By the time I left, about a month ago now, my whole body was a wreck: my hair was falling out in clumps / every time I merely turned my head, a huge spattering of dandruff would shake out like unsightly confetti / I could only sleep with pills / my skin was sallow and pale / I suffered awful sinuses / my eyes were constantly sore and watering / my weight fluctuated more viciously than a yoyo on drugs / I felt constantly exhausted / I had eye bags so big and so dark they could rival Gollum’s.
Of course, there was never time nor reason to sort myself out. When you work in high-pressure, highly result-oriented environments, symptoms of your deteriorating health are to be worn and paraded like war badges. They are signs of Just How Dedicated and Hardworking you are; evidence of how devoted you are to your job, that you would forgo even your own well-being for the sake of Getting Results!
The bigger your eye bags, the more unkempt your hair, the fewer hours you sleep a night, the more unstable your weight, the more you smoked, the more dependent you were on Xanax to sleep – the more you’re applauded. You are reminded (or told) that your health isn’t as important as your work and made to feel selfish for even thinking/talking about it, for that would mean putting yourself before Getting Results. Time would be better spent doing something More Productive for the Greater Welfare of the Community.
Sod that. There’s a point where you realise that you shouldn’t have to feel like shit every waking and sleeping moment of every day and night, and it’s okay if you don’t want to keep feeling this way. It should be a basic human right to not want to feel like you’re in a gulag.
So the first thing I did when I managed to pry myself away from the pressure cooker was to try to sort out my health, like:
– Sleep (and am finally weening myself off the Xanax)
– Get proper hair treatments to sort out the dandruff and the hair loss
– Do regular exercise (so elementary, but always the first to go when you’re Busy Getting Results)
– Eat well
I’m starting to feel (I think) a bit more like what a girl my age should be feeling. I’m enjoying the adrenaline rush of being back in a thumping BodyStep class. I like being able to sleep through a night without waking up after 2 hours filled with anxiety. I love being able to eat properly (perhaps too properly, and have gotten rather too fat – more on this later).
As a bi-product of living and feeling healthier, other things have started to repair themselves too: My eye bags have gotten smaller and my eyes are back to normal. My skin is getting back its colour. There’s no more dandruff. My sinuses have stopped. For the first time in months, it doesn’t hurt to just keep my eyes open.
Gosh, we really do take our health for granted. You don’t realise just how much good it feels to be ‘normal’ until you’re living it. (Ironically, feeling this way inadvertently makes me more productive, able to work harder in a shorter period of time, and do my work better than if I was just sitting there for 16 hours a day, every day, trying to just get through the hour and feeling like shit – why don’t people just realise this most basic fact that we really are biological beings, not machines?).
I’m also starting a new health / weight management programme (okay, DIET) tomorrow – TRA, The Right Approach (by NuSkin / Pharmanex), which was introduced to me by a cousin Beth and her boyfriend Bryan. Starts tomorrow morning, and goes on for 2 months. I’m nervous – more for whether I’m going to be able to stick to the programme properly for the 3 months than whether it will work! I’ll have to start by not eating an entire bag of crisps in a sitting for starters. That alone’s going to be a challenge! Will have separate updates on TRA.
But yes – health. Grossly undervalued and overlooked when really, sometimes feeling physically good is all you need to truly be more productive, get better results in the long term and to feel happy. It’s not too much to ask – or to give yourself. You deserve it. And you know what, it feels fucking amazing.