I want to take you back for a bit with this blog post, because I wasn’t always Holistic Foodie and I know that I touched on this in my about me page, but I thought I would share what my life used to look like compared to how it is now. This post was supposed to be quite short and more formal than it ended up being and it’s been sitting in my drafts for a while but after I realized that it is Bell Let’s Talk Day, I decided to “man up” and hit post. Truly, I never intended for my site to be so personal, but nevertheless here I am talking about deeply personal things and although it is scary, it feels right. And if my message can open up a conversation about mental health then I am all for it, so here it goes…
Growing up, I lived in a household that generally didn’t think about food too much, it was always there and my mom made almost every dinner at home, but she definitely took shortcuts. Shortcuts in the sense of frozen and processed foods like lasagna, pizzas and even sometimes lean cuisines (oh the horror!). I can’t say I blame her at all, she was working and after she came home from work and being exhausted she was the sole person in charge of getting food on the table. We rarely ate out because it wasn’t a luxury we could afford, but sometimes, we would go to McDonald’s or other take-out joint for a treat. That was completely normal to me and up until I went away to University, I wasn’t concerned with food in the sense that I ate what was prepared and had very little interest in cooking.
Moving away from home:
Once I went away to school and started living on my own in second year, I discovered how hard it was to cook. I remember calling my mom and asking her how to cook chicken legs because I had no clue! I stuck to the basics, mac ‘n cheese, processed and sugar laden cereals and really felt this was normal. Then something happened, I started getting serious digestive issues and was constipated half the time. After googling about it, I saw that my diet was seriously void of fiber and so I started stocking up on (still processed) cereals that contained more fiber. It helped, but I still had issues with my metabolism, digestion and I was ALWAYS hungry.
Going vegetarian and the greatest heartbreak I’ve ever known:
When I moved back home, I went back to eating my mom’s cooking and decided I wanted to go vegetarian (on a complete whim) after I had a bad dream about a dead chicken (this is not a joke). I woke up and decided I was becoming vegetarian, I had no idea what I would eat, but I couldn’t eat meat, it just grossed me out. I stayed vegetarian for about one and a half years, up until my mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When she was diagnosed, I began googling alternative medicine and would spend hours researching. I would stay up all night, searching and searching, trying to find a cure, I read all types of stuff (some I am sure were legit, others not so much) and wanted to try them all out on her. It got too difficult though because she was barely eating anything and was in quite a bit of pain. So I went out and got a juicer, I thought I could juice her back to health and that would be that. I learned that it had to be organic and so I only bought organic veggies and fruits for her. She could barely drink any of them, but loved just straight up watermelon juice. So I would make that for her and at least it was something.
After she passed away, I became annoyed with all of the info I read on alternative medicine, it didn’t work for my mom, so I abandoned all of these healthy eating habits, became depressed and started down a path of addiction to painkillers. I was getting migraines prior to my mom becoming sick and had been trying out new and different medications with my doctor until I found the one that was basically a synthetic opioid. This was about seven to eight years ago and back then there wasn’t as much info about how addictive these types of medications can be, at least I didn’t know about it. The drug itself produces morphine-like effects, makes you very drowsy to the point you can barely keep your eyes open, but it took away all pain, both my migraine and deeper emotional pain (because it numbed me). At first, I didn’t want to continue using it because it made me so sleepy and I couldn’t function, but then after my mom passed away, it did the trick for me and my new pain. It made me forget about everything, I stopped going out with friends unless they forced me to go out and because I hated my job so much at that point, I used sick days and would stay in bed all day, drifting in and out of sleep and barely communicating with anyone.
Of course being so ashamed by all of this, I didn’t tell anyone and only took the medication in private. I thought that I could stop by myself and that I wasn’t really addicted and I convinced myself that I needed it to function because the pain I felt from losing my mom was way too much. I continued on this path for nearly a year, all the while pretending everything was fine and no one knew what I was doing, not even my boyfriend of many years. I wish I could say that I got help or that I sought out treatment, but I didn’t. I was too ashamed and I didn’t want to be seen as “that person.” I was also dealing with a father who didn’t care much about his own daughter or anyone else for that matter and moved on with his own life (and a new wife) fairly quickly. I was a complete mess.
Here I was 27 years old now, after losing my mom at 26, I lost my dad too in a way. After trying to make an effort to have a relationship with him, I finally came to a point where I saw that my efforts were not needed anymore, there was no relationship to save and perhaps there never was one there. I moved into my boyfriend’s parents house (they truly are the best people ever to let me live there- with my crazy cat!) because my dad sold the house and I hadn’t found a place of my own yet. Living there pretty much saved me, because I was out of my element and couldn’t sleep all day and miss work. Plus I started a new position at work and it was new and exciting so that also took my mind off things. I still abused the painkillers on occasion, but not nearly as much as I had been. Things were still festering below the surface with my dad and I and I was still clinging to the hope that we could have a normal father-daughter relationship. This takes a few more years (unfortunately) to come to terms with.
Here is a picture of me in Italy (Milan), the summer after my mom passed away when things were finally starting to seem better again and I went to visit my grandma’s apartment that she lived in when my mom was born. Interestingly enough, I couldn’t find any pictures of myself when I was going through the worst of it, but I think there is a reason for that.
After living at my boyfriend’s parents house for about five to six months, we found the condo of our dreams and moved in.
This is when food takes centre stage and my life completely changes (for the better).
This post ended up being a lot longer than I had anticipated, but I thought it was a good story to show you how I lived before all the health and wellness changes took place. I decided to break this blog post up into two sections/stories, so please stay tuned for part two coming soon!
Also- please note that this was super healing for me to write, but also really scary. I have really only ever told a small handful of people about my addiction to painkillers because again- I was ashamed. But here I am after writing all of this and I thought to myself, why not? Why can’t I share this truth with people and if anything maybe it can even help someone else going through depression. Plus with the emergence of the Bell Let’s Talk (#BellLetsTalk) campaign, I felt compelled to share this story. Mental health is often overlooked and isn’t given the same attention that other diseases may get. I realize that although my story was tough, many people go through A LOT worse and end up without a job, a partner or a home to live in and for that I know I am blessed.
I also didn’t write this for people to feel bad for me or say how strong I am or how much I overcame because that isn’t what this is about for me. Everyone has things that happen in life that transform them in some way, mine is no more difficult or easier than anyone else and I know that people have also dealt with a lot more than I have. This is simply my story and my truth and I just hope that comes across and you too can find something here that resonates with you. After all, that is the whole point in sharing our stories, isn’t it?
Stay tuned for part two which is much more upbeat (I promise)!
If you feel so inclined to share your own story, I encourage you to do so, in your own way and in your own time of course. And if you don’t know where to turn, have a look at some of these resources as well and don’t be like me, afraid of what people will think, seek help when you need it and remember that WE ALL need it at some point.