How my journey impacts your Acupuncture session.
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
Many people ask me why I do what I do, and I believe that, in part, it stems from trying to heal myself, along with my absolute core purpose of making others around me feel good, as cheesy as it sounds. My life has been a wonderful exploration so far, travelling, trying out new things. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities I've had, the determination to keep going no matter how dark it felt, the many job hats I've worn over the years, from call centres to teaching to sexual health advice counselling on the phones - pre broadband days. I've had chosen experiences with all the adventures I've taken - my willingness to say "yes sure", with a strug, lets try it.. to my lived experiences of pain, of mental ill-health, of discrimination (fat, woman, bisexual (and white while in South Korea). All this and so much more has helped to shape me and create the person you see stood before you today.
I am a work in progress, on a journey of continued growth, exploration and improvement, and I have been honoured to a part of so many others journeys, be that as a friend, a colleague or as a patient. I have patients I still see now that chose to work with me right at the start of my acupuncture career in 2007, I've offered support, advice, tissues and a shoulder to cry on when needed, and a giggle when needed too. I have been walking beside them through disease, through grief, though weddings, parenthood, divorces, while they have kept on choosing me despite moving locations several times, changing up how I work as a learn and develop professionally, and personally. It has been a truly magical experience, one I wouldn't change for the world and I am deeply appreciative to have found my true vocation in this life - supporting others to get free of what ails them, in whatever guise that takes.
Living with chronic pain, an eating disorder and mental health illness sent me down a path I could never have predicted, and hindsight has shown me that each step has brought me to the person I am now, one who is by no means ‘perfect’ but one that is enjoying the journey, embracing change (as best I can) and sharing all that I know and all that I am to help others also feel they are ‘winning at life’.
I have always loved the phoenix for its symbolism and each time I take a slightly new direction, as I shed another layer of what has held me back I feel reborn, and have a reignited passion and vitality for life, and then the next layers needs burned off and so the pattern repeats – its why there are phoenixes all over my clinic and even now on my body (thanks to Ema Sweeney tattoo artist)
My back pain started at early teens, and at that time I was of ‘normal weight’ and the pain was attributed to ‘growing pains’ .. roll forward to late teens/early twenties- back pain had stopped me exercising, caused emotional eating and I put on a whole lot of weight.. and suddenly the pain was because of my weight.. yet the pain hadn’t changed in all this time.
Discovering other options to optimise my health
A few years after that, while learning to negotiate life with pain I discovered natural therapies, having felt dismissed and ignored by the NHS – their only option was pain meds, which is not where I wanted to be for the rest of my life – taking pills, then having to take other pills to manage the side effects of the 1st lot of pills without every actually solving the original problem, simply masking it.
This inability to treat the root of the problem, and only mask the symptoms has driven my desire to heal myself, to take control, and understand health from a whole variety of angles..
My own issues have also hugely helped me understand my patients struggles more – that it's not always that simple to make massive changes – pain does affect us in all sorts of ways, from limiting physical movement, to causing a negative mindset spiral, to causing stress reactions in our body all day long, which inhibits our ability to make the ‘best decision for us’, as well as changing how our body performs, and messes with our hormones.
Living as a 'plus size' therapist.
I also understand that living in a bigger body is used as a justification for all that is wrong with us, that we are quickly dismissed, told to lose weight and everything will magically go away.. I can tell you from personal experience that this IS NOT TRUE – I’ve solved pain issues for myself and others without them shifting an ounce of weight.
Being bigger bodied also means I’ve been on the receiving end of equipment not being strong enough, of chairs being too narrow and as such I’ve ensured my clinic is suited to ALL Bodies – extra arm supports and tricks for beds that can't be widened to additional pillows for support, add on face cradles, with arm rests so you can be as comfortable as possible to chairs with no arms, (but support nearby), ensured towels are all big enough to cover any size of body without fear of a boob popping out! Extended face cradles to ensure the vertically enhanced aren't falling off the ends, strong wooden steps to provide easier access for those who need a wee lift up on.
The beds also have electric blankets for comfort (an idea I stole from a massage I had in Brighton while on a training course many moons ago – it’s a down side of working in the way I do, I’m often thinking of my patients when having an experience myself – to ensure I keep them as comfortable as possible, copying things I appreciate and avoiding things I haven’t found so enjoyable/comfortable.)
Sharing my wins
My own struggles have sent me on a path of discovery, of trying to find the 'magic pill' that will make everything better, what I've realised - there isn't one. There are LOTS and lots of different things we do to affect our health, and it takes all these different aspects of life to get us well, from the foods we chose, to the movements we make to the sleep we get and so forth. (more of than in my programme elements of vitality). I love to share what has worked for me, and those that haven’t, we are not all the same, not all of us will get the same benefits from the same thing.
My crazy journey has also challenged my beliefs about myself on lots of levels, including my sexuality – at the age of 26 I suddenly discovered women (well one in particular) as an option for more than a platonic relationship, and had my back not caused significant issues (bulging disc age 26) I wouldn't have changed jobs and met this particular female. With this came some surprising realisations, notably that it was a massive shock to some folks, that some refused to accept me any more, but that most folks in my life just needed some time to adjust. I’ve experienced homophobia and biphobia from various sections of society, but can very thankfully say that it has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me and given me a totally new perspective on life and how we treat others.
Wee random fact for you!
I discovered as a child that my parents had thought I was going to be a boy, they'd chosen Graham as my name and my room was blue (in true 70s style gender norms!).. then I pops out biolocially female... I only found out as a prepared to marry my amazing wife that the reason for that was my mum went to see a psychic when she was pregnant and was told she'd get a daughter-in-law... and she did, just now how she expected.
Never ending journey (til it does!)
Life and health is a journey I intend to continue forever, adding more and more tools to my every expanding belt, (metaphorically speaking!) to continue to support my own, and that of my patients’ life, to ensure it is as full and vital as it can possibly be. Life is wonderful gift, that you are exist is a 1 in 400 trillion (according to Dr. Ali Binazir) - so don't sweat the small stuff, embrace life, enjoy it, remember that its finite and it is here now to be explored and enjoyed and endured.
If anything I have said has resonated with you and you are ready to start making some changes get in touch, I can offer support both virtually and in person to help you take those next steps to being reborn a shiny new phoenix, I am ready to support you, to walk beside you on the part of your journey that needs my help, guidance and support.