The immensely talented Angus and Julia Stone have an achingly beautiful song on their latest album called ‘Nothing Else’. Early on in the song the lyric goes “they say you have to fall apart to really be someone”.
I get it.
I hope for this blog to be an informative, but fun look at life through my lens. People who know me know I love to talk about food and the human body. Let me assure you, this is not a blog about food, or nutrition, or the human body, there are already plenty of those. This blog is about, well, I don’t know just yet, but it’s not just about food, I promise.
First though, I have to get something off my chest, and it’s pretty food-related. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so apologies, but you’ll have to look at my ugly mug quickly, and twice.
The photo on the left was taken on 29 June 2017, the one on the right was 3 weeks ago.
A slow and steady decline of health started 15 years ago when I was 19, a supposedly carefree teenage student of Economics at the University of Reading, an hour West of London, England. The photo on the left represents a period shortly after that seemingly inexplicable 15-year decline erupted into a full blown crisis, of health, and then of personality, about 18 months ago.
I feel the need to post something about this, not because it’s important for me to share or get ‘likes’, but because there are a number of people have been affected by what happened to me, who maybe didn’t understand what was going on, or why I was being the way I was, heck, I didn’t understand, but I want to explain.
HOWEVER bigger than that, much bigger, I also sense there are a lot of others out there, who have their own struggles, and don’t feel they can talk about them. Us men are notoriously bad at this. My door is now officially (and metaphorically) open to anyone who needs to talk to someone who has stood on the precipice, survived, and ‘gets’ it.
I hit a point last year where my body couldn’t digest food, I couldn’t sleep, I was racked with sensations of anxiety that I couldn’t rationalise, I had mercifully brief, but dark, periods of depression, I couldn’t focus on what I was doing, or what people were saying, I couldn’t find words to finish sentences, I had rashes, headaches, inexplicable aches, pains and tingles all over my body, extreme lethargy, mood swings, and the constant need to nap.
Glorious restorative naps.
My body, and my mind, were essentially in melt down and no doctor could tell me why. It was, without doubt, the hardest and most frustrating period of my life, and I am so grateful for it.
People often comment on what I eat these days (which is essentially vegetables, meat, fish, eggs and olive oil. AND RED WINE). They say I’m too healthy, obsessive, weird, anal. I’m no longer affected by these comments, I guess I finally grew a pair.
“have a beer”
“have a taco”
“have a slice of carrot cake, it’s sugar free!”
“organic is overpriced”
“everything in moderation”
“what’s wrong with watermelon?”,
..and so on.
AND I GET IT! Food is awesome, people want to share the awesomeness, hospitality is at the heart of who we are as a species. I know this better than most, because when food becomes your enemy, you lose food, and you lose the social nature of food, which is almost worse than pretending that zoodles are as good as the real deal.
Unfortunately a lot of the food in our modern day diets is toxic, and if your body is already toxic, like mine was, you have to give it non-toxic, for balance, to survive. I’ve eaten like we’re designed to for about a year now, and slowly, but surely, am regaining my health, and my vitality.
‘Let food be thy medicine’ sounded like just another quote on the internet.
It’s not. Trust me.
If you have a pathological overgrowth of a dodgy yeast or bacteria in your gut, like I did, it can trigger a spiral of symptoms that can literally make you consider death as a preferable alternative. I never got there thankfully, instead, I relentlessly studied natural medicine, read books, listened to podcasts, pleaded with doctors to give me the tests I thought I needed, bought thousands upon thousands of dollars’ worth of supplements, learnt how to better manage stress, constantly experimented with my diet, learnt how to chill the fuck out, learnt how to listen to my body, learnt, learnt, learnt! And then learnt some more.
However, I also pretended I was fine. I was not fine. I wanted to curl into a ball, move home, push pause, get the fuck out of Dodge. The problem was that Dodge wasn’t a place. It was me. It’s confronting AF when you realise YOU are the problem.
We have a ‘funny’ view of masculinity in large swathes of our society. How many beers we can sink, how many women we can bed, what car we drive, how big our biceps are, how good our chat is, how much money we earn, how big our dick is. You get the picture.
I’ve long suspected that it’s all bullshit, and yet in the face of the ever striving, campaigning, and progressing feminist movement, there is no masculine movement, not that I can see, and yet so many of us men are lost.
I had a realisation at an event on Saturday night (I’ll write a post on that when I have time) that I’m in the process of re-designing what masculinity means to me. And as a result, re-defining who I am.
It hit me full on, in the face, unexpectedly, this afternoon.
At first I laughed, and then I cried. I cried like I’ve never cried before. We’re often taught as little boys that REAL men don’t cry. I think I could count on two hands the number of times I’ve genuinely cried since I was eleven years of age. And one of those was at Marley and Me. And another one was at Flubber. And Lion. And Eastenders when Phil succumbed to the drink one last time. That shit was REAL.
The event this afternoon, sat on the beach, on my own, basking in the glorious sunshine, bawling my eyes out, was possibly the most masculine thing I’ve ever done.
They were tears of relief.
As Angus and Julia sang, “you have to fall apart to really be someone”.
I’ve fallen apart. I’ve painstakingly pieced myself back together. It’s time to be someone.
CLICHE WARNING ALERT
Today marks the start of a new chapter. A new life. A new me. With all the old bits I like, and hopefully a lot of new bits that are just as good, if not better. I don’t know where this will take me, but I’m fucking excited to find out.
I want. Correction. Need, to apologise to all of the people that have endured me over the past 2 years, I haven’t always been easy company, I haven’t always been the best friend, colleague, sibling (sorry girls), son (sorry Mum), or date (sorry tinder) (sorry bumble) (sorry Happn), whilst I was so wrapped up in my own world, fighting my body, and my brain.
I will do better.
I also want to say thanks. SO MANY THANKS. Thanks to everyone who has supported me, I’ve often felt like I’ve been going this alone, but I haven’t, not really. A few really stand out who, realise it or not, saved me. I think, and hope they know who they are.
Like I said, my door is always open.
Emotional outpouring over. Onwards and Upwards!