Everyone has a story. I’d like to take some time today to share a chapter of mine, in the hope that it might open the conversation for you to take a look at your own story.
This chapter of my life, I call Lost and Found. I was 37 years old. I had recently given birth to my third baby. When he was about six months old, I started to get sick. What started as mild tenderness in feet my feet, spread to fingers, back, shoulders, neck and eventually throughout my whole body.
In addition, I was experiencing rapid weight loss, hair falling out in chunks, night sweats, chronic pain and fatigue. From Jan – May 2020, I went from mild pain and discomfort, to complete inability to perform even the simplest tasks. I have a strong memory of my then five year old son helping me to get dressed in the morning. It was a whole family effort to get me moving in the morning. My husband would turn on the taps in the shower for me, my nine year old daughter would pick the baby up out of the cot. All tasks I could no longer do for myself. Some days, my whole focus was simply working out how I would get out of bed.
With the sickness came a battery of unpleasant and at times frightening medical tests. CTs, blood after bloods, nuclear medicine, bone scans. The whole time the specialist was evasive about what they were looking for, simply stating that they were checking for a ‘major infection’ in my body. Eventually, I was told, they were looking for cancer.
I was told repeatedly that I needed to commence some heavy duty immune suppressants. Due to stubbornness that it might just go away on its own and mother’s guilt about having to wean my baby in order to start the medication, I held out til I literally had nothing left in me to fight.
I fed my baby for the last time on his 1st birthday and started the new medication that same day. I still remember standing in the kitchen crying as I swallowed the tablet. At that moment in time, my mental and physical health was as low as it has ever been. The sense of failure as a mum, woman, and wife was immense.
The recovery was slow but I gradually started to feel like I could do things for myself again. I regained some of my functionality and my hair stopped falling out. Over time, I was able to feel grateful for the medication that stopped my body from ravaging itself. But it took some time before I could see it from this angle.
During the days of struggle and introspection, I had lots of time to consider myself and my position in the world. Without the busyness of my roles in life, I had the chance to see for the first time, that I had lost my identity. Who was Tash? What lit her up? What did she love doing? What was her purpose?
It was around this time that I started to write a personal blog. The blog was initially just a set of reflections on what was happening in my world. It was a way of managing the turmoil going on in my body and head. Getting it onto paper felt like a therapy of sorts and sometimes, it even helped with the physical pain.
I decided to publish the blog for others to read. This was my first true step toward showing people what was really going on for me. I realised that if I could help just one person by reading my blog, it was worth me showing up and sharing a part of my story. I was surprised and moved by the volume of people who instantly started to reach out to me when I started to share my journey. Reactions ranged from shock, empathy and most commonly – connection. It seemed my story really resonated with others.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog where I share how this moment created the next part of my journey into creating a women’s empowerment business. I call the next chapter ‘Stepping Into the Unknown’.