Updated: Dec 28, 2019
A friend was recently off sick for three days and said to me I don’t know how you managed to stay so positive being off sick for so long. When she said that it really made me think. I can honestly say that the experience of being sick recently has been one of the best things that has happened in my life. More 'positives' things came out of it than ‘negatives’. I learned some really important lessons that has changed how I see the world and how I live my life. I was on sick leave from work for almost four months and have only recently started a phased return. I am still not back to myself but I am on the path to recovery and am excited about the year ahead.
I learned an immense amount of things these last few months. Here are just a few:
Staying Positive is Possible
‘Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving we get stronger and more resilient’.
When you’re sick and not able to do any of things you like or are used to doing it is still possible to be happy. Since I’ve been sick many people have said to me oh I wouldn’t cope if I couldn’t work or do any of the things that I love doing. The thing is you can and its only when your forced into this position that you learn that all of these ‘things’ aren’t actually the things that bring peace and happiness into your life.
“Don't let your happiness depend on something you may lose.”
Of course having a job that you love, hobbies and pastimes that you are passionate about adds immense joy to your life but they do not determine it. Ever meet someone who ‘has it all’ but is still very unhappy or people with very few possessions end up being the happiest?Its because happiness comes from within, its inner peace. I can’t give you a formula of how to gain inner peace as it’s a unique journey for everyone but for me the more I choose to learn from the challenges I face rather than feel victimised the more inner peace that comes into my life.
Life isn’t always great
‘Life is like an ocean. It can be calm & still or rough & rigid but in the end its always beautiful’.
I say this all of the time; life isn’t about being happy all of the time. It’s about being able to experience & express all the emotions in this world. I really got to practice this and you know what feeling sad isn’t an easy thing to just become comfortable with; but I learned that the less I struggled with the emotions the quicker & easier they passed.
So I wasn’t positive all of the time while on sick leave, obviously. Some nights I cried myself to sleep. Some days I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, but that’s life. Some periods of adversity can last a while but it’s just another chapter and will pass with more insight and inner peace than ever before.
Living the life YOU Desire is Absolutely Essential
I was waiting to get blood results back in October. My Doctor was concerned that there might be something more serious happening for me. I’m not easily rattled but some scary scenario’s were mentioned and I had myself convinced I was dying. Sounds so dramatic now but when you haven’t been yourself for so long it’s hard not to think that you are never going to get better. I remember thinking to myself that if my life is now limited I am so so grateful for living my life by my terms and filling my life with so many epic adventures.
Quitting all those permanent jobs to travel the world, not worrying about reaching any of the normal milestones that a woman of my age should be reaching, not caring about the day to day mundane things, finding passion and joy in everything around me, making sure to spend time with the people who are most important, learning to prioritise experiences over things and always being true to myself.
If you were told you had limited time would you be happy with the path you are on right now? Have you done all those things that make you feel alive? It's so easy to slip day-to- day into month-to- month without asking ourselves if we enjoy our jobs, if we're happy with where are lives are going.
Get on the right path NOW. Take that trip you have always wanted to take. Quit that job. Make your passion your career and go out and find what you find meaningful in this world. You do not know when your circumstances will change and if you can, try not to worry about the things that really don't matter.
'You have this one life. How do you want to spend it? Apologising? Regretting? Questioning? Hating yourself? Dieting?
Be Brave. Believe in yourself. Do what feel's right. Take risks. You have this one life. Make yourself proud'.
Your Health is your Wealth
I know we hear this term all the time; but have been well for all of my life, never experiencing as much as a fracture or long term hospital admission or illness I really took for granted how insanely good being ‘normal’ is.
‘Someone else is praying for the things you take for granted’.
Being able to go hiking, work full time, travel all these things that I really didn’t think twice about were near impossible once sickness enters your life. When I am back to myself I can’t wait to be back enjoying these things which I will never take for granted again. Make the most of things when you are well and take joy in being able to do the simple things.
‘Don’t take your health for granted. Don’t take your body for granted. Tomorrow is not a promise’.
Follow your Gut Instinct
‘Always, always follow your gut instinct. Thats where true wisdom manifests’.
It was months before I got clear answers as to what was happening for me medically. From ‘tonsillitis’ to ‘chronic fatigue’ to life threatening illnesses it was the most difficult thing about being sick was trying to navigate the medical system. If your body is telling you one thing but your Doctor is telling you another thing, request a repeat blood test, gain a second opinion, go to an alternative therapist don’t give up. It took me 2.5 months, 8 medical appointments numerous blood tests and sessions with alternative therapists to confirm I had glandular fever which deep down I knew all along. You know your body best, listen to it.
‘Do Less, Be More’
It took me about 2 months into sick leave to actually STOP DOING. I replaced work with my blog . This constant need to be productive or busy was instilled in me. Completely caught up in the hamster wheel of modern life. On the 17th of November when I was deemed unfit for work for another month it finally dawned on me that even though I had been on sick leave for the previous 2 months I was still DOING too much. I knew it was time to really pull back and look after myself. Once you stop doing you realise what is actually driving or motivating a lot of the action in your life. For me I started to hear my inner critic loud and clear; ‘People will think your lazy’, ‘Your not making the most of your time’, ‘You should be able to do more’.
The less I did the more I could hear this voice but instead of feeding into it and letting it take over I finally started to learn how to defuse from this unhelpful loud speaker. If you follow that inner voice no matter what you do or achieve it will never be enough. There will always be more work to do done, more mountains to climb etc. You are enough. You DO enough.
Finally for the first time maybe ever in my life I practiced doing nothing and just BE without feeling guilty. This is honestly life changing. You will find yourself feeling less anxious and more present & available in your own life and to the people who are closest to you. Ask yourself this question am I doing this as it will bring wellness to myself or others or am I doing it because I can’t simply sit still or relax.
“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.”