Parsley Health member Caroline McConnaughey Smith shares her journey from hopeless to healthy.
This story starts when I was at the end of my rope. I was 32 years old, debilitatingly exhausted, depressed, suffering from regular headaches, muscle fatigue , hypertonicity and chronic pain, constant bloating , intestinal discomfort, diarrhea, and rectal bleeding. I felt like a burned out, hopeless mess all the time.
I had struggled with most of these symptoms since I was 12 or 13 and worked with some of the best doctors in New York City spanning fields of medicine from gynecology, rheumatology, gastroenterology, psychology, and psychiatry. As a yoga teacher, I had a solid home practice that involved both a dynamic and athletic practice as well as therapy ball rolling and restorative yoga.
But my attempt at wellness didn’t stop there. I also cross trained, going to SoulCycle and The Class for cardio and strength building. I got weekly massages and biweekly acupuncture. I meditated. I journaled. I did juice cleanses and elimination diets. I added food groups and subtracted them. I increased cardio, I decreased cardio. I tried herbs and adaptogens. I got an air purifier. I was well-hydrated. I even focused on “sleep hygiene,” sleeping 9 hours a night. Despite all that, I still needed a two to three hour nap five days a week to feel like I could moderately get to the end of the work day.
My almost last ditch effort was sobriety. After 6 months, things were kind of better, but not the earth-shattering better that sobriety promises. I knew that I wasn’t meant to feel this way. I knew I needed to do something different than what I was doing—I just needed help and a new way of looking at things to figure it out.
I learned about Parsley Health from two friends who’d had life changing experiences working with their doctors and health coaches. Despite being really interested, for a few months I still held the belief that I could figure it out myself. I worried about the cost of membership and made a ton of excuses not to sign up. I can’t even remember what the final straw was, I think I just did the math on some “specialists” and realized Parsley was a more affordable option. I signed up and made my first appointment for the following month.
My first doctor’s visit was completely different than anything I had experienced before. My doctor listened to my story, laid out a few options, and asked me about which approach I wanted to follow. It was really nice to feel like I was a part of the decision making process.
I was tired of guesswork and was ready for testing that would give me some concrete evidence behind why I was feeling terrible. So that’s the approach I chose. I got blood work done that looked at everything from vitamin, mineral, and cholesterol levels to hormone function, autoimmune condition markers, and more. I also had my gut microbiome tested and did a parasite panel. We also looked at my genetics.
It was a relief to know that all my hard work paid off to a certain degree: My vitamin levels were on point, cholesterol perfect, hormones in good shape, and I had no viruses, bacteria, or autoimmune conditions. What all this testing revealed was that I was born with a fairly common genetic mutation , that was affecting multiple systems in my body.
I think the biggest relief was finally knowing that two decades of depression, anxiety , pain, and digestive issues weren’t just in my head. Through testing, my team at Parsley was able to swim upstream and find the source of all my symptoms.
With solid answers, my doctor and health coach helped me make some adjustments to my diet and exercise regimen, add supplements to support my adrenal glands, a probiotic for an imbalance in my gut microbiome, and a specially formulated multivitamin to address the genetic condition that was affecting my elimination systems, energy levels, and mental health.
I no longer have to accept the helpless conditions of IBS, clinical depression, and chronic fatigue. There was an explanation all this time hiding in my genes. After years of seeing different doctors, I am grateful for the advancements in science that make genetic testing possible, and I am supremely grateful for my team at Parsley that is willing to use that science to help their members.
Parsley Health was able to not only uncover the root cause of my symptoms, but offer me guidance, tools, and a manageable protocol that changed my life. I have never had this much energy or mental clarity. For the first time, I wake up feeling rested, often before my alarm clock and I am able to have a full and productive day without the need for a long nap. The rectal bleeding has stopped completely and when I have a flare up with bloating I can pinpoint it to a food source. Most importantly, my symptoms of depression are more manageable and less debilitating and my ability to handle stress is unparalleled. I feel fully in control of my health and my life. A gift I never knew was possible.
Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.