Along my health journey, I have been opened up to a whole lot of natural therapies and met some of the most inspiring health practitioners. Instinctively, I knew I couldn’t heal from Hashimoto’s without the gentle guidance of others who were experts in their own field. I read books and more books but you can never underestimate the power of human contact and someone’s genuine belief that you can get better and that they can help you.
I call them my Wellbeing Circle – they are my healing helpers. I have benefited from each of them in their particular practice but also been inspired by the care and dedication they put into bringing people into their greatest health. Without judgment, with the luxury of having more than 10 minutes to spare, these natural health practitioners are superstars in my world.
I have mentioned here that after struggling with chronic reflux that led me to sleeping upright at night (!), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) a painful and sadly not very well understood broadly named condition and an auto-immune thyroid disease diagnosis, I knew something had to change. Conventional pharmaceutical drugs were not working and the side effects only required more medication of a different kind. I felt like I was never going to get off the hamster wheel. And I was in my early 20’s.
I was led to a Melbourne Naturopath called Jill Thomas at Albert Park Naturopathy Clinic, who is still an integral and radiant part of my Wellbeing Circle. This initial consultation began my journey into learning everything I could absorb about nutrition, natural health, the body-mind connection and other natural therapies.
Again I stress, the health conditions that I was faced with, were not life-threatening for which I am eternally grateful. But they were threatening my wellbeing on a daily basis : I was not a thriving young woman as I should have been, my whole intestinal tract felt raw and everything I ate seemed to react badly, I had anxiety around how I felt and being on stage, I lost a lot of confidence and as anyone with IBS knows, knowing where the nearest bathroom is at any given time became a priority. My career as ballet dancer was faltering.
Surely, there was another way. Maybe even small things I could do, that would stop my body from hurting itself and allow it to heal and thrive.
What I discovered was a whole treasure chest of goodness – it wasn’t in one big action or one pill that I would heal, it was in every small thing and their accumulative effect that positively affected the way I felt. Some of these things were simple – to stop rushing, chew my food more, follow a gluten-free lifestyle or abstain from cow’s milk as it was a strong intolerance trigger for me. Others were much more complex and time intensive – working on mindfulness, self-love and honouring my self-worth.
Some things didn’t help me feel better, but that was all a part of the learning process. You don’t have to do everything a ‘healthy person’ would do, but it has to make sense to you. It has to work for you. It’s called Bioindividuality – we are all genetically unique and respond on a whole body, holistic level to different foods, lifestyle choices, environments, relationship choices and even how we perceive being a patient in the medical model.
At some point, we have given up our ability to listen to our body and intuitively know what is best for us and handed the accountability for how we feel mainly into the hands of others.
In Eastern medicine, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), they view the body as a Garden and what you feed it is what grows. They view the doctor-patient relationship as a partnership, that the patient is not occupied territory but in time able to self-regulate and seek external help when they need.
In TCM and Naturopathy, health is not just an absence of disease, it’s about feeling vibrant, balanced and able to enjoy the life we want. It’s more than not catching the flu.
I have spent a lot of time as a dancer working on your body, honing my craft, but that is not at all the same as working with your body. My healthy journey began when I started working with my body not in spite of my body.
I will be posting more in depth about the various natural health modalities that have guided me back to a balanced life. But today I wanted to share with one of my first points of call when I’m feeling out of whack.
Acupuncture looks at how root imbalances affect the whole system. Acupuncture works by stimulating specific points on your body with acupuncture needles or pressure, which relives obstructions in the flow of energy or chi, and enables the body to heal. Acupuncture is about balancing the body, the yin and yang, the organ systems, the body as a whole interconnected system.
It acknowledges balance as the middle ground, that having too much of a good thing like excitement can still bring imbalance in the body. It doesn’t work overnight, although you can feel the benefit of increased energy or mental clarity after a session. In this way, it encourages me that taking care of myself is an investment, an ongoing process and releasing the urgency for quick gratification.
As a ballerina, I find acupuncture works beautifully to balance out the physical stress that comes with my profession. Lying on the bed with 30 minutes to myself, it reminds me to relax and let the body heal itself. It is active recovery from an athlete point of view, but it’s also feeding my garden of emotional and mental wellbeing on a whole other level.
I discovered The Pagoda Tree in Melbourne through its founder Nat Kringoudis, a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor, a pioneer for women’s holistic health and absolute Happy Hormone bone fide expert. She is an incredible woman and I urge anyone who cares about feeling good and the role hormonal balance has in wellbeing for women and men alike (hint: everything!) to have a look her website.
I have seen several of the practitioners at The Pagoda Tree for acupuncture sessions and they are all incredibly caring, empathetic and brilliant in their own right. While this clinic has an invested interest in Women’s Health, Fertility and Hormonal Imbalance in particular, they are essentially an integrative health practice. The highly trained practitioners can assist you with any imbalance in the body: digestive, sleep issues, mood disorders or general health. That means men, women and children alike can benefit from their practice.
Finding practitioners that you can trust and be fully open with is vitally important to your health and your healing journey. If you don’t feel like someone actually cares about your health concerns, you most likely won’t feel better. If your practitioner doesn’t have belief that you can feel better, how do we expect our body to believe in its ability to heal?
My auto-immune disease affects the thyroid gland, which is located in the throat area. This area is commonly known as the fifth chakra or throat chakra, the centre that governs our speech and creative expression in the world. It’s our voice. It is through this chakra that we speak our choices, it determines how honest we are with ourselves and how well we can express ourselves to those around us.
For a long time in various aspects of my life including my health, my voice was not being heard. I felt like I had no voice, and therefore no choice.
My Wellbeing Circle is abundant with good listeners. They listened to my story, they actually heard me when I said I couldn’t keep going like this. They took me seriously when I told them that dancing was no longer enjoyable because I felt so terrible. They listened when I said I felt like retiring from professional dance was my only option and how sad that made me feel to the very core. And then they said, each of them with the knowledge and understanding in their particular modality, ” I can help you.”
My Wellbeing Circle is abundant with believers – they believe in the body to heal, they believe in trying, they believe that the same things do not work for every patient, they believe in me and they encourage me to invest in my health and continue to grow and learn on my healing journey.
I’m forever grateful for this wonderful group of people. I believe we have to surround ourselves with a circle of people in whom we can trust. I don’t see all of them all the time, I see them when I need to see them. They are not the crutch that holds me up, but they provide the support I need to hold myself up.
I also believe that nothing can ever replace the impact of human connection. You can read every health book, search the internet endlessly, take pills or supplements but nothing can replace a face to face consultation with someone who cares about you and your health. It’s cathartic and transformative.
We can’t go on this journey all alone, we need the energy and support of special people. They can be your GP, Naturopath, Massage Therapist, Reiki Master, Acupuncturist, Physiotherapist, Nutritionist or Psychologist. They need to make sense to you, they are your partners in health and wellbeing. I encourage you to find your own Wellbeing Circle and begin your own journey to health with them!