I think it’s about time I share my experience about grief.
How it changes your life.
How you have to experience sadness to know true happiness.
It's the year that my life spiralled and I ended up in the deepest darkest place. He passed away suddenly, we weren't together - we couldn't make it work, those big issues we couldn't sort. That didn't mean there wasn't that flame, that kept on burning.
I was fairly healthy until that point with a well balanced diet and lifestyle.
I'd never drunk alone until then, never understood the concept, that all changed. I'd never suffered anxiety until that point either. I'm not new to the death experience, having lost various family members within a short space of time I was a regular experiencee of grief.
This was so different though, it took all my effort to leave the house, and engage socially on most occasions for about six months.
I was doing a little relief FIFO work when it happened. I think this was my saving grace, I worked 12hr days - the reason to get out of bed. I found solace in working, I could avoid the reality when I was onsite and live a pseudo life. I would get anxious about flying home, worried about how I would spend 6 days at home, what would I do.
Well this is what I did, I walked a lot, it was winter so I rugged up and spent a lot of time doing this along the ocean or river, I had to be near water. I watched excessive episodes of Selling Houses Australia accompanied by Shiraz, Emu Export and hot chips.
Let me tell you about the physical symptoms - I had severe nausea for about 3 months, it was all day every day (I've never been pregnant but I can imagine it would be similar or worse). Being such a lover of food my taste buds completely changed (and have actually never changed back in this 2 yr journey). I had such a sweet palette before. In those 3 months I craved lettuce, grated cheese and hot chips. That was my staple diet most days, I ate like a bird and lost 10kg. Everyone told me how amazing I was looking, I wished I felt as amazing as I looked. I was always one of those people who used to say to others in similar situations "Oh you simply have to eat", now I understand its simply impossible.
Being a nutritionist I knew what I was eating was wrong, how much Export and Shiraz I was drinking was wrong, but I struggled and it was my coping mechanism.
My immune system took a battering - I counted being sick 8 times in the first 6 months. This included the worst gastro I've ever encountered, colds and UTI’s. I also remember if I was tired I ended up like a toddler and just bursting into tears because I couldn’t cope.
Winter of 2016 was one of the longest wettest winters in Perth, it was also the lowest point in my life.
I remember getting up one morning and crying because it was so cold and I just couldn't cope anymore! My housemate (bless her) said it was ok, I could sit inside with the heater on all day if I so wished, as long as that helped. I really feel for her, she had to live with me - I bet she was glad I was working fifo so she could have a break.
I struggled most of all in social situations, I tried going to the pub two months into this journey. That was a disaster, I still remember sitting down and friends not knowing whether to acknowledge the elephant in the room. They mostly talked about insignificant things, I guess it was uncomfortable for them...but made me feel worse so I left. My lovely friend brought me a ticket to see a band on the first night I ventured out, so kind of her but that was a huge struggle to even attend, I tried to back out so many times but the only way I made it was by skulling beer.
I left social events on the odd occasion I made the effort to venture out, it was all too much - the anxiety it caused was overwhelming. I could not cope with people - I preferred my own company, with red wine and my tv. And I mean, who would want my company anyway. I did notice friends stopped inviting me to events, it was excepted that I wouldn't turn up anyhow.
It's also true what they say, the people you expect to support you don't, and the ones you don't expect are incredible in such circumstances.
At around the 4 month mark I went on a driving/camping trip by myself, it was so incredible and was a real turning point for some healing. Those wide open roads were so therapeutic, coupled with the best wildflower season in years - I was so lucky the winter was so wet! I stopped to see a friend in Shark Bay and feeling that incredible red sand between my toes was just wonderful. I camped out at Coalseam Nature Reserve as well as Karijini and Tom Price, climbing Mt Nameless for old times sake. I also challenged myself and did the Red Gorge day trip in Karijini by canyoning, abseiling, traversing and soaking up that energy from one of the most beautiful places on earth, things slowly started to get better.
I started eating again, I slowed down my Shiraz/Export and hot chip diet and starting eating more nutrient dense food. The nausea disappeared and the appetite returned, I started wanting to socialise more often.
Don't get my wrong, some days were a struggle and some still are, there are triggers that come along without warning that take my breath away.
Mostly it's ok now, I accept it which is a good sign.
I think most of all it's made me a better nutritionist. I really understand so much more deeply how the mind rules all wellness. It doesn't matter if you eat well and exercise, if you are struggling with your mind there is no possible way you can be well.
I've also learnt about and embraced grief, realising that I've had to feel all of these low points to accept it and heal. If you don't process the grief it will come back and rare it's ugly head at the most inconvenient of times. I'm thankful I've given myself this time to truly process it, and to support the others close to me affected so deeply by it too.
Time does not heal all wounds, but it sure makes them easier to deal with.
You really do have to experience sadness to know happiness.
Vital Health & Nutrition
A few delightful photo galleries, a few controversial topics.