This is my unvarnished account of moving from a life of excess and ignorance to making holistic well-being a way of life. In sharing tales from behind our public personas —the past we’d sometimes prefer to hide from— I want to show how anyone can make a 180 and that the road to living well and free is full of misinformation to sift through and that self-destructive patterns can take repeated efforts and realisations to break. As a former career-driven party pants, I spent the good part of my life overlooking, or rather blatantly ignoring, the intricate connection between our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. I was a walking contradiction, unconsciously sabotaging myself and operating with little integrity for a long time. While I worked out, ate well, practised regular and even learned to teach yoga, took supplements, chugged juices and smoothies and absorbed tons of spiritual and self-development content, most weekends, my main goal was to find where the party was at. I’d drink heavily, take party drugs and be out at clubs, parties or festivals til sun up. For a brief anecdotal insight, on a girls trip to Greece in 2007, we sourced some cocaine at a club from people we’d met an hour earlier. When we unwrapped it in the toilet it was a beige tone and didn’t smell like coke usually does. After a few minutes of deliberation on the next steps and sensing all my friend’s apprehension, I said, “I’ll go first”. It wasn’t cocaine; it was MDMA. We ended up having an incredible night, and I lived to tell the tale, but it’s not a moment or time in my life I reflect on proudly. This old version of me wouldn’t be seen without makeup. I smoked socially, drank 1-2 coffees daily, and then took over-the-counter sleeping pills if I couldn’t sleep. I fake-tanned, salon-coloured my hair regularly, and got a breast augmentation. As if that wasn’t enough for my lymphatic and endocrine systems to process, I continued getting Botox for several years after initially getting it for my wedding.
Living in a state of unconsciousness and discord
It took an obvious-to-me-later toll on my body, mind, and spirit. I wasn’t living a life of alignment because I had no idea who I truly was or where I wanted to go. Not only that, the mild symptoms and issues I experienced are deemed a normal and acceptable part of being human to be managed with medications rather than something that is preventable and treatable when you look at the root cause, which, I’ve learned, isn’t always what we have come to understand as Truth about our bodies and its interplay with our environment and life experiences. Traversing this road marked by neglected self-care, I suffered skin breakouts, heavy periods, adrenal fatigue, candida and migraines. At aged 30, six weeks out from moving to Vancouver for a working holiday, a routine pap smear showed early stages of cervical cancer. Not even that was enough to make me change my ways. Although at a less frequent and debaucherous scale, my partying continued in Canada after I recovered and had the all-clear. Cocaine is a helluva drug. Despite the obvious depression, moodiness and weight gain it caused, I persevered with the oral contraceptive pill control for several years in my 20s to manage my acne. After gladly being off it for a few years, when I entered a committed relationship with the man I’d go on to marry, I reluctantly tried again for contraceptive purposes. It wasn’t long until the emotional fragility and unwarranted rage brewed again before throwing it in the bin once and for all. When my period didn’t return after three months, my doctor told me to go back on it, but I was adamant about never taking it again. Instead, I sought help from a naturopath, which took six months to resolve. In continuing some of the protocols and learning to honour my cycle instead of resenting it, I’ve had healthy, regular periods since.
While the revelling abated once I returned to Australia, got married and was into my 30s by this stage, my other seemingly benign habits went unchecked; boozing most weekends, relying on coffee for energy, using toxic body care and cleaning products etc. Considering what I put my body through, I was in great physical shape and looked well. Since I wasn’t partying as I used to, for a long time I didn’t see these things as a real problem since I didn’t have major symptoms aside from feeling sluggish and bouts of severe (can’t get out of bed) fatigue that would hit, digestive issues, insomnia and migraines. Things we mostly accept as part of modern living or being human.
Any symptoms, pain and infections I experienced were masked with over-the-counter and prescription medications.
All the while remaining perplexed about feeling shit, being creatively stagnant and unfulfilled and getting nowhere in life because I was still eating healthy, practising yoga, taking supplements, drinking filtered water and juicing my way through new-age spirituality (to also later discover how some of these teachings were also holding me back).
Points of no return
There was a series of events more than a pivotal moment where I decided to take my health seriously. I was on the approach to 40, which prompted some life re-evaluation, as it often does. I could no longer function with a hangover and grew tired of wasting weekends slouching on the couch instead of creating the meaning and purpose I so deeply wanted but lacked because I was stuck in this cycle. When my marriage ended, I stopped drinking without much thought. When the desire to call into the bottle shop every Friday left, I soon realised that my motivation to drink was to tolerate my unhappy life. Down the line, plant medicine experiences forced me to take a good hard look at myself and fundamentally shifted my perspective on my behaviour and how I show up in the world; the living versus existing. The pre-ceremony protocols require giving up things like tobacco, alcohol and caffeine to have a cleaner system for the substance to work with and prevent any of the contraindications. After several ceremonies, the desire to use these things decreased significantly. New influential friends came to me through those circles who were all on mind, body, and soul optimisation paths. I slowed down and became more intentional. Things that used to interest and entertain me no longer did. After going down the Breast Implant Illness rabbit hole, I had mine removed in 2019. Six months post-explant, I felt like a different person. My energy, mental clarity and skin were noticeably improved; bloating, constant tiredness and brain fog disappeared. I was glowing in a new found love and appreciation for my body and undergoing a deep process of forgiving myself for what I has subjected it to. The twenty-twenty lockdowns brought me home (literally to Perth) and to the importance of staying ultra-healthy and the understanding that modern medicine doesn’t have all the answers. I saw a naturopath and acupuncturist for nine months when I returned to help me get well after that gruelling emotional period (which was on the back of a divorce) where I had lost a lot of weight despite eating like a male athlete and was experiencing anxiety, food intolerance symptoms and insomnia again.
An Integrative Quest for Self-Improvement and Health Promotion
My road towards internal and external harmony and personal growth is ongoing, and writing this was a testimonial to my development, experiences, and lessons along the way. In this quest for living optimally, I’ve learned about the many modern medical and contemporary living farces we’re sold — the false rites of passage and cool and normalised behaviours designed to keep us from our birthright of wholeness and liberation. To wake up to this meant waking up to my own bullshit first. Now my professional focus is on supporting the growth of holistic and alternative health practitioners’ brands with my digital marketing expertise and bringing awareness to the possibility of my new understanding that dis-ease is not a mistake or malfunction of nature and instead a biological program optimised to increase our chance of survival.