I started this clinic in 2020 because I never want any woman to go through what I have been through in my life sofar. Back then I didn’t know about the gut-brain connection and that if you have an anxious mind that the digestive system lends energy to your brain to help manage the stress. This is turn can reduce the amount of stomach acid you are producing or turn it off making digestive flow very slow and making the intestines very dry so pathogens can take hold causing an overgrowth called SIBO or SIFO. I was never diagnosed with anxiety or depression although i went looking for help at age 29 because I was the high functioning, spinning all the balls, great career, managing person etc. So i was given CBT and breathing exercises. But what i really needed was medication. I also needed hormonal investigations and HRT hormone replacement therapy to help me manage my mental health. I had unbalanced hormones partially from long term undiagnosed gut issues and partially from PMDD which was undiagnosed until i figured it out myself age 40. How this condition presented was 2 weeks a month of every menstrual cycle i had great days, i was in top form, motivated, working hard then the bad days hit in the last week or 5 days before my period, where i couldnt cope with my job or life.
But I also knew until I found a doctor or alternative therapist who could treat the anxiety, I knew my digestion wasn’t going to get better. Over a space of 10 years I must have tried a hundred therapies- shaitsu, massage, acupuncture, yoga, pilates, meditation, psychotherapy, mindfullness, cupping, CBT, biodynamic energy. You name it id tried. I tried 6 SSRIs the regular medications the GP gives for anxiety and depression Lexapro, Lustral, Prozac, Valdoxan, Effexor between ages of 32 and 37 but they stopped me sleeping all night every night and didn’t help me cope at all. In fact they made me much worse. Id felt weak dizzy and faint. I gave up on the meds then. I couldnt cope with the drug related insomnia. I should have asked for a referral to psychiatry but I didn’t know that then. Id also was taking heaps of vitamins, probiotics and herbs, for my anxiety, my digestion. I must have spent thousands..BUT Nothing was working and I was getting sicker.. Id spent a fortune and that was also taking its tolls adding stress our family life and my husband.
As I got into my 30s the intensity and the duration of these bad days and the PMDD lengthened in every menstrual cycle. I know now this is the path for woman with bad PMS in their 20s, that the 30s are worse, 40s worse again, 50s worse again..i wish someone had ediucated me on these things, this is partially why i set up this business to help women navigate and nip these poor detoxifcation related hormonal imbalances in the bud before it takes over their lives.
I didnt know back then because of the gut-brain connection that the way my body felt stress was making my gut worse and vice versa and that this was contributing to adrenal fatigue which led to early menopause because when your body feels stress the adrenals are pumping cortisol and adrenaline around to help you cope with the stress but this longterm wears the adrenals out and when you get to 40 the adrenals are supposed to take over as being the primary source of oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone but if they are knackered then one falls into menopause fast as the adrenals cant handle the responsibility to produce the sex hormones.
Through my own reading, heaps of womens health books for my MSc and seeing 15 different professionals over 7 years and a lot of tests we figured out i had low stomach acid, SIBO, SIFO and Mould Toxicity in my gut. But because of the years of chronic stress I endured prior to it being diagnosed, the self medicating of supplements etc had clogged my liver function and added more stress to my adrenals. My body was burnt out. I was making so much stress hormones day and night I ended up a complete insomniac. When you dont sleep your pituatary gland cant recharge, thiis is the master contoller of your hormones. So i went into complete hormonal collapse from lack of sleep. I didn’t make much female hormones after I had my kids. I was so stiff and in pain all over that I couldn’t exercise, I wasnt sleeping at all, I was very anxious, couldnt digest well and started the perimenopause phase age 36 once i delivered my daughter. I was age 40 before i culd get the medical help to help me recover. I started HRT and meds for the insomnia Zopiclone, for anxiety/sleep Seroquel and for my gut Amitriptaline also that helps with sleep and my gut started to get better once I started sleeping from the meds and hormones, as did my energy to keep looking into it all.
Long term i needed to address the childhood traumas, the family trauma and the long term reasons my gut health, and mental health was so poor. It tuns out i have APoe4 the inflammation gene, i have a MTHFR a snip which effects how my body uses it B Vitamins for immune and nervous system support, i have a snip with COMT gene which effects how is use Vitamin C for detoxification and clearance of heavy metals. I have a sluggish liver, adrenals and thyroid which causes much of the slow digestion, fatigue, body stiffness and insomnia. Also when one cannot digest absorb and detoxify food properly the body doesnt get the raw materials it needs to perform well so i have 20 years of a badly functioning system on top of a chronically stressful life as a carer on top of being a mum, scientist, researcher etc.
Over time and a lot of rest and slowing my schedule down i became aware of my needs, my boundaries, my reactions, my limits. I am able to be mindful so much now i am taking the medication and my gut and brain are speaking to my mind, i have the ability to read my bodies IBS food triggers, which has improved which has helped me figure out my ideal diet. It takes many years and alot of work to figure out ones self. Its a different route for everyone. Most people need a multifactorial approach. it can take 10 years. 50mg Bio Identical Hormone oestrogen tablet Fematab and a pump or 2 of oestrogel have been key in my recovery from Depression particularly using testosterone cream on my leg. Taking medication has been once of the best things I have ever done for myself or my family. It bought me calm and time to figure out the root causes, i really only got my energy, joy for life, motivation back using HRT. As i have PMDD the progesterone part of the HRT is very difficult for me to tolerate not only can i get UTIs and thrush from the way it changes the Ph of the body but it also makes me depressed. Y As I got into my 30s the intensity and the duration of these bad days lengthened. I didnt know back then because of the gut-brain connection that the way my body felt stress was making my gut worse and vice versa and that this was contributing to adrenal fatigue which led to early menopause because when your body feels stress the adrenals are pumping cortisol and adrenaline around to help you cope with the stress but this longterm wears the adrenals out and when you get to 40 the adrenals are supposed to take over as being the primary source of oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone but if they are knackered then one falls into menopause fast as the adrenals cant produce the sex hormones Utrogestan is bed bound depressing for me. I can only use anal pessary now. My HPA axis thyroid adrenal liver issues are a work in progress and someday i hope i wont need the medication or exogenous hormones but for now its helping me continue the road to learning about my body.
Watching what my mum had to go through dementia, together with all I had gone through and the lack of knowledge about our conditions led me to start this health business. Go with your gut being you know in your gut your not well even if the doctors are telling you your bloods are normal. My bloods were always normal . The goal of my work is to to help women and men, parents filter the medical jargon and understand why the gut, liver, thyroid and adrenal system is so important to your mental health and why clinical depression cant properly be treated with vitamins probiotics or supplements. I started gowithyourgut.ie during 2020 and it is a continuous success story for me over the last 4 years and I have seen so many empowered adults. Someday I hope to be a functional medicine doctor when my kids are older and im in better health. Everyday I get up knowing I make a difference in a someones life fills me with joy. Eternally indebted to you who trust me with your health. Fiona xx
For more on gut health and tips see Blog – Go With Your Gut (polished.ie)