This is not a 'woe is me' post. It is a 'learning the hard way' post.
By Amy Crawford
This is not a woe is me post. It is a learning the hard way post. And I hope it may inspire the odd few to be that extra little bit careful, to truly listen to your body and feel what it is telling you. The bit I missed is the "okay my body's not happy about this so I'll change course and rectify that" bit. Massive fail.
I will set the scene. I have spent the last four days horizontal in bed/on my couch with a hefty dose of nasty CFS symptoms. There's been no exercise, no dog walks, no studies, no work, no rays of sunshine on my face, no house cleaning (and it shows), no friends and almost no cooking (and that's saying something). What there has been is total fatigue, brain dysfunction to boot, horrible all over body vibrations (hard to describe to non CFS'ers!) and a truly miserable head space filled with anxiety and I'll be honest, a fair dose of fear (and yes, I was very naughty for even letting the fear creep in but hey, I was in all sorts).
Now don't get me wrong, when you have experienced chronic illness 4 days of being bed ridden is nothing. I had however essentially been symptom free for 5 months and I believed that I was free of CFS forever. The fact that I was once again bed ridden was a terrifying feeling.
So how did this happen you ask? Well. If you have read my story you will know that I have spent 18 years of my recruitment career building desks and businesses. I only knew one pace and that was full-throttle every single day and often 6 or 7 days a week. Numerous times pre CFS diagnosis I came crashing down with an undiagnosed illness. I was given SO many signs that I was on the wrong path. Then I finally did come crashing down with CFS and there I stayed for almost 2 years. You seriously couldn't ask for a clearer message from the universe.
I got myself better and learnt to truly listen to my body. Stopping when I knew I had done enough, resting, relaxing, spending time in nature, meditating. I became very 'in tune'. And I knew that there was a better path for me that aligned more closely with the changes I had made (AKA The Holistic Ingredient).
I do however need to make an income so a couple of weeks ago I put my recruitment hat on, marched into the CBD and sat up in a corporate board room to collect two projects for the first time in two years. Then it all started. 18 years of learned, habitual, million-miles-an-hour behaviours that I associate with recruitment. There was no stopping me. Everything else, all the important 'stuff' fell to the wayside and my entire focus was on delivering for the client as fast as I possibly could whilst surpassing every expectation (self imposed pressure, but once again that's all I know). I knew when I walked out of that boardroom that something wasn't right. My body felt tense, my intuition was asking hard questions! But on I marched back to my desk to storm through the process whilst slowing but surely sliding backwards into a CFS haze of misery.
Yesterday I made the very difficult decision to walk away from two unfinished projects that I knew were making me very sick. And in doing so I learnt some very valuable lessons:
- My intuition is always, always right. Every time I don't listen to it I fall on my face.
- The universe is constantly sending me messages. I just have to remain mindful enough to notice them and to trust in them.
- Listen to my body. Every time is starts screaming at me, stop and question why, and then change my course.
I guess you may wonder why I even tried to re-enter the industry and I ask myself the same question. But on a positive note, at least I now know. That door is shut. And I am now fully committed to staying in the moment, listening to my body and doing what it tells me is right.