Richi Watson will never forget the incident that led to him being diagnosed with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) when he was just 17 years old.
He was on his way to the bus stop to get to college when bam – he suddenly felt as if he’s stepped into an energy-draining vortex.
Now 35, Richi explained: “I was just walking up the road and I felt like every ounce of strength was taken from me. I stumbled and hooked my arm over a wall to the side of me trying to keep myself upright, but slowly I slipped to the floor.
“I was so determined to get into college that for around 20 minutes or so I think, I stared defiantly towards the bus stop at the end of the road, willing my body to move.
“At some point I fell into a kind of feverish delirium, the next thing I remember was my mum helping me up and into her car. Lucky for me she’d happened to drive pass and see me lying there.”
He was taken to hospital and then eventually an ME diagnosis was made.
He says: “After that I could be completely debilitated at times, and at other periods I’d be working towards good health, but any cold, flu or bug could set me back for many months.
“I had some tough times climbing stairs. I remember once I collapsed at the top and was stuck there for hours until my mum arrived home from work.”
“First and foremost I had to discover a mental approach to my circumstances which helped me overcome them.”
ME is an illness shrouded in mystery as doctors don’t know for sure what causes it.
Though recent research shows around two thirds of all cases are preceded by a viral infection of some kind.
Richi believes his ME began after he got a life-threatening bout of gastroenteritis at eight months old which saw him lose almost 8lbs in weight. He then suffered a severe reaction to penicillin when he was two years old and from then on he suffered with chronic debilitating illness throughout his life.
Growing up feeling so ill, so often clearly had an impact on Richi.
He says: “The big challenges were emotional ones.”
“It was difficult socially being in and out of school and in my adult life it was hard not being able to follow my dreams or even create some stability for myself.”
“I couldn’t hold a job down for more than a few months until there was a big transformation in my late twenties.”
It was then that Richi began to make changes that would lead to him massively improving his health. But it started with a positive attitude.
He says: “First and foremost I had to discover a mental approach to my circumstances which helped me overcome them.”
“If we make ourselves a victim, we’re defined by outside circumstances, rather than being the defining influence over our experience of them. The story we tell ourselves about our situation becomes our emotional experience of it, and this is so important to be mindful of, as a defeatist mentality would have robbed me of the opportunity to find solutions for myself ”
So Richi, who is now a dad and has a young daughter, introduced natural wholefoods and juices into his diet, as well as regular detox programmes, which he charts as the key to his recovery.
He says: “Part of the solution was in cultivating an inner-sense of wellbeing, the mind-body connection is well established scientifically and underpins all our efforts towards our wellness goals.”
“I’m in a wonderful position to be able to be of service to others, and my focus just stays in that place of appreciation and helpfulness.”
For years ME carried an unfair stigma but Richi says that was down to a lack of understanding.
He says: “I think the misunderstanding came from the key symptom being described as ‘fatigue’. People hear that and think ‘well I’m tired all the time too, what’s the big deal?’ “But it can be like having all the strength in your body just sucked out of you, to the point where standing at the bottom of a set of stairs could feel like you were about to embark on a marathon.
“I can understand why sufferers would feel upset at being marginalised and dismissed, but I’d encourage them to gently remove their attention from that stuff and focus on what serves them.
“For me, I’m in a wonderful position to be able to be of service to others, and my focus just stays in that place of appreciation and helpfulness.”
Richi’s mission is to now help others in the same boat. He recently organised his own event in Southend called the Wellbeing Now Seminar. The seminar, held over two days even saw TV presenter Linda Barker making the trip to the town to take part.
Richi said: “The Wellbeing Now Seminar was my way of bringing together all the different approaches which have served me and which I’ve seen profoundly benefit many others over the years. It was my hope to create a big London-style event, which was far more accessible for people and which would be a genuinely life-changing experience.”
Star supporter – Linda Barker with Richi Watson at the Wellbeing Now Seminar 2015
“We ended up booking the most incredible line-up of best-selling authors and internationally renowned speakers, and the seminar became a landmark event!
“The atmosphere was just beautiful, and the highlight for me was so many of the guests and speakers eagerly asking me to make this an annual show.”
That’s just what Richi plans to do and he’s already organising the second Wellbeing Now Seminar to be held in Southend again on April 16th & 17th 2016, *and a sister event the Heart Soul and Science Seminar on September 17th & 18th 2016.
“I realised then we’ve created something special which I feel proud to bring to the town I was born in and that am now raising my daughter in.”
“My organisation ‘LifeWell UK’ has been collaborating with other projects around the UK for the last few years and now I’m passionately focusing those efforts in my local community. I want to reach as many people as I can with inspiration, education and empowerment which can make all the difference in their lives.”
“Everyday kindness inspires me. In a world which can be so painful to make our way through at times, when I see everyday human kindness it speaks volumes to me about human nature.”
Edited Question (unabridged):
Q: Do you have a motto that you live by, or someone who inspires you in life?
A: Everyday kindness inspires me. In a world which can be so painful to make our way through at times, when I see everyday human kindness it speaks volumes to me about human nature. Recently I saw a kid running for the bus and drop all his shopping, the people on the bus got off to help him, and ensured he didn't miss the bus, that kind of stuff happens all day everyday and we don't tend to recognise it enough. Ghandi said - 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' If we keep that in heart and mind, we will live an incredible life.
Original article published in the Southend Echo
Read Richi’s interview on ‘Raw Foods Healing and Positive Change’ Here