Unknown Speaker 0:00
It always felt like I was almost living two parallel lives. So my one life you know career focused, corporate focused, driven love my husband, you know building a family being normal. And then the other one of being sick being in hospital rooms trying new medications, getting blood tests every week on a new medication.
Welcome back to this week's pyjama interviews. This week, we're speaking with Natalie from sick and successful creative. Natalie lives with Crohn's disease. And she's gonna share all about that with us and her experience both in her career and running her own business, as well as life kids and partnership. So stay tuned at the end for this week's exciting announcement. And let's dive in. Natalie, welcome to the pyjama interviews, thank you so much for taking your time to be with us.
Unknown Speaker 1:00
Thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to like to
share with us your condition and your diagnosis process.
Unknown Speaker 1:08
Yeah, sure. So I got diagnosed in 2007. It was my last year of high school at the time, I was actually studying to be a hairstylist and I was going to the bathroom multiple times a day, which, you know, caught the attention of some of my teachers because I would be doing hair and I would have to run back and forth to the bathroom. And so after some not great doctor appointments and trying to find the right specialist, I was diagnosed with actually ulcerative colitis, back in 2007. And then it never really went into remission. Until I believe 2018. But over the years, the diagnosis kind of just in the paperwork change to Crohn's disease. I don't remember them ever saying oh, now you have Crohn's. It was kind of like, everyone started saying Crohn's. And then I was like, one day, I have Crohn's like I thought I had you see. And it turns out I have Crohn's. So I think it was just a misdiagnosis at the beginning. Or maybe, maybe it was a little. Maybe it affected me a little bit less at the beginning. And then over time it the Crohn's was in different parts of my bowels and things like that. So yeah, that was an interesting, interesting kind of journey to diagnosis and to be re diagnosed, I guess. But it was it was feels like a long time ago from now.
And it's interesting that it came while you were working and that sort of process of diagnosis. Like, how was that emotionally for you, like you've no doubt had a whole life that you were planning. And now what happens now?
Unknown Speaker 2:43
Yeah, so I mean, I was 17. And I was going into university, I got diagnosed weeks before my 18th birthday. And here in Canada. 18 is when you get to go out and party and drink for the first time. So I had a party bus planned and I had tickets I had sold and all of a sudden I'm on all these steroids and things where I'm not supposed to drink. So I can vividly remember standing in front of the pharmacists and saying like, so here's the thing, I'm going to drink. And all these medications say I'm not gonna, but I'm gonna so like, how do I do that responsibly so that I don't get sick or sicker? I guess. But other than that, you know, it was there were a lot of motional things in the sense that I didn't know what a chronic illness was. And I couldn't really conceptualise being sick forever. But I was also 17. So it was like, you know, I have this diagnosis, I have to take these pills, but maybe these pills will help me and I will be okay. And I'm 17 So let me let me just keep living my life.
Yeah. And what happens like if you can you share with us then over this are between 17 and now, what's that been like living with Crohn's at different ages and different activities. I think it's so beautiful, because you've really, you know, claimed the experience that I'm curious about what that looks like emotionally for you.
Unknown Speaker 4:09
You're interesting. And making the hand motion you made is like almost like a roller coaster is the exact way that it kind of when you say those words that it comes up to to me in my brain because it's on one hand, it is really been the biggest blessing of my life. I wouldn't have started my own side business, I wouldn't be the woman I am today. I wouldn't have the husband I have today I wouldn't be as strong as I am. I wouldn't be as probably inclusive or thoughtful or, you know, see people the way I do I can only imagine if I had you know, just been healthy and went straight to university what kind of person I would have been. So it really is one of the biggest blessings in my life. And then on the other side of that, it has been a huge struggle. There's been moments where my husband we've been together for 11 years so he's been there through the brunt of it has had to carry me to and from the bathroom. Omar come to the hospital many times, you know, at six in the morning to braid my hair because my IVs are so bad, I have moved my hand and just like all of these things. And it always felt like I was almost living two parallel lives. So my one life, you know, career focused, corporate focused, driven love my husband, you know, building a family being normal in quotations. And then the other one of being sick, being in hospital rooms, trying new medications, getting blood tests every week on a new medication, throwing up almost daily, and then the opposite. And just being in the bathroom 20 plus times trying to work a corporate job, but having an accident on the way to getting to the office or trying to be in university, but not being able to run from the set, whatever they would call it stadium theatre to the bathroom, because they're too far and things like that. So it's almost feels like when I look back, it's like, which life do I look?
Yeah, and I think, having had this interviews before, in the previous summer, I know women sharing about Crohn's people who've come and listen to the podcast, or attend the 10 days, sharing with me how powerful it is to hear somebody talk about this experience, and exactly what you've just shared, like having a job and having to get to the bathroom or having an incident before you get to work. And I'm curious just for you, you are obviously right at the beginning of your corporate career. So how did you handle that? Did you tell people to do not tell people like how did you navigate that? In that state of your life?
Unknown Speaker 6:41
Yeah, so I've always been a bit more of a little bit of an outspoken type person. But I how I navigated as I would never say anything in an interview. Because who knows people's biases. And then, quickly after the interview, if there was a day that I was a little bit sicker, or I had not met a medical appointment or something like that, I would always talk to my boss and bring it up quite quickly within whatever position I was in at the time. I did also work as a hairstylist all throughout university. So in those positions, I had to kind of learn how to tell my clients, you know, you're in the sink, and I'm washing out your bleach, and this woman needs to do it because I gotta run. I will tell you why in a second, you know, obviously, why hairstyling wasn't the best best career choice for me. But in the corporate world, I can say it got a little bit easier than hairstyling. But still there was you know, why is she in the bathroom for an hour at the office? And why is she getting paid to be in the bathroom and things like that, or you know, the incidents and having to go home or things like that? That was tough, which is why I always had the dream to start my own business. And
yeah. And so how did that? You know, I just enjoyed those conversations, because it's hard living with chronic illness having these conversations. It's who to trust how to trust them. And I'm in no way suggesting you worked that out perfectly. But just yeah, I'm really curious, what advice would you have for yourself now? Or what would you share with somebody about that environment now?
Unknown Speaker 8:18
Yeah, I think looking back, something I did really well was I never hit it. So I also never brought the conversation up right off the bat, you know, unless I needed to if there was something happening, but when there was something happening, I wasn't embarrassed about it. I mean, the accidents, I wasn't telling anyone that that happened, right? Probably I dealt with it and went home, or something. But about the actual illness, medical appointments, if I was in the hospital for extended period of time, I would be open and honest with anyone or everyone who was kind of in my world or I had, I had to, you know, help with that work, or whatever the case was. So I don't actually remember having conversations, I remember to conversations with a boss. And otherwise, it just in my mind, is everyone knew, so I just kind of was open about it. And kind of instead of having this conversation, I would just say you know, I have Crohn's disease or something like that. And they can Google or the conversation will come up over time, but I never made a big deal out of it out of hiding it or out of talking about it either. It was kind of just like this is a part of me.
Which is very powerful when you're quite young. Like that's an amazing capacity.
Unknown Speaker 9:29
Yeah, and I'm thankful for that because I have seen many other people who struggle with chronic illness where it is almost like they're embarrassed to talk about it for good reason, right? Like it's it can be really emotional to talk about it or I guess embarrassing isn't the right word, but it's an emotional thing to talk about and to bring up in a workplace you might feel like, you know, it someone's gonna judge you and and all those things. So, yeah, I'm pretty proud of myself for just being open and honest because it made things easier for sure. Not having to be liable those things or, you know, there were times where I was in the we in the hospital for a week or two and some bosses even let me work from the hospital. So yeah, it was pretty good experience as good as it could be with a chronic illness.
And so what did have what happened next sort of thing? What was that transition to do get married and then run a business? Like, were you running a business? How did you make all of that decisions?
Unknown Speaker 10:26
Yeah, so actually, when I first finished university, I started in the corporate world. That's kind of the the times I was mentioning. And then I got a quickly I got a promotion within the year to move across country. And so my husband boyfriend at the time, and I decided to uproot and move to a small town, which I'm from a capital city in, in Canada, but for I didn't really have looking back, it just makes me laugh so hard, but I didn't realise there was like small towns that didn't work close to airports. To me, like every small town was probably like an hour away from an airport, how could you be any further. So I agreed to move to this small town, that I had no idea where it was, or how far it was from an airport, never saw it before. And just great opportunity, great salary, let's move and try it out. It's in the mountain. So it's gonna be great. We were there for a year. It's a really beautiful place. But it was so far away from family. And I got quite sick when I was out there. So I had to be in the hospitals for a few days, I had iron infusions in that hospital, which was a tiny little hospital. The doctors weren't supporting me at all. And they didn't even know what to do with me. I think they wanted to give me Prozac or something like, which looking back I just like, what the has,
Unknown Speaker 11:47
like, okay, for Crohn's. I guess they like saw that I was stressed. But yeah. So that was wild.
And that's such a contrast between city medical care and country care, without making any judgments like how that is anywhere else, or at any other time you and I don't know. But in your experience, that was a huge contrast,
Unknown Speaker 12:13
there was a huge change, and also no more family, and just me and my boyfriend, no friends really, you know, no support. And we had a couple of friends, thank goodness that helped us. But even then, like, I drove myself to the hospital for these, like these infusions, and all these things. And so I think it put a big toll on me and my husband, and we decided to move back to Winnipeg, where our family is, and after that, it kind of snowballed. From there. I, I changed jobs a few times, I would say three or four times since moving back, we got married. And even a few years after we got married, we still didn't have any kids. And it really just focusing on our careers buying a house making sure everything was kind of set in place before we decided to have children. There was another flare up in 2018. I believe we moved back in 2016, or 2017 ish. In 2018, there was a quite severe flare up, where I was in the hospital for two, two weeks. And I had perforated bowel and it was really scary blood transfusions, things like that. And in that moment, I have the notebook still in my office. But in that moment, I guess those moments I was in that hospital bed and I couldn't sleep at night could have all the beeping in them poking and prodding me every couple hours. I started journaling how I was going to start my own business. And I wrote down all of these brand voice words that I wanted my brand to be about and brand colours. And I drew these pictures of like little cartoon dogs, their hands up in the air being like stronger or believer like things like that. And I really started dreaming, like what would it be like if I could be here and not be stressed that I'm not at work? And what would it be like to have my own business and to do like I don't who knows how much longer I have? And so why am I waiting? And quickly months after getting out of the hospital, I became a personal trainer and a holistic health coach and really dove into my own health due to some side effects from medications. And that was that was amazing. And that's where I started my first business it was called for the health then I started coaching women at first just women with fitness, I guess health, fitness weight loss a little bit and then transition to women's with women with Crohn's disease, which was really fun.
Wow. So that's quite an adventure. For sure. That's a big adventure. And I'm curious then you had the energy to take the risk and have a go. And then when you said you became a trainer for Crohn's like I How did people find you? What did that happen? Like, where was the internet in this conversation?
Unknown Speaker 15:08
It's funny, because in those days, Crohn's coach was not a thing. You know, autoimmune disease on Instagram was just starting to be a hashtag. I searched high and low, there was two other women doing similar things and in different ways. They're still around, they're amazing. And so I kind of made up the term Crohn's coach, and I started posting about my disease online and my life experiences. And, you know, I, hey, I'm on the toilet today. And this is what happened, here's what I'm thinking, I used Instagram as my own diary, and quickly was able to grow it to I think, 10k quite quickly. And then over time to around 30k, just by being honest, and sharing what I was going through, and that's how people would find me. So I would share, you know, being at the gym, or what I was eating, and things like that, and then have conversations in the DMS, which were always to this day, like, something I'm so proud of is, you know, someone finding me and saying, Wow, I'm not alone, or you helped me so much, and those types of things. It's, it's really, it's life changing?
Yeah, it's, um, it's a real gift. In the broadest sense of the word, yeah, it's not a gift, any of us would go look for Majan, necessarily, but to be able to speak about our experience and have that land in other women's hearts is it's just a soul relationship. It's, it's for me, and all of the work that I've evolved into doing. It's like, this is the most meaningful work for me in the world. And it's the best use of me and my talents and my skills in the world.
Unknown Speaker 16:55
It's so true. It's so true. I love that.
And so what happened next, your Crohn's coach, and now you're a podcast and social media person. So
Unknown Speaker 17:08
okay, so I. So I did graduate from university with my marketing degree before the corporate career, and I went directly into sales. And I was in sales throughout that whole story. So I was always in corporate and sales in some type of way. Even when I was doing the Cronus coaching, I was working full time. So I had 18, one on one clients that I had calls with every week. On top of working this corporate job, which looking back I just Oh my gosh, Natalie, boy, like where did where did you when did you but I guess I didn't have a child yet. So. And then I went to San Diego to become a breathwork facilitator. I had all these plans to create group coaching programmes, things like that. And then in December of 2019, right before the world shut down, I got pregnant. We were trying for a few years, but I got pregnant in December of 2019. And my first trimester was pretty tough. Also, from January to February, my husband was away at school for those two months. So I stopped everything. I had a group coaching programme coming out, I didn't launch it. I stopped all my one on one coaching programmes I think I kept or coaching clients, I kept, I think one client, and I really just halted it all. And I did continue working my corporate job. I was actually the head salesperson for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Thunder Bay, which is two provinces here in a city for all medical safety supplies, so masks, chemicals, cleaning supplies, things like that, right when the pandemic hit. So my hours at a corporate job went from, you know, maybe eight to 18 a day. So yeah, I stopped my side hustle, I stopped all the coaching. And once things calm down once actually went on mat leave a month prior to my daughter coming. I had some time to really think about, like, what am I doing. And then I realised as much as I love Crohn's coaching, and I love helping women who are going through what I'm going through, it is really draining a lot of my energy, especially at the time, I wasn't very cognizant of who I was working with. So there would be women who joined who really just wanted to join because they like me, but they don't want to change anything about what they're doing. And that would drain me because I want to help them right. I want them to make differences. And I would just, I just realised that I was giving a lot of myself and I wasn't getting back to myself. So I had my daughter Alicia in July of 2020. And amazing experience and I right after that I had pretty extreme postpartum anxiety to the point where for days days on days, I wouldn't sleep unless someone my husband or my mom actually only was awake while she was sleeping or awake. with her while I was sleeping, even if they were around and she was sleeping, it would stress me out. So I have the time I wouldn't actually sleep. So I was always worried about her. So the first six months are a blur, just a complete blur. I've never struggled with anxiety really before. So it was very new to me, you know, having intrusive thoughts when driving, not that I was going to do anything but that something would happen to us. And so it really took over a lot. But after those six months, I almost I explained it like the clouds started clearing a little bit I can see a little clearer. I was sharing a lot on Instagram the whole time, even you know, throughout it, just doing the mommy influencer thing, just sharing my baby and my experience and having some sponsored posts, things like that. And I had a bunch of businesses come to me and ask, can you run our social media? I was like, why not? I'm sitting at home anyways, in Canada, we get 12 to 18 months of Matt leaves. So I took on a couple accounts, one of my friends really close friends. And her business made an extra I think 4000 within the first two weeks of me taking it on, it was a new business. So it was a big, big influx for her. And I just realised this is my zone of genius. Like I love this. This is where I can help people grow their businesses, but also be creative. And you know, get energy from doing it versus giving all my energy. So I took the social media management course and quickly grew to think five to 10 clients then started bringing on employees and really honing in on the type of people we help, which is women entrepreneurs, typically with service based industry, service based companies. And yeah, so that's kind of how we are podcasting is a mix into all of that. But I started my podcast right around when I got pregnant. It was called the second successful podcast with a friend of mine. And it's actually rebranding to the for the success Podcast. I'm sure as soon as this is out, it's already going to be called the for the success podcast. Yeah, I love doing that we've we did that through the whole time we did some podcast business done as well. It kind of trickled out during the pregnancy time and then trickled back in when social media came back. Yeah.
So that's it's a lot of activity, like what you've described is a lot of activity. And I'm curious then about how did that feel emotionally to have that level of activity? And what did you learn you needed to actually sustain yourself?
Unknown Speaker 22:34
Yeah, that's a really good question. So it was quick, I went from zero being at home with my daughter to 100. Having employees running my own business still being a little bit on mat leave. And you know, what am I am I going to go back to my corporate career, I also started teaching in university as an instructor in that time, kind of miss that. But what I learned quickly is that I need to take a full day a month just for myself. So I was going to the spa here. And it's like a Nordic Spa, where you can go into hot tubs and a cold pool every month and really taking that day to myself. Most recently, I've incorporated a massage every week or two and not working on Fridays. So I know myself, I know the days I work, I usually forget to eat, like I have health now that helps me eat. But if I left my own devices, I'm going to work through the whole day because I get into it. So I need to set a schedule where it's not just that I have a break in the middle of my day, that's important. But I need a full day to regain my energy to you know, recoup, to do something that, you know, errands or things normal people do. So I've rescheduled my whole calendar in a different way than what is typical or normal in society, even when it comes to meetings and things like that. I'm really strict on it. And it's helped putting those boundaries in place.
And then what has your health been like throughout this process? Because that's a whole that's what's visible? And what's going on behind the scenes in the real real truth for you.
Unknown Speaker 24:08
Yeah, so to back up in the timeline. So in 2018, when I was in the hospital for those two weeks, I was put on a new medication which caused me extreme weight gain, it was called humera. And I had to fight with all doctors to explain to them that hey, I'm a personal trainer. I'm working out two days a week now because I'm obsessing about all the weight I'm gaining. I'm now down to like 12,000 calories, which I know I should be eating more. And I'm gaining one to three pounds a day what's happening, like this isn't me. So I gained 60 pounds in about two to three months. And doctors weren't believing what was happening was because of the medication they were saying is because of me and thankfully I had a great specialist who did look into it as I spent nights like full on until five in the morning nights researching in medical journals and studies if this was a thing, and I came to a doctor appointment with All these printouts that it was a side effect for 9% of the people on it. And he came to the same appointment with the same printout. So I stopped that medication I started another one caused weight gain, again, 20 pounds within a month. So now I'm up about 80 pounds. And we went off that medication at that same moment is when I started the holistic health coaching programme, and decided to go extreme keto, because this is something I you know, was learning about and trying, and I was able to go into full remission. So around late 2018, I believe the timelines are kind of tough, but around 2018, I went into remission, all the way up until pretty much pregnancy, I stayed in remission, so all through 2020 till July of 2020. And I was very aware that it is common for women after pregnancy, women in with Crohn's during pregnancy typically go into remission. And then after, obviously, there's outliers for everything I'm saying, but typically, uh, you know, it is common for women to go into remission, and then it is common for them to flare pretty severely after. And I was hopeful that wouldn't happen for me. But I do think just, you know, the amount of stress I was under with the postpartum anxiety and having a newborn and things like that there, it just was how my body reacted, so I started flaring. And in July, or maybe June of 2021, I had a colonoscopy, and we found a lot of inflammation and a lot of really damaged areas, a lot of scar tissue areas that he couldn't even pass through with the colonoscopy probe. So he actually in that moment, for some reason, this makes no sense. But I'm awake throughout the whole colonoscopy, and I can see everything and remember it all, even though I always tell them to give me more medication. For one moment, he said, This doesn't look good. And he thought it was cancer. And so that was really scary. But thankfully, yeah, thankfully, it came back that it wasn't at least yet. And so surgery was on the table. Now this is about September of 2021, and surgeries on the table or one more biologic medication interview. And we went back and forth conversations, booking surgeon appointments, waiting for them, him deciding let's let's just try and to be Oh, it's supposed to just affect your stomach, it's not supposed to affect your full body. So maybe you won't have these side effects. December 31 2021, I started in TVO. And I have already gained I think, 15 pounds in about a month, maybe a little bit more than a month and a half I whatever amount of time, but my hair is falling out in clumps. exam on my face, my stomach still hurts a lot. I'm bloated, like I look like I did when I was nine months pregnant all the time. And so interviews probably off the table, which leaves me with potentially trial medications or a life changing surgery. Because they wouldn't want to just take out that small, and it's not really small, but the area that is really bad, they would want to probably take out everything. And my doctor doesn't want to go that direction just yet. Because I'm young and you know, so it's kind of like, hands up in the air. Really, that's how I feel like I've never felt that way. With my Crohn's. It's felt like I can do this. I'm on medication. It's I'm in remission, I'm okay. But now it's like, you know, the road has almost come to not an end, obviously. But to part, you know, a question mark.
Yeah, and I think this is, I appreciate this, it's incredibly vulnerable. And you're right in the middle of the experience, and you've got lots of things expanding, and then you kind of manage your experience through this. I want to sort of come in and talk about this point at which you've tried medication, you know, things have gone certain ways, some have helped, some haven't. But there can be this crossroads intersection. And it's incredibly powerful in that it reframes things really quickly. And when you're in relationship with something that is serious, and it is serious, and the doctors are like, Okay, we've reached a serious point. There's this and I can feel my tummy tight. And even now this is like, Okay, what the fuck is now going to happen? How is this going to be? And what I found in that process for myself is, I always like to remind myself, this is not the end of the story. And for me, my experience, my condition is life threatening. So even then it's like, okay, even if this is got a very dramatic arc, it's still my story and it's still I get to choose who I am in this process. And what I'm looking for in that process with myself have is how can I be supported with the reality of this moment. And in particular, what can happen is, the more serious things become and the more that vulnerability is illuminated to others, you can get what I think of as the unhelpful helpers, with a whole lot of suggestions, who haven't really been part of the doctors conversation saying, Have you tried keto? Have you tried yoga? And I'm very curious about this from your perspective. Because you have been through a health and fitness industry, this is not new information to you. So I'm curious about what's your relationship with all of those things?
Unknown Speaker 30:46
Yeah, I It's what a relationship. Prior to being in my health and fitness journey, if anyone said anything to me, like, try this, I would probably I would freak out. I would be, I wouldn't have probably not talked to them, I would, you know, give them a smartass attitude back, and not respect that person. Because how dare you. Throughout my health and fitness journey, I appreciate it live, you know, I was very open and very open about please don't tell me to, you know, whatever. But if you know someone, or if something, you know, comes up and feel free to share it with me, that's okay. And I'll tell you if I've tried it or not. Now at this point in my journey, so it's very different. Every point now, at this point, I have tried everything. And some things worked, you know, to alleviate symptoms. Some things worked for a moment in time, some things helped to with my mental health. So you know, but at this point, my surgery or my my chronic illness is at a point where surgery is the only option. And thankfully, the people around me are aware of that they have been here for the last I I'm bad at math. But you know, for the last, however many years since I've been diagnosed, they're aware they've seen me shy at all. And I don't get those types of comments or suggestions. Thank goodness, I don't even get them on Instagram anymore, I think because I am so open about my boundaries and what you can and cannot DM me, so I'm really thankful. But I have a love and hate relationship. I know people are trying to help and they come from a loving place. But sometimes it's just like, come on, you have no idea. You don't even know what a chronic illness is. If you've Googled my disease, and you've read all about it, and then you have a suggestion, and we talk every day. Okay, maybe.
Yeah. And I think that's the crossover. And it's this relationship between not all of us want to share all of the details. And clearly, personality is healthy to share. And for me, it's like I'm happy. This is my world now. And I'm happy to share the process. And I'm happy to share when I'm, you know, in a machine that's turning me upside down to track what happens to my neurology in order to see what's happening with vertigo. However, it's also the case that for me, the zone is really emotionally, and all the weight of that hits us emotionally. And you and I've just had a mini conversation. And I'd love to just help illuminate that as well, where I've just posted about how much shame there can be to this concept of really about, have you created this through your thoughts. So for me, it's really super important. I want to talk about this directly. And then let's have a conversation about it, Natalie. So when we're in a place where people are suggesting it's an autoimmune condition, or the mind and body is so connected, what have you done to create this? What that does is really send you down a track of an internalised shaming process where you're looking at what thought did they have How did this create this? And how do I not have that thought? And we know from 1000s of years of meditation practice, that thoughts arise. It's not a control mechanism necessarily. And I know that this is quite countercultural to the wellness industry. But everybody has negative thoughts like everybody's got an injury. And so those of us who have chronic illness have no more or no less in my belief than everybody else. But we're having a biological experience, and we are animals. Let's be super clear. We are animals having a biological experience, and for some of us that includes chronic illness. Now, that's not to say that having an understanding of your emotional cycle and your patterns of how your nervous system responds to fear And that is not helpful. It absolutely is. And it's extremely helpful when you're in a chronic illness journey, to know how to be with your nervous system. And what I think of as a new story of illness. So this old story of illness is, you know, it's a lifelong journey, you can't do anything life is over, there's no meaningful work, there's no love. And basically, all you need to do is get well and then life will be good. Again, that is a very archaic mediaeval approach to illness, and the shame that comes from this thought process tracks back through history to, you know, we just need to exercise your to witchcraft, like we can, if we drown you and you live, then clearly, you're a witch, you know, all of that is about trying to track and shames a person, for their experience. And in this interview series, we've spoken to Eleanor click horn, who's going to share with us the history of chronic illness and how she thinks that intersects with the witchcraft trials and that sort of thing, through her new book, well, women, so this story of shame, and our relationship to it, and our thoughts and our feelings, and our bodies, is actually very deep. And I want to come and ask you, Natalie, I did a, you know, a much smaller, smaller note in a story on this on Instagram, and a couple of days ago, and you reached out to me, and I wonder if you'd share, like, what hit you about that comment? And,
Unknown Speaker 36:33
yeah, so I, I, what hit me about the conversation is when I was in my kind of, I would say, worst time of my Crohn's disease, working in the corporate world, but super sick, the time I mentioned husband would have to carry me to and from the bathroom, I couldn't walk, I was very unhealthy, you know, body and mind, I was very negative, I've ate very poorly, I didn't take care of myself really cared about maybe going to the gym, but that was just the start of it. But I still ate poorly. I didn't sleep well, doing anything for myself. And this is I think it's a journey for everyone that's every personal person is what being healthy, quote, unquote, looks like to them is different for every person, but I can tell you as the opposite of anything healthy. And my Crohn's was very much showing that. And so when I transitioned into this world of health, my Crohn's got better. And I got into remission. And so I knew that there was a correlation between as sick as you know, a dog, and better. But what hit me about your post was I'm now past both of those, I'm in the middle, almost, you know, I found a balance, I eat well, I tried to while I moved my body, but I working on moving it more. I'm learning, you know, balance between self care and work and family. So what hit me about your story is because I, at one point, put all of this effort into just healing. That in my mind, I didn't even realise it till reading your story. I'm shaming myself because I'm sick again. Because I'm not doing enough and realise that even if I did, everything I did, then doesn't mean I would get better now. But it can also mean that I can do things for myself and realise that you know, I'm sick, and what can I do in this season of life that can nurture me or nourish me in a way that is going to feel good for me and my body doesn't mean I'm going to ever cure my Crohn's or go into remission or anything. But I can't look back and say, Oh, I was able to get into remission by being extreme keto, well, I couldn't even do what I did, then now I have, like, I ate so extremely. And I, you know, my whole day was focused on food. And who knows if that was even it, maybe it was just the fact that you know, I was whatever, environmental who knows. But when I when I read your story, I was like, Oh, interesting. There's a pocket of shame I didn't even know was around. And so it helps me kind of dig into like, why am I why do I feel like I'm doing something to be sick right now, and I'm not doing enough. And it's not that I'm not doing enough. It's, you know, there's a different way for me to do it this time around.
Yeah. And I think that is the point. That's the point of my work is to share that and illuminate that. It's not to discount that there are benefits and understanding your emotions that there's benefits if you've got trauma in your background to looking at that, but it's not a cul de sac. It's not It's like excavate this, excavate this, if I can just get my trauma sorted, if I can just get this worked out, then it's going to be okay. And my whole life is spent in what I think of a colder sex. And that is a boundary that I am quite fierce about with people because without realising it, this is the incredible part Are that is that actually a very mediaeval thing we've just moved from, there's a demon or a curse into you into? Well, if you just sorted out your trauma thoughts, then you'd be better. And you could join us all again, right? So the shame is very important to understand the cycle of shame with illness. It's not the illness creating the shame, it's the environment of shame that then gets attached to illness, and that we then become shamed for having illness. And like any group that can be marginalised or is different, that shame becomes internalised. And the work is then to work with the shame. And clock it, which is exactly what you're talking about, that you clocked at, you went, Oh, hang on a sec. Yes, easily. I'm working with this. Yeah. And when you clock it, it shifts your relationship to yourself. And often what happens and I want to sort of really illuminate this for everybody as well. Once you notice that you've got a pocket of shame, you will start to see all the places that shame turns up. So there's no instant cures, let's just get real about that. You'll also start to clog the unconscious bias and shame that other people are having with you. And that includes clinicians. So the shame work for you is your own freedom, what I think of sovereignty, and there's tips and tools like this, I run a whole programme called Queen of the underworld, which is basically how to release the shame and move into this deep, deep sovereignty that you have. And that is an empowered way to be with yourself. Because you've spent some time stripping off and working out what's not mine, what the context is, and what is then left, which is so luminous for me. So when you begin this process, there is a way in which you will see it everywhere. And I just want to, you know, share with everybody, that's what happens, that's normal, it's not the end of the story, it doesn't mean you've then created your illness because you're suddenly recognising shame everywhere, you are headed in the right direction, because your awareness is going to lead to the new. So when you notice shame, and when you notice other people in shame, whether consciously or unconsciously shaming you, most likely 99%, unconsciously shaming you, then it's time to have a new relationship with yourself. And whether that's get some support through a book through listening to podcasts, through doing programmes, however, that is, the time is now to help yourself by getting help in whatever firm works for you. Because you are not meant to be alone on this journey. And that's really important to understand. Just as your thoughts didn't create your illness, you also don't have to work it out all on your own about how not to have the thoughts about the thoughts creating your illness. That's so
Unknown Speaker 43:13
true. It's so true. And we don't have to do it alone. That's why I created the second successful podcast now the for the success podcast, because it's possible, you know, for all of us to have our dreams, and it's possible to have people around you who understand and chronic illness can feel so lonely. Like even you mentioned the pocket of shame things, you know, talking about that to your family, it's kind of tough, because how would they understand? They might they might be thinking exactly what you're thinking. So having a community like this, where you can bring that to and have people just hold you in that space is really important.
And I think the other thing that's emerging here is, as you mentioned, Crohn's coaching wasn't a thing when you started it. We are in an expansion of awareness around chronic illness and long COVID is bringing that even more to the fore. But at the moment, we're all on Instagram and we're connecting there and one of the beauties is that there are there's a leadership happening here. There's space for everybody. You don't have to come and talk about your chronic illness on Instagram, you know, there's plenty of content. We're very happy for you to come and connect and ask questions. But the shift is on because you know books are being written like Sarah Rameez the ladies handbook for her mysterious illness like Eleanor Claire corns, unwell women, like just interpass and unseen all women that I've interviewed here in this process, and flick Manning, who's also a personal trainer, and in many ways a wellness, creative and coach. There are lots of women now in this space, there's lots of resources, and there's nothing more or, you know, beneficial about us or less. It's just we're all connecting together. And as we connect together, we're starting to reveal the stories culturally. And we're starting to share the lived experience. And those stories are not matching up. Exactly. Yeah. And so I'm wondering if you might share with us just as we close out, I know that you employ other women in your work. And I'm wondering if you might share with us a little bit about that, and how that works for you. And then, but really about what your approach is there in your own business business, you've made some choices about diversity and inclusion.
Unknown Speaker 45:43
Yeah, so my business is called SNS, Creative Media, and it stands for second successful or that is where the SNS came from. And my goal at first was to have all people in my company who have a chronic illness, right now, at that moment, it's not, I believe, many of them don't have chronic illness, per se, but there is mental illness there is, you know, unseen illnesses, things like that. And circumstances where everyone who works for my company is working from home, and on their own time, and they can make their own schedule. And I'm really trying to change the typical nine to five, Monday to Friday type of schedule, because there are so many successful, like extremely successful people that either are chronically ill, or maybe have, um, you know, whatever it is, doesn't matter, that have to work from home. And I wanted to have a company that has very strong values and very strong ethos when it came to that. So we work Monday through Thursday, if they want, they can work on Fridays, if they're catching up on things that time they can work whenever they want, as long as things are getting done. We have a weekly meeting where we connect together, we're all over the world. So we have two employees in the Philippines, three here in Canada, plus me. And it is an amazing experience. We also work with all of our clients where it's really important for us to be diverse, so women of colour, you know, all different types of people all walks of life, we do say we specialise with women, just because that is kind of our area of expertise. But we do have male Ninebot non binary clients. And so we're, you know, very inclusive. And, yeah, it's really important for my company to have that in our background, that no matter who you are, what you are, we are here to help build your brand and elevate your online brand presence.
Yeah, and this is what I'm noticing, as those of us, our own businesses become stable, and we take on people, you know, we are able to provide employment, and that's what we want, we want, we're not in it just for ourselves, we want to be able to provide employment. And for me, that's I'm really clear about what's my jam, you know, creating courses, delivering content for clients running programmes, even one on one at a very, you know, a very small number of women can work with me one on one, that's my, that's my jam. That's what I'm the best use of me in the world. And I also employ women who have chronic conditions. And I'm very conscious about even my accountant or my professional services, who where is my money going? And I want to really grab that. So I have a gorgeous assistant who actually is it's with Crohn's and is working with me. And I'm the same, you know, she will choose what day that she works that works best for her. But for me, it's like, I don't I don't mind when you work, like whatever works for you. There's timelines like we have to release the episodes. So there's a timeline, but I like to give plenty of time for that work to be done. Because I'm quite structured that way. Because I want though as the pressure rises, or as I become more public, as I'm in, say launch, I'm sharing with everybody about a programme or the summit. That time I know has more demands of me to be visible. And so I need that time to have less demands of me in other areas. And that's why I love a good plan so that things are done well in advance. But what I'm really grabbing here for all of us is you don't have to be an entrepreneur to find this flexibility. And we'll certainly be talking with women whose corporate careers and what they've navigated to find flexibility there. But you can also there is now enough of us that there are employment opportunities and as we grow there will be more because both you and I interest to growing our business, because there's millions of people like that, there's millions of people living with chronic illness, and our wisdom and our zones of what is most helpful and that can support others, it's up to them, we're not saying anybody has to come, it's up to them. But there is this opportunity, instead of all of the financials going to the wellness industry, just your money is your resource, just as my resources are financial, creative, physical, intellectual, and I get to choose who I spend that resource with. And I specifically looked for a diverse, non binary and women focused accountancy firm, because that's who I wanted my financials to embed with. Yeah. And I'm wondering for you, then what's the future hold for you, Natalie, I can see their health journey is going to bring an emotional journey with it. So I'm not asking you to have, you know, an endless arc. But what is it that you are looking to cultivate within yourself? So over the next year?
Unknown Speaker 51:11
Yeah, well, my business has grown a lot, even in the last two months. So we now have a team of five, I think two months ago was a team of two or three maybe. So the goal is to hit a million in three years, that's the goal on the social media agency side of things, and just to really help women entrepreneurs, elevate their online brand presence, that's my goal. But in doing that, you know, getting their voices heard having them be seen on Instagram, and not having to be stressed about it and taking that away, and being able to do what we love to do. And then in doing that, be able to employ people who love to create, or people who love to be in, you know, do the engagement side of things, and people who love to write, and people just, you know, it's so nice to have a team of women who are just so passionate about what they do, and giving them the opportunity to work from home and flexible and make your hours and you know, be supported by them as well and doing the things that I'm doing. So our goal is for all of the content managers to have a full roster of clients, engagement specialists probably bring one or two more on, and then a little bit of coasting maybe once that's all said, and all the programmes and systems are in place, I do have a plan to put out a course in the next year or two. Also planning with the podcasts and the rebranding and things to have a YouTube channel, where I kind of just, you can see my face while I'm recording podcasts, really, you know, because I'm someone who loves to watch podcasts on YouTube. But those are kind of the plans for the next year or so is is to really hone in on the content I'm putting out. And then have my team do the things that I used to do like creating content for others and engagement and things like that.
And what about personally like you're, you know, you've got a toddler and here have a family. And what is it that you're cultivating for yourself over the next time.
Unknown Speaker 53:16
I don't know if there's any goals per se, you know, my daughter's turning two in July. So that's going to be really fun, I'm really looking forward to a summer of going camping and taking her to the lake and you know, going into the pool with her now that she's starting to talk and things like that. And just having family time I mentioned a little bit that I'm very strict with my boundaries, I picked my daughter up, or dropped her off to daycare every day, my day ends latest for four o'clock and you know, Central's down on time. And then I do not work on weekends, I don't work on Fridays, unless it's something I want to be doing. So family life really fits in well in there. And I don't feel like I'm giving it up at all. So we just my goal is to spend as much time as possible together.
And I really appreciate you giving us a behind the scenes look as well about how those boundaries have enabled you to flourish both personally but also in business like your business works. So as we come to the close of our time together, Natalie, is there anything that you would like others to know or to share? Just as we close out, because we've covered a lot of territory, we've covered getting diagnosis and having an illness from a very young age, we've covered Korea, we've covered business, we've covered the war truth of living with Crohn's. And I just want to give you the opportunity if there's anything else you want to share before we close out together.
Unknown Speaker 54:43
So I think I just want to share that no matter who's listening or no matter what your dream is, it's possible and it might look a little different on how you're going to get there. Or maybe even what the dream is in the end, but it is possible and just because society makes you feel like it's not. And just because others are doing things in a different way doesn't mean you can't find your own path and do the things you so you've always dreamed of no matter what life's obstacles come in the way. And yeah, it's just it's possible. It's kind of what I'd like to share.
Yeah. And I think it's really important to acknowledge that if you're listening to this and you're bed bound, and you have capacity is physical capacity is extremely low, then what becomes possible may need a lot of support. And what's important in that support is how do you how do I get support, but I believe we're entering a new era around chronic illness and a lot of, there's just going to be a lot of change in the way that chronic illness is treated, that we are in an evolution of that presently. So it's tricky. It's definitely tricky still. But the support can be even through listening to the stories and realising that you're not alone, that can be some as well.
Unknown Speaker 56:11
And even if what you're really wanting is, you know, to not be alone, or to not feel alone, even if your dream is to feel a little bit of happiness, again, like that's possible for you. Like you mentioned, even if the listener is bed bound, and I don't know, the dream was to go do something somewhere where that's physically not possible. There are things that you know, that can bring you joy, and that can bring you support and friendships. And, you know, there's possibilities. And I feel like with a chronic illness, a lot of the times it's just so negative, like, No, I can't do this anymore. Here's in my row, like, this is life threatening, this is surgery, this is medical, blah, blah, blah, blah, like, you can't do anything anymore. And I really tried to preach that, like, whatever the dreams are. Keep dreaming.
Yeah. And I think that's a really beautiful way to talk about it, because some dreams may fall away. But for you our high, you know, we're not in the jobs, we thought we would have, likely, but we're still in jobs that we love, and in fact, are incredibly fulfilling. And you don't have to have full capacity to connect with you. And I even that's not a prerequisite. We're not here saying, Okay, if you want to do this, you have to have this level of capacity. Like we're like, what can we do? What can we share what we can can we connect with that supports you where you are? And what is possible? And that's why these conversations are important, because we're focused on what is possible, but really how to meet that within the process of living with chronic illness. Yeah, rather than it's over. And there's no help. Exactly. Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing with this, Natalie. I really appreciate it. And we're on opposite sides of the world. And we found a time that works for both of us within both our boundaries, all of Natalie's contacts, and that will be in our show notes. And you'll be able to follow her on Instagram, you'll be able to connect with her. And you'll also be able to go off and listen to the podcast. So finally, thank you so much, Natalie,
Unknown Speaker 58:25
thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.
Thanks so much for joining us. If you want to explore connecting and working with me, Michelle, you can chat to me at Michelle irving.com.au/cat. And we can book on a time to connect. And stay tuned for next week's episode where we have another gorgeous, magnificent woman sharing with us about how to navigate chronic illness in an empowered way.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai