I thought I was going mad….. until I finally got a diagnosis!
OK I have to confess. I have been living a bit of a lie for a while…….
Things were not all that they seemed…..
If you didn’t know me personally you would think I was living the dream……
Business booming and my brand and key messages appearing in the press, magazines and radio…..
The car, the house, the kids, the trips abroad…..
Facebook and YouTube alive with fresh content and happy smiley me!
Well it’s time to come clean and ‘fess’ up………….!!
LIFE HAS NOT EXACTLY BEEN A BED OF ROSES. Three long years of what seemed like a black hole of daily heartbreak, sadness, struggle and grief. And I don’t mind telling you that it very nearly finished me and my business off for good!
This time last year I was broken and in hospital. I didn’t want to live another day. I didn’t want to endure another day or night of the black hole that had enveloped me. All I wanted to was to go to sleep and never wake up!
BUT! I am so glad I hung on. I am so grateful for another chance because just 12 months later things are now very different and the darkness is finally lifting!
Let’s wind back three years or so to July 2011
After some years of being unhappy and lonely in my marriage and despite having the utmost respect and love for my husband, we decided to call it a day. Our values and goals had changed. We had drifted apart. In hindsight we were both probably lost in our purpose in life and neither of us could work out how to fix things. Leaving a safe and loyal marriage, with a comfortable income was an incredibly scary leap of faith. I felt certain we would both feel instantly happier in our decision. But within a short space of time doubt set in and things were about to get a whole lot harder.
What should have been an amicable split ended up as an acrimonious fight over money, the house and parental responsibility. During this time my beloved Dad was battling cancer. As the stress of the situation mounted up it became clear I would also have to sell the family home in order to obtain the divorce we wanted. A deep dark depression coupled with crippling fatigue, insomnia and exhaustion set in.
Instead of taking time out, adjusting to my new situation I relentlessly battled on with my business and duties. The heartbreak of my Dad’s ailing health and my once loyal partner and best friends’ departure from my life sent me spiralling further into anxiety and despair. A nervous and inevitable physical breakdown ensued and as the wheels on my business and life were continuing to fall off I still didn’t want to show my ‘weakness’. I didn’t want people to know I wasn’t coping.
Despite all this I was getting press coverage and award nominations. In 2013 I was nominated for the prestigious Fitness Professional of the year award. How on earth did that happen? How was I going to attend the award ceremony and pretend? I was living the lie EVERYDAY.
I lost friends, I lost clients, I lost business opportunities. As I watched my husband desert me in a time of need, my home sold and my Dad fade it all became too much. With two teenagers to care for and being barely able to get out of bed I was at the lowest point of my life. I existed for months feeling bleak and lost. I had no motivation for life, for business or anyone in my life. I tried desperately to pretend, hoping I would eventually want to join in the party of life. But nothing changed. Just a big empty, black nothingness.
Dad finally lost his battle last year and I can honestly say after that point I felt like I was loosing mine. I would have done anything to have swapped places with him. Take his horrible cancer and he have my life. The life he still wanted. I was bereft. The two most significant, stable and loyal men in my life had left. At that point in time I longed for my stable marriage and family life again. I longed for it all to be fixed. During this time my health was in crisis. Passing out, exhaustion, brain fog, depression……
I had nothing to give anyone. No energy to help other people, to teach classes or personal train anyone. I couldn’t face a thing. The only things that kept me going was in the back of my mind, I had two amazing children that needed me to fight. They became desperately aware of my battle and so the effects on them were showing. I felt guilty for getting into this situation. I felt it was my fault they were suffering. Caught in this vicious cycle I often felt they would better cared for by their father! Can you imagine…. handing over the two people that gave me me a reason to live? I was desperately sad and lonely.
During the year after Dad passed I moved home twice, I had heartbreaking failed attempts at new relationships and my divorce was finalised. Although the relief was immense to finally be in my own home once again I was still trapped in my shell. As each traumatic event passed, life seemed to get easier and I could start to see a glimmers of a positive future. Despite this thought, the crippling exhaustion and insomnia was still there. I physically hurt everywhere. Each trip to the GP had me leaving with yet another prescription of sleeping tablets and anti-depressants. I couldn’t convince them that I felt there something else was amiss. Various tests revealed nothing alarming but I knew something was desperately wrong. How could someone at the peak of their teaching career go from teaching up to 20 classes and personal train 20 clients a week? How could I suddenly struggle with just climbing stairs or at times even speak! I felt so frustrated that no one seemed to believe me. I wanted to scream!
August saw me lead a luxury health retreat in France. I had been looking forward to it all year. But I was so worried about how I would cope. I had hoped that the fatigue would have passed by this time. But as the date approached and I was spending more and more time on my couch or in bed. I begun to panic. Doubt set in? What if this really was still depression? Or what if I had something more serious like MS? After all, my muscles hurt all the time and were constantly twitching. I could barely think straight for more than 10 minutes a time.
Yet there were days when I felt OK? Was I actually going mad?
The date arrived and I set off with my kids to France. We spent the first week out there to investigate walks and to relax. Some days I would manage a slow walk. Other days I just wanted to curl into a ball.
When the guests arrived I had to pull myself together. Each day was an early fasted hike up the mountains. Fortunately one of the guests wasn’t able to participate in the steeper walks. Night after night I was struggling to sleep so I was so relieved to be able to guide her on the gentle flat walks while the others scaled the bigger mountains….. my secret was still safe. BUT everyday I lived the lie and everyday was a struggle. And this is when I knew something was really wrong.
It turns out it wasn’t all in my head!
Back in the UK I demanded to see a different GP and she immediately put me through a specific questionnaire which clearly showed I was likely to be suffering with ME/Chronic Fatigue. To hear a diagnosis different to depression was like a weight lifting off my shoulders. Because despite beginning to feel so positive again about life and business I was still so floored physically. I truly was excited for the future and so how could I have had depression! As soon as I knew that there was a pathological reason causing my symptoms I could understand and take it in. It enabled me to take back control of my health and start to build a new life. One that would enable me to respect where I was instead of fighting it, thinking I was mad or just a total failure in life!
My first step was to retire fully from teaching my classes.
The second step was to simplify my life and reduce my workload.
The third step to put myself and my kids first. No client, sale or pitch will ever take priority.
Why I am so grateful now
As my health and my passion for life is returning I am now able to look back with a completely different perspective. Instead of asking WHY was I challenged so much. I now ask HOW can I use this experience in a positive way. Can I help others more?
I have learned some fantastic things about myself. I have met the most amazing people that appeared like guardian angels. New friends have come and old ones have gone. I have come out the other side with more strength and determination. I have learned to appreciate the dark moments becuase it is those that allow you to have, see and appreciate the bright spots.
When one door closes another opens and this is how I see it now. As I say goodbye to that part of my career and life I am now able to see so many other potential paths to take. The possibilities are endless! And once again I am so excited my eyes are welling up writing this. I am alive fully and with the knowledge that there is nothing wrong with my head. I am not going mad. And that I am a survivor and if I can get through this then I can damn well get through anything!
Thanks to everyone that has stuck by me. Supported me and trusted I would pull through. To my existing and new friends and followers…. I can’t wait to continue to be a source of hope, inspiration and the motivation to be the best you can be!
Big love, small tummies!
Jill – The Fat Controller
p.s. if you would like to jump aboard this health train and my new journey in helping people ditch the #beigedeadfood where we share support, motivation, recipes and much much more then Join us here. Eat beige? Feel beige? Look beige? Ditch the beige dead food for good!