Over ten years ago, shortly after the birth of our second child, my world collapsed. I had to excuse myself from a meeting to rush to the toilet. What happened next became a regular daily occurrence. I had regular panic attacks, bouts of diarrhoea, severe burning around my head and body, migraines, photophobia, pins and needles, muscle spasms, muscle pain, pain around my neck and throat, unbearably cold feet and extreme fluctuations in temperature that I just couldn’t regulate. In fact, I would sleep with three duvets on me and still not get warm. I was riddled with extreme fatigue, that ultimately resulted in me being bed and house bound for three years and requiring the use of a wheelchair.

Regular trips to the doctors’ surgery couple with various blood tests, MRI scans and x-ray’s got me no closer to understanding this ‘mystery illness’. Apart from looking tired, I looked ‘normal’ yet I felt so far from my ‘normal self’. I knew something was wrong, yet all my blood tests came back as normal. Sadly, the doctors just labelled me as depressed and prescribed anti-depressants.

It felt like I had lost everything, my career, role as mother, wife and woman.  Even the seemingly easy tasks of reading Thomas the Tank Engine to my then two-year old son felt impossible. I was unable to get up to look after our baby girl and the fatigue and brain-fog was so debilitating that even simple tasks, such as brushing my teeth felt impossible. Those days were very dark and I felt so incredibly lost. I was desperate to be the mum I dreamt of and go to the park and enjoy the early days with my kids. Instead I was crippled with fatigue, pain, insomnia, brain-fog and no explanation as to why?!

The only way I could get through each day was to ensure that I spent hours lying in dark room devoid of noise. Life was reduced to nothing.

After 2 years, I just couldn’t take it anymore. Spending every day confined to a small space with two small children felt unbearable. I enquired about a wheelchair and was fortunate to receive one. This completely changed my life. I could go out and see the world. I could enjoy outings with my family and after a few years, I even made it to France and Italy to reunite with my family from South Africa. A small outing was bliss but would result in needing a couple of days in bed to recover. With each of these outings came significant paybacks, but I didn’t care. I needed to live, and I was determined to find a way to make it happen.

During this time I also worked with a nutritionist. She did some functional tests on me, and I found that I had various parasites in my gut, food intolerances and adrenal exhaustion! Changes in my diet and the use of supplements definitely brought some improvements, but I was most certainly nowhere near healthy. I knew I had to find the right answers, so I decided to enrol on a 3 year course to study naturopathic nutrition.

During the second year of my course, I finally found out what was wrong with me. I had Hashimoto’s disease. An autoimmune condition that affects your thyroid gland. It was a complete lightbulb moment. I had suspected this for 5 years, but my bloods always came back normal. I now knew what I had to do to get my health back on track.

Since embarking on this journey, I have become so much stronger and healthier. I no longer have brain fog, severe fatigue, gut issues, panic attacks, headaches, my menstrual cycle is regular, I hardly ever struggle with muscular pain (unless I play netball), my thyroid antibodies are significantly lower than they were, and my adrenal function is so much better. Most importantly my gut function is amazing, and I no longer have parasites or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), a condition that I struggled with for many years.

Following many years of research, writing papers, sitting exams, doing clinical exams, I was finally in a position to provide the right guidance and support to other women going through a similar hypothyroid hell. I have continued to study with the Institute of Functional Medicine and find that I am always learning and furthering my knowledge.

My personal journey with Hashimoto’s has given me a unique insight into the challenges that women with hypothyroidism have to face on a day to day basis. I am fortunate that I am now in a position to guide women to avoid the mistakes I made along the way.

I am now helping women all around the world to regain control of their thyroid symptoms and improve their quality of life. No one has to live with debilitating thyroid symptoms. With the right support, testing and guidance you too can get your life back.

“Let food be your first medicine and the kitchen your first pharmacy.”