My Healing Story
If you’ve come across this page, I believe that I have wisdom to extend your way…in June of 2014, I was at my yearly doctors appointment when my doctor began to feel my throat center during a women’s health exam. She gasped while feeling what I would later learn to be my thyroid. She let me know that she was deeply concerned about a potential tumor on my thyroid, which could be seen and felt while swallowing and that I needed to get in for an ultra sound immediately. Upon delivery of this information, my heart sank. My biggest fear of becoming sick, as my mom had, came crashing down on me. It was happening. I was 22 years old, about to graduate college, stressed about mid-terms and that suddenly all melted away in pettiness at the thought of now dealing with a cancerous tumor. It took me nearly one month to get in for an ultra-sound, out of fear. It was the many voice messages that my doctor left, encouraging me to book an appointment and get in for an ultra-sound, that finally made me do it.
Luckily, my enlarged thyroid ended up not being cancerous. But they were able to bring me clarity about the large bulge in my throat. It was a goiter. Likely an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Weeks later, a naturopath named Colleen confirmed, it was in fact, autoimmune thyroid disease.
I remember the day that my blood work came back. She told me that regular (healthy) thyroid antibodies should be less than 50. I had over one thousand thyroid antibodies in my blood sample. I wasn’t entirely surprised. Growing up, my health had struggled. I began experiencing all sorts of symptoms just after the age of eleven, when my mom died of lung and breast cancer. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, or any autoimmune disease for that matter, doesn’t just build over night…it takes years. It takes the perfect storm for you body to throw its arms up in rebellion. Your body begins by whispering to you, then it begins talking, then it begins yelling, then screaming, and then you’re sick. Very sick. Bed ridden. Chronic pain. Cystic acne. Severe skin issues. Weight gain. Weight loss. Destruction of literal parts of your organs. Extreme inflammation. Chronic fatigue. Anxiety. Depression. Mood swings. Skin rashes. Food allergies. Pure hell. At least though were my symptoms.
Before my diagnosis, I had already been deeply invested in my health. My interest in health began at age eleven out of pure desperation to be healthy after watching my mom die of cancer. It also came out of desperation to help heal my adolescent bodies immense distress. I began experiencing symptoms around age 12 that didn’t make sense. My body wasn’t screaming yet, but it was unhappy. In 2010, I began a blog called It’s me, Charlotte. Some of the archives still live on this website and some of the early content no longer is live on the web. By the time I was diagnosed with thyroid disease in 2014, I was deeply entrenched in the wellness world. While I got the official diagnosis in 2014, severe symptoms began emerging in 2013 due to a traumatic brain injury (I came to find out years later that TBI’s alter your gut microbiome, causing the perfect storm for autoimmune disease if other factors are in place like genetic pre-disposition and so on.)
After my diagnosis, my autoimmunity really began to take off and flare. I believe in part due to stress, in part due to taking on the identity of a sick person and in part due to finally reaching the threshold of being all out extremely unwell in my own body.
For me Hashimoto’s manifested as:
extreme fatigue, weight gain, depression, anxiety, severe mood swings, skin reactions to most foods and painful cystic acne, chronic body pain in my back, neck and ankles, lethargy, bloated face and stomach, low self-esteem, feelings of desperation.
I dove straight into the autoimmune paleo protocol diet out of pure and utter desperation.
In the spring of 2015, after nearly one year of deep healing through diet and lifestyle, my partner of six years broke up with me. This took my to a whole other level of distress. I became even more sick, more neurotic, impulsive. I lost my best friend and the person who had been supporting me through this.
I was thirty pounds heavier than my body could handle, I was deeply anxious and depressed, I had lost my best friend.
I HIT MY TRUE ROCK BOTTOM.
After spending most of the Spring/Summer crying and being deeply depressed, I decided that I would take a soul trip to Copenhagen, Denmark—a place that inspired me visually, was incredibly safe for female solo travelers and had a progressive health food scene. In August of 2015, I packed a backpack and carry-on, rented an amazing apartment in Copenhagen and was on my way. I was still quite sick, but I began looking for ways to pull myself out of my cycle of depression.
I stayed in Copenhagen for one month and ended up having the BEST time. I spent my time taking photos, biking all around the city, having picnics by the water and even had a short lived romance that taught me I would be able to love again. This trip changed my life and health. For the first time in over a year, I felt happy. I felt inspired. My soul trip changed my life. I went from a place of deep depression and not knowing how I'd continue on in life to a quick turn around where I felt inspired to create a life I wanted to live. My trip planted a spark of joy that, at that time, was quite unfamiliar. I was devastated to have to return to Portland, where I had been living.
Upon return, I decided that I would move to Denmark during the winter of 2015.
During the Fall of 2015, before moving to Copenhagen, my amazing friend/mentor and all around Boss Lady, Mickey Trescott—a prominent figure in the Autoimmune community and founder of the incredible resource Autoimmune Wellness—got an incredible book deal with a large publishing house in New York. Mickey and her business partner Angie asked me to photograph their cookbook, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, which is a holistic guide to healing from autoimmune disease. I am eternally grateful for that opportunity as it laid the foundation for my career. I spent the fall in Portland/Santa Barbara photographing their book. It was amazing. If you're interested in the book, you can purchase it here. It's an incredible resource and a project that I am still so grateful to have been part of.
After finishing up the cookbook, I sold all my things, left my sweet little SE Portland house and was on my way to Copenhagen with not much more than a carry-on and my camera (November '15.) My Hashimoto's was still very present and alive when I moved to Copenhagen but that spark of hope remained.
Whilst I thought my life would greatly improve in Denmark, which it did in ways, what I really did during my year in Denmark, was grieve. Copenhagen gave me space and inspiration to turn inward and do some very deep soul healing and emotional grieving that was long overdue. I was going through the deeply painful work of putting my heart back together. I had no idea how much a broken heart would shake me up, break me open and rebirth me. I continued to blog during this time but began to feel that I no longer wanted to share my story. It started feeling really personal. I had gained a large readership and a great Instagram following but I just couldn't share anymore. I shut my blog down...like, literally took it off the internet with no explanation and turned inwards.
I began to realize that my breakup was a catalyst for immense change. My break-up cracked my heart open all the way to its core, and what was coming out, was not only grieving the loss of my relationship with my now ex-partner, but it allowed me to finally grieve the death of my beautiful mom.
Nearly thirteen years later, I finally allowed myself to feel the emotions of losing someone so important to me. I began unpacking my trauma from my teenage years, which were filled with prescription medication addiction (adderall), emotional abuse from a step-mother who is no longer in the picture, abandonment by mom who died and dad who was dealing with his own grief, food and exercise addition and binge eating (ooof!). I went through some of the deepest + darkest moments of my life during this healing process in Copenhagen. The two darkest years of my life began to pave the path for a bright and airy self. I began to notice that my autoimmune symptoms were more closely connected to unresolved grief and my emotional state. I began to realize that I had the power to heal my body, and it went beyond food and lifestyle management. It was about doing the deep healing work to heal old wounds, to unpack over a decade of buried grief.
It is now 2019, and I have spent the last four years deep diving into my subconscious. I’ve been getting to know my true and authentic self. I’ve been healing old wounds. Wounds that go beyond my lifetime that were passed down from my mother and grandmother (and so on) into my DNA. Most of my life now revolves around healing, which to me means creating a nourishing home environment for my nervous system to rest, creating a dynamic work schedule that allows me to embrace my multi-passions, honoring and continuing to learn my own boundaries, giving myself grace to have a process of discovery, using multiple systems to understand who I am and why I am here on this earth.
For me, healing has come down to doing the deep internal work. It comes down to honoring myself in the deepest and most profound ways.
I can truly say that I am the healthiest version of myself. This self has been born time and time again. I’ve hit rock bottom countless times in my life. I’ve stepped into my truth and I’ve honored myself and my life. And for me, and for all of us, this work doesn’t end. This is a lifelong journey.
I’ve become virtually symptom free of my Hashimoto’s symptoms and my goiter is no longer present. I am less reactive and in a state of health that I am proud of.
After a lifetime of pain, I'm now living the inspired life that I always dreamed about but didn't know was possible for myself. I hope this story brings you hope in your own healing journey. You can do it. You can heal from whatever wounds you carry. I know this. I also know what it is to be in your darkest hour. I promise that is where the magic begins. I send you love on your journey and if you are seeking support, please reach out for a human design session—it will change your life.