My journey from depressed and deprived to healthy & alive

What you will read below is an honest record of my personal struggle with health challenges and how after a decade of deep suffering I managed to climb out of the pit I found myself in.

I want to make it public, because I know how much reading someone else's story can help you recognize your own patterns of thinking. I hope my story may inspire you to take the first step in your own healing journey.

Like many other natural health enthusiasts, my journey towards a whole food plant-based lifestyle started with accumulating health challenges. Already as a young child, I experienced daily nosebleeds, nausea, headaches, migraines, and hyperventilation and panic attacks. I developed oversensitive senses and was easily overwhelmed by things, events and people surrounding me. I often felt misunderstood and alone in this world.

By the age of fifteen, I started developing really bad eczema — flaky, red patches covered my entire body.

My itchy skin deprived me of necessary sleep and over time my energy, sense of purpose and self esteem got so low I was thinking about ending my life.

When I turned eighteen, I started University. As I left home, I started to learn to cook for myself. I decided to become vegetarian and I tried to eat as much organic as I could afford. At the same time, I started to have huge cravings for sugary foods. So while I was mainly eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables during the day, by the evening my craving for the comfort of sugar became so intense that I could easily binge down whole packets of chocolate and biscuits. Right after such a binge I would feel super guilty, and feel like I'd failed once again. So the next morning, I often didn't have breakfast at all or I would just try to satisfy my hunger with small-portion, low-calorie foods throughout the day — only to find myself binging on another packet of chocolate when evening came.

For many years, I was going in vicious cycles like this, demanding great emotional as well as physical energy from myself. I felt like I was a failure, not living up to my own ideals, ashamed.

And because I always had these cravings at nighttime, I couldn't fall asleep because of the sugar rush that hit right after. When I finally managed to fall asleep, often not before 3am, I woke up multiple times during the night because my skin was unbearably itchy. I often found myself scratching my skin open until it was bleeding, crying because of the pain it caused and because of the chronic insomnia it entailed.

During my years at University, I started seeing a dermatologist. But as I hit rock bottom, I decided to do some research myself, and take note of when flare-ups occurred.

During my next visit, I asked my dermatologist whether I should be careful with certain foods like sugar, processed foods and alcohol (I was a student and an introvert, so you can draw a picture of the liters of wine I delightedly poured in). She then told me that some people have eczema because they have food allergies, so a link could be possible, but she assured that having eczema has nothing to do with eating sugar or processed foods per se. She explained that sugar, alcohol and processed foods weren't an issue, unless they'd contain the foods that would trigger an allergic reaction (like peanuts or sulphites, for example). She then tested me for food allergies, but the results were negative. She said I didn't have any food allergies, and my blood work looked fine, so she concluded my case of eczema was probably a genetic disease like with so many others, and unfortunately, nothing could be done to really cure it. Only steroid creams, antihistamine pills and antibiotics would be able to offer me some relief.

As she was a medical doctor and I was obviously not, I believed her, and this left me feeling depressed, discouraged, and absolutely not in control of my own health and wellbeing.

Now I was in this really weird state of mind where I didn't feel in control of my life, as if life was happening to me, rather than me being the one leading it.

So I just went on with my destructive habits, eating whatever I craved and using cortisone and antihistamine pills to suppress the negative effects of my diet and lifestyle.

After another year of intense pain and insomnia, I was absolutely exhausted and I felt more depressed and anxious than I'd ever been. I was rubbing steroid creams on my skin every day in an attempt to try and ease the pain, but over time my skin got so thin and sensitive from the long-term steroid use that the creams didn't work anymore. I took an antihistamine  in the evening in the hope that it would ease the itch at night — but rather than it decreasing the itchiness, I experienced multiple side effects like nausea, drowsiness, hallucinations, headaches, dehydration and a general feeling of detachment and dullness.

In 2012, when I was twenty years old, I met my boyfriend Jeroen. We decided to travel across Australia for a year — a country where a healthy diet and exercise are a daily priority. For over a year, we worked and traveled in Australia, New-Zealand and Bali.

Being away from home together with someone who believed in me, and encouraged me to believe in myself too, certainly pushed me a great deal forward in my journey. Also, because now I had to cook for two instead of one, I got a greater feeling of responsibility and purpose and I started experimenting with healthier foods.

And in terms of healthy food, traveling through Bali definitely opened my eyes. In Ubud, we visited super many beautiful, inspiring vegan raw food restaurants and the superior taste of the food there left such an impression on me that once we were home, I started experimenting with raw foods myself.

In 2014, I then discovered Elwin Robinson and his website Lion Heart Herbs while surfing the Internet and I can't explain how grateful I am that this man crossed my path.

In February 2015, I subscribed to his online program the Complete Detox Academy and ever since I did that, my health — and my entire life — have been changing for the better.

Throughout the program, I learned the significance of foods and supplements, the power of breathing and most of all, how simply shifting your mindset can completely overturn your life course for the better.

After seven years of chronic pain, fatigue and depression, I finally felt my life was purposeful again.

With Elwin's and other people's wisdom and support, I've been able to completely transform my life — and much more strikingly than doctors and dermatologists had ever been able to.

Because this has been such an intense process for me, I feel that with the knowledge and experience I gained over the last decade, I'm now able to help and support other people who are dealing with similar problems.

If you feel related to my story in any way, I would be so happy to hear from you. Of course, I am not a medical doctor. I won't be able to cure any disease without having the medical information and knowledge a doctor has. But my personal experience is this: never underestimate the power of preventive and restorative self-care.

You are more powerful than you allow yourself to believe.

This is so true.

You are your most powerful healer.

You can do anything you set your mind to. Your journey to a better life can start today. All you need to do is take your first action step — whether that be drinking one less cup of coffee today, having some greens with your dinner, taking the stairs, starting a gratitude journal, having that conversation with your partner — whatever it means for you, just take one small step today, and you're off.

And maybe most importantly: love yourself a little more every day. You are so worth it ♥

Don't hesitate to reach out to me if you think you could use some help on your journey.

I love you, and I support you.

Much love + good vibes your way,