October’s – ‘The Renegade Issue’ – Download Now

Esme Rose Chapman is a tough cookie. Illustrator, model and daughter of MATCHESFASHION Founders Ruth & Tom Chapman, Chapman is she’s a true testament to the beauty and the steely determination and drive that can exist beneath.

What do your first 30 mins of the day look like, your morning routine?

I usually get up around seven in the morning. I struggle with insomnia so it’s super important for me that I have a fairly regular sleep-wake routine. If I’m in the same city as my dogs the first thing I always do is go and wake them up and cuddle them. Then I drink my lemon water to rehydrate. I have a rebounder which is like a tiny trampoline. Most days I’ll put on some music and go gently jump on that for 10 minutes to stimulate my lymphatic system and have some really gentle movement in the morning. I can’t handle other forms of exercise but rebounding really doesn’t require much, it’s very low impact and easy. No matter how much sleep I’ve got the night before my morning always tends to look this way because even when I’m struggling these are the practices that re-centre me.

Can you tell us in your own words what changed for you in 2018?

I had just moved to New York to start studying Psychology at NYU. I was only beginning to settle in when about three weeks into being there I suddenly had acute pain in my abdomen. I was living in the East Village and I took myself to the nearest emergency room. It’s a strange moment to recount because I was so unaware at this point how drastically my life course was going to be altered. After many hours of morphine and the most astonishing amount of pain, I was diagnosed with a volvulus of my colon that needed immediate emergency surgery. I should have been back at school fairly quickly, but it soon became clear that I wasn’t recovering as expected. I spent that week hallucinating, tachycardic, and hardly lucid and received an incredibly low quality of care during this time. I had contracted septicaemia during the operation, which requires urgent treatment, or it quickly becomes life-threatening. Yet it was left undetected and untreated for days by the hospital despite my parents voicing concerns and asking repeatedly if I was septic. Eventually, the doctors realized I was very sick, and after a week with these symptoms, I was taken in for another emergency surgery and placed into ICU. The doctors didn’t listen to me when I woke up and told them I could feel the water in my lungs.

My parents tried to transfer me to another hospital but were told several times I would not make the journey. It was clear at that time that though moving me presented a risk, staying in that hospital under the care I was receiving posed a greater risk to my life. Thankfully, due to help and support from wonderful friends and their doctors, I was blue-lighted by ambulance to a good hospital on Madison Avenue where doctors attempted to save my life.

Six surgeries later, and having spent six weeks in intensive care, I was transferred onto a regular ward. I truly believe that the amount of love and support I was surrounded by, had a profound effect on helping to heal me, and I’m forever grateful to the people who showed up for me. I’m also so grateful to the incredible doctors, surgeons and nurses who saved my life and put me back together again.

How did going through this affect you personally in terms of priorities and the direction you wanted to go in life?

The past three years have been very challenging in terms of my health. I’ve suffered from severe post-sepsis syndrome and that’s caused some unpleasant neurological symptoms that have meant I haven’t been able to return to university. As a really curious person who loves learning, initially, this was difficult for me to accept. However, through this experience, I’ve been redirected onto a different path and I’ve ended up learning more about myself and the world than I would, had I attended university. I’ve done so much self-reflection and internal work that I would have otherwise never have got to until much later in life. As unrelenting and dark as illness can be, I think in some ways it can be an opportunity for expansion because you’re forced to confront every part of yourself. I believe that ultimately this experience will come to inform what I end up doing in life, though I’m still figuring out how.

From the initial prognosis to where you are now, what kind of determination did it take to get to where you are?

Of all the things I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I have a sheer determination and will to survive and bring myself back to health. I’ve realised I have incredible self-discipline and am so committed to applying that energy to what I do with the rest of my life.

In the most challenging moments- what kept you going?

My dogs! I find animals to be extremely perceptive and sensitive. My dogs always know when I’m having a difficult day and give me extra love. Being around them calms my nervous system and brings me so much joy. Prayer for me has also been very transformative. I find it to be a form of meditation. Whether we are religious or not, I believe that it can help us to suspend ourselves from our immediate environment and worries to feel a deeper sense of wholeness, connectedness and trust in the world. I’m also really lucky to have great friends who have been there and a solid family I can rely on.


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A post shared by Esme Rose Chapman (@esmerose__)

What do you think is the key to healing and did you take any out-of-the-box approaches to this yourself?

When you’re struggling with chronic illness and western medicine hasn’t provided you any answers or solutions, you really dive deep into your own search for those answers. I take a holistic approach to my health. I believe there are many facets to healing, whether that’s physical, emotional, spiritual. To me, ‘alternative’ medicine is the original medicine. I always find that I feel lighter and have a stronger sense of wellness whenever I’m able to be in the sunshine or reconnect with nature. I’m really conscious of the quality of products I use in my environment, whether that’s cosmetic products or household products. I don’t like to put anything on my body (whether that’s makeup or perfume or lotions) if there’s a long list of ingredients and chemicals of which I don’t recognise the names. I’d much rather buy an aloe vera plant and use that to moisturize. Knowing the origin of everything I use is important to me and my health. I love natural ways I can keep a clean, safe environment for myself, for example filling my living room with spider plants to purify the air. A piece that has been fundamental for me and my health is diet. What we eat essentially becomes us, and I’ve found tremendous healing for not only my physical body, but also my mind, through my diet. Anyone who’s close to me knows I love to eat an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables every day. I’m always juicing and making delicious smoothie bowls for my friends whenever they come over.

Do you have any mentors or guides and how does this help you navigate the right path?

Diane Von Furstenburg has been a wonderful mentor for me. Some days it’s challenging not to see my mindset drift or get caught up in where my identity lies beyond struggling with my health. Diane always reminds me it’s important to never be a victim in your own life and not give my power to anything or anyone. She reminds me that no matter what I am facing my strength and capacity to overcome it is far more powerful. She hasn’t just impacted my approach to my health, but so many aspects of my life. I’m much more conscious now than I was a few years ago, about who I give access to in my life, and how I allow people to treat me.

Anthony William, The Medical Medium, has opened his arms to me through this process. He has also provided with me so much knowledge and generosity that has allowed me to move forward with powerful tools to help navigate health challenges, and also the faith and trust that my body is always working for me. He is so selflessly dedicated to helping the chronically ill and to watch his mission unfold is a privilege.

In hindsight what reflections do you have of this challenging time?

Coming from London, where we are so fortunate to have a social welfare system that gives us the NHS, it didn’t cross my mind that in a country like America, there would be drastic discrepancies in care between hospitals depending on the kind of socio-economic neighbourhood they are in. The scales fell from my eyes about American health care. If my parents had not have known people who understood the system, I would not be alive today. I’m of course profoundly grateful for that but it sickens me that had I been less privileged, I wouldn’t be here.

What is next for you?

I feel more aligned with the creative side of myself now, so I plan to explore various forms of creative expression. I think particularly my generation are abandoning the idea that you need to commit to one career path for life. I used to be very attached to specific outcomes in my life, thinking I needed this or that to feel a sense of fulfilment. I feel more open now, and excited to foray back into the world and see where it takes me.

This is the Renegade issue, and we see thinking outside the box as a positive thing. Who for you is a renegade or when have you taken this approach to life yourself?

Thank you for including me in The Renegade Issue. These last few years have made me realise I am definitely an out-of-the-box thinker. I’m not interested in anyone else’s opinions on how I live my life. I admire anyone who challenges the status quo. One of my favourite thinkers is Ayishat Akanbi, @ayishat_akanbi. I really enjoy her open-mindedness and her real desire for discussion around sensitive, complex topics. She is a compassionate voice in an often divisive world.

October’s – ‘The Renegade Issue’ – Download Now

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