My journey with healing herbs and natural medicine is kind of a long story, so I’ll give you a decades worth… condensed. About six weeks before I found out I was pregnant with my first baby I started a new job. I was a barista in a local natural foods co-operative market and I felt like I had come home, I thought I would never leave. I was suddenly surrounded by a community of people, all different and unique, who lived life a little differently than what I had been doing up until that point. I was learning the ends and outs of my new job responsibilities which led to conversations about the energies that the fruits and vegetables provided and what juice was supportive of your roots chakras. Blown away. I was getting to know our customer base that was full of midwives and doulas and baby wearing and breastfeeding mamas. Families who had been apart of the co-op since it started in a house in Wilmington 30-some years ago. Herbalists and naturopathic doctors, environmentalists and gardeners, people who were committed to living a lifestyle that was better for us as people but also living in line with our environment. Coexisting. I learned invaluable lessons and would go on to develop some of my closest relationships there. I was in love. So many new ideas and people with such a different outlook than what I was used to. Any one who has worked there will tell you, people are not afraid to chat with you about what their personal health issues are and what they need support with. It was trial by fire. I thought I was starting a 9-5 and really it was the beginning of a life altering experience. So in order to keep up with all of these new questions coming my way I began to read everything about herbs and nutritional therapies that I could. I began to dabble with herbs and homeopathic medicines for myself and partner, friend and relatives. I have, for some reason, always been a resource for my friends and their health questions, maybe its because I had all the good reference books. Then I found out I was pregnant and that sealed the deal. I didn’t want anything coming in contact with my body that wasn’t nutritionally dense or laden with chemicals. I slipped up and had a milkshake every now and then and still do occasionally but you only live once right? But for the most part I lived a life in line with my organically growing idealism and I was surprised to find what changes were taking place in my body and mind.
To add more to that aspect of the story I have lived and coped with an anxiety disorder my whole life. I don’t mean that I worry needlessly about the little things… I mean, at times, crippling anxiety that changes the way I interact with the world sometimes followed by long and lonely depression that takes years to bounce back from. I had seen every mental health care professional available to me beginning when I was 12 and the general recommendation was pharmaceuticals and behavioral therapy indefinitely. One medication after another and I didn’t feel any better. I wasn’t able to attend public school anymore and just didn’t ever feel like that was going to “fix” me. While I understand now that this is a part of who I am all I wanted then was for it to be over. After years of treatment I made the decision that I would like to try it differently. So while checking in with my counselors I quite taking the drugs. It was a rough year but I was feeling like I could do this. I could find new ways to support my body and mind and find my way. I had only been off of my medications for a short time, maybe 6 months, before I became pregnant and then when I was 5 months along my father was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Practically a death sentence. It was devastating to say the least. So needless to say my entry into motherhood was a bit rocky but I had found my anchor, my community and they helped hold me up.
Over the years I have delved deeper and deeper into the world of the wisdom of plants and used many remedies for my family to support or heal their immune systems, soothe cuts and scrapes, balance my own hormones and treat fevers along with other childhood coughs and colds and the occasional flu. I have a medicine cabinet full of tinctures, tonics and magic that I go to before doing anything else. I found relieve in the remedies I prepared myself or by others I knew. I found power in words with others who were facing similar struggles and while its a continuous struggle I found and am still finding some relief. I am excited to start a new chapter in my work and in my life and have been given the opportunity to move forward in a formal study of plant medicine. Its been years in the making and is a life long learning experience that I am thrilled to be involved in. I can’t wait to share more about my lessons and experiences with you all so stay tuned.
I want to add that this is my journey and I would never judge another person’s struggle or the choices they make to be able to cope with mental illness. While plants and nutritional therapy have the power to support everyone, with medication or without, I do not recommend changing any therapy for mental illnesses without consulting with your own physician or therapist. This is what has worked for me and I still use community resources for my own mental wellness in addition to botanical medicines.