I left school with a dream to travel the world doing outdoor sports. I loved the adventure of the outdoors and the connection to nature brought me so much joy.
The time spent with friends, conquering my fear of the unknown and of course pushing myself as far as I could.
At times, I would come home from such epic adventures and feel like I could truly take on the world or embark on any new journey that excited me. I didn’t fear the new and exciting. I loved it, embraced it and sought it out wherever I could.
So as you can imagine, when my son was first diagnosed with autism I took the same approach. At first, I didn’t feel fear. I had inner strength. I approached it like climbing a mountain. But as the reality set in and the times got tougher, I lost that inner strength. I was exhausted, overwhelmed and full of WHY ME questions. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I sat in this space for what felt like an eternity, feeling alone and scared.
So how do you find the strength to begin to nourish and heal your body?How do you change everything that you have ever known to be true in your world and have the strength to keep pushing on?
The first step is to:
1) Accept the cards you have been dealt.
When my son was first diagnosed and when we first started the GAPS diet with our family, I saw it as hard work, life hindering and thought, ‘why oh why?'(!) I just hadn’t accepted that this was a path that would take us to a greater understanding of our health, and of course I was doomed to fail with that attitude. Something had to change, and thankfully it did. I eventually accepted that this was our course and we might as well make the most of it.
I knew I had accepted this realisation when I was packing for a camping trip for the family. I decided I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from going camping and connecting with the nature that I so desperately love, even when I had two very young children that could only eat puréed soup and nothing else. It would certainly have been easier to stay at home, but I had now accepted the path that my family was walking towards wellness and the joy that came from knowing this was my motivation to keep going.
2) Don’t let the end goal make you lose sight of the small daily joys.There was a time when I was SO focused on making sure that I got the diet perfect, the supplements right, that I spoke to the right researcher, or that I read all the right books, that I lost sight of the daily joys. There is no point in focusing all your attention on getting well and then realise at the end of that journey that you forgot what your grandma’s name was, or hadn’t taught your kids to climb a tree, or ticked something off your bucket list.
If we become so dogmatic about our healing that we miss the fun in life or neglect our hobbies or friendships, we will never truly find wellness. These areas of our lives are also what contributes to our inner health. You can eat all the broccoli you want, but if you neglect things like the bliss of connecting with nature or the time that could be spent with your ‘inner circle’, then you will struggle to recover.
3) Instead of searching for labels, search for understanding.This one was huge for me. I wanted to know why my children were struggling with their health so much. I desperately wanted a doctor to tell me that they had some weird disease and that a treatment or a pill would instantly fix them. While a label may tell you the issue, it won’t unpack why the body isn’t functioning the way it should be. The label won’t help you get up each day and be motivated to keep going. A label certainly won’t bring you the strength of character.
We must take responsibility and understand at a deeper level how our body functions. Knowing the scaffolding that the body needs to be optimal, and how to assemble the complex puzzle together, is far more empowering, rewarding and successful than searching for a label and owning the label. I am so glad that we did not own my son's autism label. If we had, we would not be where we are today. Instead, we set forth with enquiring minds to understand why his body wasn’t functioning and how we could understand and maybe even help to find management.
Wishing you all the motivation, empowerment and responsibility you so deserve and are capable of using to change your family’s life for the better.