Hello sweet friend...
I'M am a recovering “people pleaser” turned self-care advocate.
For over 45 YEARS I just assumed my body would and could handle anything I wanted it to do! Eat healthy? Sporadically. Exercise? Again, sporadically. Set boundaries around the number of hours I worked? No way. If something needed to be done, then it didn’t matter how many hours, days, weekends it took, I had to work on the project until it was just right and usually by myself. (Anyone guessing I suffer from perfectionism?) Stress? Bring it on, I thought I could handle anything that came my way. Deal with my emotions? NEVER! Especially the really hard ones, like grief. My solution for dealing with the loss of my mother was to become a workaholic and just up the dose of my antidepressant.
Sure, working long, hard hours kept my mind busy, keeping my emotions at bay.
I started advancing in my career, which reinforced the belief that hard work pays off, regardless of the expense to my person. I managed to maintain that lifestyle for about 6 more years before I became so fatigued I could barely make it through a work day. Once I was home I immediately hit the couch or bed.
No matter how much rest I got it was never enough.
Having been diagnosed with mono (Epstein Barr virus) several times previously, I just assumed I was experiencing another episode. I let this go for about month before seeking help and discovering the West Nile virus. When it was apparent that I wasn’t recovering from the virus as expected I was referred to a doctor of Internal Medicine. (Little did I know at the time just how this particular doctor would have such an incredible impact on my life.) This doctor eventually uncovered that I was suffering from an autoimmune disease as well. Even with that diagnosis, I continued to do my best to perform at a high level in my career, not realizing the path of self-destruction I was on. Within a short period of time other autoimmune diseases popped up. It seems that having one autoimmune disease is almost an invitation for others take hold. Because, as I discovered,
stress tends to magnify the effects of most autoimmune diseases.
So began my journey of trying to regain my health. I no longer had any say about what my body could do. What I’ve experienced at the mercy of autoimmune diseases over the years could fill a book;
Temporary full body paralysis
Hospitalization for a deadly condition
Strange debilitating pains
Complete numbness on one side of my body, walking fine one minute then all of a sudden being unable to walk, indescribable constant fatigue, brain fog, depression, just to name a few.
The pattern was this - with the help and encouragement of my doctor I'd slowly regain strength and return to work. I’d maintain for a period of time but then be struck down to a non-functioning level and have to fight my way back up again. I was blessed with a very caring, knowledgeable doctor that not only thoroughly checked my physical well-being, but also my mental/emotional well-being. Emotional well-being? No one had EVER asked me about that!
I was stubborn about answering the questions my doctor started to ask me;
- How was my mental state or how I was feeling?
- How did I feel about my job?
- How were my relationships were going?
- Did I include fun in my schedule?
- Did I exercise?
- Did I care what people thought of me?
The questions were endless and I was stumped. Prior to becoming a patient of this internal medicine doctor, I thought I knew myself pretty well yet it quickly became apparent that was not the case.
You see, because of my “people pleasing” addiction I had not taken the time to get to know myself at all.
I began to learn that years of repressing my emotions and allowing stress to get completely out of control had probably contributed to my state of health. AND, allowing myself to settle for anything less than THRIVING in any area of my life would most likely keep the autoimmune diseases alive and well and controlling my life.
I was NOT okay with that so I began to dig really deep and became honest with myself.
First, I had to give up the idea that I could save anyone else but myself. I had to learn what I needed and how to set boundaries to ensure I got my needs met. I had to learn to let go of the things that did not serve me. I had to be honest about the amount of stress I was constantly under to perform in my career. I had to face the fact that I had given more of myself to my career than to my family to avoid grief.
Finally, I decided it was time to deal with my grief, start taking care of myself and live my life in a way that would leave no regrets.
Somewhere in here I think it’s good to mention that I left my career in order to save my health and follow my heart. I walked away from the career that gave myself an executive title and provided financial security in many ways - salary, health insurance, retirement, stocks.
At the bottom maybe speak a little about how you’ve always loved to help others and teach others (it is something that makes you feel good and smile). Lead in to that being the reason you provide this coaching service now. You want to inspire others to take charge of their own health and pass along the knowledge you’ve gained about self love and compassion which leads to a prosperous life. Like I said before in txt: you now know the power of self preservation and desire to assist others on their path of discovery and peace and health.
I had to learn to put myself first and establish a self-care routine. Self-care for me includes a healthy diet (trying to reverse years of neglecting my body), walks, essential oils, daily meditation, regular massages, Reiki sessions, and time with close family and friends. I also sprinkle in an occasional pedicure and some shopping. I take time to watch sunsets. I sit in my swing. I listen to music. I travel, sometimes on the spur of the moment. I make time for fun activities.
Since implementing my self-care it’s been several months since I’ve experienced any major autoimmune diseases issues! Disease is really dis-ease. When I took care of my body, mentally, emotionally and physically, the dis-ease settled in to simple “ease” and I am currently THRIVING!