As a research scientist, I believed I was put here to make a difference. I had chosen a career that required a passion and a commitment that academics prided themselves on. “It was the job that you never stopped doing” we’d brag. Your brain was always on, always thinking about new and exciting things to explore. I was totally addicted to being a scientist. It eventually became who I was, as much as it was what I did. If you were made of the right stuff, you'd survive, right?
Well, I didn’t survive. But, now that I have the benefit of hindsight, I don’t want to just survive. I am here to thrive.
It took achieving the pinnacle of academic success for me to crash and burn. An invitation from pharma to have them fund my research and develop new therapeutics using my team's research as the backbone. Jackpot right?! Well I thought so, for a while. The details aren’t important, but the nuts and bolts were that the work I was doing was never going to get to the root cause of a problem and actually solve it. Instead, I would (at best) be contributing to bandaids. You know, the old symptom management. Because you can build a financial model around a sick person, but you can’t around a healthy person. Needless to say, my brain still thought this was an attractive option, so my body literally had to shut down for me to start paying attention to the values misalignment I had found myself in.
If you’d have asked me back then if I was OK, I would have said yes, flashed a smile and told you “I’m thriving”. But I was lying. I was broken. My periods were all over the place, I was literally only able to function in the morning if I had coffee, I would then have another and another, and the end of the day I would come down with wine (while sitting on my laptop on the couch trying with all my might to stay on top of the ever-growing to do list). But I still didn’t know I was broken. I was in great company, everyone else was operating this way too. This was life.
Needless to say, it took heart palpitations (that I ignored at first) before I started tuning in. Four years on, I am still tuning in. But holy moly, the body is an incredibly powerful, intuitive system that when heard and valued above all other messages, guides with integrity, honour and truth every damn time.
Of course, medically speaking there was nothing wrong with me. My heart was ‘fine’, heavy periods were ‘normal’, the cysts on my ovaries were normal. There was nothing to cut out or medication to prescribe so I was sent on my way. Eventually, I found a great GP who dared use the word ‘stress’ and who taught me about psychosomatic symptoms. She apologised to me when she started talking about lifestyle changes. Typically, this is not what we are looking for from our GPs, we want a script that'll get us back out there doing the same shit. We don’t want to hear that we aren’t living in a way that is conducive to us feeling good, that we need to make changes to the things that we habitually do. That we need to take a good hard look at the life we are living and ask, “is this really it?”.
But, I did want to hear that and so started the incredibly long, slow journey to self-healing and rediscovery. Don’t get me wrong, I can totally see the appeal of the quick fix. It’s swift and avoids the uncomfortable acknowledgement that you are neglecting what should be your highest priority - self. But, at that moment, quick didn’t feel right, given this whole breakdown business had started because I saw deep inside the big, money-making business of ‘healthcare’ and I did not like what I felt.
Everytime I go down this memory lane I feel things in my body. Tingles, goosebumps, the body’s not so subtle (when you are in-tune) reminder that things are not right. So, I chose the slow, painstaking healing!
There were times when I was rocking on the floor in my wardrobe thinking “I’ll just give up, it’s too hard”. I drove my car one day and thought about just letting it drift off the side of the freeway. But there was one significant day, when I was watching my daughter play. She was laughing and giggling but I felt nothing. No joy, no sadness, just nothing. It was then that something deep inside told me to get up, do the work, show her a different way. And I did.
I started seeing a psychologist and we talked through everything - things that had annoyed me, times I had felt let down, alone, burdened with too much responsibility. We naturally progressed into why I would take on the responsibility that was too much for me, why I didn’t simply say “no, I don’t want to do that”. Or even ask the simple question, “am I OK?”.
It was a fantastic journey, one of great self-discovery.
Am I all better now and have stopped doing these things? Nope! But I am more aware when I do these things and can go forward ‘knowing’ what I am doing. I can take responsibility for where I am at and the decisions I make.
As I continued on the journey, psychology wasn’t enough. I started seeing other healers too - Chinese medicine practitioners, massage therapists, I learned to meditate, all modalities that taught me something new, a whole new language of health, wellbeing and vitality. I now have a clearer understanding of who I am and thus how I can fulfil my purpose in this world.
All of this led me to start Eat for You. In a moment of clarity I realised that my experience in research can actually help people. I can educate others on how to get the best nutrition into their bodies, naturally. I started to explore this and was delighted to be able to bring my other passions for helping people and looking after the planet into my work as well.
Now, I am so proud to be working on something I love. I count myself so fortunate to have gotten to the dark place and found a way out. To be able to experience that joy and delight with my girl as she plays. To make my mark on the world and in the lives of families and to work with people who value the same things I do.
Thank you for reading my story. I’d love if you reached out with any comments you may have and we can connect: firstname.lastname@example.org