At first glance it might seem a bit surprising that I transitioned from a career as a lawyer to become a hypnotherapist and autoimmune coach. But it makes more sense than you might think!
We all have our struggles. My own struggles, due to a serious health diagnosis in my early 40s, led me to cognitive hypnotherapy and the Autoimmune Protocol.
I found them so effective in helping me recover good health that I decided to retrain, so I can help others who are where I once was.
You can read my full story below. Are parts of it similar to something you’re experiencing?
Unexpected health changes
8 years ago, I was a busy mum, living overseas, raising 3 small children while juggling freelance work, studying, and volunteering as a counsellor for a charity. I kept life running for our busy family of 5, with my husband often away for work for weeks at a time.
In my early 40s, I developed pains in my legs and hands. Driving and climbing stairs became painful and I felt stiff in the mornings.
As I was in my forties, I assumed it was ageing! But over time the problems grew and became unignorable.
Swelling, stiffness and pain spread into all my joints. Everything hurt. I felt exhausted. I put on a brave face, but I felt low.
Changes to everyday life
I needed help with everyday tasks I had always taken for granted – dressing, cutting food, driving… writing, lifting, carrying…climbing stairs, grasping things…
It was bleak, frightening and fast. I worried whether I’d be able to keep managing the thousands of daily tasks of being a mum, and work.
Eventually, several years after noticing symptoms, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, known as RA. This is an autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks joints and tissues.
I was told there is no cure and I would need to be on immunosuppressant medications for the rest of my life.
These suppress your immune system so it cannot ‘attack’ your body, and can increase the risk of developing other serious conditions.
But I’m still so young…
This was not how I’d imagined my life panning out!
Even though RA is commonly diagnosed in women over 40, I’d often be by far the youngest patient in a clinic. It felt isolating and limiting.
I wanted to be out enjoying my life, being active with my children and looking ahead with zest.
I did not want to be attending appointments, injecting medicines, purchasing living aids, and needing wheelchairs and mobility scooters for travel.
But these were all part of the new reality to which I was having to adapt.
Something has to help
I looked for ways to help myself. A man with multiple sclerosis mentioned using hypnotherapy for pain control. I’d had a positive experience of hypno-birthing in the past. Remembering this, I decided to try hypnotherapy for the RA.
I learned that cognitive hypnotherapy is adapted specifically to you and your unique situation, so I went to see a cognitive hypnotherapist.
How cognitive hypnotherapy helped me
Cognitive hypnotherapy helped me on many levels, in ways I had not expected.
Dealing with negative messages and diagnosis
An RA diagnosis is a medical emergency, because the damage RA does can be irreversible and life threatening. This means that the focus is on physical treatment, and less on the mental and emotional side of such conditions.
Negative messages often come along with an autoimmune diagnosis. Cognitive hypnotherapy allowed me to realise how these negative messages affected me, and give myself some more positive, hopeful beliefs to live by. It gave me a space to deal with the emotional impact.
Taking control of my treatment
As a patient having numerous tests and treatments, it’s easy to feel you’re not in charge of what’s going on, especially when feeling sore, ill and lacking energy.
Cognitive hypnotherapy helped me to notice how out of control I felt and gave me the confidence to speak up for myself.
I identified staff who listened to my views, and I changed consultant. As far as possible I aimed to surround myself with people with a positive approach. I started having acupuncture and cranial osteopathy, to help my body recover.
Seeing other things I could change – and changing them
Cognitive hypnotherapy prompted me to look at other aspects of my life. This led me to change career, manage aspects of my personal life differently, and change the food I eat.
Previously, all of these would have felt like more burdens to contend with and I wouldn’t have had the energy to address them.
But working on how I was thinking and feeling meant I felt more capable of dealing with them. Taking action helped, and my symptoms began to decrease.
Learning what influences RA and autoimmunity
Learning which foods aggravated my immune system made a huge difference to my symptoms.
I began to research what is known about triggers for autoimmunity.
This led me to discover the Autoimmune Protocol, known as AIP.
AIP is a diet and lifestyle approach to recovering health, based on research showing what makes autoimmune disease worse, and what helps you heal.
Adopting this approach led me to further relief from symptoms. I trained as an AIP Coach so that I can help others to help themselves.
Managing pain and caring for myself
While I was reducing my symptoms by following AIP, cognitive hypnotherapy taught me effective techniques to change my experience of pain.
It’s changed the way I treat my body and how I perceive things. I practice more self-acceptance, compassion and gratitude.
Instead of worrying about imagined futures, I focus on increasing meaning, purpose and fulfilment in my life right now.
Beginning to rebuild
Due to my health, I’d felt lonely and not ‘myself’ for a long time. I probably seemed antisocial, when the truth was, I was struggling, feeling very ill and scared.
Cognitive hypnotherapy and AIP helped me to acknowledge that I’d been dealing with an isolating, difficult situation for a long time.
They gave me tools to revive parts of me that had faded and start rebuilding my confidence and energy.
Making treatment choices
From what I’ve learned, I feel much more informed and much better equipped to manage my health well.
My body feels different and I’ve learnt so much about myself and my mindset. I reached a point when my consultant confirmed I had no disease activity, and I’ve been able to stop immunosuppressants.
(Please note – I am not advising anyone to stop medical treatment and am not qualified to give medical advice. You are responsible for choices about your health, and considering your doctor’s advice.)
Maintaining my health
I use what I’ve learned to manage my health and my mindset, and am able to adapt.
My own experience has shown me that our mindset and how we feel emotionally has a significant bearing on how we experience our health.
Cognitive hypnotherapy helped me feel much better in myself and AIP allowed me to implement practical knowledge in the daily choices I make about what I eat and how I live. This has all helped me to recover.
Now I know what factors contribute to autimmune disease, I can make informed choices that enable my body to heal.
And that’s why I retrained!
As a result of all this, I retrained in both cognitive hypnotherapy and the Autoimmune Protocol.
I went into this work because I know how it helped me, and I’ve seen with clients how much it can help others too.
I chose to train with the Quest Institute and the Autoimmune Protocol Certified Coach Programme, because the methods both teach are thorough and effective, well taught, and based on published research evidence of effectiveness.
Are you experiencing something similar?
If my story connects with something you’re experiencing, or a problem you’re struggling with, please feel free to get in touch. I’m always happy to chat.
Hopefully my story helps you understand more about why I do this and how it can help.
Please don’t feel awkward about getting in touch, or knowing where to start. I understand how hard it can be when you don’t feel good and you’re not sure if anyone can help.
Reaching out to someone is the first step towards helping yourself.
Please do feel free to get in touch, so we can explore ways to help you feel better.