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 to recognize your own patterns of thinking and help you to take the first step in your own self-healing journey.

Like many other natural health enthusiasts, my journey towards a plant-based, whole food, organic lifestyle started with accumulating health challenges. As a child, I regularly experienced sudden nosebleeds, nausea, headaches, hyperventilation and migraine 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 getting really bad eczema — red dry patches covered my skin everywhere. My itchy skin deprived me of necessary sleep and in the end my energy and self esteem got so low I was often thinking about ending my life.

When I was about eighteen years old, I went to 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 I started to crave sugar so much 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 had failed, so in the morning I often did not 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 later from an unbearably itchy skin, scratching my skin open until it was bleeding, crying because of the pain it caused and because of the chronic insomnia it entailed.

I went to see a dermatologist and as I had informed myself a little on eczema, I asked her whether I should be careful with certain foods like sugar, processed foods and alcohol (I was a student and an introvert, so I drank quite a lot). She told me that some people have eczema because they have food allergies, so a link would be possible, but she assured me that having eczema has nothing to do with eating sugar or processed foods per se. Sugar, alcohol and processed foods weren't an issue, unless they would contain the foods that would trigger your food allergy (like peanuts for example). So she tested me for food allergies, but the result was negative. She said I had developed no food allergies, and concluded the eczema was a genetic disease and nothing could be done to really cure it. Only steroid creams, antihistamine pills and antibiotics would offer some relief, she explained. As she was a medical doctor and I was obviously not, I believed her, and for some time I convinced myself that she must be right. I believed that I could eat anything I wanted, and that there was no relation between my skin disease and my food pattern. And so I just went on, eating whatever I wanted and using cortisone and antihistamine pills every day.

After a year of chronic pain, I was exhausted and depressed. I was rubbing steroid creams on my skin on a daily basis 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, 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 go to Australia for a year — a country in which diet and exercise are generally considered to be an important part of daily life. For a year, we worked and travelled in Australia, New-Zealand and Bali. Being away from home together with someone who encouraged me to believe in myself, certainly pushed me a great deal forward on my health 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 several plant-based raw food restaurants and the superior taste of their meals 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 had purpose again. With Elwin's and other people's help, I have been able to completely transform my life — and much more significantly than doctors and dermatologists have ever been able to.

Because this has been such a slow, long and intense process for me, I now feel that with my knowledge and personal experience, I am able to help and support other people 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: never underestimate the power of preventive and restorative self-care.

Believe in yourself. You are your most powerful healer. And don't hesitate to reach out if you think you could use some help on your journey.

Much love + good vibes your way,

Siobhan ♥