After months of depression and doubt following his heart bypass surgery, Richard Blakeborough had no illusions: things had to change!
Getting the feeling again
Barry Manilow may have been onto something with that song title. The feeling for me was motivation. I had always thought I was reasonably driven, ambitious, and motivated. As a young man, I used my motivation to earn my degree, play rugby, and leave my home country to create a new life in New Zealand.
Like many others I bought tapes and read books about how to be more motivated. I bought almost everything Anthony Robbins produced! There was always more I could do and, when I wanted to, did do.
That was the issue. When I wanted to, when I was clear, when I was focused, I could do anything.
All that changed in January, 2010. My heart bypass, when I was just 45, gave me a short-term fix to a long-term heart problem.
It should have given me a new lease on life, a second chance. After all, I was the lucky one. They found my problem early, before the inevitable massive heart attack.
The problem was, I didn’t feel lucky. I felt miserable. My lucky break didn’t seem like a second chance. I felt like I was in a holding pattern ... like when two planes circle round and round, waiting to land. I was miserable, depressed, and very, very unmotivated. Oh, and I felt guilty, too. I should feel guilty, I'd think: my life was saved and I had been given that rare second chance ... the second chance so many don't get. What on earth was the matter with me?
The short answer was, I didn’t know. To be fair, I wasn’t completely without desire and drive. The only problem was that my desire and drive was for chardonnay. I drank and drank, and did little else.
Time for changes
Looking back, some of the culprits hanging about were: drugs. My mixture of beta blockers and statins and all sorts of other things that helped me stay alive also had side effects, notably depression.
Fear. I was still sure I was going to die. yes, they had bypassed the problem, but was it fixed long-term? If not, why bother doing anything?
Lack of control. As I imagined having my chest opened, my rib cage broken, my lungs deflated, I realised how little control I had over my life. I mean, someone had touched my heart! If I can’t control anything, what’s the point of it all? Feeling sorry for myself. Why me? I exercised. I wasn’t overweight. I had stopped drinking for four years. Why me? It wasn’t fair.
I lived like this for a year. Me and the chardonnay.
Baby steps + big ones
What changed? I’d like to say it was a specific thing, but it wasn’t. It was a series of events, a series of small steps ... and some faith ... and some love.
So, what can stop me now? Only myself and my fears. I have a purpose.
I love to tell stories.
I love public speaking.
I love writing.
So it’s logical that I devote myself to helping others who, like me, have lost their mojo.
It’s still there, we just need to find it together. Did I get the feeling back? Yes, and then some! Am I a great example of goal-driven super success and ‘high performance’? Heck, no. But I have a purpose that makes my heart sing, and I work at it every day.
Am I fixed? I was never broken, just a little lost. Now I am back on track. Back on the track to being fulfilled.
- My wife never gave up on me and put up with the moods and the attitudes. Then, when I was ready to leave my self-imposed cage, she encouraged me and walked with me.
- I just got bored with being bored. I got tired of doing nothing. My spirit was looking for an exit out of the cage.
- I got a coach, a woman I didn’t know based in heartland United States. She challenged my thoughts, pushed me to find my purpose, and encouraged the baby steps and the big ones.
All the barriers, all the doubts, all the fears flowed through my mind. I talked to my wife. She was up for it. One by one, we faced the challenges, barriers and fears: talking to parents, finding money, getting time off work, a major earthquake (we live in Christchurch), then the worst snows in Chicago for 50 years.
As I stood in Chicago I reflected about how none of the fears and barriers had stopped me after all. I was no longer the guy who sat on the couch and let life walk on by. I was the guy in Chicago!
Richard Blakeborough is a life coach and regular Family Care NZ contributor. One day Richard was a fit and healthy man, then his cardiologist told him he had heart disease and needed a triple bypass.
His e-books, Life After A Bypass and That’s A Big Fat Lie Richard, chronicle his journey following heart surgery and subsequent departure from the corporate world to become a life coach.
Learn more about Richard and his books here.