Autoimmune Stories: How Ashley healed her thyroid and reduced her medication.
Ashley and I follow each other on Instagram and it was one of her posts about her healing journey and progress that really caught my eye. I really wanted her to be a part of our Autoimmune Stories. So many of my clients have thyroid issues, so not only do I hope this will bring some inspiration and useful information, but also another insight into how we can approach healing as we are all so uniquely different and have our own root cause.
1. What health issues are you dealing with and when did they begin?
I am currently healing from hypothyroidism, Epstein Barr Virus as well as a whole host of issues that seem to go hand in hand with thyroid disease such as gut, liver and adrenal problems as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies etc. These health issues I personally believe began way before my official diagnosis in 2009. I think my body had been slowly struggling for several years having gone through a lot of life changes, challenges and stress for a prolonged period, eventually taking its toll on my health.
2. Tell us about your diagnosis story, how long did it take to get a diagnosis?
In late 2009 after years of infertility, I unexpectedly fell pregnant and very soon after I miscarried, naturally I was devastated. Afterwards however I just wasn’t feeling myself physically, I was fatigued, I had aches and pains and little to no energy, hair loss, always feeling cold, constipation etc. I went to see my GP who ran some tests and a few days later the results confirmed that my thyroid was in fact the culprit. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and prescribed 100 mcg of Levothyroxine, I was under the impression my life would continue as normal.
3. Which symptoms were making your life difficult?
The brain fog and fatigue were the main symptoms that I struggled with at the beginning and which I found difficult, especially when I needed to concentrate at work and communicate effectively with clients. I was no longer fully functioning as I had before, however I continued to push myself physically, mentally and emotionally. I put up with the daily aches and pains and persevered with the tiredness whilst going back and forward to the doctor’s office explaining that I still wasn’t feeling well. At each appointment I was offered anti-depressants as my thyroid levels were now stable meaning my medication was working and so the problem must be that I was depressed. Each time I declined the offer, but it brought to my attention that the health care system was failing not only me but thousands of others by merely giving out pills as a way of dealing with any given issue instead of investigating the root cause.
4. Tell us about some of the emotions you experienced.
I became angry, sad and frustrated I was too young to be getting sick. I did not want to accept that this was as good as it was going to get for me health wise. I continued to push my body, refusing to give in to it. Looking back what I should have done was listen to it and given it a break but life was fast paced and I felt the need to keep up, I guess I continued to punish it further for I thought it was failing me.
5. What made you decide to go beyond medication and primary care?
Well life continued at the same pace for a few years until I finally became pregnant having undergone fertility treatment. I was over the moon and experienced a healthy pregnancy, giving birth to a beautiful baby boy. Six months to a year afterwards however my symptoms were getting worse, every day I experienced terrible fatigue, anxiety, digestive issues, brain fog, mood swings and inflammation. I decided to do some research of my own and joined various online support groups where I found thousands of other women all over the world suffering with the same symptoms and more. This is where I learned about the Epstein Barr Virus (EBV), vitamin and mineral deficiencies, the roles of the adrenals and more. So here I was learning all this new information and how they all link together, it was an invaluable resource to tap into. I also had an insight into how the care and management of this illness was carried out worldwide from the patient’s point of view. I learned how to read my own lab results and what the various markers indicated. I began to order my own blood work privately and began to take my health into my own hands, turns out I was deficient in folic acid, Vitamin D, B12 and ferritin along with a few other things. So, I would take my results to the doctor who would then prescribe me the vitamins I needed based on the tests I had done. I felt like I was moving forward, meanwhile I fell pregnant once more, naturally and gave birth to our second son. Soon after this pregnancy, I also decided to change my diet and cut out gluten to see if this would help further. It was also then that I decided to swap over to a natural thyroid medication.
6. Tell us about your journey to recovery.
When my youngest son was two, we emigrated from Scotland to Australia as a family permanently. I was happier than I had ever been, yet I was becoming more unwell. The inflammation was worse than ever, I was constantly bloated, my digestion was sluggish, I was gaining weight quite quickly, yet my diet hadn’t changed. In fact, all my symptoms seemed to be worse than ever. I had hit rock bottom; this was not supposed to be happening when I was doing everything, I should be protocol wise. I was sick and tired of trying to figure it all out on my own, I felt let down by the health care system who I felt should have been able to help me. I didn’t know what else to do anymore. My husband had never seen me this low, he stepped in and got me an appointment with an integrative doctor who had healed herself of Hashimotos. If anyone could help me It was going to be her, I thought. After that first appointment, I found hope again. Not just in that we could manage my illness but that we could actually heal it! We focused on my diet, a new approach with the focus on seeing the food as the medicine. We looked at my emotional and mental health and how this had impacted on my wellbeing too. I guess you could say I went on a spiritual healing journey and began looking at things very differently, I stopped obsessing about my lab results and began focusing on how I felt. I started to become more in tune with my body, for the first time I consciously began to listen to it.
7. What was the result of making diet and lifestyle changes?
That was just over a year ago now and the result of the diet and lifestyle changes are that I no longer have brain fog or the daily fatigue, aches, pains or even inflammation. The Epstein Barr Virus is now dormant too. The best part is I am almost medication free and currently tapering off on my last 5 mcg of thyroid medication. I am still working on healing my gut and liver health which will take a bit more time but heal it will. Life is good in fact it’s better than ever, I get to be actively involved in it again as opposed to being the bystander. I am more present as a wife and mother because I have the concentration, energy and clarity to do so. I enjoy going to the gym 4/5 times a week, something I never thought I would do again. I go on bike rides with my family and enjoy hiking, all things that would have physically taxed me before. My life has changed beyond measure and for that I am eternally grateful to have another chance to live it from a place of good health, something I will never take for granted again.
8. Did you use any other alternative therapies that helped?
As far as alternative treatments go, I guess everything that I did was alternative to the mainstream way of doing things. I received some energy healing using both reiki and kinesiology. I also had a couple of lymphatic drainage massages to really help flush out the toxins in my body. I also used a lot of the Medical medium protocols mainly the daily 16oz celery juice which I believe made a huge difference to my healing and would urge anyone looking to heal to include this in their daily life too. Meditation and Yoga have also and still do play a key role in my healing journey.
9. Do you have any favourite resources that helped you? A blog? Book?
In terms of resources I read the medical medium Thyroid Healing book which really resonated with me. I also read the book Why people don’t heal and how they can by Caroline Myss. A new earth by Eckhart Tolle. Joe Dispenza Breaking free from the habit of being yourself and a few others which I actually have listed on my website under resources. You can find me at www.getthyroidhealthy.com or on Instagram at get_thyroid_healthy where I talk about anything from healing foods to emotional and spiritual components to healing as well as the environmental factors at play. I also like to keep those who follow my progress up to date, with where I am on my own healing journey in the hope that this will inspire others, by way of showing them what is also possible for them and I truly believe it is.
10. What one thing did you learn that you’d like to pass on to others?
I would really like to let people know that healing is possible, our bodies are built with their own innate ability to heal, just like that cut on your finger will heal. We just need to create the correct environment for it to do so and that means being more mindful about what you consume physically, mentally and emotionally.
Thank you Ashley! So many things resonated with me and my own experiences and I'm sure this will provide some hope and comfort to others going through the same thing. I look forward to seeing more of your updates on Instagram. You've done an amazing job and it's so great to see you've regained your health.
The information provided here is for interest only and should not be taken as medical advice. Please always work with your GP. If you are interested in using nutritional therapy alongside professional medical advice please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org