Shit happens! What can you do when it happens to you?
Today marks a year since I woke up unable to raise my head off the pillow, let alone stand or walk without feeling like I would fall off the planet, be sick and lose my head all at once. Scared witless I was taken to see the GP who told me I had labyrinthitis and gave me a prescription for anti-histamines. He said to come back next week if there was no improvement. Having waited about 40 minutes for my appointment in deep distress I was in no fit state to ask many questions about what the diagnosis meant for me. I came home and stayed in bed except for visits to the bathroom. I had to cancel client appointments for the forseeable future.
After a while I was able to focus on my phone just long enough to consult Dr Google. What I saw about the prognosis of labyrinthitis did terrify me, I'll admit. It is likely that I was affected by a virus, although it could have been a bacterial infection, stress or a head injury, according to the results that came up. A support group online had people who had been struggling to function for months, years even!! What would that mean for my ability to earn a living?
I began to notice that, as I washed my hands after each pee, my toes were gripping the floor for dear life!! I even began to see some humour in my situation. Can you imagine what the neighbours thought of me if they saw me out walking the dog staggering around as if I was three sheets in the wind?
Anyway, slowly but surely I began to get back to vertical, and I'm convinced that if I didn't have a dog to walk it would have taken me a lot, lot longer to recover. You see, your brain needs to be retrained to balance again after labyrinthitis. I can recall focusing on the horizon as my point of stability. Anything else and I'd feel sick. Without the dog, I'd have continued to feel sorry for myself and unwilling to get up and help my brain to recover.
Whilst my brain was doing that, however, I also realised that there was no scope for much else. My brain was so tired from working so hard to stand and stay upright it had to let go of a lot of other things. My short term memory was one thing that went.
A year later I consider myself mostly recovered. However, the short term memory thing is still bothering me. And my self confidence was knocked for six too. Outwardly, people might not notice. They might think I'm perfectly fine. Inside though, it's quite another matter. To be honest, because I can't have a conversation without struggling to find words in a large number of sentences within that conversation I have been feeling very scared. Is dementia on the cards for me? How does it look to paying clients if I can't string two sentences together without difficulty? How embarrassing is it that I forget things? How frustrating is it that I miss out on events people tell me about because if I haven't written it down in my diary in time it disappears into invisible corners of my mind? Am I letting people down because I can't retain information? Or because I can't work on more than one thing at a time? So, yes, my self-confidence has suffered.
So, this is me laying my soul bare. I've been going to work and attempting to portray this confident, capable persona so that I can continue to build business and earn a living. But it means that there's not so much left over.
But I know that I am not alone. We're all getting by, aren't we? I have a lovely client who talked to me about her challenges. She talked about wishing she was like other 'normal people'. I pointed out that none of us are 'normal', we all have our individual challenges. And so we really shouldn't judge others by their outward appearance. We shouldn't hold ourselves up to an ideal we see in someone else, because they too are probably scraping by behind closed doors. So I hope you're not being too hard on yourself, holding yourself up to impossible ideals or comparing yourself to others. Instead, look after yourself, invest in your own self-care and be the best you can be. Swear if you need to. I have just edited this blog post to be a little more myself. Because yes, I can swear like a trooper when the need arises. I have felt a need to be the strong one for most of my life. But who is strong for me? When the shit hit the fan a year ago my partner and friends did step up and support me until my brain was able to keep me upright physically but then I went back to coping alone. Apart from my twice monthly massage, that is. But you know what, you can get so much from a massage. I can't speak for any other bodyworker but I know, that as a NO HANDS Massage Advanced Practitioner, you will get so much more from one of my treatments than just a skin polish ;-)
One of the most amazing ways to invest in your own self care IS to receive regular monthly bodywork. Something like bodywork is so important to us as human beings. We are designed to receive appropriate touch. To physically and mentally need it. From before we were born. In the womb we are cradled by our mother's body. Once born we are carried by our parents until we can walk ourselves but we still return to their safe embrace whenever we need security. We have our knees rubbed when we fall. You might notice that you do this yourself if you bang your 'funny' bone, for instance. This is because soothing touch releases a variety of Neurohormones including Oxytocin, as well as endorphins and dopamine, which all affect our behaviour and general wellbeing. Oxytocin, the 'feel good hormone' is one I am particularly passionate about as it is so important in childbirth and is released in both myself and my client every time I provide massage. If you wish to understand this more you can read all about it in the wonderful book The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing by Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg. "Oxytocin is the powerful hormone involved in bonding, sex, and childbirth, as well as in relaxation and feelings of calm", which is what most of my bodywork clients are looking for, amongst other things, when they come for a massage.
You see, bodywork doesn't just work on the physical body.
As a NO HANDS Massage Advanced Practitioner I know that bodywork works on energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual levels as well. This is because of the Neurohormones! And this is why I receive NO HANDS Massage twice a month ;-)
There is obviously a lot of other ways to invest in your own self-care. What do YOU do to replenish mind, body and soul?
Now... I have been attributing my short term memory loss to labyrinthitis. It is always possible, though, that another contributor to the short term memory thing is peri-menopause. And that's a whole other blog post!!