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My Story – A Journey Beyond Chronic Pain

Posted 10/11/2017

Part one of my story was shared in the previous post and if you have arrived on this one without having seen the first, it might be a good idea to take a look otherwise this isn’t going to make a lot of sense!

We left things at the point where I had decided to stop taking my medication with a view to finding out how much of what I was experiencing was down to me and how much was the effects of the medication.

The doctor agreed that this was a good idea as long as I was open to the possibility that I would have to go back on the meds if things got worse.  I wasn’t open to that but decided he didn’t need to know that until we crossed that bridge so to speak.

I started a managed reduction in December 2016 and took my very last pill on 24th February 2017.  I did not experience any increase in pain or other symptoms and after a couple of bumpy and emotional weeks, I was definitely feeling more like my old self.

That was the point at which I decided to look in the mirror and assess what I saw.  It wasn’t pretty….

  • Over 20lbs heavier than what I had always considered was a reasonable weight for me
  • Dressed in shapeless, baggy, dark clothes that hid me but also did not place any pressure on my abdomen (a key requirement for the last few years)
  • Tired, pale skin and bags under my eyes
  • Fear – of going out, of being seen, of leaving my comfort zone
  • A total lack of any life in my eyes.  I was empty, exhausted, a shell.

I spent a few days feeling sorry for myself and then decided that enough was enough.  My husband excavated the cross trainer from below the gathered junk in the garage and set it up for me and I decided to ditch the comfort food and attempt a diet.

It didn’t go well.  Anyone who has tried to lose the weight they gain with medication can confirm that it is nigh on impossible to do…or so it seemed in March 2017.

Slowly though, my energy started to increase, I was walking at a decent speed for the first time in years and my clothes did get looser.  I started to pay a bit more attention to myself, a quick coat of mascara before I left the house, attempting a low heel rather than defaulting to my comfy flats etc.  Nothing monumental but to me, every small effort I made was a step in the right direction.

I was till getting my abdominal pain almost every day, and had to be pragmatic about the fact that getting much done between 6 and 10am was not likely, but I carved out a rhythm and slowly life began to feel more like it was mine to control again.

By July, I had lost all of my medication weight and I was really starting to feel good about myself again.  And it was at this point that I was able to look back and compare what I had become with what I had been at the start of the year.

I don’t necessarily mean visually either.  Okay, I was thinner and looked more awake, but the real differences were within me.  Because I knew I felt so well and so strong in July, the starkness of the contrast against the shadow of myself that I was in January was deeply upsetting.

The best way I can describe it is that I had a sudden and deep appreciation for how low I had sunk through my illness.

And with that appreciation came a clarity.

Having given up my job in summer 2016 due to ill health, I was not earning any money and even by July 2017, I was not well enough to attempt going back out to work due to the random nature of my symptoms.

Over the preceding 6 years, I had undertaken a path of study in my own time – ostensibly to be able to support my staff to the best of my ability – in counselling, stress management, behavioural therapy, anger management and coaching.  I had started an online coaching business back in 2013 which I ran for a while but which I had to set aside when my paid employment went from busy to off the scale stressful.

So here I was – unemployed, unemployable, with a very personal and clear understanding of the journey from hero to zero to hero.  There was only one option for me to pursue, only one path that I felt driven to follow.

I relaunched LifeRedesign in August 2017 with a clear focus on working with women who were experiencing any form of drop in confidence, anxiety, depression and stress.  Add to this a focus on weight loss mindset, and what I hope you see is a one-stop-shop for female empowerment and wellness.

Using all of my skills as a trained coach, along with my experience as a manager and my own personal journey through chronic pain and illness and everything that it cost me, I will support women of all ages to achieve the life they dream of, to feel comfortable in their own skin, to look in the mirror and see a sparkle in their eyes.

I still experience pain on a daily basis – I have it now as I type this – and my levels of fatigue are still a challenge on occasion but I feel more like myself today than I have felt for a very long time.  And it feels so good to be able to say that.

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