I wanted to warmly thank Laura Sharp: Amazing Journey for nominating me for the three-day quotes challenge. I really love Laura’s blog so I do hope that you check out her writing. I am cheating a bit and merging my three quotes into one post and I have focussed on a recent part of my life that changed everything for me, namely, an early retirement due to adrenal exhaustion.
I am young to be retired and people often ask me ‘when I plan on going back to work’. Because few people know the terms ‘adrenal fatigue’ or ‘adrenal exhaustion’, I just tell them I had a ‘burnout’ and am retired as a result. Most are very polite and understanding. Very few can really ‘get’ it, unless they have been there themselves.
Interestingly, the more I read about it, the more I realise that my body must have been fighting adrenal fatigue for years. Every Christmas for most of my adult life, I found myself bed-ridden almost as soon as I came home from work for the holidays. One memorable year, I took the train to visit my parents and fell ill on the way. By the time I crawled off the train in my home town, all I had the energy for was to crawl into my old childhood bed for the remainder of my vacation. I often get infections – I have been on antibiotics so many times over the years that if there is ever a truly serious pandemic and I catch what is going around, I probably won’t stand a chance. The summer before my body finally gave out for good, I cried non-stop for the first two weeks of my vacation.
It’s funny how clear the warning signs are in retrospect.
The thing is, I now see the signs of adrenal fatigue in others all the time. There seems little point in warning them – they are not listening any more than I would have listened at the time. But bodies can and do break. And once you have damaged your health to the point that I damaged mine, you won’t ever be the way you were before.
I was 53 when I was finally stopped in my tracks. I had been planning a long week-end with my husband – he had already moved to the home where we are living now – and, because I knew something was wrong, I had managed to squeeze in a lunch-hour visit with the chiropractor, hoping to ‘nip in the bud’ whatever was wrong with me. Alas, I quickly realised that I would not be able to return to work that afternoon. I went straight home, fell into bed with the flu and a throat so covered in a strep infection that there was no normal skin left – and woke up in the middle of the night to the worried eyes of my husband bending over me as I lay in bed, burning with fever. He had raced the five hour-trip to be with me when it was clear that I wouldn’t be going anywhere.
I never worked again. Under my husband’s loving supervision, I spent the next year sitting in an armchair watching television and filling one adult colouring book after another. In a deep depression and so tired I could barely move, I couldn’t go out; I barely bothered to get dressed in anything but my PJs. I cried like a baby for months on end.
Almost three years later, I am doing much better but even now, I tire very easily. I have learned that I can handle one ‘thing’ a day as long as it is not a physically taxing activity. Two events in one day and I am in a puddle for days afterward. Four activities a week are my absolute limit (two or three is best). Travelling anywhere takes its toll the fastest – I usually sleep for days after a trip to my mother’s.
That said, though, I would not change what happened to me for anything. Never have I been so at peace. Relinquishing all semblance of control over my life and my body has been the most freeing experience. I still have bouts of depression and anxiety and I am – simply put – always tired. But I have learned to say ‘no’. I have learned that my house does not have to be the cleanest house on the block. I have learned that my dog can still be healthy and loved even if his coat is not combed as if we were going to a dog show. I have learned that real friends always understand when I decline an invitation. I have learned that it is okay to take afternoon naps (every…single…day…). I have learned to count my blessings: I left with a much-reduced pension but: I left with a pension. I have learned the importance of stopping to watch the river run by my house. And the deer. And the eagles. I have learned to reach out my arms to hold babies: tired, busy mothers almost never say ‘no’ and babies have a way of keeping you in the moment. I have learned that I would rather write than run the vacuum. I have learned that dust – even my dog’s great and impressive dust bunnies – can and will wait. I have learned that I have worth and value far beyond what my resume says about me. I have learned that work and a profession do not define a person.
And most of all, I have learned that as much as I thought so at the time, when it comes to the workplace, absolutely everyone is replaceable. As great a job as I thought I was doing, the show definitely went on without me. The only places where being irreplaceable count for me now is as a Mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter and a friend.
I am further cheating with the three-day quotes challenge by NOT nominating anyone in particular. Should you wish to participate, please do. NO pressure; just have fun and please, be in the moment…
Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com