Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Breaking Free

In the course of my work, I encounter many people who suffer from what we might term a modern lifestyle disease, or condition, including one or more of the following : diabetes; high blood pressure; insomnia; anxiety & panic attacks; joint & muscle pain; fatigue.

I myself have suffered from a few of these, including high blood pressure and anxiety, for which I took medication for 20 years. Initially, I was prescribed a beta blocker called Atenolol by a doctor while I was living in The Netherlands in the 1990’s. He felt the drug would help with my anxiety by its action on adrenaline, effectively mediating the ‘fight or flight’ response in my body. The same doctor, who I respected and who I’m convinced had my best interests at heart, also encouraged me to take a drug, little-known at the time called Seroxat, which he felt might help with the panic attacks. Seroxat is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) which at the time was being increasingly prescribed as an antidepressant and mood-enhancer. After speaking to my mother about this (she was concerned about me taking a drug in case I became reliant on this), I declined. In retrospect, I am especially pleased to have heeded my mother’s advice owing to the now widely-known controversy surrounding this drug. I agreed to take the beta-blocker though (I continued to take this for more than 10 years before changing to an other drug to control my blood pressure, this time an ACE Inhibitor called Lisinopril).

Looking back, I realise that at the time, I felt I was somehow responsible for my condition, that I was to blame, and that I needed help from outside, and this was in the form of medication. The hypochondriac in me was convinced there was something wrong with me, that I was ‘broken’ and I needed to be ‘fixed’.  Admittedly, I was overweight, substantially overweight. I exercised regularly and worked out in the gym, convinced this would help me to burn off the excess calories I was eating. Sadly, this was the wrong approach, our systems are much more complex than that.

I now know it is not how much we eat, how many calories we eat, but what and how we eat that makes the difference. In my previous blog I described my journey and how I was able to lose weight through a different approach to eating, and how I was able to come off all my medication. Therefore, for me, food did become my medicine, perhaps Hippocrates would have been proud of me. I should also add it was by no means an overnight fix, it took a number of years, but at no time did it feel that I was having to endure or put up with a way of living that lacked fun or enjoyment – on the contrary, I have loved every minute of it and it has added a more vibrant colour to the tapestry of my life, to the point where I and my wife Annette are sharing our love of raw natural food with others as part of our day-to-day business.

So, this is why I am so excited to share this experience and knowledge with everyone I meet who is feeling ‘stuck’ and doesn’t know which way to turn, who is fearful of what may happen because they are suffering from a condition that they feel is irreversible or for which they feel they lack the energy to face without the support of medication.
The reason for my excitement is that it doesn’t have to be this way if we are willing to embrace change, to accept our situation and be more compassionate with ourselves and think what we might be able to do differently. If we can do this, we can heal ourselves, and that feels rather special! 

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