And every day the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “this is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” and every day it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “no, this is important.”
Living the dream
One morning in November of 2016 I woke up and realised I was living the life I had always dreamed of. I was studying for an MSc on a topic I felt passionate about, I was in a relationship with the most wonderful man and I had just started working part-time alongside my degree. This meant I could save up to visit all my lovely friends, who were scattered around the European continent. Everything had finally fallen into place and I pinched myself sometimes, as I couldn’t believe my own luck. One month later, the worst year of my life began.
I had been so busy living my life and grabbing every opportunity that had come my way with both hands, that I hadn’t realised how busy I actually was. My body was keeping count however and just after Christmas of 2016, I collapsed. I fell ill with a fever and a terrible shingles infection (chickenpox for grownups), which was very uncomfortable to say the least. At first, I thought it was just a case of staying in bed for a week and then getting back into the swing of things. I could not have been more wrong.
That period of illness was the start of a steady decline in my health and well-being. Within a matter of months, I had developed severe insomnia, anxiety, tinnitus and inexplicable and often crippling back pain. Most days became a living hell full of physical pain and mental exhaustion, as I kept on pushing through to retain the beautiful life I had created for myself.
On a particularly bad day in early April, I went to my local GP, determined to find out what was wrong with me. After hearing all my symptoms, the doctor agreed it would be good to do some blood tests. When I came back for the results a few days later, the doctor told me all my blood work was perfect. Upon hearing the good news, I broke down in tears. I was so desperate to feel better and now the doctor was telling me there was nothing she could do to help me. Seeing how distressed I was, the doctor asked me if I was busy. ‘Very’, I muttered in a shaky voice. Compassionately she told me I should slow down a bit and make rest more of a priority in my life. Although I thought that was the most useless piece of advice at the time, that doctor’s visit was the beginning of a powerful transformational period.
In the following months, I went on a quest to heal myself and regain back my energy. Instead of focusing on just one aspect of health and looking for a quick fix, I took a holistic approach to my well-being. Firstly, I changed my diet from high-carb to a higher fat vegan diet, as simple sugars can act as a stressor on an already worn-out body. I also started supplementing with nutrients that are essential during periods of stress. Next, I created routines and habits that were healing and nurturing. I accepted that, as a highly sensitive person, the crazy busy lifestyle I had been living, was not beneficial nor sustainable for me. So, I rested. First only a little and then more and more, until rest and energy management were vital components of my everyday life.
Slowly (VERY slowly), I got a bit better. I regained some strength and many symptoms faded away. Some of them went away completely (goodbye back pain!), some things temporarily retreated (such as the anxiety and insomnia) and some things I have learned to accept as my new reality (welcome tinnitus). Now it is almost a year and a half later and although my energy levels still go up and down dramatically, I can see light at the end of the tunnel again.
In a kismetic manner, I can now look back on this health crisis and see how much it has taught me about myself and my path in life. With a renewed zest for living, I have become passionate about holistic nutrition, Traditional Chinese Medicine, wholesome wellness practices and self-care7. As I continue this journey of health and wellness, I would like to take you with me, sharing my stories, tips, trials, and tribulations on my little corner of the internet. It will act as a means to keep myself accountable and hopefully will help a few others to find comfort or inspiration in my posts. And because life should above all else be a grand celebration of the good and the bad, I will also share tales of my travels, personal rambles and anything else I might find worth sharing.