Wednesday, 17 December 2014

My Path To Accepting What Is - Day 18

Day 18
18 - in Chinese is normally 十八 (shí bā), but it can also be read as 幺八 (yāo bā),
which sounds like 要发 (yào fā), meaning "one is going to prosper".
It is no surprise that, floors numbered "18" are often very expensive in China

One of the wonderful things about social media is that it brings people together. Today's post is written by a person I met initially through Twitter. I hold her in high esteem and I suspect you will too after you read what she has written. For reasons that will become obvious, she has asked that her identity remains anonymous.


You see I used to glow with indestructibility. In my last year of university I balanced working full time and studying full time. It does sound like a precarious balance, and it was. But I felt good. I was accomplishing. I was nailing this whole working women thing and getting good grades. I went on to climb my career ladder, moving into progressively challenging roles. I went back to studying, while working full time, and finished my post grad diploma with merit and then my masters with first class honours. 

Wonder Woman
Image courtesy of
I was on fire. I loved my job, I spent time with my family, I was fit; yoga, hiking, running, swimming, biking, dancing. It was easy for me to dress beautifully because I felt beautiful. My house was always tidy for visitors and I was always doing something. I was accomplishing more than I could have dreamed possible. I didn't have time to stop and I felt like no one could stop me. 

Then I decided to leave the role I had been in for nearly four years because I felt ready for the next challenge. I didn't have anything lined up. I had left jobs before and easily stepped into something. I was cocky about my skills. 

I ended up unemployed for 6 months. I spent every week scouring job ads, talking to recruiters and every other week being rejected. I took temp work to fill the gaps, to get me out of the house, reception and PA work, my sense of self-worth plummeted. I didn't know what to do when I had nothing to do, nothing to measure my worth against. To make matters worse, I started getting severe acne across my back, chest and face. I did not want to leave the house because I felt like such a freak. It took all my effort to polish myself up and get myself out the door for job interviews. I had to, I felt guilty. I was letting my husband down, my family, who were so proud of me, and myself. I wasn't contributing, and so the spiral went on...

Downward spiral
I was finally offered a job that fit my skills. I actually had the choice of two roles. My instincts were screaming at me, but my head prevailed. An awesome culture, a well-known brand, excellent career prospects, innovation and a great team, that was the package my head told me I was walking in to. That was what my experiences and education had taught me was the right path. I was so pleased to just have something to measure my worth against again, that I ignored the voice inside of me.

Head vs. heart
It turns out that my manager wasn't interested in what made me me either and my instincts were entirely correct. It's much easier to look back on these things in retrospect. I spent 12 months being treated like a freak for the way I thought, the way I spoke and the way I worked with my colleagues. Criticised, judged, mis-advised, mis-directed, ridiculed, belittled - a freak for being the person I am. I walked in with so much hope that my sense of self worth was to be restored, only to have more of it stripped away. I hated the thought of giving up, I didn't want to relinquish hope that I could influence my situation and change it and, above all, I was terrified of being in my own head again, at home, alone. 

I tried talking directly to my manager, escalating it, talking to my colleagues. But it got worse. I started having severe panic attacks, crumpled on the floor unable to breathe. I couldn't get through an evening without 1, 2 or 3 glasses of something alcoholic, I was riddled with anxiety, and I couldn't get to sleep. So I left. It was the only option left.

For months more I battled on, expecting that the freedom of being on my own, of doing something that I loved, of starting my own business, of going on holiday would cure me. But it didn’t. Funny that? I came home from the holiday more ill than when I’d left. Something had to change but I didn’t know what. Anxiety, depression, they're weakness. I couldn’t abide by weakness. 

I cut out all processed foods and sugars from my diet. I started reading a lot about how the food we eat affects the interplay of chemicals and hormones in your body. I chose organic and explored natural health options to treat my skin, still the symptom, not the cause. 

A friend suggested some reading about something called adrenal fatigue - specifically a book called Adrenal Fatigue - the 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James Wilson. Basically, your adrenals are two little glands that sit on top of your kidneys and are like the master regulator for all the other chemicals and hormones in your body. When your body and mind are under long term stress your adrenals just stop working properly, leading to depression, anxiety and constant exhaustion (like can’t get off the couch because you don’t have the strength exhaustion), and all for no apparent reason - yup that’s me. 

You want to know what the first thing Dr Wilson recommends to treat adrenal fatigue? Make a list of all the things that are good for you, all the things that are bad for you, prioritise the top five and then pick one from the good list to work on doing more of, and one from the bad list to work on doing less of. No drugs, no panacea, individual accountability and a wholly personal approach. You know what’s top of my list? Accept myself for exactly who I am, not who I, or anyone else, thinks I should be. 

I’ve met some amazing people over the past few years but they might not know me from that person that I used to be. But I don’t want you to recognise me, I will come out of this stronger, more at peace and a better person, more me. By accepting weakness I become stronger. Haha, go figure! Easier said than done of course.

As I reflect on the year that has been, I’m still trying to get comfortable with all the things that I wish I had accomplished but have not had the energy or the will to. I’m on the path of accepting what is rather than what could be. Because life is not about outputs, it’s about the journey. 

And, next year, well I don’t know yet. But, I think it’s going to be exciting and I’ll be working on trusting my instincts, being kind to myself and just being me. Because I’m brilliant just as I am. 

No comments:

Post a Comment