As a teenager, I used to exercise constantly, incessantly, basically non-stop. I cycled, walked, ran, swam, and did ball and band exercises. I ate almost entirely healthy food and only in small portions. Very few sweets or junk food. Then I started university and that all dramatically changed.
I started eating more pizza and sweets and exercising less. Study consumed me, as I had far-reaching educational aspirations, that would take me past a bachelor’s degree. I also began to battle more acutely with chronic health issues and life got harder.
Nearly reaching burnout in my fourth year, I moved relentlessly right into my master’s. Living on a dorm for the first time, eating substandard cafeteria food, experiencing the anxieties of living in a completely new and different environment, I ate way less and lost weight that first year. I also climbed the stairs to my room on the fifth floor multiple times a day. I always refused to take the elevator.
Deciding to go back home for the summer, I became a homecare worker, the summer fill-in for regular staff. I had a total of 30 clients and was thrust into somewhat scary and very trying situations. With zero training (note that), I was required to care for mainly sick elderly people with a variety of ailments. I cleaned, cooked, did laundry and personal care, ran errands, and the list went on and on. My body reached its limits, and I was forced to look for immediate medical attention. I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was sent to physiotherapy. However, nothing got better.
Back to school and suffering from a great deal of pain and fatigue, I made it through that next year, studying. And studying some more. Deciding to do my Ph.D., I kept those grades up, completing all my courses, writing a major research paper, taking two language course in two and half months, and throughout the summer, working just shy of full-time. I entered my doctoral studies more exhausted than ever.
Of course, no one is fully prepared for what doctoral work entails. All I knew is that I was surrounded by a group of people as stressed or more stressed than me. Stress only accumulated as the year progressed, while the pain in my body intensified. I had to receive extensions due to the fatigue overwhelming me and the pain that made me grit my teeth and cry myself to sleep at night. Exercise was non-existent. But due to anxiety and going off sugar entirely for a year, I was rather thin.
I knew what I needed–a rest. I thought at the time, just for one year, but now, I realise I need a nice, long one. Sadly, my next year of an extended leave consisted of frantically looking for work, beginning a new relationship, searching for a place to live, and you guessed it, no rest. I also started eating more, and sugary foods, while exercising less.
Due to unhappy circumstances, I returned home, forty pounds heavier and my fibromyalgia reaching its highest level of pain to date. It’s taken a number of months, but I have recently begun a new chapter of my life. I’ve now rested for the past number of months, doing very little, except reading, relaxing, and working a bit here and there. I have also sought to get my eating habits and my lack of exercising back under control.
I’ve begun to eat smaller, healthier portions, walking, and doing a very gentle pilates routine. Changes are happening. Slowly but surely. Due to my health issues, I can never go at the rate a normal person would. I have to move ever so slowly and not over-tax my brain and body. It is a rather delicate balance I have to maintain. But I’m pressing onwards and upwards.
My pilates mat and I have become best friends. We work together, sometimes every day and other times, every second day. I stretch, I move, I eat less, and I’m hoping my marshmallowy core will turn into something a little less soft and squishy. I feel better, mentally, emotionally, and maybe even physically.
It’s still a hard journey for me. I suffer from nausea, fatigue, pain, and whatnot every day of my life. I don’t know what it is like to wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. I still wake up in burning, swollen, bruised pain. I have to motivate myself to get out of bed. But I’m doing it. My chin is up, and I’m convinced that I’m going places. It’s all about reaching my goal of maintaining a much healthier lifestyle.
And obviously, I hope that whoever reads this will be inspired to do the same, no matter his/her circumstances. Be determined. And remember that our bodies are important and worth looking after.