Hello again faithful readers, welcome to the third installment of my fall and rise. I rolled out the first two parts of my story on Instagram and FB but have since decided to turn it into a blog series to be able to include more detail.
My reason for sharing my journey with you is that we are living in dark, dark times. There are people suffering all around us in every aspect of the word and chronic physical and mental health challenges are at an all-time high.
Although you will see that I have had my fair share of suffering and major life challenges, it is my promise to myself, you all, and the Universe that I will not allow it all to define my future and I WILL heal my life!
By reading this and my subsequent blogs you will learn exactly HOW I am doing this. I will also share with you HOW I am going to make my life EXACTLY what I want it to be, and most importantly how YOU CAN TOO.
Crashing Health, Career Burnout, & Divorce!
To recap, Part I left off with the deterioration of my mental and physical health culminating in me crashing and burning out of my ten-year teaching career. I also walked away from a dysfunctional ten-year relationship.
Part II left off with me high-tailing it to Ghana, West Africa and marrying my wonderful husband Ian, after just three months of meeting him online. Due to limited ways to make money in Africa, I then had to return to the US to a life in shambles.
I had nowhere to live, was not on speaking terms with my siblings, and was also jobless with worsening health. Good times… good times (if the sarcasm wasn’t detected please insert it now).
The mental and physical health challenges I had been facing my entire life up until this point included ADD, anxiety, a Bi-polar 2 diagnosis, fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic insomnia, and skin rashes I could not explain.
On a slightly positive note, I did find out I was never legally married due to my “husband” never mailing in the marriage certificate. Because of this I didn’t have to go through any of the divorce procedures. Thank the Lord!
I also moved in with my 84-year old grandmother to help her with daily life and was pursuing my substitute teaching license in Illinois. One might think things were looking up? Guess again comrades!
I had just returned from three blissful months in Africa that I spent with the love of my life and where I was graciously accepted by his friends and family. Whereas, my family here in the US had a MUCH DIFFERENT take on the matter. So, as you can guess, I was at a LOW point and was living on my cellphone, messaging my husband, and yearning to be back there.
It goes without saying that this does not make the best recipe for caregiving and after two weeks at my grandma’s it was decided that it wasn’t working, and I agreed that it wasn’t the place for me.
To Run or Step Into Transformation?
All this culminated in a huge fight between me and my mom, which her preferred solution was to slap my ass on a plane back to Africa to figure it out on my own. Aside from having no financial prospects in Africa, I was actually very happy about this because it offered the escape I had become so accustomed to. This is where I believe divine intervention stepped in.
My aunt Jennifer sent me a text message to express her disagreement with my return to Africa. She invited me to come live with her and her husband and helped me understand that going back to Ghana with no plan would result in divorce #2 and in the worsening of my mental and physical health. Instead, she explained I could turn my life around and build a foundation that would allow me to support myself and return sometime in the future with stability.
I have always looked up to my aunt Jennifer as more of a big sister than an aunt. I’d ransack her room as a teenager and find any way to annoy her. I witnessed her own transformation from crashing and burning out of her own 20-year teaching career, healing from severe chronic illness, and transforming herself from a high school teacher into a dynamic functional medicine practitioner & personal success coach. Both of us being former teachers, having had a boat load of health challenges to overcome, and a shit ton of trauma in our lives, we had a lot in common.
What was clear to me at that point was I could take the easy way out that would cost me a lot in the long run or I could take the more difficult route of total health and life transformation that could potentially have a huge pay off in the future.
To be honest… I just wanted to run back to Africa! But… running is what I had been doing for so long, and where had it really gotten me?
I decided move in with Jen and her husband and undergo a complete transformation of my mind and body. Now we would think that the clouds have finally parted. Nope! Not at all.
Miscarriage, Emotional Wreckage, and More!
It turns out that I was pregnant!! At 37, with no money and in poor health! As this subject is still very raw for me, I will sum it up by saying that I miscarried at 2 months. Anyone that has suffered a loss like that understands how devastating it is, and with infertility being at all-time high in this country I know that many can relate.
So, there I was, in an emotional wreckage but still knowing that I had MAJOR work to do. That inner voice yelling “Do Something!” was only getting stronger. It was right around this time that Jen and I had the idea of documenting my journey as a way to help and inspire others whose lives and health have fallen apart. She has been consulting with people from all over the world for years to help them to overcome chronic illness and heal their lives, but I am her first live-in case!
The Winds of Change!
It all started with diet under the belief of “using food as medicine”. I had been following the Paleo way of eating for the last 5 years but only during the week. On the weekends I let my sugar addiction reign supreme, not wanting to believe that I was undoing all the healthy eating I had done during the week.
So not only was I going to start a stricter paleo diet, but we were going to be following the Auto Immune Paleolithic Diet. For those that don’t know, the Paleo diet follows the diet we humans ate during the Hunter-Gatherer era.
So, with Paleo you’re not eating the bread, noodles, pizza, cake, and all the refined, processed, crap foods. You eat meat, nuts, fruits, and vegetables and I always included dairy and alcohol…. Which now that I think about it, really was a highly MODIFIED version (some would argue it was not really Paleo at all).
Auto Immune Paleo (AIP) takes Paleo a few steps further with no eggs, dairy, nightshades, nuts, seeds, or legumes. AIP in general terms, removes all foods that are known to fuel chronic inflammation in a body that has become vulnerable to disease as a result of leaky gut and impaired cellular function. In addition to this I am also combining aspects of the Nemechek protocol within a comprehensive functional approach; of which is being guided by Jen.
What in the heck does all this mean, you might ask?
Eating a grass fed, humanly raised diet of protein, good fats, tons of veggies, and moderate amounts healthy carbs and starches such as low glycemic fruit, root veggies, and winter squashes.
Taking grapefruit seed extract and other anti-microbial herbs to clear unhealthy “gut bugs” living in my digestive tract that have been feasting on my sugar and carb cheat days.
Taking a well-rounded, multi-vitamin and multi-mineral complex that contains methylated B vitamins; which are super important for supporting methylation…which is SUPER important for mental health!.....more on that in a later post!
Consuming two shots of organic extra virgin olive oil a day and 3000 mg of DHA daily to help heal the brain & clear inflammation as a result of years of consuming inflammatory omega 6 oils in baked goods, vegetable oils, and improperly raised animal protein (think non-grass-fed!)
Taking a prebiotic fiber each day to help support the growth of healthy gut bugs.
Reprogramming my mind for wellness!
The 4th and 5th bullets are part of the Nemechek protocol. Dr. Nemechek’s work has supported the healing of autism in children and has made great strides in healing anxiety, depression, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and ADD in adults as well. It all starts with the gut-brain axis and autonomic nervous system.
Truth, Inspiration, & Hope!
For years I had been told my mental health challenges were due to chemical imbalances in my brain and the best I could do is manage the symptoms with medications. Now I am seeing proof each day that mental and physical health challenges are significantly caused by gut-brain axis dysfunction, what you put into and on your body, how you treat your body, your daily habits, and how choose to perceive, believe, and show up in the world.
Although I still have difficult days, the infinite sadness, paralyzing fear, and the life altering fatigue has stopped overcoming me. Every day I wake up and still can’t believe my health challenges are finally starting to go away after all these years! Now, please understand that all these positive shifts go beyond just changing my diet and healing my gut. I am also creating new neural pathways in my mind to write a new, more nourishing script for my nervous system and life to follow.
Changing the neural pathways of the last 37 years is not easy. I am transforming every aspect of my being and shedding all that which is no longer serving me; which I will be sharing more about in part IV. I will also be providing more detail about how to use food as medicine, supportive supplementation, and shifting the inner terrain of the body to create sustainable wellness.
And this is where you come in, dear reader. This is where I hope others can learn through my experiences and apply the knowledge I share about health and life transformation in order to make positive health and life shifts. Jennifer and I work daily on implementing all that I have described so far and are now putting it all together in a group program designed around transforming the mind for wellness, greater stress resilience, and personal success.
I never thought change of this magnitude could be possible. I thought we are all handed cards and we have to play with what we were dealt. Well my friends, what if you could find a way to not only get a new hand but ensure it’s a full house, or even a straight flush? Would you go all in? I have, and I promise you all that I am going to do everything I can to afford this opportunity to others that truly want it.
Stay tuned for part IV!