Donuts, dairy, Starbucks and sugary cereals for breakfast. Chinese take out, drive thru tacos and energy drinks for lunch. An array of grilled meats, lots of potatoes, frozen pizza or pasta galore for dinner. Caramels, candies, carbs and ice cream for snacks. These were foods I had eaten my entire life without hesitation or thought. I found it nearly impossible to process a thought with all this processed food coursing through my veins. I was completely unaware of the deep destruction and damage I was creating in my body. This is the food I grew up on, the food I was feeding my kids, the food everyone I surrounded myself with was eating; these foods were a part of my story. I ate to forget, to celebrate, to FEEL good, to satisfy a craving, to push down an emotion, to fill a void, to fit in, to reward myself. 

Inhalers, nebulizer, stimulants, epi pen, antidepressants, prednisone. ER visits, ICU stays, MD’s, allergist, specialist, prescriptions, pills, pain, Dr. Google. One blended family, one home, six kids, one Troy, one new puppy, an assortment of co-parents, and all the responsibilities that come with playing all the roles I signed up for. I completely lost sight of the most important responsibility -taking care of myself. The message I received regarding self care was that it was selfish. I was so bogged down by the stories I told myself, my environment, my narratives and the people I surrounded myself with who confirmed these stories. 

I lived with a constant fear of something triggering my asthma, being asked to do more, running out of medication, kids getting sick or something bad happening. This fear created a constant storm cloud of confusion that hovered over me daily. I was lost, angry, broken, stuck, frustrated, unhealthy, overweight, overwhelmed and felt like I was never enough. I was over it! Then, came COVID. My fear was ignited and grew into an inferno. This was personal – currently, my whole existence was teetering on how well I could manage my asthma and I was failing hard. 

In 2019, I was going through two or more rescue inhalers, one preventative inhaler and all my nebulizer juice in one month. I had been rushed to the ER three times that year for breathing related issues. Now, I was faced with a new virus that attacks our immune system… specifically attacking our lungs and crushing the ability to breathe. Fear completely took over. I heeded the warning, gathered my family and cut physical connection with everyone outside of our group of eight.

The script was flipped whether I liked it or not. We were all hunkered down at home and turns out this is exactly what my soul was seeking.. a drastic slow down. I had nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide, then I thought.. I might as well take a look inside. My mission became to fight my fear, conquer my asthma and become the healthiest version of myself. I did not know how to get there but I was determined to find a way. 

Functional medicine became a recurring message I was hearing about in the podcasts I listened to. I decided this would be a great place to start my investigation, restoring function to my body was indeed my end goal! I took action, scheduled my discovery call with EPIC Functional Medicine, poured my heart out to Dr. Bradley and completely surrendered to the process he had created for healing himself. I wasn’t working, money was tight, kids were bored, I felt broken, yet I found a way to gather up the funds to take this EPIC journey and reclaim my health!  

Looking back, this was the moment I really acknowledged the cracks in my foundation of health and realized how much change would be coming. I committed to this coming change, no matter how uncomfortable it was going to be, holding tight to the truth that on the other side of this darkness I was feeling would come light! The next week I received my lab kits in the mail, this was the day I really went inside myself. Collecting samples of the elements that flow through my body and receiving the proper analysis and feedback would surely tell the story that lies within. 

The next step in my journey seemed so small and simple, drink water (half my bodyweight in ounces) everyday. In hindsight, I can see that water was the most important step in forming a solid foundation of health. Listening to my health coach, Dan, explain each lab result to me was music to my ears and food for my soul. For the first time in a long time I felt seen and heard at a whole new level, this is when the fear began to dissipate, hope started to grow, and connection to my authenticity flowed. 

It turned out the root cause of all the suffering my body endured was me. More specifically, the decisions I made for my health were based on the knowledge and information I had at the time. It was time to meet myself where I was – there was no time for shaming, blaming or guilting myself for where I was. No time for pity parties on this new path I found myself on. So, I threw out most of the junk food and moved the rest to a cabinet close to the kitchen. I printed off the EPIC 5 Shopping List and crossed off all the foods I was sensitive/allergic to and I headed to the store to make my first personalized food purchase. 

Shifting my eating habits and foods was not a swift or easy process, it was difficult and daunting at times.. especially when no one else in my family chose to make these dietary changes with me. I am grateful for never forcing my family or shaming them for this choice. This was my journey and like all moms know, our kids are watching and this fact helped me push down deeper – down in the dirt, down where the roots are and where new seeds were being planted in my garden (body). I was busy pulling up old roots and creating the finest organic soil because this season my garden was going to grow strong and fruitful. 

Soon, I found my flow and began to grow. When I got stuck, the EPIC Team was there with understanding, curiosity and answers. They would carefully guide me through and help to get me back on path. When I began thinking about writing this, I envisioned talking a lot about food and how hard it was to stop eating all my favorite foods and difficult to begin eating healthy foods. Similar to my experience birthing babies, when I look back on those miraculous experiences, what comes to mind is not the pain I felt, or the overwhelming anxiety and uneasiness that surely consumed me.  All I remember and feel is the love, joy, hope and happiness that coursed through my being when I saw her face for the first time. 

This EPIC journey is life changing, and for me, it was life saving.  I was on a journey in life before EPIC; it was a journey written, created and directed by everything and everyone outside of myself, I was going along to get along and I was fading fast. 

This is a testament to the power we each have within us to make the changes, rewrite the story, uplevel our biology, get down in the dirty, dark places to discover the root cause of your pain and suffering. For me, Functional Medicine helped create a path toward a whole, full and healthy life and reconnect to my soul self. 

I feel connected to my body; I know what it needs, I know how it will react if I overindulge in certain foods and this internal “knowing” I have with what to nourish my body with is so comforting. So far, by continuing to keep my body in a state of ease, disease rarely crosses my mind as a concern. I haven’t been sick at all and no longer have my daily “symptoms”  such as headaches, bloating, fatigue, and I am finally able to effortlessly breathe on my own! If I do get sick, I trust my body to fight it off because I am aware of exactly why and how it is functioning. I will never go back to my old eating or lifestyle habits, I am grateful for the knowledge and support of everyone at EPIC. I’ve turned my pain into my purpose, now I get to wake up every morning, join an EPIC team and help others on their health journey! 

Functional Medicine:

Whole Foods 

Whole Life 

Whole Perspective 

Whole Person

Melissa Barnhill 

Enrollment Assistant

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