When I say ‘I understand what you’re going through” – it’s because I do. My health journey – this will surprise you!

Home » Happiness » When I say ‘I understand what you’re going through” – it’s because I do. My health journey – this will surprise you!

How I deal with mystery illness, chronic pain &  life and death experiences

Its 8 years ago since  I really began struggling with my own serious health challenges. These health challenges came as a shock to me when they happened, but I have since learned about some of the key factors that may have caused them. I am sharing them here with you, as my real testimony about sickness, stress, happiness and the healing power of  holistic medicine.

This side of the story has rarely been told in such detail. If you know me now, knew me then, or are about to know me, you will probably be more than a little surprised!

Childhood asthma and allergies

I had asthma since I was a child, probably due to an unstable childhood. The asthma brought with it some serious allergies; to animal hair, pollen and dust, which had me on frequent doses of steroids, anti histamines and hospital visits. When I was in my 30’s I was so allergic to my beloved dog Molly, I ended up back in the hospital on a ventilator, and had to make the heart breaking decision to give Molly away.    It was around then that I knew I had to make some changes in my health care and so I chose to be treated with Acupuncture.  This was my first experience of holistic medicine, it worked well, radically reduced my allergies, which allowed me to reduce the medications. It was then that I first thought of studying acupuncture myself. I began studying herbs and essential oils and creating effective remedies to combat allergies and asthma.  20 years later I have never had another severe asthma attack, have never been back in hospital for it, I don’t use an inhaler and have hardly any allergies to dogs!  I live in Hawaii where many people suffer from VOG and respiratory symptoms and amazingly and thankfully, I’m fine!

I was always a light sleeper, sometimes tending towards occasional insomnia. Apart from that,I was strong, energetic and fit and rarely had any pain in my body. I was also very happy and carefree by nature.

Wild Child

I lived a very adventurous and often times extreme lifestyle. I have spent most of my life travelling: India, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and America. When I was 20 I left England on my first year long trip. I travelled on a motor bike, through Europe and all the way to Israel (and back!). I picked up some pretty serious parasites/bacteria along the way, which I have since effectively treated with herbal medicine. I also contracted chicken pox while I was living in Israel. I had no money for health care and so had to let it run its course without intervention, leaving a few deep scars and a weakened immune system.

DJ Lush

In my 30’s as well as being a primary school teacher, I was also a DJ, which meant I lived the ‘rock’n’roll’ lifestyle for many years. I was DJing in clubs in the early hours of the morning, and usually not getting any sleep all weekend. I know now, that this extreme lifestyle, fun as it was, probably further weakened my immune system and gave root to the adrenal exhaustion I was to suffer with a few years later.

Suicide Bombers and PTSD

In my late 30’s I left England again, this time to take a teaching position at the British School of Saudi Arabia.
6 months after moving there, the compound where I lived was bombed by suicide bombers. Our homes were blown apart. There were deaths and injuries.  This tragedy caused a huge amount of shock to my system, again the real symptoms of which I was to still suffer with years later.

We were evacuated back to England. We were offered PTSD therapy, many of the teachers took it, I didn’t. In-fact a few months later, I returned to Saudi to help rebuild the devastated British School Community. I lived for almost a year, on the bombsite. further impacting the stress to my emotional & immune  system. It was then, that my insomnia began to really kick in, and I frequently relied on sleeping medications. That being said, despite these conditions, my outlook was still positive and I was happy. I was busy helping to heal the wounds of this British Community. I had lots of children and families in my care. I taught Yoga, offered Life Coaching Sessions and held Reiki Circles.

The compound of the Al-Hamra compound where I lived in Riyadh, after the May 12, 2003 suicide bombers attack.

Al Hamra Compound Riyadh – where I was living when it was attacked by suicide bombers.  I lived here for over a year as we rebuilt the British School community.

 It was these experiences that have since inspired my specialized study/certifications in NADA & BATTLEFIELD auricular acupuncture for Trauma.

My move to Japan: Hashimoto’s & Tsunami

I met my wonderful husband in Saudi and we married there in 2008. I was super happy and enjoyed a month long honey money before we relocated to Japan. My husband is in the US Navy. We lived on a military base. It was Winter and the Base was a bleak place to be. I didn’t have a job, friends or home. For the first time in my life, I felt very out of place. I became lonely, bored,frustrated and unhappy. I had way too much time on my hands and it was as if my body finally caught up with all the stress and I crashed.  Within a few months of being there, I was diagnosed with:

  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Allergies
  • Sciatica

According to the doctors, these conditions are: ”quite normal for a woman of my age!” 

Diagnosis: Autoimmune Disease & Fibromyalgia,

Soraya's Autoimmune Disease Symptoms

This is me in 2010 – Swollen eyelids are a symptom of autoimmune disease.

I had a sharp pain in my left hip.  I had an MRI, nothing showed.  It got worse and worse and the pain moved and spread all over my body.

My body constantly ached, not just the joints, but all the muscles. I felt like my skin was too tight for my body and everytime I moved I was in pain.

At times I was in so much pain that teaching yoga was difficult, but Yoga was my passion and so I continued, I learnt to modify the poses, and this lead me to teaching private yoga therapy and meditation classes.
These symptoms became progressively worse. My blood pressure remained high. The pain in my body made my insomnia worse. My vision was often blurry. My legs would suddenly become weak and shake, there were times when I could not stand up.   My eyelids would randomly swell up.   I couldnt go out of the house for days – because I looked like this:

I continued my  visits to the doctors, who continued to dose me up with medications.

I became more anxious and frustrated, causing stress on my new marriage. We were both suffering and this caused arguments, tension and resentments.

 My health continued to decline. I was referred to Neurologists, who diagnosed me with these autoimmune diseases:

    • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

(the irony of being diagnosed with a Japanese thyroid condition!)

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Uticaria

I could not believe what had happened to me (and neither could my husband). I had gone from being a strong, active, healthy, lively and happy independent woman, to being someone in constant pain, so miserable and frustrated that at times I felt suicidal.

I was now taking a host of medications including:

Soraya's journey
  •          Ambien
  •         Xanax
  •         Elavil
  •         Levothyroxine
  •        Cyclobenzaprin
  • Lidoderm Pain Patches

Stress and Sickness

After a few months of taking all these medications, experiencing some serious side effects, and actually not feeling any better, I had had enough. I left my job at the library because I was in too much pain to stand all day. I decided to do my own research about my symptoms and sickness and about the medications I was taking. This is when I began my Naturopathy studies, which led to my certification as Natural Health Consultant.  I understood that elements of my adventurous life, combined with the bouts of emotional shocks I had been through in the last 10 years, accompanied with my now current state of frustration, unhappiness and stress, had been the catalyst for the autoimmune diseases to take hold.

Blind Faith &  a Blind Acupuncturist

It wasn’t easy for me to find holistic healthcare in Iwakuni, Japan.   The next 12 months were extremely expensive, required patience, courage and hours of my time. I began treatments with a blind Japanese acupuncturist, we couldn’t communicate and he couldn’t see me! But his treatments did help relieve some of the symptoms and deepened my belief in Acupuncture. I found a wonderful Japanese Homeopath, who told me she believed that my sickness was a result of stress and frustration. I began to see the connection between health, stress & happiness.

Taking medications did not resonate well with me, so against the advice of the doctors, I stopped taking them and learnt about natural supplements instead.  This decision was directly influenced by the excellent book by Ray D. Strand M.D: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutritional Medicine May Be Killing You

2011 Tsunami

We were living in Japan when the 2011 Tsunami devastated the country. This was another very stressful time.  I have no doubt that the radiation from that catastrophic event, was also detrimental to my thyroid.

Hawaii called my name

During this time of extensive research I became more interested in Kundalini Yoga. I was guided to  come to Big Island of Hawaii for a month long Kundalini Yoga teacher training. As a Hatha yoga teacher, I already knew and had experienced the many benefits of yoga, but Kundalini Yoga took me to a whole new level! It literally changed my life! Kundalini yoga strengthened my nervous system, energized my immune system, taught me how to tap into the endless reserves of universal energy and reconnected me with my soul.

Due to this time in my life of dealing with my own sickness, the limitations of mainstream medicine and healing myself with holistic therapies, I was totally inspired and ready  to manifest my dream of studying acupuncture. I met the wonderful astrologer Tom Kaypacha Lescher.  He read my chart, which showed that I should move to Hawaii to study acupuncture with Taoist Master Dr. Chang at the World Medicine Institute! I returned to Japan and to my husband with renewed life, energy, passion and a vision! I continued on my healing path using holistic therapies. Our last year in Japan was a happy one! I had a wonderful group of girlfriends and a dedicated group of Kundalini yogis and a happy marriage. Through the power of kundalini yoga, I manifested our move to Hawaii in 2011. Hawaii called me to heal myself and others, to study acupuncture and to teach Kundalini Gong Bliss, I answered the call.
Soraya Faris When we moved to Hawaii in 2011, I was  on the road to recovery, but still had a long way to go. I am truly grateful to some wonderful therapists on this Island who were there to help me on this healing journey.

“Physician, Heal Thyself”

On the first day of Acupuncture School, Dr. Chang told us, “You cannot become healers of others until you have first healed yourself.”

It was then I knew why I was called here.  I spent the next 3 years in school studying acupuncture, herbal medicine, & the Taoist healing arts. All the time I was learning to help others heal, I was also learning to heal myself.  Dr. Chang used to call me her ‘delicate flower’  because I was so sensitive to acupuncture needles that I couldn’t let anyone treat me!  (worst acupuncture student ever!) lol

Still in recovery & still happy!

I could not have continued living with the level of pain and random symptoms that I was dealing with back then.   And so, I know, I have come a long way in my own healing.  That being said, it is still a daily practice, I am often in joint pain, usually ankles, hips, back and neck.  I have hypoglycemia that i have to keep in check with diet.   I have chronic insomnia that I am always dealing with.  I am still searching for the miracle cure, the supplement, the sound, the kriya, the food, the pill, the potion that will completely cure me, and when I find it, I will let you know!

Til then, my advice is stay hopeful, spend time with happy people, do what you love (if you physically can), come to kundalini yoga, find  holistic therapists that you love and trust and go see them as often as possible,  pray, praise, chant, be happy, celebrate, be silly, be grateful, believe in god, believe in yourself,  believe in magic and miracles, make vision boards, love with every cell of your body, count your blessings not your grievances, have fun, sing, laugh, dance, turn the tv off, turn the music on, focus on the good stuff, forget the rest, get a puppy – better still get 2!

It is because of these ‘real life’ experiences that I have the passion, belief, knowledge and skills  in these holistic health therapies. I continue to heal myself with Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and yoga. I am honored to offer these therapies to you, to help you on your journey to radiant health and happiness.

Here’s some of the things I have learned along my healing journey:

  • Health, stress and happiness are intrinsically linked.
  • That the body responds immediately to stressors and that long term stress is a killer.
  • That most physical stress originates from emotional stress.
  • That happiness is a key factor for a strong immune system.
  • Medication is an effective short term fix, but in the long term can result in serious side effects which lead to taking more medication.
  • That sickness is often seen as ‘normal’ especially if you are female and in your 40’s!
  • That having something in your life that you are passionate about will give you energy and health.
  • That autoimmune diseases often occur after times of emotional shock and stress.
  • That holistic medicine often seems subtle, but it works by strengthening your life force and has no negative side effects.
  • That illness and health challenges can effect anyone at any time and that compassion is the way to treat yourself and others who are suffering.
  • That laughter (and glitter) is the best medicine!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I share it to give you insight, information and inspiration for your own healing journey.   Blessings, Soraya

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Acupuncture & Biofeedback Therapy

Kaneohe Pain Relief Center
45-696 Kamehameha Hwy
Kaneohe, HI 96744

Acupuncture & Biofeedback Therapy