Introductions: This is where my journey begins

I thought to kick off this blog I’d start with a little introduction. Hi, I’m Jenna! I live in the UK with my husband and 2 cats, and have just started to get into natural beauty products and learning all about it. I’ve struggled with some health issues over the past few years so now I’m trying to live a more healthy, natural life.

It’s taken me a little while to get on board the healthy train, and I’m still learning. But I thought I’d share with you my journey so far in the hopes it will help you understand where I’m coming from and if you’ve experienced something similar, maybe show you that you are not alone in this.

6 years ago my then boyfriend, now husband, and I had just gotten back from travelling the world for 6 months. We didn’t starve ourselves but weren’t eating the healthiest, most lavish of meals either (read: pasta and sauce most evenings). Once back I decided to come off the contraceptive pill as I wasn’t keen to continue pumping my body with fake hormones as I was experiencing a few side effects – whether this is related to the rest of the story or not, I’m not sure. A month or so later I started getting an upset tummy after most evening meals. After a couple of weeks of this continuing I decided to go to the doctors to make sure I hadn’t picked something up whilst I was away. My doctor informed me that I had had a bit of gastroenteritis that had damaged the lining of my intestine and left me with a temporary lactose intolerance. He told me it should only last a month or so but to avoid dairy products in the meantime. Six years later I’m still intolerant.

Moving to slightly more recent times: at the end of December 2015 I experienced some of the most gut wrenchingly painful periods of my life. I had suffered with cramps, queasiness and dizziness with my periods on and off over the past 4 or so years, but this was like nothing I had ever experienced before. I was doubled over in pain, my vision going black, even throwing up at one point, which for someone with a phobia of being sick was just awful. It was the kind of pain where when I was still I felt like I needed to move and when I moved I felt like I needed to be still. So I would kneel on the floor, slightly raising myself up because sitting flat on the floor was just too painful, and alternately rocking and becoming motionless, all whilst having to seriously breathe and moan through the pain. Not to sound melodramatic but I’ve heard people describing what contractions during labour feel like and it sounds pretty spot on to what I was experiencing.

I saw several doctors, most of whom gave me conflicting advice – don’t take this pill, take this pill – but from my own personal research all the signs seemed to point towards endometriosis. It got to a point where I was taking multiple pain killers every day for over a month and after having blood tests, internal exams and an ultrasound scan which showed a “dark spot in my right ovary” I paid to see a private doctor. It was so worth the money to have someone take their time with me and make me feel at ease and feel confident in their diagnosis. Not to bore you with all the details but the doctor said it most likely was endometriosis and between the doctor, my partner and I we decided it would be best for me to go back on the contraceptive pill. The plan was to take the pill back to back for 3 packets, have a 3 day break and then take the pill back to back for 3 months again. This would see me through my upcoming wedding and honeymoon over the summer and I could then stop taking the pill to start trying for a baby.

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So I got the prescription and started taking the pill. At the same time I continued to do my own research and found sites referencing a link between consuming animal products and inflammation in the body. I found this very interesting and decided to put it to the test. Overnight I became vegetarian. I had already been lactose intolerant for a few years by this point so was no longer consuming dairy anyway. The pain subsided and I gradually stopped feeling the need to take pain killers every day. After a couple of weeks of eating this way I found I was craving meat. Being new to not being able to eat a lot of the things I used to, I gave in and ate some meat – by the next day I was experiencing enough pain to want to take pain killers again. This happened 2-3 times before I finally got the message that animal products were definitely affecting the pain I was experiencing. Since then I have also cut out soya products and severely cut down on sugar where I can as I have noticed similar effects. Also, I never used to drink much – 1 drink a month at the absolute most – but I noticed again that when I would have alcohol the pain would flare up, so now I’m tee total.

Although my new plant based diet and the pill greatly improved the pain I was getting, when I took my 3 day pill break the intense pain I had previously experienced started to come back. As soon as I started taking the pill again it would go away, leaving me feeling like the only way to stop the pain indefinitely was to stay on the pill. I started researching more about reducing inflammation in the body naturally – what foods to include and avoid etc, but have recently been learning about how more than just food can affect the body.

Most recently I’ve been looking into the toxic ingredients in our beauty and cleaning products that can disrupt the body’s natural systems. One of the biggest ones for my own issues is ingredients like parabens, which found in a lot of beauty products. Parabens mimic oestrogen in the body and endometriosis is hugely caused by an excess of oestrogen. Alongside this I’ve learnt that it’s the liver’s job to remove excess oestrogen from the body but if it’s overloaded with toxins it’s unable to do it’s job efficiently and that’s where we start to see these health issues crop up. So, of course, I’ve been referring to Google to search for natural ways to help the liver do what it’s made to do.

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And that just about takes us up to now. I am still currently taking the pill as I do still experience a certain level of pain, both when I’m on the pill break and randomly at other times (such as when I’m stressed). To be perfectly honest my diet and exercise hasn’t been so great lately so I know I need to make more of an effort on that front. I also want to work on other ways of improving my health in a holistic way. My hope is that I can reduce the endometriosis to a point where I feel comfortable enough to come of the pill to start trying for a baby, and not be living in fear that the excruciating pain might return. So although I have been on this journey for quite some time now, I feel like in many ways it’s just beginning. I am starting to take a more active part in my own health and my own body, rather than just relying on pills or doctors who don’t always know what’s best for me and my situation. I know that if I don’t get enough sleep or eat crappy for a few days my pain flares up. I know if I’m overwhelmed I become lethargic. I can better recognise when I’m having an anxiety attack and am better able to calm myself down as opposed to freaking myself out that I’m really ill. And I’m hoping that by beginning the process of switching over to more natural products I will start to notice a positive improvement in my health too.

So this this little space of mine is going to be where I talk about the different things I’ve been trying to help improve my health in a more holistic way, and sharing the information that I learn along the way. I’ve also found it difficult to find information on natural beauty products available in the UK, so a huge reason I have wanted to start this blog is to inform all of you other UKer’s what’s available, where you can get it and my thoughts on individual products, websites and services. I’m sure the scope of this blog will grow and expand into other areas related to living a more natural life in it’s many forms, but I’m only one person, so just give me time!

If you want to connect with me, ask a question, form a friendship, suggest a blog topic or just trade ideas make sure to follow me on Instagram or you can send me an email at holisticden@hotmail.com I’d love to hear from you.

Love Jenna