In my “invincible” early twenties, I lived and worked around the world—in India, Turkey, Kosovo, France, and America—with my husband Sam. It was a dream come true, but something wasn’t right. I began to notice health problems—fatigue, weight gain, anxiety, dizziness, blood sugar drops, and more.
In the middle of my fatigue, God surprised us with our first baby. James was pure delight, but my postpartum body and mind were a disaster zone. Having never learned when to slow down (a product of my upbringing by strong, Midwestern women), I took a new job and moved overseas again to France with a four-month-old and no sleep.
Two months later, I had the most intense panic attack of my life. Four months later, I couldn’t get out of bed for weeks at a time.
I continued trying to work for two years. Each time I hit a wall, my symptoms got worse. My throat swelled up for months, and I developed nausea and stomach pain. I began reacting to foods, mold, smoke, light, and emotional triggers. I was exhausted, foggy, and fearful of when my next symptom would hit. Doctors couldn’t make sense of my illness. I had endless blood work and tried multiple medications, some of which made things worse.
Finally, my husband and I decided it was time for us to move back to America, where we’d have family support and easier communication with doctors. I quit work and decided to take a sabbatical to pursue healing.
When I finally slowed down, I began to examine my life and health. I realized that I’d been abusing my body, mind, and spirit for years. I ignored my body’s pleas for help, pumping caffeine, sugar, and medications into my system to mask the signals. I buried past traumas instead of seeking therapeutic help. I put all my spiritual energy into my work in missions, rather than enjoying my relationship with God.
I needed to change. And slowly, I did. At my husband’s urging, I gave up most of my responsibilities at home. We cleared our calendar to only the essentials. I began to rest, play games, make art, and spend time in nature. I went to therapy and read everything I could about emotional and spiritual trauma. I started using natural products that would be gentler on my system. I replaced my beloved coffee with green tea. I stopped eating dairy and red meat, and began filling my plate with veggies. I incorporated meditation, mindfulness, and stretching into my routine. I started listening to my body and heart, and setting meaningful boundaries. I tried natural methods of healing—supplements, diet, massage, limbic training—and made friends with a whole lot more doctors and nurses.
A year later, I’m not completely healed, but I feel healthier, more peaceful, and more joyful than I’ve been in a long time. I have learned so much about myself and what I truly value. I’ve become so much more aware of what I do, and the impact it has on myself and others. Even if I never fully regain my body’s capacity, I feel like I have regained myself. And that is the journey I’d like to invite you on today.
My motto right now is “go slow, live ethically, and heal fully.” I write about a lot of different topics from food to parenting to fashion, but everything revolves around those three ideas.