Stacey’s story

Stomach and digestive problems have been an issue I have been dealing with for as long as I can remember, I was a very fussy eater as a child, and suffered a lot of anxiety as a child, which often affected my eating habits. Throughout my teenage years, there were times I was so stressed and anxious I would go days or whole weeks without eating because I couldn’t stomach food. Not a good place to be, and looking back now, and likely a form of an eating disorder.

Through my late teens and early twenties I ate terribly, KFC was a staple, top deck chocolate and cheese and bacon shapes for breakfast (I wish I was joking), I never drank water, everything had to be cordial or fizzy lemon or orange flavoured drinks. I was unfit, I was unhealthy and I was unhappy.

My first step towards good health was when I joined a local netball club, this club helped grow my self-confidence, and in doing this I realised that I could never reach my full potential if I don’t look after myself. I joined a boot camp and this was the first step in meeting like minded people who were passionate about diet and exercise. I overhauled my diet and my fitness, my personal happiness and ability to handle stress improved dramatically.

Of course there were periods where my diet wasn’t perfect, or I didn’t exercise for a few weeks, but realising that is OK and getting back into things when you identify that you have lost your direction is a part of life. Be happy you realised, don’t get angry that you went off-course.

A few years later I had an extremely enjoyable and healthy pregnancy and welcomed my little boy Ted in February 2017. This is when things got a little tricky again. Ted suffered from reflux and cows milk protein intolerance which took a great deal of time to diagnose, there were a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of stress and worry, and not a lot of time for preparing healthy meals and exercise. Luckily I still had netball, but the worry of Teds health and the fear of what I was eating was possibly affecting his digestive troubles caused me to go back to my old ways, I stopped eating again, I ate things here and there but generally they were poor unhealthy options, lots of snacking, or soy chai lattes through the Maccas drive thru, simply it all seemed like it was too hard, I can’t eat anything without making him sick. Not a great mindset, Still exercising, not sleeping and still breastfeeding, I lost 7kg. My milk ended up drying up likely because I wasn’t looking after myself.

In May 2018, things caught up with me. As I mentioned earlier, I am quite prone to stress and anxiety, I grew up in a country town, with probably what looked like an idyllic family, I love my family, but my dad was an alcoholic and my mum suffered from depression and anxiety disorders. I also found out at age 11 that my brother was gay, even at 11 I worried if people would accept him, if my family and friends would accept him and what his life would be like. The stress I experienced in my teen years might make a little more sense now.

Generally like for all of us there is a lot going on and we all face challenges in our lives, but things even crazier for me and my family in 2015, I was working a very busy job, with a lot of interstate travel, my dad had an aortic aneurysm, after some very scary months and a couple of surgeries, and against some crappy odds at times, he got better. However he was no longer able to work, my parents lost their home and separated. I was of course there trying to fix everything and getting stressed and exhausted, not listening to my body…notice a pattern? I kept going to the gym, and on one morning during my workout, I got extremely dizzy and almost passed out in the bathroom. I went straight to the doctor who said my blood pressure was high (Mine is usually below the average range), my heart rate was high and my body was telling me it was time to stop. I worked with the doctor to start simplifying my life.

I don’t seem to like simple though, I might have changed a few things, but generally after a while, I fell into similar patterns. We got pregnant in June 2016, I found out super early, I just knew when all of the sudden I couldn’t run 200m without being breathless! I told my mum and dad when I was almost 4 weeks, before I had been to the doctor to confirm. I flew out to Adelaide the next day for work and got a call that afternoon to say my mum was OK but she had had a heart attack. Flying back while she was in surgery, trying not to let the worry affect me…or the baby (or group of cells at that point) was extremely difficult. Very luckily I had a wonderful colleague with me that day who helped me through. That weekend was also the move out date for my mum and dad, I asked for help, and my closest friends came to help move and clean my mum and dads house. Always ask for help when you need it, people will help you, but they can’t always help unless you ask for it. Mum went to live with my Grandma and I drove my Dad to live with his Brother in Macedon.

Things did settle down for a while then. When I was 34 weeks, I got a promotion at work, crazy right? I finished work the day before I reached 38 weeks, and guess what happened the night I finished? My water broke! We had Ted the next day.

We were absolutely over the moon, we brought Ted home a few days later on my birthday, and the next day we had to get our gorgeous 10 year old golden retriever Bracken put down, hip dysplasia had caught up with him. A few weeks later Darrens’ pop passed away, talk about a rollercoaster of emotions, but I kept going. Because that is what you do.

Come August I was back at work, although I never completely stopped working completely, we were all sick, exhausted, stressed and unhappy, my husband ended up in hospital with a severe virus, probably exhaustion, and we decided that he was going to quit his job, the impact of the way we were living our lives on his health wasn’t worth it. We sold our house and half of our posessions and planned to move closer to my work.

It was February 10th, the day before Teds first birthday that my mum got the diagnosis that she had a severe blood disorder, a minor form of cancer, which can be managed, but we didn’t know the seriousness at the time, I got a text message from another family member to tell me they wouldn’t make Teds birthday because they were a victim of domestic violence and he had been stabbed by his partner, as usual I just kept going, putting on a brave face to enjoy Teds party, which was a great day. A few days later we moved house.

I thought great, moving house, fresh start, things are going to be good. It was a couple weeks later, the first week of March when I was in QLD for work, and one of my friends, who I had been speaking to just a matter of hours before had been hit by a car while out riding his bike, and he was in a coma, he passed away the next day, at 28 years old.

This hit me for 6, but I was away in Queensland at work, and simply had to keep going, so I did. I am now writing this in June. Everything that has happened has helped me find my passion for health and nutrition, I finally took control of my situation and started seeing a counsellor and talking through some of these things, Identified I had burn out, glandular fever and high creatine levels.

This is my story to good health, and I hope that my journey can help you too.

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