Prior to becoming unwell in 2004 I was healthy, fit, full of beans and studying Outdoor Education at University with the career ambition to become an adventure therapist (working with young people in an outdoor environment to help support them through difficult times and get their life back on track). A few months into my degree I became unwell and eventually (too late) had my seriously inflamed appendix removed. Life never returned to “normal” after that. I had to give up my physically demanding degree and with that my dream career that I had thought about throughout my high school years.
I spent years being exhausted, sometimes being bed bound for a few days, but mostly just getting through the day or work week as best I could and crashing when I got home. I suffered in silence for a long time and did my best to seem normal to everyone I knew and loved. With this dramatic change in my lifestyle (from being extremely active and healthy) to being sluggish, not active and feeling like I had a nasty flu 24/7, I put on weight, I became addicted to unhealthy foods and began a spiral of depression.
Fast forward 16 years, because I choose not to dwell on my past, the horrible days I had, the relationship breakup that set me back ten-fold, the struggles of trying to figure out what was wrong with me, and perhaps the biggest challenge of all – losing my darling girl Pippy, my beautiful dog of 17 years, and I am now the happiest I have ever been.
I moved to Melbourne 14 months ago (from living in a smaller regional town) and at the age of 34 came to the realisation that I was gay. Fast forward almost 12 months and I am in a loving relationship with my girlfriend and as the pandemic has seen us co-habitat, and we have loved it, we have decided to move in together. I could not be happier.
I want the moral of my story to be “don’t give up”. Life can be a real hard ball at times (and I could insert oh so many expletives here – I won’t) but don’t give up! Don’t give up on working towards finding your happy place, whatever that may be. It might not be what you thought it would be (mine certainly is not) but I wake up in the mornings now, next to my girlfriend, and think about how lucky I am. Life can be beautiful.