The Journey of a Special Needs Father's Blog by Gary Herbert

The Journey of a Special Needs Father by Gary Herbert
JSNF Blog No 2 - A Line Drawn in the Sand !

JSNF Blog No 2 - A Line Drawn in the Sand !

JSNF Blog No 2 - A Line Drawn in the Sand ! A month ago I was completely fed up of feeling as rubbish and as low as I was feeling. I’m was sick and tired of always feeling sick and tired, and the penny finally dropped!. I knew that stopping drinking at the weekends would have a positive impact on every aspect of my life, and that would enable me to start moving forward in a happier and a more positive and productive way.

I’ve spent the past month doing a lot of thinking and have spent a lot of time reflecting on my life and what I can do to try and improve things moving forward.
Draw a Line in the Sand
Draw a Line in the Sand Draw a Line in the Sand
I feel ready for change, ready to start trying to look after myself better and hopefully to start feeling better and more positive in myself. I know a lot of this hinges on me stopping drinking alcohol, and I have now managed a month without having a drink.

I actually feel quite proud for not having a drink for the past month, this may seem a small deal to many, but from where I was a month ago it’s actually quite a big deal for me. It’s a small step in the right direction and I’m determined to carry it on.

I have done a lot of thinking about why I have drunk in the past, and I feel a lot of the reason has been to numb the pain, but also to punish myself, so that I feel terrible the day after. I feel I have done that as I haven’t felt that I deserve to feel happy in myself due what has happened to Lewis, and his ongoing problems and suffering.

The question I often ask myself is - “Why should I feel happy and good about myself when he is suffering so much on a daily basis?”.

The day after I have had a drink I feel absolutely terrible in so many ways and there is so much self loathing, but in a strange sort of way I convince myself that I deserve to feel this terrible, and that I don’t deserve to be happy and healthy if Lewis isn’t.

I really need to change this mindset as it’s not healthy and good for anyone moving forward. I cannot keep using Lewis’ suffering and disability, and all the challenges surrounding his care as an excuse to drink. Drinking will not take away Lewis’ problems or suffering, or our constant Debt, so what’s the point in doing it!?.

Anybody can find an excuse to drink, i.e I’m drinking because I’m sad, I’m drinking because I’m happy/celebrating, I’m drinking as I’ve had a bad day, I’m drinking because I’ve had a tough week, I’m drinking as everyone else is etc etc etc, there is always an excuse you can find to try and justify having a drink, but doing this doesn’t solve anything at all, it just magnifies problems and creates a negative mindset in the long run.

If someone asked me to choose between alcohol and running, and said that I had to give up one of them for the rest of my life, then it would be a really easy decision for me to make. I would choose running over alcohol every time, as I really do love my running, it’s just having that period of time when you are in your own thoughts, the peace and quiet which accompanies me on every run is amazing and so up lifting (I never listen to music when running).

This tells me all I need to know moving forward about what is more important to me, it’s a no brainer!.

During the past month I have had to keep reminding myself that I do deserve to feel happy and healthy, without feeling any guilt, and that I am worth it.

I have always had an addictive nature and tend to do things to the extreme and give them my all. This attitude is good for a lot of things in life, but certainly isn’t when it comes to alcohol. People have often asked me “why can’t you just have a couple of beers and then stop”, I really wish I could, but I simply can’t, and this has been proven so many times over the years. As soon as I make the decision to have that first drink I know exactly what’s going to happen, I’ll end up having 7/8 plus, so I’m better off not opening that first one. Lots of people out there will relate to having the same feeling/problem, but whether they will admit it is anything. Some people however are lucky enough to be able to just have a couple and stop, and I take my hat off to these people, I really do, but unfortunately I’m not one of those, I really wish I was!.

When I woke up on the Monday morning following my first dry weekend of 2020 I felt so much better. I had so much more energy and a feeling of positivity (which I hadn’t felt at all this whole year!) to face the week ahead and the challenges it may bring. I actually felt quite proud of myself as well, a small thing for some, but it was big for me.

I have felt so much better in so many different ways during the past month. Some of the many benefits I’ve experienced are listed below;

More positive, increased patience, happier, lots more energy, more relaxed, calmer, able to cope with problems and challenges easier. I’ve been able to do more, been more productive as well as feeling physically healthier and fresher, and I’ve been enjoying my running again, and I’ve experienced many many more benefits from not drinking for a month.

Sure, I’ve still had bad days, but these have greatly reduced. When I do have a bad day I have tried to just except that it’s going to be a bad day and hope that the following day is better, it’s the nature of the black dog, some days you just feel terrible for no apparent reason. I know as soon as I wake up if it’s going to be one of those days and excepting it and allowing myself to feel that way has really helped me during the past month.

As previously mentioned, I have started to enjoy my running again in the past month, and have started to feel a little bit like my old self, sure I’m a long way off where I was with my running, but I’m moving in the right direction.

There was no coincidence that my most enjoyable run of 2020 (a 10k) came the morning after my first dry weekend. I had forgotten how much I love running and this was the reminder I needed. Alcohol and running simply don’t mix and this was a real eye opener for me of how much better I felt during my run for not having any alcohol over the weekend, and this same feeling has continued throughout the whole month.

My wonderful wife Lexi has (as always) been so supportive during the past month.  When I have had a wobble she has helped me through it, and for that I’m extremely grateful.  Hopefully she has seen some changes in me, and has been happy that I haven’t been drinking at the weekends. Thanks babe for always supporting me, it means everything x.

On this subject I have done a lot of thinking over the past month and I have realised that the way I had been drinking at the weekends for the past six months or so had been selfish!. 

Lexi has enough stress and pressures to deal with on a daily basis without me adding to them by acting like an idiot once I’d had a drink. She already has three children to look after, she doesn’t need 4!.

I have also thought a lot about things which are out of my control - i.e Lewis’ health, our constant ongoing large debt. I cannot change, control or make these things better, so I have promised myself that moving forward I’m going to “Control the Controllables” and try not to let things out of my control affect me as much (it might be easier said than done though as these problems are a huge part of our lives!).  I’m going to try and except that there are things in my life that I cannot change or make better, it’s just the way it is, and that it’s just the cards we have been dealt.

During the past month I have been writing a daily diary.  I have found that this has helped me a lot, just taking five minutes every day to list down my thoughts and feelings and what’s happened during the day has really helped me. This is something I am looking at continuing moving forward.

I’m also going to try and focus more on what we have got, and not what we haven’t!, or on our problems etc. There is always someone worse off and I am VERY VERY aware of that. We are the lucky ones to have all the support/friends and family we have, some people literally have no body to support them, and my heart really does go out to all those people.

I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about how lucky (for all the wrong reasons!) I have been to be able to be at home so much over the years, and how much quality time I’ve been able to spend with Lewis, Kira and Oscar through out their lives so far.

I have been there to watch them grow and meet various milestones (Kira and Oscar obviously!) over the years which has been amazing, and something which money simply can’t buy. I’ve been about to play with them and to take them to various sporting and after school clubs and events etc over the years. I have been very fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time with all of our children before and after school and at the weekends, I’ve always been there, and I hope as they grow up they will be grateful of how much I have been around for them. I know lots of fathers and mothers aren’t as lucky as I have been due to work commitments and they unfortunately miss out on so much of their child growing up as they have to work to keep a roof over their heads etc. I truly believe there is no substitute for spending quality time with your children as they are growing up, this time cannot be replaced with money, no matter how much, and it’s time you will never get back. I feel very very fortunate to have been able to be around so much for my children as they have been and continue to grow up, a lot of people don’t have a choice, so this is a huge positive for me out of a bad situation!. 
JSNF Blog No 2 - A Line Drawn in the Sand !
Draw a Line in the Sand Draw a Line in the Sand
Kira’s horse riding has started up again after lockdown which is great as she loves horse riding, and it’s really good for her to get out the house, likewise Oscar’s sports have also started up again which he loves. It is so important for them both to get out and have their own time away from the house, it’s so important for their physical and mental well being.

I have created a very basic no drinking chart which I have put up on my wall next to my no alcohol mind map.  It is very basic, and a picture of it is below, but I feel it has really helped me focus and visually see a result day by day, so I will look at continuing this moving forward as well. (I may need a bigger wall though)!.

I know I have a long way to go, but I do feel I have started to make small steps within the past month, and have spent a lot of time reflecting and thinking about what’s important to me and where my life is going. I am going to continue to try and be as positive as possible and “control the controllables”, this won’t always be easy, but I’m determined to try.

And as for the main man himself I may hear you say!, not much to report really he’s just been Lewis!, in his own unique and crazy way!. His bloods are rather low though (Hb110, wbc 3.5, neutrophils 1.5 and platelets 93, this maybe the valproate interacting with the cannabidiol (so we have reduced his daily dose a bit) or he may be brewing something viral!.

Mid December we had the pleasure of a “Career Interview” for Lewis!. “What is Lewis looking at doing when he leaves school!?”. Well we thought he could do his A Levels and then go onto UNI and do a degree in Astrophysics!. You either have to laugh or cry or do both!.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, it’s greatly appreciated. This blog business is all new to me, but writing everything down seems to be helping me move forward, and I find it like a form of self therapy.

I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas and new year. Here’s to next year being rather better for everyone. Take care and stay safe in these crazy times.

Thank you again for your support. 
Take care and all the very best to you all.
Gary x

#comingbacktome #noalcohol #loverunning #positive #movingforward #mentalwellbeing #JSNF #timeforchange
JSNF Blog No 2 - A Line Drawn in the Sand !
JSNF Blog No 3 - Groundhog Day Lockdown

JSNF Blog No 3 - Groundhog Day Lockdown

JSNF Blog No 3 - Groundhog Day Lockdown
Hi all, hope you are all well and safe.

The past couple of months since I last wrote have been very demanding and extremely challenging for us all in the Herbert household. Trying to juggle home schooling in combination with looking after Lewis has been extremely difficult, exhausting and very stressful for us both.

It’s just not normal for children to be taught by their parents, it’s just not our role and not what we signed up for!. It must be so confusing for the children, I really feel for them. We have done the best we can in a very testing time.

The past year has, and will continue to have a massive impact on so many people’s mental health for many years to come.
Read The JSNF Blog In Full.. Blog No 3. Groundhog Day Lockdown
JSNF Blog No One: Lewis’ 18th Birthday

JSNF Blog No 1 - Lewis’ 18th Birthday

JSNF Blog No One: Lewis’ 18th Birthday
Hi all, really hope my first blog finds you safe and well in these crazy and very challenging times for us all. Remember, it’s okay not to be okay!. These are unprecedented and extremely challenging times for all of us in so many different ways. Try and be patient and understanding to others, as you never know what they might be going through.

Lewis’ Birthday weeks have always been really tough for us, with so many different emotions and thoughts going through our heads. Thought’s of all the missed milestones over the years which so many people take for granted, all the what if’s?.
Read The JSNF Blog In Full.. Blog No 1. Lewis 18th Birthday
The Journey of a Special Needs Father by Gary Herbert

Lewis Story.. His Consultant.. Thank you Dr Hewertson

The Journey of a Special Needs Father by Gary Herbert
Very often health care professionals go under the radar and are not recognised for their amazing timeless work. We would like to put on record our experience of Lewis’ Consultant Paediatrician and give him the credit and recognition he very much deserves.

Yesterday was a sad and emotional day for us both as Lewis had his last appointment (transition) with his wonderful Consultant Paediatrician at Northampton General Hospital (NGH) Dr John Hewertson. It really is an end of an era for us, as we have been through some much whilst under his superb care.
.. His Consultant Dr Hewertson

JSNF Blog No 2 - A Line Drawn in the Sand !

The Journey of a Special Needs Father by Gary Herbert

The Journey of a Special Needs Father by Gary Herbert