Yesterday I slept in, went for a morning walk, took a yoga class, saw my physio and met a girlfriend for lunch. Yesterday was also a Wednesday which means that pre-diagnoses me would woken up while it was still dark and dragged her exhausted body to work only to leave once it was, again, dark outside.
Over the last 18 months I have gone from full time work to no work, to slowly building back up to time full time again. Oh, so, slowly. After making it to 3 half days a week, I continued to increase by half a day a month. Yep, that slowly. For my body, it was exactly the speed I needed. At times the half day increase felt right, at times it felt like I was pushing my limits and at times it simply wasn’t possible. “Let’s leave your timetable as is and look at it again next month”, my doctor would suggest.
When I finally made it back to full time work I was feeling great. I was walking at least 5 times a week, had upgraded my daily stretching routine to Pilates, I was sleeping well and eating well. I had even lost the majority of the 15kg I had so quickly put on when I was first diagnosed! All in all, I was managing my pain, tiredness and all the other fun fibro sidebars, well.
It only took 10 weeks of full time work for my body to make me realise that one of the reasons I had been managing so well was because I wasn’t working full time. In ten short weeks, my heath had taken a downward slide. Still, while it was clear to everyone around me what I needed to do, it wasn’t clear to me. No, that’s not true. It was clear to me, I just didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to admit that my boyfriend and mum had been right to think full time was a bad idea. I didn’t want to admit that my body (and mind) could not cope with my pre-diagnosed life (or even a lighter version – I was no longer going to and coming home from work in the dark). I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t do what everyone else could.
After much talk with my family and doctors I made the very hard decision to cut back down to 4 days of work a week. While I felt good to have made the decision, it still felt like I was taking a step backwards. Technically, I guess I did. But a step backwards is not necessarily a bad thing. This step backwards in my working life means that I am now able to move forward in other areas of my life. It means I can once again resume the walking, stretching and healthy eating that had gone by the wayside.
I’m not like everyone else at work and I don’t need to be. Why was I pushing myself to work the same hours as everyone else when they don’t have to deal with the pain, exhaustion etc etc that I do? Working full time meant that, by Friday, I was hating my job and all I wanted to do was go to bed and not resurface until Monday. What a fun weekend! While everyone else was making the most of their weekends, I was spending mine trying desperately to recuperate in time to start the whole cycle again on Monday. Why in the world did I think that was a good idea? By taking a step backwards at work, I can now use by day off to recuperate and, by Friday, I’m still enjoying my job and looking forward to making the most of my weekend. Just like everyone else.