When I first “awakened” (as the cool kids say), I was at the end of my rope.

I was suffering from recurring antibiotic-resistant infections and autoimmune disease simultaneously. I habitually abused my body and mind with drugs, alcohol, junk food, and toxic relationships. I was chronically depressed, and woke up every single day wanting to end my life.

How did I end up in such a bad place? In short, it was an accumulation of many years of low self-worth, holding myself to impossible standards, and succumbing to a self-defeating attitude of hopelessness and failure. The backstory I’ll leave for another time.

Today, I’d like to talk about how I got out of that destructive place, to the life I live now, which I’m grateful to say is infinitely happier, healthier, and more whole.

My journey began in 2009. At this critical point in time, after I had had enough of the constant struggle and helplessness, I realized I had to take responsibility for my own health and life.

I had spent almost a year stuck in a revolving door of doctor’s offices, lab tests, and prescriptions. I experienced skin abrasions and eruptions that would never heal, joint pain, and fevers that seemed to occur randomly with no explanation.

I had seen many doctors, who kept giving me conflicting messages about what was wrong with me. I was repeatedly misdiagnosed, and was prescribed many medications that hurt my body. Every time I was given a new prescription, I hoped it would be the one to finally help me. But it never was, and I just kept getting worse.

Many of my doctors were disrespectful towards me and dismissive of my concerns. Despite my having obvious and visible symptoms, I had many encounters with doctors who told me I wasn’t actually sick, and what I had was just a temporary problem that would resolve in a week or two.

I wanted to believe them… but no matter what they said, my symptoms persisted.

It didn’t help that I was (and am) also transgender – even though I was three years into my medical transition, and “passed” in everyday life, healthcare providers often felt uncomfortable treating me, and didn’t want to get too involved. So my treatment suffered as a result of their discomfort.

I had no support – or at least that’s what I perceived.

I had a few party friends to drink and do drugs with, and an open relationship with a boyfriend who saw my illness as an inconvenience. When I got referred to the ER because a MRSA infection was threatening to reach my bones, he chose to drop me off at the ER and spend the rest of the afternoon at the local gay bathhouse, because it would have been too boring to wait with me and keep me company.

When I started to awaken, I realized I had to cut people out of my life, and so I ended that relationship and all the “party” friendships.

I graduated from college that year.

I got a new girlfriend – Jenny, who I had been crushing on for years. I had always thought of her as unattainable, but I finally started feeling confident enough to make a move. (Jenny and I are now happily married.)

I started to eat healthier.

I quit drinking, then started again, then quit again, then quit drugs, then started again, then quit everything except weed, then quit weed… rinse and repeat.

I tried herbal supplements, plant-based diets, grain-free diets, non-gmo, organic and local foods, raw foods, fluoride-free water, parasite cleanses, heavy metal detoxes.

I developed a voracious appetite for information – anything and everything to do with health, nutrition, holistic therapies, and radical experimental treatments. I devoured books and websites on nutrition and naturopathic medicine.

I vowed that if I ever found a way to heal myself, I would pass that blessing on to others. To follow up that vow, I ended up training to become a certified health coach and a community herbalist.

And magically, my life changed, my problems vanished, and I got all better!

Just kidding. It didn’t work that way.

I was in for the long haul.

Continue to Part 2 >>