I was a super bright kid. Affluent family, high goals, attractive parents, and attentive too. A mix of the bohemian and the scholarly. Keeping up appearances mattered, of course, but most of all it was important to never look like you were trying. Pedaling furiously under calm waters, I think they call it. Success was a given, looks were a given. If I’d been known to WORK for them that would have been half the value lost. Asking for help? Not even on the table.
Fast forward 25 years or so and you find me in a very credible job at a government agency, managing a team of 10 people (not paying very much, but money was never the thing, dear) with an influential husband and two sparkling blonde kids of my own. A stylish, eclectic house, a sprawling yet maintained garden. A carefully selected wardrobe. You also find me with an increasing array of stress-related illnesses and conditions:
-Waking up at night in multiple cold sweats
-Pounding heart and pounding headaches
-A stubborn depot of body fat despite rigorous diets (interspersed with bouts of frenzied eating)
-Muderous/divorcey feelings towards my innocent husband
-Shingels in the eye (!) and ensuing loss of sensation in the face and skull
… and, oh yeah, a third pregnancy.
This is where the details get a bit fuzzy but basically I got sent home. I stayed at home for a month, and then another. I was furious with my body, myself, and the world in general for failing to meet my expectations. I kept getting worse, eating to numb the increasing feelings of panic.
Finally, and I don’t know how, my therapist got through to me and convinced me that a sick-leave entitles you to turn your phone off and stop answering mail. He also convinced me to apply for a different position at work for the remainder of my pregnancy, and to put sleeping first. After a few weeks of this, I got to the end of the tunnel, regained some clarity of sight, and decided what to do with my life. Which is, get some peace.
OK, so the odds are lousy. Peace isn’t a prime feature of a three-kid household. Nor is time. But I’ve decided to take the warnings signals for what they are and change my life. Starting now.
-I’m changing my diet (more on why later)
-I’m going to exercise in some way shape or form (tbd)
-I’m going to get some rest
-I’m going to take the time to watch my kids grow up
-I’m changing my pace
-Most likely, at the end of my maternity leave, I’ll be changing careers too
Can it be done? Stay tuned.