“I was diagnosed with a thyroid issue when I was backpacking. I saw a doctor in South Africa and was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid. I didn’t understand what was happening or what it meant. So I just took the drug they prescribed, as they told me, and I continued my travels.
“I ended up coming home 12 months after that. And from then on, I started feeling sluggish. My medication wasn’t making too much of a difference. I didn’t put two and two together until I had my daughter. And then I was feeling awful. And when I finally went to the doctor – my daughter was eight months old – the GP said to me ‘Oh, you’ve got depression.’
I knew I wasn’t depressed. I wasn’t. I had this beautiful baby. I lived in this gorgeous part of the world. But something’s wrong.”
“I don't understand the medical way of trying to suppress your body's symptoms, when realistically, it's your body trying to talk to you and say, ‘hey, there's something wrong.’ And by taking these drugs, all I was doing was making myself feel awful.”
Bernadette was also suffering from reflux, diarrhoea, hair loss, major sinus issues and contact dermatitis. While each symptom may have been manageable on its own, combined it left her feeling exhausted, bloated and anxious.
“My dermatitis became so bad that the skin on my hands bled. So after months of misdiagnosis and getting nowhere, I started healing myself with good food. I was going with the theory that ‘food is thy medicine.’ So I started watching what I ate and what affected me.”
Bernadette was seeing a host of specialists at the time – from endocrinologists to dermatologists to gastroenterologists – none of them would believe that she was healing herself with food.
“I felt like I'd seen all the specialists that I could see. I just needed to find the link that could tie everything together - there's no way that my body had all these different areas of concern that weren't connected in some way.”
Bernadette learnt to read her body – when she ate dairy, her skin would get worse. When she didn’t eat it, her skin would heal. No doctor would listen to her. In her words, “they would say to me – ‘you are very self-aware.’ I think I was a frustrating patient for them. But I know me and I knew that there was something fundamentally wrong with my body.”
It was at this point that Bernadette found us at Shift at Brisbane Natural Health.
“I saw an ad for a Shift Clinic Thyroid Masterclass – so I signed up for it. And I am ashamed to tell you that I rolled my eyes. I was thinking ‘here we go.’ But with Katherine, after about two and a half minutes, I thought she’s got something good to say. So I listened and I listened for an hour and a half. And I wrote notes, and I took things down. And I thought, right, there are a few things that have fit into place.”
“I couldn’t get into the clinic faster. I made my first appointment and I have not looked back.”
At her first appointment, our 90-minute Discovery and Diagnosis session, Bernadette came to us with an open mind.
“If I hadn’t seen the masterclass, I might have been a little had a bit more trepidation. But because I already felt comfortable that you at least understood me a little. Some of the questions you asked about before the appointment – How was I born(birthed)? How was I raised? With all of those questions, I had never thought to go back to my upbringing.”
“I didn’t think to look at the root cause of my symptoms. I was blown away by that. I needed to hear someone tell me that food was not my enemy.”
Bernadette said that she came away from the initial naturopathy appointment with us not feeling vindicated. She felt listened to.
“With all of my other doctors and specialists, I never felt heard, let alone understood. I never felt listened to. But now, I finally did.”
Bernadette left her first appointment feeling ‘amazing.’ She knew her health journey was going to be long, but she wasn’t on her own.
She started taking herbal supplements, adjusting her diet and supporting her health holistically – that’s when she started seeing improvements in her health.
“I feel more comfortable. I think one of the things when somebody (doctors) keeps telling you that you’re the crazy one, you start to hold everything – you hold your breath, you hold your fists. You are constantly in that state of fight or flight because I knew I wasn’t crazy. I knew that there was something not right. And I needed to understand how to fix it.”
“I didn’t necessarily want someone to fix it for me. I just wanted to know what to do. So since I’ve been with Shift I have started to relax, breathe and accept. And just to know that every step I take, every decision I make, every bite of food is there to help my body not fight it.”
Bernadette’s realisation was incredible to see – her mindset around food was taking over her life. When she worried about every single thing she ate, she no longer enjoyed the food. She went from reacting – or thinking she was going to react – to every food she ate, to knowing what foods were best for her and her health.
“We as a family don’t eat out, because I don’t feel like I can eat out. I cook everything from scratch, everything is healthy. But recently we’ve gone and eaten at a restaurant. And for my family that’s like, ‘whoa!’ It was my mindset – the only thing stopping me was my mind.”
“I think that sense of knowing what foods make you feel good and what makes you feel uncomfortable. And on your journey, you know, things will come up. But it’s not that you step backwards or that you’ve undone all of your good work. You just move forward with more knowledge.”
Often, in the process of healing, ‘roadblocks’ get in the way. A roadblock is a point in your healing journey where progress stops or even regresses.
After working with thousands of patients at Shift, we have come to recognise that these moments will make or break your treatment success. The inability to overcome a roadblock will derail your treatment and often leave you back at square one.
We asked Bernadette what she had to do to push through her mindset and how, even now, negative thoughts may be still showing up for her.
“For me, it was breathing – I would struggle with taking a deep breath. I would hold my breath. And that doesn’t help me relax! And that stress level doesn’t help my blood levels. It doesn’t help anything.”
“So I’ve done energy healing. I met the most amazing woman at Shift who has just let me be. I didn’t even know what I was like to be around – I’ve had to face that I’m the one holding on to trauma and have a fear of the food or something else that’s in my body. And it’s up to me to relax and move through it.”
“It wasn’t something that I could just take my shoes off and stand in the sand and just, you know, shout at the ocean. I needed some guidance on how I could go about digging deep into some of the crevices that were causing me the pain of not eating or, you know, I caused my family pain by not going out.”
“To know my daughter would say to people, ‘we don’t eat out there’ because of my bowels – that was awful. Before coming to Shift, I didn’t go anywhere where I could not see a bathroom because I was so terrified I would need to go. Those are the things that I don’t think the specialists understand.”
For Bernadette, having our naturopathic and emotional wellness team there for her when she was feeling unwell – and supporting her through becoming well again – she was able to release her past trauma and emotional fears.
“You’re not going to get past this (past trauma and pain). You’ve got to confront it. Accept it, and learn from it.”
Since coming to us at Shift at Brisbane Natural Health and starting her journey to true health, Bernadette has seen a lot of improvement.
“I know I’m heading in the right direction. I’ve lowered my medication intake to something I’ve never been on before which is under 100 (it normally was 250). My bowels are amazing! I know that’s a terrible conversation starter to tell people but also, my skin is great and I have eyebrows. That’s a massive one – I have full eyebrows!
“My fear of different foods is not there. That has been liberating for not just myself, but also for my family. And my sinuses – I don’t sneeze. We used to have a running joke in our family about Kleenex, we should have shares in Kleenex. But I don’t have major sneezing fits or a constantly dripping nose anymore. I am happy.”
We asked Bernadette what the impact was on her life, not having to deal with these symptoms anymore.
“Amazing! I don’t even know how to quantify it really – I always carried a nasal spray with me, I always had tissues on me, I always had to make sure we were close to bathrooms and stuff like that. And now none of that is needed – it doesn’t run my life anymore.”
“I have my fair share of supplements though, and they're good. They're helping me day to day, knowing that everything is being supported in my body to make it as healthy as it can be.”
“I feel I have reversed all of my underlying health conditions with a great diet and supplements (and saved 1000s of dollars in the process!). I’m not taking any of those medications anymore. I knew my body was capable of healing itself.”
When we asked the tough question if Bernadette had learned to love herself again through all of the past hurt and trauma, she said:
“I don’t know how. No, I don’t know how yet. One thing I’ve started doing is listening to meditation and trying to do the breathing exercises that I’ve learned from the team. That puts you in a positive mindset to allow the learning to love yourself that I’m still doing.
“But it’s a journey. It’s something I work on every day.”
When we start a healing journey there are often so many things to resolve. If it doesn’t happen quickly we think “Oh great, that’s not happening.” But then we can forget how far we’ve come.
Sometimes when we solve 80% of our problems, we can get fixated on the one that isn’t moving. We asked Bernadette what advice she would give someone who’s going through a healing journey…
“Listen to your own body, you do know yourself better than specialists. And don’t ignore what can be a normal part of life. If you’re tired, you know the level of tired you should be depending on your job and home life.
That is the thing that I hear amongst my friends “I’m so tired”…Well, do something about it! It could be because of so many things. If you listen to your body it is desperately trying to tell you what it needs to help it.”
How did the team at Shift at Brisbane Natural Health help?
What do you know now that you didn't know 10 months ago?
What would you say to someone who's been on a similar journey to you, have seen specialist after specialist and been told that there's nothing that can be done for them?
Our naturopaths at Shift at Brisbane Natural Health see a lot of clients that present with chronic health issues with a similar picture to Bernadette’s.
When we truly listen to what our bodies have to say, we can then begin the real process of healing. When we take responsibility for what is happening and become curious about the reasons why we can begin the journey to making the shift.