Friday, June 14, 2013


WHY OH WHY do we think we can do everything?

A full time job, three young kids, birthday parties, feeding, tidying, cleaning, laundry, arranging building work on a four bedroom house, a training course in Dublin, committees, friends, creative groups, a husband, holiday-planning and then wham-bam, a big nasty dose of sickness strikes.

It stopped me in my tracks. It killed me this week. I took to my deathbed, unable to stand upright without being dizzy, to speak without rubbing my head, to concentrate without squinting. I fought it, I struggled to get back to normal, because my committments wouldn't allow me to stay in bed. Giving into illness was NOT an option.

That was me earlier this week. I lost a whole day of my life to a vomiting bug. Once the sickness stopped, I pulled myself back to work - because that was what was expected of me.

I pulled myself back into the maelstrom of family life and friends.

I heaved myself back into life, exhausted and still suffering, because an inner brain chip called the 'guilt factor' had kicked in and told me to stop malingering - I was needed desperately elsewhere.

It's only now that I've come up for air and stopped for a brief moment that I realise I should have taken an extra day to recover. I was by no means "better", but I had a new job that won't pay sick days for the first 3 months, so I lumbered back to work, infecting the rest of the team as I went along.

A poor lovely man, visiting our team from the US, is now sick in a hotel room, a long way away from his home comforts and probably doing the same guilt-trip number on himself.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Who tells us to push ourselves to such extreme limits? Why can't we just STOP?

Why can't we silence these voices in our head? My mother's voice says: "Don't give in to illness". My boss's voice says: "You can't take sick days". My husbands voice says: "I need help with the kids and the house".

But these aren't real voices, or real conversations, they're just imagined words I'm projecting on to people, coded in my brain to haunt me regularly out of context and to keep my nerves on edge, my adrenaline pumping, and to stop me surrending.

But sometimes you just have to surrender - and at the same time, try to avoid beating yourself up about it. One time I drank water from a mountain stream in Greece and ended up with the mother of all kidney infections a few weeks later (childbirth was not a patch on the pain I experienced then). I ended up in hospital for the whole weekend on morphine and intravenous antibiotics. My energy was wiped out for months after. My point is that I tried to fight it but it got me in the end. I had to take weeks off work over this - and I felt guilty as sin for most of that.

The words I heard in my head when I finally took myself to hospital was 'trust' and 'surrender'. Gone were the words 'Don't give in, too much to do'.

I gave in - and that's when I hit rock bottom and rebooted; and that's the point when we will all start to get better.

For every down, there's an up. For every illness, there's an expectation to gain the upper hand as soon as possible.

Society puts so much pressure on us to conform and not to acknowledge illness - but are we doing ourselves a tragic disservice?

We must learn to accept people when they are genuinely ill. We must try to stop making our stress levels worse with our martyr complexes. And we must stop allowing ourselves to feeling so insanely guilty.
Because we need to be kinder to ourselves and learn to mind ourselves (a lovely Irish way of saying, look after yourself more).

Mind yourself.

Put yourself and your health first.

The rest will follow.

Good health to you all.

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...