My name is Deborah Bircham, and you could say that I have been unlucky with my health, having lived with chronic pain all my life, and then developing chronic Lyme Disease and Mast Cell Activation Syndrome as well! However, I actually consider it lucky, because my own experiences are what now enable me to support and understand others. Read more about my own experiences below, and how I now use these to help others.
I was born with a rare pain condition, which means that I have lived with chronic pain all my life. Then, in my mid-30s, after years of severe back pain, it was found I had 2 ruptured lumbar discs which were impacting on my spinal cord and I was losing the use of my leg. I had to have 2 spinal surgeries and now have a metal clip in my spine. Then, after a 4-year battle, I supported my dad through his last days with terminal prostate cancer.
I came through all of this, though, and in 2017, I began an exciting new phase in my life, with a new job, and I was looking forward to a much happier future. However, in March 2018 I became very suddenly ill, virtually overnight, with a long list of severe and puzzling symptoms that were affecting my whole body and my brain function. I very quickly realised that conventional medicine had little to offer me in the way of explanations or treatment, and when my standard tests all came back negative, my Doctors assured me there was ‘nothing wrong with me’, when I knew that I could barely function. I was left completely alone to try and live in a body that no longer seemed willing to work, and daily life become almost impossible. At my worst, I was unable to get out of bed for many months, and unable to do a jigsaw for an 8-year old. I lost my job, which was a devastating experience, and I felt very isolated, confused, and disillusioned, and the next 5 years saw me living with constant chronic illness. But I knew that it was not ‘all in my head’. I always remained clear that something had gone very wrong with my body, and I was determined to find a way to fix it.
I read, as much as I could, I spent hours researching and reading medical research, medical journals online, blogs, forums, doctor’s websites, listening to medical webinars and seminars online, and I learned. A lot! More than I ever wanted to learn about medicine and the workings of the human body! I found functional health practitioners who helped me understand better what was happening in my body, and I learned from them too. They did tests which showed that there was, indeed, something very wrong. I eventually also found conventional doctors who recognised some of my symptoms too and they finally confirmed my own suspicions and diagnosed me with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and Dysautonomia and put me on medications which improved my symptoms. But I quickly realised that masking the symptoms with drugs was not a long-term answer, and so I continued to read, and to learn, and to look for the underlying cause, and eventually, after 2 years, I was finally diagnosed with chronic Lyme Disease and co-infections, particularly Bartonella.
Since then, slowly, painfully slowly, through making changes to my diet, changes to my lifestyle, taking carefully selected supplements, and above all, treating for Lyme, I have regained my life. I am still unwell, and I still have bad days, but now I understand why that is and how to manage it, and life is good again. I am not well, but I am good. During my darkest days, when I felt like giving up, I vowed that I would find the answers for myself, and then I would do my best to help others who found themselves in this same situation. This website is my attempt to ‘return with the light’, and to help others who are suffering to find their own way out of the darkness. Your answers might not be the same as mine were, but I sincerely hope that there are elements here that will help you.
I am a qualified Hypnotherapist, I am a Registered Practitioner with the National Council of Integrative Psychotherapists, a qualified Teach 10 Mindfulness Teacher, and am fully insured to practice. I have studied counselling skills, coaching and psycho-therapeutic pain management techniques, I teach Mindfulness for Chronic Illness, and I have just qualified as a Health and Nutritional Coach, something which would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, and that shows just how far I have come in my own recovery. My ultimate goal is to be able to combine these skills to support people living with chronic illness to find the answers that they need and to live as well as they can with their own health problems.
My own experiences have taught me a lot, about searching for the underlying causes of chronic illness, and understanding what the body needs, how to address this holistically, how to accept and come to terms with changes to our life circumstances and to our bodies, and how to find a way to live with purpose and meaning with our body and our illnesses, rather than in spite of them. Using Mindfulness techniques, in particular, helped me to protect my mental well-being during the darkest times. This website is where I will share what I have learned, and what I am continuing to learn, both in my ongoing studies and on my own health journey, and I hope that you find something here that helps you, too.
I maintain continuous CPD, including attending webinars and lectures in Functional Medicine, Environmental Medicine, MCAS, Lyme Disease, Neuroscience, Pain Management and Mindfulness.
Nicola Auckland Photography