Chronic Illness and Grief, 10 stories

Part 3

Author: Ann Grandchamp, Mental Health Editor

I am feeling so privileged to share with you the 2 final stories of 2 wonderful women struggling with chronic illness and yet wanting to share their hope and tips with you.

I encourage you to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and write down the things that inspire you or the tips that you want to put into practise yourself.

My Swiss Story: Chronic Illness and Grief, 10 stories

STORY 9 – Alexia Harmand

Q. What illness are you suffering from?

I have been suffering from SIBO and candida overgrowth. At a certain point, I couldn’t eat as much as I needed. I was vomiting often and eating was making me sicker. I was so weak that it was complicated for me to stand up and walk.

Q. Would you say you’ve gone through a grief process because of it?

I never stopped fighting for health. I never lost faith. I was seeing myself as a sprightly and lively person. And there was no way I would give up on life. At a certain point, I knew that if I didn’t find a solution, I would die young. So I fought and I started to recover slowly. I was celebrating every step forward. Sometimes I would go back into deep sickness in a finger clap. I was upset! But I always got back on the road for health, convinced that I would end up at the summit of “my Everest”.

My Swiss Story: Chronic Illness and Grief, 10 stories

During this journey, I really felt like I was climbing Everest, with no food, no water, no help. I was indeed fighting, but so weak. And no one was able to help. Neither the doctors, nor the family. Worse than that, a doctor diagnosed me as alcoholic. I was of course not drinking (I couldn’t even drink water sometimes, why would I drink alcohol!), but my liver was bigger than normal and the symptoms I was describing were the ones you have when you have steatoses.

My family did not understand what I was going through. Despite my physical appearance they were denying I was sick. In the end, the doctor found no evidence that I had any “real” disease. Beside it was impossible to accept for my mother. She had “made me healthy” as she said. She couldn’t be responsible. My parents were complaining because I was less present, not helpful as usual, criticizing me for my behaviour changes. I was just sick and tired. As their attitude was not helping me, quite the contrary, and as I needed to use 100% of the tiny amount of energy I had to heal, I decided to stop seeing them.

I spent 2 years without seeing my parents and a Christmas alone. Gosh it was hard. But it was right.

The only person that has never stopped supporting me is my boyfriend. He was the only one who had any idea what I was going through. He was doing everything at home so I could keep working. He knew it was so important to me. At that time, I had just moved to Switzerland and I did not have a fix position. I was limiting my food intake all week in order to be able to go to work. I was sick all weekends because I was eating. But thanks to my boyfriend, as soon as I could walk and sit in a car, we were off, driving to the mountain, trying to keep the fun in our life.

Q. What helped you through this time?

My grand-father who passed away was always saying: “Help you and God will help you.” After having seen dozens of doctors, from the most renowned, I realized that they wouldn’t be able to help me. So I decided then to help myself. Any second I had, I was using it to read on nutrition and health until I could speak about any nutrition current and identify the contradictions between them. Eventually, I understood that I wouldn’t find the answer from outside but from within. We are all different. There is no magic recipe that works for all. I started to develop my intuition.

Before eating, I took the food in my hand, looked at it, smelled it and questioned myself: “is it good for me?” Depending on the answer I ate it or not.

I knew unconsciously that going into nature, doing sport and meditation was helping me to get access to my intuition. They were my life savers.

After an intense year, I started to feel better. Meditation drove me into analysing my thoughts. I was ruminating all the time the same negative thoughts. Apparently I am not the only one. I read that 90% of our thoughts are always the same and 70% are not positive. I felt that those thoughts were poisoning me. So I decided to take them out of my head by journaling. It was a way to take the trash out! I am also practicing gratitude and sometimes, when I feel the need, a mirror exercise. It seems silly, but it’s so powerful. I look at myself in the mirror and tell myself: “I am proud of you because … I forgive you for… “. On top or that I do a special meditation every morning that takes me no more than 3 minutes, where I visualise my day and all the nice things I want to happen during the day. And guess what! It orients my attention to nice positive events.

I’ve been guided to energy healing. I am very analytical. I need an objective demonstration for everything. But when I succeed to shut down my logical mind chatter and leave some space for my right brain to express itself, the surrender experiment opens the door to this totally new and curious universe. I first got support from therapists and I am now helping myself and others with energy techniques.

I will probably never be as strong physically as I was before. I’ve probably lost some years of my life.

But I never felt as strong and powerful as today. I am very grateful to what this incident brought me. Thanks to it life has a different flavour. I am living the life I am meant to live.

Q. What would be your top tips for someone who has just found out about a chronic/life threatening illness or is struggling with this reality in their life.

You are your own medicine. Chronic diseases are often supposed to not be curable. Consider yourself as fluid as you can. That helps to make physical conditions move and evolve. You are energy. Your thoughts create your emotions, and your health condition expresses those emotions.

If you are upset, depressed, exhausted because of your health condition, cultivate any positive moments and thoughts. It will help you vibrate at a higher level and attract more of those nice moments. It is also a prerequisite to access intuition which can guide you to heath. You can get doctors’ and therapists’ support, it definitively helps and is mostly useful when you have no energy left to help yourself. But don’t expect them to do the job for you. You have within you all you need to recover.

Never let doctors put you in a box from which there is no exit.


STORY 10 – Veronique Gray

Q. What illness are you suffering from?

I’ve been suffering from migraines for 34 years, from vulvodynia for over 20 years, coccygodynia for 4 years and intense radiation in the leg. Also neck and shoulder blockage, burning sensation on my arm, hand and upper body. I also have feelings of cold symptoms since my breast cancer in 2001.

Q. Would you say you’ve gone through a grief process because of it?

I went throught all stages. I am often sad and go through depression, sometimes low self-esteem and ask myself, “why am I here?”. I gained weight because of my problem with coccygodynie. 12 kgs because I can’t sit and radiation hurts so bad. Then I can’t look at myself in the mirror. I cry and like to stay alone. I am stressed and had suicidal thoughts but can’t do it because of my mum and son.

My Swiss Story: Chronic Illness and Grief, 10 stories

Q. What helped you through this time?

Through the years, what helped me was talks with my family, my website Vivamost, my businesses (3!), my art – I’ve been painting for 4.5 years now, life therapy in Rehab Clinic and Burnout Clinic, meeting friends and seeing family.

Q. What would be your top tips for someone who has just found out about a chronic/life threatening illness or is struggling with this reality in their life.

My tips would be to:

  • get informed
  • find people who could have experienced the same things
  • be your own doctor
  • help yourself research, research and learn
  • visit a psychologist for a while to talk, cry and learn how to cope
  • Go to rehabilitation clinics or other clinics

All this will help you survive until you find a solution.


Thank you!

My Swiss Story: Chronic Illness and Grief, 10 stories

Wow! What a journey we’ve been on. I know that I’ve had some very emotional moments. My wish is that all 10 stories gave you hope, that they encouraged you, that you felt less alone in whatever battle you’re facing.

A very very big thank you to all of the wonderful women who shared their story. Who were open, vulnerable, true and authentic. Please leave us a comment and don’t hesitate to reach out if you are in need of guidance or support.

Take care! Stay safe!


Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for more resources, our editorial panel is talking about – summer vacation ideas, mental health, nutrition and wellness, back to school, recipes and activities for children. Stay well and stay with us!

To read posts from September, click here.

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