It has been nine whole months since I wrote a blog. In that time I have gained many more readers – hello!! And yet my Mailing List has been depressingly neglected… I am sorry about that, but it’s been a question of time, process, growth, experience, learning and ‘stuff’.
It’s also been a question of what to say.
So, whilst this isn’t technically healthcare info and qualifies more as a personal update, I hope that this is the beginning of a more consistent blog for you all to follow, though (as you’ll see) I’m not sure quite where this blog will go. In any case, thanks for being here now, reading this.
Right: let me be honest. I have four half-written blogs which were supposed to be ‘updates’ from the last few months – none of which would be relevant to post now. My whole life, personal and professional, has been in flux and so much has changed this year. All good, I am sure of this. But rarely do evolutions progress along linear trajectories, as anyone who has been on any kind of ‘journey’ will know.
If you follow me on social media you’ll know the surface stuff – you’ll know I’ve spent last term prioritising my music (practicing, performing, attending concerts) and that has been hugely nourishing (and yes, I will do a proper “why is music healthy” blog soon). You will also know that I moved house – from the countryside in Kent, back to Blackheath, London.
And if you follow my social media you will have seen that I have been consulting from within a couple of different clinics in the last year. However, I am now working independently, with some key (quite brilliant) affiliated people, practices and companies.
All of the experiences of the last year have taught me an enormous amount, if not without complications and confusion. There have been lessons and, whether it’s a false belief or not (because it doesn’t actually matter), I genuinely trust that everything happens for a reason.
I am still processing the experiences of the last year so am not yet clear on all of the lessons. But what I do know is that this year I have learned about people: how miraculous people can be, and how surprising.
I am blessed by the people who have come towards me in recent months. I have some outstanding colleagues now; truly spectacular people, many of whom I am also proud to call friends. Other people have shown up too, in other realms of my life, and I am privileged enough to experience some amazingly bright lights in my world.
Within my business I have been brought towards some new companies; ones that are thinking about health in a different way, groups who are focused on health from a very grounded, sane and yet forward-focused perspective.
Those in the vanguard of evolution in medicine are committed to extolling the virtues of holistic, personalised, precision, performance and optimisation medicine. Truly revolutionary companies are managing to remain heart-centred, whilst offering what could become a very analytical practice.
In other words, the companies that I’m now privileged to interact with are in tune with my philosophy and why I’m even in biochemistry in the first place: promoting that emotional, social and spiritual health is as fundamental as the physical. Perhaps more so. And never shirking from the fact that true health requires attention to all of these elements.
Working in Functional Medicine, people continually come to me for complex testing and complicated quantification analysis. They want an external solution: tell them what to eat, what to take, how to exercise.
I think that all of the events of the last year have called me to really own the fact that I did not come into Functional Medicine to coach clients on how to eat, exercise and supplement themselves to the nth degree. I can talk about that, sure. And it might even play a role in their health, if they eat well and take a few vitamins.
But at some point I have to acknowledge that I came into Medicine to help people heal. Properly heal, not physically heal.
The gift of having illnesses gave me a perspective on the complexity of health and what really influences the trajectory of healing. I know, because I have lived it, that health isn’t in the micromanaging of diet or nutrient status. Health arrives when life is being lived in such a way that there is harmony between your body and the world around it.
So many people are disserved by the social media snippets promoting ‘wellness’; catchy, zeitgeist movements which are obsessed with food or exercise (usually less/restrictive diets and more/harder workouts). So many people get the message that they want those quick fixes, want to be told what to eat/do/how to meditate/sleep/breathe in order to ‘be healthy’.
But those things are about physical optimisation. This is interesting, but not the point. They’re involved but they’re not the whole. For some (many), they’re not even prerequisites.
Human health isn’t about the length of time survived or the diseases avoided.
It’s not even about the quantity of hours spent in Vipassana meditation or sleeping – though it might be about what these two activities show you about YOU.
ANY medicine (conventional, Functional, Integrative, Longevity) is shallow if it just addresses habits, practices, routines.
Humanity has consciousness (whatever that is and however you believe it arises). Having consciousness means that health has to include the spirit, our life-force, our vibration, our ability for self-reflection (which are actually all the same thing). In order for health to arise (through the harmony outlined above), there are many more elements than just the physical that need to be in balance.
But – and here is where I stray into opinion and personal perspective – it is not that this ‘life force’ (spirit/consciousness/self – pick any word that you like) is MORE important than the physical. There is just no separation. Health doesn’t start from the psyche, spirit or emotions and arrive in the body, nor vice versa. It can’t. We are whole humans in whom body, mind and ‘consciousness’ must be at the same frequency. So – in my work, in myself, in my life – I genuinely believe that “Health” is about ALL of this. And if that makes “Health” complex, thank goodness. Because the human entity IS complex. It’s time we started treating it as such.
This is why I can’t tell someone what to eat without also reminding them that their food preferences are chemical choices that emanate from layers of DNA, conditioning, life experiences – coupled with the conditioning of society – added onto their own view of themselves, their bodies and their habits and how that entire mess fits within society’s norms. I can’t talk about food without talking about emotions, about the chemistry of food changing physical states and how that’s linked to emotion, experience, the desire to feel, the desire to not feel. Food is not just nutrition – so I cannot talk about it is if reductionist science is all that matters here.
This is also why I can’t tell someone that they have SIBO and treat them without calling them out for their stress, their hard-charging lifestyle or their tension (usually based in trauma) about who they are and how they live: health issues are not just ‘faults’ in biology. Health issues arise out of holding patterns, often burned deep into our nervous system. Some Berberine and Oregano Oil can’t change that, though it may resolve the SIBO temporarily.
I know that, the majority of the time (explained below), physical illnesses are material evidence of our misalignment. This misalignment can be in any and all areas of our reality: from how we’re nourished to how we use our bodies, from our perspectives to our beliefs about life and ourselves, from our deepest held convictions to our hopes and dreams and the person we are trying to be. Physical health goes ‘awry’ when we, in the entirety of our humanness, aren’t ourselves.
When I say things like this, as boldly as this, I always hesitate. I know the science – I’m literally writing this whilst I take a break from geeking out over nutrigenomics (how our DNA can influence dietary compatibility). And I worry, I always worry. I worry that I will lose respect from the industry I’m involved with who value evidence and randomised controlled trials above all else. Or perhaps I’ll lose potential clients because they don’t agree with my views about the role of ‘self’ in ‘health’.
I also worry that there are those for whom this doesn’t seem fair: childhood cancer sufferers, those with genetic illnesses far worse than mine. This is why I say ‘the majority of the time’ above. I don’t know that I have a solid answer here because I don’t think a child with cancer is misaligned in their soul’s journey. (And no, I don’t believe in past life karma.)
But what I do know on this bit is that souls are not islands. I have been around illness enough to know that it isn’t ever just about the person experiencing the illness. It is about the evolution of everyone around them who will be irrevocably changed by witnessing the process. I wonder if this is the gift of those for whom bad luck seems to be at the heart of their suffering, performing perhaps the ultimate sacrifice to shape the souls around them. Maybe that is why those with the most traumatic ill health seem to be the most spiritually centred, the most energetically aware and, often, the most wholly human.
So, with all of this said, I keep evaluating whether this changes the nature of my work. I don’t know yet – because no matter what the headlines or the websites say, I know that with my one-on-one clients I’ve always brought all of this to the table. But this month I have hesitated over whether to give it all up, my entire business, and do something else.
But something about my experiences this year has kept reminding me, relentlessly, that without authenticity, I become unwell. Without fully showing up I am not actually giving the service that I always aimed to provide: the guidance and help that I desperately needed when I was at my most unwell. And no, I didn’t need a diet sheet or rule book, and I didn’t need someone to prioritise my physiology above all else.
Instead, I needed someone who could see and believe in my ultimate potential whilst also offering compassion for my current reality. I needed someone who could hold all of this reality in their minds – grasping that my body AND spirit were broken, and that only by helping BOTH would I find a way back to life. I needed those who acknowledged that the hardest part of being alive wasn’t being in a body, it was being a human – and that my body’s issues were here to take me towards being myself. A self in which all elements of humanness were vital to providing me with any sort of wellbeing, the like of which we would typically refer to as “health”.
And I still think that people need that service. So, after writing this, it seems that I might still have a role to play in this “health” game after all.