In August 2011, I returned to the UK to live after ten years living in Europe. I was in my mid 40s and I had teenage children. My mother had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and my father couldn’t cope. My brother was dying and was miles away from me in Germany, and I was in the thick of perimenopause! It was a difficult time, to say the least. I also wasn’t adjusting to my new life in suburban England, and not surprisingly, my health suffered.
It was hard to know whether my poor health was due to stress or perimenopause. I suffered constant viral infections, low-grade discomfort in my belly, bloating, poor sleep, fluctuating moods and night sweats. I saw my doctor, but Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) wasn’t even a topic of conversation. She did, however, persuade me to come off anti-depressants as they clearly weren’t helping me.
The death of my brother in 2014, just before his 54th birthday, shocked me into action. I took a long hard look at my lifestyle and where I was heading. Although his illness was quite specific, I felt that his lifestyle had probably impacted his health. On the surface, he’d always appeared healthy. Before he became ill, he was very active. He did triathlons for pleasure, and he was very slim. But his diet wasn’t great, and we also now know that excessive exercise can put unwanted stress on the body. Meanwhile, my mother was deteriorating rapidly and soon after my brother died, she went into a care home.
I did a lot of reading and research. I changed my diet. I stopped eating gluten and refined carbohydrates. This alone made a big difference to my digestive health. The discomfort went, and I was no longer being woken at night by a busy colon! Unfortunately, it didn’t resolve the night sweats. I trained to become a Nordic Walking instructor and then a Personal Trainer. I started to prioritise my health. I consulted a nutritionist, I started practicing yoga, and I learned to breathe properly. Then I trained as a Health Coach and learned how stress impacts our health. I learned to listen to the messages my body was sending, and I stopped comparing myself to others. I understood that we are all different. We are all unique!
Ten years on, I am in control of my health journey. There are ups and downs, of course. My Dad is now 90 and living independently, and my Mum is still living in a care home. I can sometimes squeeze a smile out of her. Meanwhile, I am loving my work with women, helping them to feel healthier and happier.
Looking back, I realise that at times I felt as though I was trapped in a never-ending tunnel. But the light at the end eventually reached me and I found a way out.