“At 36 years old, my life was as pretty much as close to perfect as it could get. I have an amazing husband, terrific friends, a house full of animals, a fantastic job and a great social life. I have no major worries or concerns and certainly nothing to complain about. I just couldn’t understand why, under such fortunate circumstances, I felt so exhausted all the time. Yes, I work long hours and am constantly on call, and my life is pretty busy. We have also had some challenges over the last few years that we have successfully navigated our way through but nothing that would justify me feeling the way that I had started to feel.

Gradually, over a number of years, my headaches had got worse to such an extent where I had a headache every day. My stomach and digestive system was shot to bits with daily nausea, sickness and an endless round of constipation and diarrhoea. I was tired; all the time, regularly falling asleep during the day at random times and could not sleep at night, however, all of this for me was okay and manageable. I told myself that it was normal and that I just needed a break and a holiday and didn’t even notice the progression. In my mind, it was simply burn-out.

My mood swings were unbearable, I felt like I was permanently under a woollen blanket and unable to concentrate, my memory was failing. I began to think that I was going mad. Again, I told myself that it was normal. Just a little bit of stress and tiredness and nothing a holiday wouldn’t solve. I managed my symptoms with an endless round of pain killers, stomach pills, anti-depressants, sleeping pills and alcohol and just kept going genuinely thinking that I was okay. No time to be ill and admit defeat… I am made of tougher stuff than that!

The next phase was slightly scarier. I was struggling to walk any great distance without having a hot flush, sweating, coughing and feeling faint. It was hugely embarrassing! I had a permanent cold in my nose and didn’t go anywhere without a box of tissues. Then I started to swell, or bloat. My husband noticed it first. He commented that I didn’t eat enough to be getting fat, but my face and body was swelling and bloating on a daily basis. I looked awful. I was permanently cold and shivering and could barely bring myself to get out of bed as I was so exhausted all of the time. I looked like I was on a heavy dose of steroids even though my Vegan diet could not have caused the type of weight gain I was experiencing. The worse I looked, the more awful I felt and the cycle continued. The more awful I felt, the more medication I took, and then for three months, my periods stopped completely. It was at this point my husband intervened and insisted that I do something telling me that there was something seriously wrong with me.

I was convinced beyond all shadow of a doubt that there was nothing wrong with me, that it was just burn-out, stress and tiredness, and that I needed a bit of a break, so the simple solution was to book a holiday. My husband was unable to get time off work, so it would be a holiday for one, which was not an appealing prospect for me. He was also not entirely convinced that a holiday would do the trick and fix all of the physical problems that I was experiencing. I made the decision that if I was going to have a break without him, it would have to be something that I could do on my own that would keep me occupied, and be something that he would never do. I started to Google ‘retreat’ and the first option that came up was Simply Healing.

I read the website with interest, a detox and weight loss retreat. The concept didn’t tick the boxes for me as I didn’t particularly want to detox, or lose weight – I just wanted to chill out for a bit, however the place looked gorgeous and there were lots of beautiful treatments on offer. I wasn’t too fussed about the weight loss element as when I am in a good frame of mind I can get any excess weight off myself very easily, but if a week away resulted in me losing a few pounds then that couldn’t be a bad thing. I called the retreat and booked myself in for 7-days.

I was petrified… My husband insisted that if I was going to do this, then I would have to do it properly. My laptop, iPad, iPhone and Blackberry were banned. I was permitted one old phone with only his number on it in case of emergencies. It really was cold turkey for me and I had no idea what I was walking into. My husband dropped me off at the front door, and in I went having no idea what to expect.

I received a hugely warm welcome, and there was no denying that there was an amazing calming energy about the place. Viv showed me to my room, which was gorgeous and overlooked a stunning view of the grounds. I sat down and considered my itinerary. An endless round of juice and treatments, followed by soup in the evening. Quite intimidating. I told myself to ‘man up’ and get on with it, it would do me good, and I ventured downstairs to meet the other ‘inmates’ for the first juice of the day. Well was I in for a surprise or what? A group of roughly 6-8 women, all different ages and sizes and all with a variety of different reasons for being there… many returning for a second or third visit. As I listened to the stories around the table I realised that it was going to be okay and that these were a group of lovely people. I was amazed… I don’t play nicely with others, (particularly not women), and yet the group gelled and got on really well. There was no judgement, animosity, back-biting or bitching and I was even fortunate enough to make a couple of really close friendships over the week, which was totally unexpected!

What followed over the subsequent 7-days was life changing. I learned that everything that was wrong with me physically was not ‘normal’ as I had thought, and was not a result of stress and exhaustion and my state of mind… I was physically unwell. I had been pumping my system with the wrong food and drink, coupled with excessive medication and alcohol over so many years and to such an extent that my system was just plain exhausted and giving up on me, hence my periods stopping! A blinding glimpse of the obvious… Suddenly it all made sense!

As the week progressed I began to enjoy and look forward to the juices and soups, and revelled in the novelty of waking up feeling well and not having a headache. I was not hungry, and I did not miss solid food at all. I had more energy than I can ever remember having! The more treatments I had, and the more time that passed the better I felt. It was such a huge relief to know that what had been wrong was not a result of my state of mind, but as a result of the way I had been treating myself physically, and could all be repaired.

I soaked everything up like a sponge and did everything that I was advised to do. I booked a Nutritional Consultation so that I had something in writing to follow and guide me when I left as I was determined not to go back to the way I was before. I was determined to start taking care of myself, in addition to making amends to my husband for everything that he has had to put up with from me over the years. I had no idea how bad I had got until the fog started to clear and suddenly, the harsh reality hit that I had been sickly and horrible to live with for ages! He has the patience of a Saint.

I have been ‘out’ for just over a week now and have maintained the juice and soup diet for the time being, along with taking all of the supplements recommended. I am much more productive at work and have seriously slowed down on the amount of hours that I put in… the business hasn’t suffered, and no one has complained as everything is still being done! I am still feeling great and have boundless amounts of energy… not only that, I look and feel so much better having lost a grand total of 11lbs in the week that I was there!

I genuinely believe that Simply Healing saved my life. Everything has changed for the better as a result of me being there, and whilst I thought before that my life was as close to perfect as it could get, putting a visit to Simply Healing into my journey has shown me the importance of taking care of my physical wellbeing (not just my mental wellbeing), and as a result, my life really is now perfect. I owe the Simply Healing team a debt of gratitude for giving me back to me.”

Clair D (July 2013)