Autoimmune disease has always been part of my life. After discovering a circular patch of hair loss at seven years old, I remember waiting anxiously in the dermatologist waiting room, knowing something was wrong, and enough to be concerning my parents, but not knowing why. As kind as the dermatologist was, he had no answers, just assured me that everything would be ok, but I remember being scared for the future even at that young age. As I moved through my teenage years, I developed psoriasis, which I had to hide under clothes for fear of people making fun of me. Then in my late teens, I became exhausted, being told by my doctors after several visits and numerous tests that I had the sister virus to glandular fever, and rest was the only remedy.
As a result of being diagnosed with multiple autoimmune disorders, I went on to study immunology at university and focused on autoimmune disease. It was fascinating to learn about the underlying biology of autoimmune disease, but it gave me no solutions for easing my symptoms. From there, I became a Chartered Accountant working long, tiresome hours. My energy at this point was at an all-time low, and I had developed anxiety, brain fog, and unexplained lightheadedness, and painful tendonitis in my wrists. During this time, my brother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which hit me the hardest. I could cope with my issues, but seeing someone I love to have to live with a condition with such unpredictable symptoms was tough.
At this point, I realised enough was enough, and I wanted to be able to put my knowledge into practice to help those with autoimmune disease find relief from their symptoms, as well as myself. Studying nutrition seemed like the obvious choice. I had always believed that nutrition and lifestyle could make a difference in your health. I just didn’t have the tools yet to put it into practice.
However, even during my nutritional therapy training, my health continued to go downhill, and I was diagnosed with post-viral fatigue syndrome. My joints were swollen and painful, and the fatigue had worsened too. I had stopped being able to live a ‘normal’ life. I was lucky that through my study, I had started to understand that uncovering the root causes of my conditions was a better approach than just trying to appease my symptoms. I started putting the jigsaw pieces together of a lifetime of never feeling at my best and managed to identify the key drivers to my health conditions. By addressing the root cause, not my symptoms, I transformed my health within 12 months – no napping, no aching muscles and restless legs, no irritated and inflamed skin, and best of all, my brain was back. With the right approach, you can do it too! There may not be a cure for these conditions, but you can start to feel better with your diet and lifestyle changes.