I feel incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to share the stories of five amazing women over the past week. You never know what’s going on in people’s lives, what they’re going through or what they’ve been through.

So now it’s my turn. I wanted to share my story, warts and all. And it feels a little uncomfortable, but if the stories that I’ve shared have taught me anything, it’s to be open, to be vulnerable and actually that’s what can make us strong.

So here we go …

In 2005 I couldn’t have been happier. I got married, had the perfect wedding and I was embarking on the course of my dreams. Finally following my passion and starting my nutritional diploma at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition. Everything was good.

And then 2006 hit. The years that followed were the hardest of my life.

In 2006 my mother-in-law died of cancer and then later on that year my Mum was diagnosed with cancer too.

Ever the optimist I told myself over and over that everything would be OK, she’d be OK. If I’m honest it was probably more denial than optimism. Then in February 2007 we were told that her cancer was terminal and that she had 6 months to a year to live. 6 weeks later she died.

Putting this in black and white like this, gets me. I lost my beloved Mum, she was only 53 and I fell into a black hole. A hole that I didn’t know how to get out of. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to talk to anyone and I didn’t want to eat.

And it impacted my marriage. We were both grieving the loss of our Mums. We didn’t know how to handle it. I felt so lost, I could feel my husband slipping further and further away from me and I felt helpless to do anything about it. In 2008 he left.

It’s strange writing this, as this all happened 10 years ago and I couldn’t be further from that place now. I’m happier than I ever thought possible. You really can come out the other side. And as someone said to me this week (when commenting on the Strong Women series) “it’s amazing how much light comes out of the dark places.”

What got me through my darkest days?

In my darkest days I felt like I was going crazy, I felt lost. I didn’t know which way to turn or how to get through the day.

Yoga, journalling and my reiki sessions got me through this difficult time. And the lady behind all that was Shelley Bloom. Shelley’s been my yoga teacher since 2006. She helped me navigate the grief, she helped me find myself again and the strength within me to come out of the dark.

What’s the one thing I’ve learnt about what I went through?

That actually I wasn’t going crazy, I was grieving. Grief is such a difficult thing to navigate and it’s different for everyone. But it’s OK to grieve. Grief gets you in the pit of your stomach. I remember feeling like my heart would actually break. But each day, gets easier. And then you get to a point when the good days outnumber the bad. You don’t forget but it does get easier.

How am I different now that I’ve experienced what I have?

I’m stronger and happier than I ever have been. Don’t get me wrong I’d give anything to have my Mum here. For her to have met Paul and my kids. But it’s taught me to appreciate everything life has to offer all the more. I’m grateful every day for everything in my life. I appreciate the little things, without sounding cheesy, the sunny days, enjoying my favourite chocolates. Somehow everything’s a bit richer for having gone through everything I’ve been through.

What would I say to someone going through what I’ve been through?

Grieve in your own way. Take your time, you will heal. But you must grieve, don’t push it down or try to ignore it. Go through it and you’ll come out the other side.

And find what works for you, we’re all so different. For me it was a mixture of yoga, cognitive behavioural therapy, journalling and reiki. And it helped that I had people to talk to, people that weren’t in the midst of it.

What was the inspiration behind Nicky for Life?

I often get asked why my business is called Nicky for Life. When my Mum died I had the overwhelming urge to write. And in 2015 that urge came up again and I actually acted on it. I set up my blog and called it Nicky for Life because I wanted to share my life experiences, share everything I’ve learnt and hopefully help a few people along the way.

And my business wouldn’t be what it is today if I hadn’t gone through what I’ve been through. I’ve finally put my nutritional diploma to good use and I love what I do. Helping people get their health on track but also help them navigate whatever they’re going through in their lives.

My last word …

Be you. It’s taken me a long time to have the courage and sense of self to be truly me. Whatever you’re going through trust yourself, you know yourself better than anyone, you know what’s best for you. Trust that.

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