feeling for women, somewhere along the way we lose our sense of purpose - we want something fulfilling outside of the home yet we don't want our career to be at the expense of our family life. I ended up feeling like I wasn't doing anything well, I was stressed and tired and running from one thing to the next. I'd wake myself up with coffee in the morning and wind down with wine in the evening. I wasn't overweight but I certainly didn't have a healthy body or mind. My wake up call came when I had to be rushed to a medical centre with a migraine. I couldn't stop vomiting and the pain was worse than childbirth. It felt like it wasn't ever going to end. The doctor then suggested I let him inject my neck with a solution to cause an inflammatory response. Although I was totally out of it and the time it was one of those WTF moments where you just want to run! I said 'err maybe another time' and never went back!
The daily headaches and rut were getting to be too much. I decided I needed to get strong so I found a personal trainer and started having weekly sessions. Within weeks my headaches starting subsiding and I began to feel alive again. I had carved out a little bit of time each week just for me and it felt amazing. I started to take an interest in food and nutrition and read blogs about wellness. Around this time my father in law passed away aged 71 and my husband slipped into very deep depression. We had to sell his parents home and somehow through my husbands depression and picking up the pieces of the estate management I decided to put myself first and join an online business program - Marie Forleo's B-School. I joined with the intention of trying to grow my online retail store but what happened was it set my off on my true path. It was a path of self discovery, my new found interest in health and wellness was taking over from my business in the interiors space. I went from reading Real Living magazines to loving alternative health mags. I knew I didn't want to become a nutritionist or dietitian so I started to look into health coaching.
When deciding whether to enrol in health coaching I had some business coaching sessions which changed my life. The most powerful activity my coach asked me to do was to visualise my perfect day. And it's now an activity I do in my own programs because it can be so transformational. It made me realise that there were actions I could start taking to make my perfect day closer to reality. One of my visualisations was living in a home surrounded by space in the country and my work was empowering women to live healthier and happier lives - both of which are now a part of my every day. I'm still working on the housekeeper and personal chef but I know they will come!
Throughout my journey there were simple things I discovered that made a big difference, they seem like little things but when you do them every single day the compound effect is incredible:
- daily gratitude - don't underestimate how powerful this is, each night think of 3 positives that happened that day and write them down in a journal
- put yourself first, it's so important to put your own oxygen mask on first
- recognise your negative thought patterns and take action on them instead of letting them build up
- take time out in nature, kick off your shoes and take a walk along the beach - breathe fresh air and connect with nature when times are tough
- nourish your body and mind with real food
Remember when you are looking at social media and online images you are seeing the highlights reel not the full picture. Don't compare someone's middle or end to your beginning... comparison really is the thief of joy.