For over a decade I was an editor.
By day I worked in publishing and by night I continued working with authors on their books. I produced medical journals and covered the arts and socio-cultural issues. I even made art.
I was also health conscious. I was hip on the yoga and green eating. When my eyes got too tired, I slept with earphones in to “zen out” to the latest news. A habit that amused my boyfriend-turned-husband. Sure I did not feel my best all the time — but surely that was normal. I had regular near fainting spells on busy train commutes, for example. My blood sugar and pressure always tested great. So, small beans.
Then I began making mistakes in my work that I had never made before. I was unable to concentrate and lost my ability to weave sentences together. Pretty embarrassing for an editor.
By the time I was thirty, I was constantly tired, had brain fog, and felt miserable. Each time my energy flagged further, I upped the hot yoga and ate even greener.
Then I got pregnant.
Over the course of a few weeks, I became sensitive to what seemed like everything. Niggling health issues — heart palpitations, tinnitus, and insomnia — worsened. My lifelong sluggish digestion and bowels stopped. The dizzy spells I had had since childhood got so bad that I was unable to stand long enough to brush my teeth.
I noticed some places made me feel worse. It took me hours at best, days at worst, to regain balance again.
The gynaecologist assured me all pregnant women feel as bad. A doctor diagnosed me with vertigo but I was dissatisfied. Finally, another listened to me for over an hour. His advice? My body was stressed and toxic. Even looking at your phone is a form of stress, he said.
My phone? I thought of the technology and devices that was my life.
His herbs, pills, physical interventions still didn’t cut it. But my curiosity was piqued.
Our invisible environment.
I got consumed with figuring out all the things that could be stressing me.
A chance podcast about electromagnetic fields (EMFs) and chemical sensitivities seemed to ring a bell. Could my environment be stressed and toxic?
This was what I found:
* We spend 90% of our lives indoors today. Our homes are 2 to 5 times more toxic than the external environment.
* Babies are being born pre-polluted due to exposure to toxic environmental chemicals. Tests find more than 200 chemicals in newborn cord blood.
*Millions of children (US data) receive up to 35 percent of their estimated lifetime dose of some carcinogenic pesticides by age five through food, contaminated drinking water, household use, and pesticide drift.
* The average home contains about 40 litres of synthetic chemical products. Including indoor use of pesticides, cleansers, paints and varnishes and air fresheners (including candles and incense). None of these are regulated.
* The current generation of children will, for the first time in centuries, may on average “live less healthy and possibly even shorter lives than their parents”.
* The incidence of ADHD, Autism, and Asthma have skyrocketed in the last decade. All three have been linked to exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), which has also risen dramatically in the same time period.
* While 3-8 percent of populations in developed countries experience serious electrohypersensitivity symptoms, almost 1 in 3 experience mild symptoms.
These environmental toxins are often invisible. Much of the effect on our collective well-being has gone unnoticed.
The quest for safe spaces.
Soon my daughter was born. I wanted our nest safe. I wanted our world safe. How can we create safe, supportive spaces for ourselves?
The decision to study building biology was made.
My husband was onboard with making three transatlantic trips with a baby. So we flew/drove our way to New Mexico in the US. The seminars were held at a monastery compound with little to no EMFs to account for some of the most sensitive people in the course. It was also where we slept and ate for the entire duration of the course.
In that environment, I felt different. I could pay attention in class AM to PM, even with family-jet-lag, and I could stand without feeling nauseous, ever. Not a whiff of altitude sickness up at 7,000 feet.
The seminars set up lab-like settings for students to assess various EMFs. The experience astounded me. The symptoms triggered were exactly what I had been feeling – on tap!
I became aware that the body is a living biological masterpiece of 70 trillion cells with a subtle electrochemical communication and management system that takes its cues from its environment.
And ours is an environment with manmade EMFs more than 100 QUINTILLION times what our grandparents had grown up in.
That’s excluding the chemicals.
I also realised how much I’d taken my home and work spaces for granted. The spaces we build are so much more than physical shelters. I got to work on my space, at the same time as my daughter was crawling and toddling learning about hers.
I remain very grateful for the intensive seminars and labs from the lecturers and teaching assistants who dedicate their lives to Building Biology.
And even more so for my fellow course-mates, who were so generous with sharing their stories and experiences.
They’d all come out from various fields — engineers, architects, researchers, doctors, mothers, husbands and wives of afflicted spouses — to learn about, and advocate for, healthy 21st century living.
Harmony with our natural environment.
I share my story because I want people to learn that all of our efforts at ‘fixing’ or bettering ourselves are an uphill if we don’t live in harmony with our natural environment. If we know about the invisible factors in our environment, the choices we make for our own living and work spaces would be vastly different — and we can avoid futility in diet, medication, exercise, and avert chronic illness, from neurological diseases, weight issues to cancer.
By taking control over your most personal environments, you can experience a profound improvement in how you feel and think.
When we understand the true impact of the spaces we live in everyday, our children and grandchildren will have a much safer and healthier world, and a deeper, beneficial relationship with our environment.