Today I am joined by the wonderful Susan Birch. She shares with us the difficult trauma she suffered and some of the tools she used to help herself begin healing. Susan stresses the important role that nutrition and self-care play in your healing journey. Making you and your health a priority helps you deal with traumas and the other stressors of life. Listen in for some excellent advice for your healing journey.
About our guest:
Susan has been passionate about health for more than 40 years. She strives to help people lose weight and prioritize their health, so they can experience greater personal and professional success and live meaningful lives. Her healthy lifestyle and extensive knowledge mean Susan is ideally placed to help other people learn good eating habits and how to look after themselves.
She focuses on finding the root cause of her client’s health problems and then working out solutions. “If we expect our bodies to last us for a lifetime, they deserve to be treated well. But first, we need to know what treating them well really means”.
In 2020 during the Covid outbreak, Susan set up “A Healthy NZ” and began making videos about eating for good health to help others. This quickly progressed into YouTube interviews with nutritional scientists, doctors, and researchers from all around the world. There are now over 150 videos available on the Susan Birch – The Health Detective channel, with more added each month.
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I know you, you are afraid to speak up. You are scared of what other people think of you. And you blame yourself for what happened to you. I know how it feels. Because I’ve been there. If you found me, I’m so grateful you’re here. This podcast will give you hope. And now I’m your host, Anna ditchburn. I’m going to hold your hand and provide the guidance that I needed the most. It’s time for you to find your why. And turn your experience into your superpower. So lock your door. Put your headphones in, and enjoy. Susan Birch Kiora Tena koutou Tena koutou Tena koutou katoa. Welcome to the world’s best Trauma Recovery podcast.Susan Birch:
Kiora. Anna, thank you very much for having me.Anna Ditchburn:
My dear listeners, let me introduce my dearest friend, and honorary member of my mastermind Alliance, and a person who helped me to lose five kilos in five days before my wedding day. So I look stunning. Susan is also helping people with higher cholesterol, diabetes and heart diseases, to understand what is going on, so they can make better decisions for their own health. Susan is also known as a health detective. And the world’s best best self care coach, Susan, what does self care means to you,Susan Birch:
self care means doing the things that are necessary to take care of your body in the way that your body deserves to be looked after. And we often think of self care as things like having facials having our hair done during our Nanos nice smelly candles in the spa while we relax, and those things are all self care as well. And I think they are very important. But our body has a real need for quality nutrition for nutrients. And often, I think there’s a real misunderstanding that we think that protein and carbs and fat. That’s what everyone talks about, we think about how much of those should be eat, we be eating, how many calories are in those, but what our bodies really need, the nutrients that those bring to us. And I think that’s something that’s got a little bit of loss in the, in the focus over the last 40 or 50 years of the way nutrient or nutrition has changed. So self care means really understanding how to nourish your body, and really understanding how to energize your body. And when I talk about energizing, that includes exercise, but recovery from exercise. And it’s not necessarily about always having to run marathons or do crossfit games, but about, again, just taking care of all those physical structures in your body in a really healthy way. And it’s got to be individualized because we’re all different. And we’ve all got different capabilities. And we have a different exercise requirements and different nutrition requirements. So I’ve spent, gosh, nearly 40 years, over 30 years learning about this, trying to understand how it all comes together and then being able to help people put that into place.Anna Ditchburn:
Why is it so important? To care for yourself,Susan Birch:
hearing for yourself, gives you the gives you that energy gives you the clarity of thought. It gives you the self confidence, to be able to go out and do the things that you want in your personal life in your professional life. And caring for yourself helps keep your mind calm and helps you cope with stress and struggles and you know the challenges and the chat tragedies that we all come across in our lives that helps us believe in ourselves. And I think that’s one of the biggest reasons that people don’t keep for themselves as because of a real lack of belief in themselves. And then we need and so by caring for yourself nourishing yourself energizing, and then doing anything, doing all those lovely restore restorative things as well, like spars and nails, and in those things, just really enables people to live their life to their, to their maximum benefit. I just see so many people who come to me and incredibly fatigued, they go to the doctors, and the doctor runs some blood tests and says, Oh, you’re fine. You know, here’s an antidepressant, here’s a sleep medication, here’s a statin, yep, go away, eat it. But let’s do a bit more exercise. They don’t tell you how to do any of that. And they really miss a whole lot of information that we can get know from the various kinds of testing that can then help people build the body in a way that enables them to go out and live their life to that potential that they have done. I hope that that answered the question.Anna Ditchburn:
You nailed it. You absolutely nailed it. It’s not many people actually would care about themselves. Through my own healing journey, I would care about everyone and everything, but not about myself. Because I thought, I’m not really worthy. Who am I, you know, it’s selfish, to care about myself. But you absolutely nailed it. Without self care, you can’t help really others. You can’t care about others, until until you’re an empty bucket. She isn’t what do you do for your self care.Susan Birch:
So for my self care, I really take charge of my eating. And you know, that doesn’t mean that I don’t, that I don’t enjoy some chocolate and I don’t splurge out and that I can’t have a good time and go out and have a really great meal and some lovely desserts. But overall, I really take control of my of my eating. So nutrition is one of the key ways that I take care of myself, and I suppose I have a benefit in I really have a deep understanding of nutrition. So I know what I should be eating and Nia, adjust my nutrition according to how I feel what my energy is like, if I’m hungry, I eat more if I’m not hungry, I don’t eat so much just to my exercise, and then exercises my other aspect of self care. So I’m a real big believer in woman lifting weights. I’ve been lifting weights for 43 years now nearly 44 Yes. So I think there are fundamental to our health. And a lot of people are really endurance, have a tendency towards to want to wanting to do endurance. And part of that is because we think that running and biking and those activities, burn calories. And so I think that if you enjoy that it’s great, but just do as a woman, make sure you lift some weights. A lot of our body image problems are really because we’re under muscled, not because we’re overfed. And we were often worried about our fat, but if we had a little bit more muscle, then some of those body image issues would go away. As well as sleep is important for self care. I don’t always practice what I preach. So I preach all the good sleep habits to my clients and encourage them to follow them and I don’t always do it myself. But sleep is definitely very, very important for self care. And it’s really important that in gyms are helping us manage our weight, and I don’t know if people tracked it, but you know, if you have a bad night’s sleep or a couple of bad night’s sleep and you get on the scales, you’ll see your weight will go up. And that’s not because you’ve added some fat that’s because of water retention and inflammation in your body. And then you’ll get really hungry as well and you have a lot less control over what you’re going to eat when you’ve had a bad night’s sleep. So sleep, you know, learning to sit some good sleep structure is really important. And then having fun and laughing and sharing good times with people that you love is super important. I think the other thing that has been a long slow journey for me with self care is to actually get rid of the toxic people out of your life. So you have to learn to say no. Learn to set boundaries, learn when relationships are no longer fulfilling for you or the other person,Anna Ditchburn:
what a great advice isn’t. And it’s so simple, honestly. But not many people would follow this. And I want to expand a little bit more on nutrition. Because through my own healing journey, I’ve realized how important to get a good nutrition into my body for my mental health. When you talk about nutrition, what are you talking about? Is it vegetables, fruits, animal fat, what would you? What do you suggest, usually to your clients.Susan Birch:
So when I talk about nutrition, I talk about it in two different there’s two different aspects to nutrition. So as I touched on earlier, we have that the calories which I call energy, so we have the energy aspect of nutrition. And our energy comes from carbohydrates and fats, so they both provide our body with the energy we need. And I think the energy is being like plugging into that you’re plugging your computer into the power into the power. So that power is giving your computer the energy that it needs to run. And then we have the nutrients that we need in our body. And those are all the vitamins and minerals and trace elements that that are absolutely essential. So I talk about the nutrients has been part of the chemical factory and our body. And so you imagine that you’ve got a paint factory, and you want to cook, make some blue paint. So you’ve got to have specific chemicals coming in going around that paint factory to be able to produce that blue paint. And if one of those chemicals is missing, you don’t make blue paint, you might make red paint or black paint, or you might not make any paint at all. And that’s what happens in our body. So if we’re missing any of those nutrients, first thing that happens is our ability to make energy really decreases. And our sense of health and wellness is based purely on how much energy we have. So you know, people talk about labor and labor and energy, right. And labor, labor, labor.Anna Ditchburn:
Yeah, just for to clarify labor is my husband.Susan Birch:
So Labor’s like the Energizer Bunny, you know, he’s full of energy. And you know, people comment on Labor’s energy. And when people don’t feel well, really, what they’re saying is, I have a lack of energy. And so when you’ve got cardiovascular disease, your heart is lacking the energy, it’s lacking the ability to make the energy then it needs. And that goes for all the different chronic diseases that that we all have, when we have depression, our brains are able out the cells and our brains aren’t able to make the energy that we need to be able to operate properly. So the first thing we got to look at is, are we getting all the nutrients and that we need to be able to create that energy. So when we can’t make energy, we end up with everybody would have probably heard of oxidative stress. And people take antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress, and inflammation. So when we can’t make energy, what happens is we end up with oxygen, doing damage inside of our body. And so when oxygen starts doing damage inside of our body, we get inflammation. And then that’s where when we get pain, we get all these other symptoms. You know, we get high blood pressure, we get fibromyalgia, we get depression. We start developing type two, diabetes, anxiety, all those things, chronic fatigue, you know, that whole like I just can’t get out of bed in the morning, and very little attention is paid to that part of nutrition. Everybody wants to know, you know how many grams of carbs I should be eating or how many grams of fat I should be eating. When we look at what we should be eating to get those nutrients we have to go back to ancestral nutrition because we evolved For over millions of years eating the food that was available to us, and our bodies adapted, you know, evolution took place. And so we adapted to require those foods and those nutrients in those ratios in those quantities to be able to make our chemical factory work. And then we require the energy, the power plant to plug in, so so that it could keep running. So the energy came from carbohydrates and fats. So from an ancestral perspective, we ate whatever was available, and we adapted to it. And mostly, that was protein, there was always protein with fat. But there would be some times depending where people lived, what part of the world they were in, they would be some fruit, they would be vegetables, they would be tubers, and things like that. So we can be flexible, we can be flexible around those things. And it’s a matter of people finding what they enjoy, and having the right balance. But I’m a very big believer in animal foods and our diet. And that’s because they do provide that essential nutrition component that we need to keep this chemical factory running properly.Anna Ditchburn:
Susan, thank you so much for such an answer. And the reason I brought this, this question up, because I tested on myself, when I was going through a really hard time, I anxiety and depression at some point as well. I’ve noticed I’m a huge believer in mind, body and spirit. You can’t you can’t just focus on your body without mind and spirit. And same on your mind without body and spirit, and spirit without warranty in mind. I 100% convinced that it’s all linked. And when I when I started my Keto diet, and then carnivore diet, I’ve noticed huge, tremendous improvement in my mental health. This, this fatigue just lifted up, I’ve noticed that my mood became more stable. I’ve noticed that I my anxiety reduced tremendously. And my depression is gone. And I honestly believe that the best source of energy is any more fat. We can survive on carbs, as well. But I don’t think it works well on a long, long scale. What I’m trying to say is, I’m not trying to give a medical advice. I’m trying to share my own experience. And Susan, when I met you, when we when we share my analysis with you, my cholesterol level was perfect. My vitamin B everything was so great. I was really surprised. It really helped me to go through my trauma recovery really helped. And I think it would be beneficial for someone who is going through a similar situation right now.Susan Birch:
I think animal animal foods have very, very unique properties that you can’t get out of plant based foods. They are the nutrients and Mo animal foods are a lot more bio available to our body. So even things like iron. So you’ll hear that you can get iron out of plant foods and spinach. And it’s a different kind of iron. It’s non heme iron compete with the heme iron you get from animal foods. Vitamin A is another one and there are all these plant foods it supposedly could be vitamin A you know and eat your carrot so you can see at night, but the kind of vitamin A our body needs is original. And the kind of vitamin A that comes in carrots is beta carotene. And it’s about a 12 to one conversion process. So you’ve probably got to eat you know a kilogram of carrots at every meal to be able to get enough beta carotene to convert to retinol. And I could go on and on and on through all the nutrients. Vitamin beachwear which is so important for the function of so many enzymes in our body and for our mental health is not available in plant foods that’s only available animal foods. So animal foods are really important for every aspect of health and particularly for our mental health. So I’m not surprised that the what you experienced happened. And I see that over and over again with people.Anna Ditchburn:
Last question on nutrition. Some people would say, but I’m taking vitamins and and some vitamin B 12. Iron, what’s your thoughts on on those?Susan Birch:
That’s a really complex question. With things like iron, with things like iron. Often iron deficiency is really a copper deficiency. So many people get diagnosed with an iron deficiency take extra iron, and in actual fact, they don’t have enough copper. And then without enough copper, your iron gets stored in your tissues causing tons of damage, damaging your liver, damaging your brain damaging your heart. But you haven’t got enough iron running around your body to, you know, help with oxygen transport. And you need copper for that and you need copper to be and another enzyme and protein called Serrano plasm. And most people have probably never even heard on this stuff. So taking vitamins and minerals, I’m not opposed to it, there are times when they’re really useful. But if you take a multivitamin, who decides what goes in? Who decides what form of that vitamin as that might say, B 12? But is it cyano? cobalamin? Or methyl? cobalamin? You know, what form? Is your folate and folic acid? Or is it from that? What form? Is your vitamin A is beta carotene? Or was it retinol? Do we really need to be taking vitamin D, that’s another controversial topic. Vitamin D blocks vitamin A receptors, you know, it’s it’s a really complex interaction of all of these all of these vitamins. But when we can get it from food, it’s in the form that our body recognizes. When it comes in our animal foods, that’s exactly what we’re evolved to need. The ratios are all correct. And our body instantly recognizes that. And it’s spiral available. And that’s something that’s very misunderstood about plant based nutrition and also supplements. So many supplements aren’t bio available, you know, we have all these magnesium supplements that people take half of them are really poorly absorbed. People take I think we’re seeing all this zinc stuff at the moment, the zinc and vitamin D, you know, protect you from COVID was zinc box copper uptake. And so now you get into another problem. And then and then you’ve got you can’t, you can’t bind copper to iron and then you can transport iron around the body. It’s just, it’s just as a really complex maze of interactions going on. That the public don’t in general, and they don’t understand and they shouldn’t understand. But always just say who decides what goes on these Vironment poles? How much? Why, exactly how long? Are you going to take them for? Exactly,Anna Ditchburn:
exactly. Susan, what resources do you use to help your clients if someone would love to get in contact with you to learn more about nutrition and self care?Susan Birch:
I have, I run two different kinds of programs. So I have the health detective program and the health detective does one on one consultations and has a look at people’s blood tests to determine what’s going on and see if we can find the root cause of problems. And will help by making recommendations around nutrition. And that might be to, you know, reverse type two diabetes, for example. So we will have a look at blood sugars and figure out what a person can eat. So that’s one side of what I do. And I do a lot of other testing. I do hormonal testing and stool testing and organic acids testing. So so that’s the health detective side. The other side of what I do is the self care side. And the self care side is really a sight I have a six month program. And we make twice a week and I find that anything less than six months doesn’t really work. Because Because although it’s easy to talk about changing your nutrition, changing your mindset and your belief in yourself and adapting those habits to a new way of taking care of yourself and loving yourself and believing that you’re absolutely worth the effort. does take some time. So and that program we do we do a lot of testing if people want it So people have got their test results, we have look at those. And we do a lot of nutrition planning. But then we also work on neuro change. So we look at how we can rewire our brains, to learn to love, and accept ourselves, and then take those small tiny steps towards proper self care.Anna Ditchburn:
I love it. Because I saw your program. And it’s just amazing. You cover you cover everything, which will we need, Susan and I will, I will leave it for our listeners to check your website, because you have such an amazing information over there, and your podcast, which is just the golden nugget of knowledge and experience. But I really want to talk about your background, because I know you shared with me your story, which is heartbreaking. And just for the content, where did your trauma start from?Susan Birch:
I think for most of us, it’s hard to really pinpoint where our trauma started from, I feel I I can really relate to people because I know what it feels like to have a really poor body image and to feel self disgust and to look in the mirror and think, Oh, my God, you are just so ugly and so disgusting. I think that getting the nutrition and exercise was was my house Self Help Program. And I experienced the same issue did, and I got better, I got a lot better, my mental health improved, my moods improved, I could like my body a little bit more, I still don’t really like myself, but I could like my body a little bit more. So we did all that stuff. I think it’s a collision of a whole lot of different things that happen in life. I had meningococcal meningitis when I was a child. And I survived it. But I went from or so my mum told me, I went from being able to talk and being this outgoing, bright little girl to really struggling with language. And having a having a hard time, I had a very difficult time through school, I really struggled to read and write. And I could sort of read, but I couldn’t say the words out loud. Even now I struggle with a lot of words. And depending on the day of the week, you know how well my brain is functioning. Some days, I can remember words, and I can pronounce them. And other days I can other days it might go to say something and I have to stop and think, Okay, what’s another word I can use because because I can’t get I can’t form the words and the letters and the sound. It’s happening toAnna Ditchburn:
me all the time. All the time.Susan Birch:
kind of speak a different language so I can, I can understand. And I can, I can understand that that process of like really looking, really looking for a word and looking to make the sound of that word. So I wasn’t a great student. And I came from a large family and you know, rural family. And we had, you know, lots of different family dynamics. We’re a very poor family. I didn’t do particularly well at school. And when I left school, I went to work in a nearby city and got mixed up with the wrong people ending up with me being brutally raped by a biker gang. And that did nothing for me, to nothing for me, or my self confidence. So that was traumatic in itself. And even now I have to be really careful that I don’t go down. I don’t go down that hole of self loathing and self disgust. But it’s definitely a lot better then than it used to be. And so I sort of bumbled along in life, I married my husband who was has a really, really nice guy, and we started a family. But when I had my first baby, and I can remember holding him in my arms and thinking, Oh my God, I want a different I want a different life. This isn’t I don’t want this for my child, and I want to be a really good thoughtful mum. And yeah, I just wanted a different life for my children. So I I had already started learning to read and write starting to teach myself to read and write and I went back to school and got my unit city entrance and New Zealand. And then I went and did a few different papers from one of the universities, we could do it by correspondence I did. I did pick some random papers and things like art history and education and philosophy and sociology, and I had more more kids. So by the time I had my third child, I’d got into the exercise and nutrition and the exercise physiology and the nutrition and I knew I’d found my niche. And so, you know, 30 years later, more than 30 years later, I’m still studying exercise and nutrition. And yeah, and then just feel very passionate about how much that helped me, and just really want to help other people with that.Anna Ditchburn:
You are amazing citizen. I just want to go back a little bit. When did you decide that you have those thoughts, that you are ugly, or triggered those thoughts?Susan Birch:
They probably they probably came from when I was young, they were probably a few things that converged together, we’re used to so I went to a school called who you don’t mildly school and we were a toner. And so each week in our class, the classmates used to vote for the best the prettiest girl on the prettiest boy or whatever. And my mom was really particular, you know, like my school uniform was always neatly pressed and my hair was always had a hair tie in it. And you know, we’ve always had clean faces and handkerchiefs. And I never ever got my class that makes never picked me ever. And after some time, the teacher virtually, you know, because they all just pick each other, the teacher virtually told them that they had to pick me well, you know, that was my interpretation. So that was a time when I felt like, Ah, I’m not very pretty, I’m not very attractive. I’m not very likable. And then we had a photographer come to school, and mom had got some family photos taken. And, you know, we were so excited and so proud to have these family photos. And I was laughing my head off, you know, and I said smiles like this great big laughing smile. And then mum printed the photo, got a copy of the photo and put it in a frame and gave it to my grandma for a Christmas present. And it went on her piano and who live in Britain who already have a smart room, they seem separate, you know. So went in there. And we used to go and see grandma at Christmas. And I can remember walking into the room and my aunties and uncles were laughing at I heard them commenting on my teeth, and I have big teeth. And so they were commenting on my teeth, and my laughter and I felt so humiliated. And I never, I, I spent years and years trying not to smile, and I would refuse to be in front of a camera. And you can ask my kids. I mean, there are a few photos, family photos of me, but there’s no photos of me with my kids, I hated it, I would just refuse and and I wouldn’t smile, I’d always just keep my face in a very, you know, non smiling positions. It wouldn’t be seen. So I think I already had sort of those issues and thoughts going on inside of me. I already I wasn’t very good at the dinnertime debates. So dad would always have a debate. And you know, my family are very smart, very well. And they’re all very well educated. But they were all very quick and smart. And I couldn’t keep up with the debate. So that added to my sense of, you know, failure and adequacy. And I can remember lying in bed one night hearing mum and dad talking about what are we going to do with Susan and basically they taught me to be a really good housewife, they taught me to be how to look after the family how to clean how to cook. So then I had some skills under my belt when I got older. And it was a real internal struggle I I still feel the you know, like this potential that I had inside of me that just really wanted to be released. But I was encased in this world of not being able to communicate particularly clearly. I was a very, very angry teenager. I probably had a pretty violent temper. I was desperate to have friends and fit in and be one of the crowd which is how I ended up in that situation I ended up on. And yeah, I just, I just remember this absolutely incredible frustration. And I couldn’t really drink, never been able to drink because as soon as I would drink alcohol, that anger and that frustration would have a release valve. And out, that would come. And I’d sort of express all these emotions that I had inside of me that my head kept locked up. Really,Anna Ditchburn:
thank you for sharing, Susan, I really appreciate it. You know, there’s so many people who would have this childhood trauma, that they wouldn’t even realize they have it. And I just want to, I just want to ask you, this gang raping? How did it impact your life in the future? What’s happened after thisSusan Birch:
wouldn’t tell anybody. And it was so stupid at the time because I’d been at this party, which was across the road. And I don’t know whether they spiked my drink, or whether I just couldn’t handle my alcohol. But anyway, for the guys there, walked me home. Now, one of them was the boyfriend of the girl who had invited me to the party. So anyway, they did this, and I woke up in the morning, you know, just, you know, there was vomit everywhere, blood everywhere, I was just naked on the floor, it was just was just an absolute mess. And I was probably very hung over. And I don’t know what got into me. But I went across the road to tell tell my friend what had happened. And her and her girlfriends beat me up, because I’d slept with the boyfriends. And so I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t tell my parents, there was no way I would tell my parents. Why? Well, after my father killed me, he probably would have killed them. They would, I suppose I didn’t really feel like there’d be any support. I felt that my mum would say, Well, that’s what you would expect of Susan, you know, that that would be typical of Susan, my father would be angry, but he’d also be disgusted with me and he’d be so angry that I was drinking. And so I felt that I wouldn’t be as much to blame is, you know, as the bikie boys were. And yes, I just decided that I would deal with it by myself. Now, I was very fortunate. I went to work the next day, and I was, you know, black eyes and bleeding nose and, you know, was bruised. And there’s a very wonderful lady that I worked with who was a little bit older than me. And she took me out for a cup of tea and sat me down and said, and she said, I’m really worried about you, what’s going on. And so I told her, and she was amazing. And she helped. She really, really helped me get through it. And it was with her that I got through it. She wanted me to report it to the police. But I I wouldn’t. These people lived across the road. My parents knew their parents, and so I wouldn’t report it to the police. So it was a pretty, it was a pretty dark time. I remember being absolutely petrified at night, I wouldn’t go to bed and sleep on the sofa because I was too scared to go down to the other end of the house. I remember hiding in the wardrobe, when there was noises.Anna Ditchburn:
I understand it’s not easy to share. ButSusan Birch:
it’s that it’s your fault. No. And, you know, to some extent, that was my fault. ButAnna Ditchburn:
you know, Susan, I resonate with you so much. Because for 20 years, I’ve been blaming myself for what’s happened to me. I didn’t even have an idea that it can be my stepfather’s fault, not even an idea. I took on all the shame. I took all the guilt on me. And I was beating myself up for what’s happened. And now I am truly believe that it’s always the responsibility of the perpetrators. Always, and I told you all the camera, exactly the same. No one has a right to touch your body, no matter in what conditions you are no matter. You know, I was reading this book, courage to heal. And the author was saying something really, really real that struck me the most and she was saying that even if your daughter or son may Kids jump on you, and start begging you for sex and normal men, normal, responsible men would push away his child and say, Hey, you have some trouble, you have some issues here, go and put your clothes on. And let’s talk. That’s how it’s supposed to be. If a man was taken advantage of the situation, that’s not the fault of a child, no matter how intoxicated he is, no matter what he’s asking for. It’s his fault.Susan Birch:
Right? Absolutely, yes.Anna Ditchburn:
And so many people are so afraid to tell families and friends because they can be judged in this situation where I understand where I’ve realized family members and friends might be not the right people to talk to. But there are always people who went through a similar situation, and who will understand what’s going on. And I want to share something with you quickly, something that has happened just recently, actually, I and I talked about this on my diff on my other podcasts. But a few months ago, I wrote an article about my stepfather, in my hometown, and the article went viral. And I left my email address saying, girls, if you have no one to talk to, if you’re going through a similar situation, send me an email, and hundreds of emails from women and men who finally felt safe to open up. And recently, my article took first place like it’s, it was voted number one article in the whole state of Russia is, you know, huge, like between hundreds of articles. And my journalist contacted me. And he said, No, I really want to remind people about this story. And I want to ask you for the updates. And I said, I told him about hundreds, hundreds of letters, how my email box just exploded. And that I’m happy that it was voted number one article, because we are going to have more exposure, because it’s going on a national level. And we published it, Susan, oh, my goodness, you should see those comments, so much negativity from people, there are some positive comments, of course, I still are still receiving some wonderful letters from people who are opening up. But I just I just realized that when you when you talk about this controversial topic, it triggers something in people, it triggers to their shame response, their own pain, and insecurities. And what I’m trying to say my point is, do not give up to not give up. If someone didn’t believe you, or didn’t listen to you go to another person, go to another place, get support from other people who do understand you.Susan Birch:
I would I wouldn’t second you on that. And for anyone who’s listening to this, and is going through those kinds of experiences now or is struggling with past experiences. Anyone who heaven forbid, it happens to in the future, really, you know, we’re talking, we’re talking 40 years later now, 4045 46 years later, now, things have changed a lot. And he has so many places where you can go and get help and find someone to talk to these days,Anna Ditchburn:
and it’s still not too late. Never, I would encourageSusan Birch:
everybody to do that. Because it’s it’s a huge burden to carry for your whole life. And it you don’t want it to you don’t even realize but it permeates through all your relationships. Because it because it affects your relationship with yourself so strongly. It has to affect your relationship with everybody else around you,Anna Ditchburn:
Susan, what helped you on your healing journey to go through this tough situation?Susan Birch:
I think I think there were a few things. One of the things I decided was I wasn’t going to be scared. So I decided I wouldn’t. I didn’t want to be scared. And I ended and I thought if I was skied, my thought was the best. That’s one if they make me scared. So, so I decided to take hold of my fear and not be and not be scared and be brave and have courage. So that was one thing. And I probably had, I was probably quite fortunate that I had quite a good background in my early life for that. So although life was pretty challenging, there was some pretty good things as well and my father had some pretty good messages and we’d learned you know, we’ve learned the hard way about about being tough. I’ve been having courage and overcoming fear. So I had that to draw on. I think I always say that I was born under an optimistic star. And I believe that I think that I think that no matter what happens somehow for me, there was always a little bit of a shining light that, that things can be better. And so I feel very fortunate and really grateful that I have that aspect to my personality, getting married, and my husband’s family were amazing to me. And I really felt that I belonged. And they really cared so that so or then, or that I didn’t talk about any of the stuff with them. That was, that gave me a place that I could call home, and I felt safe. So that was really powerful. Learning to read and write helped a lot, that gave me a lot of a lot more confidence in myself. And I found that I could express myself. And when I, when I started taking on university level study, I realized that I was mad inside despite the inability to perhaps express it. So that helped give me some confidence. And then, as I said, having my babies, having my babies really helped, and just having that drive and passion that I wanted a better and a different life for them. And that was really super important to me. And so I needed to be a better person and learn how to be a good mom. And you know, and none of us are perfect, and you see me making mistakes, and my concern there, let me know about it. But underlying desire and goodwill, there really helped. I don’t know that. I mean, you know, like sitting here talking to you, I think, you know, have I really healed. It’s hard to know, but I do feel really great. I’ve got my little house in Colorado, and I probably feel as good now as I’ve ever felt at any time in my life. So, so that’s good. So, you know, maybe I have healed and maybe it’s just the memories that bring up emotion, it’s, it’s difficult, it’s really difficult to know, I know that that journey to self love is a long slow one. It’s in self love is a is a weird thing to say, you know, and and I’m a kiwi, and we’re, we don’t talk about things like that quite the same way is, you know, maybe people do in the States and other cultures. And I think, you know, probably my background and my, you know, my early years so self love feels like a little bit of a of a selfish. Yeah, yeah, that’s probably it feels something that would have been knocked down view as a child, you know, you know.Susan Birch:
But perhaps it’s another word that could be used for it. But I have realized over the years, that everything, everything is based on your acceptance of yourself. And you have to, it’s based on the acceptance of all the good valuable things about yourself, which we get knocked out of us, you know, don’t, don’t skate Don’t, don’t show off. Don’t, don’t be too noisy. Don’t tell people what your achievements are. Don’t say Look at me. So that gets knocked out of us. But we need to be able to accept all those achievements, and all those good things and all those talents that we have. And we also all need to be able to accept the dark side of ourselves, we also need to be able to accept, like, oh, there’s a moment of jealousy, there’s a moment of envy, there’s a moment of, you know, being pitchy, this moment of not behaving as well as we want and we need to accept that and we need to accept that we’re made up of this whole kaleidoscope of feelings and emotions and behaviors and who we are and you know, work on doing better but celebrating our successes as well. And celebrating and being grateful and again, some of that stuff sounds you know, kind of sounds a bit a key in the New Zealand culture perhaps certainly in my generation and how I was brought up, but you know, being grateful being look, look for the best and other people look for the best in yourself. I think those things are really important. And you know, as a as a friend of mine used to waste saving Movies say, you know, it’s not a practice run, so you only got one life. And that’s something I remind myself every morning, I remind myself, I can get up today and feel miserable and be sad. And, and then not do that self care, not looking after myself eat crappy food because it tastes nice in the moment and drink too much. Because it’s really good at hiding those emotions and you feel really good after, you know, you feel feel good now, but then the next morning, you get up and you’re like, God, why did I do that? Because that wasn’t in alignment with what my goals are and what I want to achieve. And we do only have one shot at life. And we don’t have to get it perfect. But I think we want to just keep making progress. And I think making progress is what gives us confidence and makes the days feel good and makes life feel worthwhile. And when we’re not making progress when we’re wallowing. That’s when that black cloud depression Come on. And that’s when we go down that, that very, very deep dark hole. And that’s, you know, and I’ve had plenty of those days where I’ve just wanted it, you know, like, what’s the point? Nobody cares? Why am I here? You know, but you can find your way out. And then you know, for me, it’s been a real blessing. I met Laybourne and met you, and then you know so many people that you guys have introduced me to. And,Anna Ditchburn:
and so many people you say and transform lives,Susan Birch:
you know, that bigger, bigger world, you know, there have been a lot of COVID sport, you know, COVID in New Zealand has been pretty challenging. But it’s also provided opportunities. And I’m really, really grateful for the opportunities that COVID has provided for me. And it’s enabled me to get out of my circle. I don’t mean my circle, but out of it’s been enabled me to get out and get a bigger, broader perspective of an end, a lot of other viewpoints as well. And so that’s been really, really helpful. And I think it’s super easy to get stuck and stuck just in that tiny little world that you love, and just go round and round in circles, and not challenge and not challenge yourself and other people’s beliefs as well.Anna Ditchburn:
I love this season, we all have a choice, we can choose to go in the rabbit hole and go into the darkness, or we can make a commitment to ourselves to leave, to serve, to be happy, and enjoy this life.Susan Birch:
And that’s why i That’s why I extended my you know, my my self care program, you know, which, you know, sort of I talked about going from overweight and overwhelmed, to feeling healthy and thriving. And that’s why, you know, I, I began offering that as a four and then a six week program. And then clients I had said, look, look, I need to see you for a longer period of time, because it’s not just telling you what to eat and exercise and sleep and, and, and setting a few tiny habits or small steps or strategies for implementing those things. It’s about when those dark times come up. And it’s about when those struggles come. And when you’ve had that really bad day at work and you hate the boss and you’ve gone home, you’ve sat down, you’ve broken the wine and ate the chocolate. And that’s fine. The next step is how do what’s next? How do you step from that back into self care the next day? And that was the bit that clients said they need longer term help, so that they can really master those skills and keep progressing. And yeah, it’s really, it’s really rewarding work, you know, and that self sabotage is something you know, it’s crazy. Like we all do it. That’s, you know, we all do it. There’s not one of us that doesn’t do it. And it’s just about, you know, it’s how long we do it for and it’s about having the exhibits about having the skills to step out of it. And quite often we think, Ah, well, that diet didn’t work because the diet was no good. But you know, often it’s not because of diet was no good. It was because we haven’t got to that place yet where we have the support we need to keep helping us believe that we are and we deserve to take care of ourselves properly. I’ve only got one body. And if you only ever had one car for your life, imagine how well you would look after your car, you’d be out there cleaning and polishing and, and we sort of treat our bodies a little bit like they’re disposable. But you know what, once we’ve wrecked it, you know the model we do,Anna Ditchburn:
Susan, for those who would love to get in contact with you, where people can find you.Susan Birch:
So they can find me, they can email me at Susan at Susan birch.co.in, Zed, and they can find me, my website is Susan birch, Susan, oops, I have protective I think Susan burch.co.nz. And I think as well, my website’s just going through a little bit of an upgrade at the moment. So the new website should be up and running. In another week or two, I hope they can find me on YouTube, Susan birch, they have detective and also on, you know, all the different podcasts, Apple podcasts and all the different podcasts websites. So just look for the health detective there. And on Facebook. So again, under Susan birch, they have the ticket on Facebook. And I’ve got a whole lot of I try and produce as much free content as I can for people just to really help support people. So on my website, there’s a whole lot of free downloads about all sorts of things, you know, protein and blood testing and a whole lot of different things. I’ve got a little booklet that I’m nearly finished producing, which I hope will be really helpful for people and that will be on sale. And that goes through all the different markers on the blood tests, and then what they mean, and what other things to look for. So I’m hoping that that will be a really useful resource for people to be able to have a look at their own blood tests. And then when they’re talking to their doctor, they can say, Well, what about this? Or what about that? And I’ve got a better understanding, because the doctor just goes on Oh, it’s all normal. And even if there’s like, read max on it and flags, the doctor goes, Oh, no, that’s normal. Because they don’t, because they look at them very differently from me that doctors are looking to diagnose disease. I’m looking at putting them together and triangulating all the different markers, so we can figure out, you know why you’ve got no energy, why you can’t lose weight, why you’ve got brain fog, why you might be not working properly.Anna Ditchburn:
Amazing. Amazing. Susan, thank you so much. Thank you for doing an amazing job. Before we go. Do you have any concluding thoughts?Susan Birch:
I guess my concluding thought is just to say to people, you are worth it. You really, really are worth it. And trust me, I know how bad it can feel. And I know, I know. It’s not you know, you come and you see someone like me. And you think how you’ve got it all together. And you’re lucky and you know, how many people tell me I’m so lucky. And but just know that every one of us has something going on, that other people don’t see and don’t know and have experiences that have affected us. And you don’t have to be have been gang raped. For that to be going on with you. They can be a whole lot of other things. So just I think just keep holding your head up and just keep fighting for yourself. And just keep telling yourself every day. I deserve it. I deserve I deserve what’s best for me and I deserve, how to put the best things into my body and how to take care of my body and the best way. And you know you deserve to be loved as well.