Finding a new path
When I met my husband everything fell into place. We completed each other and life was as it should be. We made plans and had some great dreams ahead of us. After 4 years together we moved out of London, got married and found out we were pregnant all in the space of a couple of months. Life couldn’t have been more perfect. Within 3 weeks of having our son (Oliver) I knew there was something very wrong with him. I had to spend the next 2 years pushing the doctors to believe me that things weren’t right with Oliver and get him the right help and support. He was 2 years behind with his growth by the time he was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease and it took another 6 months for his meds to start doing their job. I had to learn about nutrition to maximise what the medicine was doing to help his kidneys and try and get Oliver to a better weight and height.
Salt had to go
Salt was an issue for Oliver’s kidneys and protein had to be kept low, so our family diet had to be readdressed. I didn’t add much salt to our food so I had to research where else salt could be cut out. questions I had to find the answers to were;
which food was salt free? (less than I had hoped! Even bottled water has salt in!)
what salt free alternative foods could I afford?
how could this new regime be convenient for a busy family?
Salts negative effect on Oliver’s kidneys means his medicine has to be increased if he has too much salt and the higher his medicine the more damage they could do to his kidneys and the risks of a kidney transplant increases. After watching both a nephew and a niece go through kidney transplants I am determined to do whatever I can to avoid Oliver having one. He can live a long and happy life with medicine and food management and minimal impact on his life experience without the horrific ordeal of kidney transplants that would also mean huge disruption on the rest of his life. So his diet is an important part of managing his condition.
Exploration and research
I have explored what we eat and how our bodies react to food, how our mental state is affected by food, exercise and self-care. There is a lot of twisted truths to make you buy certain foods. Some brands make out they are healthy but are actually not. Instead they are increasing someone else’s pocket whilst destroying the purchaser’s health including weight issues, sleep, brain function, higher risk of disease including cancer. Understanding our bodies and what it needs as an individual is crucial to our wellbeing as well as knowing what foods are REALLY good for us, what body movement we enjoy (exercise doesn’t have to be horrible), eating food we love and looking after our mind and body. We all deserve to be healthy and happy and we don’t have to give everything up to have this. It is just a matter of knowing what we really want and learning how to integrate it into our individual lives.
My research on how to look after my son’s needs and my own wellbeing is what led me to Health Coaching. Having a better knowledge and understanding of my body and it’s needs, food, health, mindfulness and overall wellness for my mind, body and spirit I can make better choices to look after myself and be there for my son.
During the same time, when Oliver was 4.5 months old, my husband, Chris was killed in a road traffic accident and life fell apart completely. As well as in and out of hospitals I spent my time in and out of police stations and court rooms regarding my husbands death or the police were in my house going over and over my husbands death, showing me pictures of him on the road, talking through statements etc. My introduction to motherhood had gone from perfection to hell. I had to keep every second of every day unbelievable busy to stop myself from falling apart. My son stopped breast feeding the day Chris died and that added to my negative emotions. I stopped eating, couldn’t sleep and my booze consumption went up. I knew I had to survive for my son but to stop and focus on myself didn’t seem an option if I was to carry on keeping my son and my dog fed and watered and to make it through each day. It wasn’t healthy but it was how I coped through this horrific time. I felt I could hardly breath and had no energy so there was no way I could realise what I was doing was completely the wrong way round. If I looked myself, THEN, I could look after my son to my fullest.
I look back now and I don’t judge myself, I got through it and my son is ok, but I have learnt from the situation and I must come first for my son to be top priority!
Asking for help
Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you don’t know where to start with asking. I couldn’t figure out what I needed or wanted from other people. I had brain block. Every time someone asked me what I wanted or what they could do, the only thing i heard in my head was it shouting ‘I want Chris back, I don’t want anything but Chris back’. It was a time of mass confusion, high emotions, and I couldn’t deal with people. I built up survival habits to hibernate from the world but managed to have enough contact to keep people from checking in on us too much. I just needed the world to give me space. These habits were ok for a while but ultimately I had to face what life had thrown at me and find some habits that actually served me and let me work towards having a life again.
Getting the help
A counsellor (it took me 4 attempts to find the right counsellor) was my first shout for help. I still check in with her now and to be honest, will probably always check in with her from time to time as long as she is working! She gave me mindfulness advice and helped me to manage my grief to be able to get through each day.
This journey of widowhood led me to suffer from anxiety, depression, I lost loads of weight and gained lots of weight, I relied on booze to relax and numb myself from my pain. I struggled everyday to even get up in the morning. I had lost my soul mate, I was completely lost and had no idea what was next and how I was going to look after my family when I could hardly look after myself. My son had me up every night for 16 months with his condition and still 4/5 yrs later we still have LOTS of broken nights sleep. So little is known about the version of the disease he has, so I was alone in trying to figure out how his body reacted to food and his medicine and then having to report back to the hospital. I had an awful relationship with food since Chris died. I remember for a while I just had bacon and avocado on toast once a day which my mother would make me and that was it. Food had been a huge, fun part of my life growing up and with my husband, and now I had to start cooking for my son and focusing on a healthy diet for him and I found it unbelievably overwhelming and didn’t know where to start. I had no choice but to start studying food, specifically about salt and protein for Oliver. I also had to start thinking about how I could work through all this and bring some money in!
Getting a counsellor was the best thing I did. I have to take a breath after just writing all of this let along the feelings that came with living through it! I needed someone not emotionally attached to my situation to talk it all through and support me.
As humans, we are stronger than we think and can endure a lot more than we realise, especially if we have a listening ear, a guiding hand and feel safe and loved.
Life long self care
Once the fog started lifting from my head I had to start making some changes, and have been ever since. I make sure any plans for change are broken down into small manageable goals and myself care is put first. Some days are tough, we all know life is like that. But the drive to keep my son (and now 2 furbabies, Kester and Jax) healthy, as well as myself, so I can be there for my boys as mummy and daddy and do the best for them is huge. When my life became a bit more settled the stress on my body from the last few years became apparent. I have IBS, anxiety and there are lots of things that trigger my emotions and could lead me back down a negative path. This means I have to keep looking after myself and not be so tough on myself (an old habit of mine) if things don’t go to plan, if the house isn’t tidy, if I need some time out, if I am emotionally struggling. I have made peace with the fact that my grief will be triggered by certain things forever but that is ok and my tool bag of skills means I can manage any thing life throws my way. This is a forever growing learning path, but with my support system in place I CAN still enjoy life and be successful and happy.
Sharing the lessons learned
It is now 4 and a half years since I lost my husband. Life is good and my son is doing amazingly. We have an amazing man in our lives now and I feel settled in our new unplanned life. I never imagined I would ever love again, feel sane and be able to function with the horror and pain of grief that stays with you always. But with the right help, support, changing my habits and choosing a healthy lifestyle to support me mentally and physically I have built a life that is happy and we live to the fullest with some great future plans tucked up our sleeve.
Health and life Coaching has given me a sense of purpose and I have learnt how to love myself again. I have learnt so many coping strategies and life long transformational habit techniques that bought me a new way of seeing and a healthier, happier existence helping me realise I could achieve more than I had believed I could. So, I am now taking all the knowledge and experience I have gained from life and with my training as a health coach and life coach, to be able to not only provide for my family but to help others live the life they want to live, be happy and feel nourished inside and out.
I have started 2019 with a fabulous man who accepts my life as it is, loves and supports me. The ups and downs, my angel husband, my son and my mad, crazy, noisey dogs! I have made a great home for us and am running my own business. I still grieve for my husband but I have the tools to manage my grief, anxiety and depression. I use exercise to help keep my mental state in a happy place and for the socialising. I have my own health coach. I learnt about creative meditation, joined entrepreneur and networking groups.
We only have one life, let’s love it and live it for us and for those who can’t and with those we are lucky enough to have alongside us on our own personal journeys.
You are all Worthy of living your best possible life, so lets do it one small step at a time.