My health journey really started in high school, when I was about sixteen. I discovered a plant based diet and became soo passionate about it! It was amazing to me how natural nutrition and treating your body right with food could heal it. I would immerse myself in articles and documentaries showing people suffering from health disorders, and who heal themselves by adopting a whole plant based diet, and knew from then on that plants were truly magical. I began learning about nutrition, healthy lifestyles, and this was even when my spiritual journey started too! It was an all round awesome part of my life, and little did I know, was just the beginning of my health journey.
After highschool, I decided to take a gap year to travel a bit, work a bit, and just get to know myself better. It was a great year and sooo much fun! My boyfriend and I travelled around Canada for a month (living in a van!), and even went to Kauai which was my dream for so long. It was really a wonderful experience and I am beyond grateful for taking time off from school. Though the year was slow at many parts, the times of travel were, though incredibly wonderful and i don’t regret, small stressers on my adrenals as travel tends to be. I should mention that in September of that year, really the start of my gap year, I stopped taking birth control pills because I no longer resonated with it and wanted to adopt an even healthier more holistic lifestyle. I’ll be making a separate post alll about birth control pills and why I don’t take them anymore, because most young girls don’t actually know what it does to their body. Going off of a hormonal medication, as you may know if you have done so, is pretty hard on the body and can cause the hormones to be a little messed up for awhile. And on my last trip with my boyfriend, to Kauai, we went cliff jumping and I ended up hurting my back and chest for awhile.
The reason why I’m mentioning these things, is because I’ve learnt through my research on hashimotos and autoimmune, that a lot of the time the disease can be dormant in you for awhile, and then is triggered by stress, trauma, hormonal imbalances, environment, and those things. My year off was by no means traumatic or insanely stressful. Not at all. But I do believe that some of these small things added up a little in my adrenals. My naturopath told me something that really makes a lot of sense to me. Autoimmune really relies on three things: sex hormones, adrenals, and gut. To heal, those all need to be pretty good. My sex hormones were a little messy since I decided to go off of birth control pills, travel and injuring myself would have triggered my adrenals, and even though I ate fairly healthy, I realize now I have some allergies to things like gluten and soy, which would have been triggering my gut. So basically all these things kind of happened together, which I believe is part of what triggered my autoimmune disease. Of course there are other factors in it like genetics and environment and some mysteries. To me it’s a little important to narrow down on things that could possibly have triggered it so that I could change those parts of my lifestyle!
Near the end of my year off, I would go to work and realize that I would get these terrible headaches every day. I tried drinking more water. I tried peperment oil, it seemed I tried everything I could think of. But the headaches were staying and it wasn’t fun. Along with that came extreme fatigue, anxiety, a bit of depression, and all that. I decided to go get my blood tested just to see if anything was off, so I could go from there. The test results came back and they said I was slightly anaemic and my thyroid was off. I started eating more iron and got more detailed thyroid testing, and discovered that I was hypothyroid, and had antibodies… like a LOT of antibodies. My family doctor prescribed my thyroid medication to take, but it didn’t really feel right to me. After doing research it was clear that the medication would not treat the root cause, but only the symptoms, and something even then the symptoms wouldn’t go away. I didn’t want to be committed to a medication that I was unlikely to go off of, so I booked an appointment with a naturopath!
Family doctors have their uses in some cases. But I definitely do not think healing autoimmune is one of those cases. That is just my opinion based on experience and a lot of research in autoimmune. But basically, my naturopath helped me understand what was happening to my thyroid, she gave me a name for what I was dealing with (Hashimotos) and helped me understand exactly how I needed to heal it. And I went with that instead!
Everything made sense again. Just like how I watched these people in documentaries who were suffering with an illness and healed themselves with plants, I realized I needed to do the same! So I made a plan. I needed to change my diet, even though it was already really healthy. I needed to go onto a more elimination type diet, which is where you cut out common autoimmune trigger foods such as grains, gluten, corn, soy, certain animal products, so that whatever was triggering the hashimotos would be gone, and you could slowly introduce things again. Along with this I started taking a variety of supplements to help support my thyroid, adrenals, and gut. I went pretty hardcore into everything because I was just so done with feeling sick.
This itself was such a change for me. During this time, I started school again! At first I liked it, but it slowly became less interesting. I was living away from home in a place that was not a good environment, and it was pretty difficult to keep to the elimination diet. Not only was the program I was in not great for me, but being sick made it pretty unbearable. After the first semester, I dropped out, moved back home, and was really focusing on my health and wellness.
Since then, it’s been like full on health mode to try and find what I need to do to make myself feel well. I tried super strict elimination but then found I wasn’t consuming enough calories. I added in fish and eggs for a bit to see if that helped– it didn’t, so I went back to plant based. And now I’m on something that I feel is actually helping me! I’m eating plant based, still grain free and everything, but am working on just eating a huge variety of healthy plant foods. I’m eating lots of fruit. Including lots of herbs and teas and healing juices/smoothies. And the last few weeks i have gained a big passion for herbalism and aromatherapy, which I have been trying to incorporate as well! It’s really great because I am actually starting to feel a little better! The headaches started to go away, I felt happier, I had a little more energy. Things were changing.
I really just wanted to share this to make it clear that autoimmune and hashimotos is really a journey. Everyone’s body is different and there isn’t a pill that you can take to make everything better. As with many illnesses as i’m realizing, it can only be healed holistically, by improving your nutrition, environment, lifestyle, and so much more. I’m not completely healed. Not yet! But I do know that the plants are healing me. I know that things are going to get better, and it’s really just about patience and trying new things. It’s a long journey, but we’re getting there.