“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried, but you’ve actually been planted”.
At the end of November, after an unrelenting month of vertigo attacks and dizziness, I was curled up in a ball on my bed recovering from the latest attack when I let out an involuntary, guttural howl. I didn’t recognise myself.
Someone said to me during that time “I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t cope with what you are going through”. To which, of course, there is no answer other than. What else am I supposed to do?
I was reminded of this conversation at the weekend, when I was listening to an interview with Josie Bevan on Woman’s Hour. Her husband is serving 9 years in prison for fraud and she is raising their two kids alone. Asked how she copes, she replied: “In an extreme situation like this you have a very stark choice … because the price you pay for not digging deep, is really really high. The consequences of not coping are just too big”.
Our situations are completely different, but I understood exactly what she meant. I’d lost my independence. I couldn’t work, I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t trust my body anymore and I was frankly scared. I didn’t know how much further this disease would push me before I cracked.
That day in November, I came close to the edge.
Today, the 13 January 2019 the world feels very different. I have hope again and a fat load of lovely normality back in my life. I’m not permanently dizzy. I can walk in a reasonably straight line again. It’s been exactly a month since my last vertigo attack. I’m not out of the woods, but I have a cautious feeling of optimism.
And quotes like the one at the top of this post, fuel this optimism. I have been planted. I’ve come out of the last eight months with a different set of priorities and goals for mine and my family’s life, than the ones I entered with.
Writing this blog, thinking about how I think and forcing myself to challenge what I think has been a massive part of that. This blog has been a better doctor than any of the medical experts I’ve seen.
I’ve realised that I used to be so swamped in reacting to everything around me, to other people’s opinions, to what I thought I was meant to achieve, that I had no clue what I actually wanted, for me.
Being ill was shit, but it did afford me one massive luxury. Time.
Between the attacks, I had time to think about the future. Fuelled by all the ideas that flooded in from my first post, I pondered everything and I tried different things out for size. At one point, I was so hooked on Holly Tucker’s Conversations of Inspiration podcast series that I was convinced I wanted to set up my own business as a creative entrepreneur. Later I decided I wanted to be an art teacher. And then, as writing this blog turned into an addiction, I became convinced I wanted to write for a living.
But gradually I realised that none of those things were right.
Every podcast I listened to emphasised the endless hours of commitment involved in becoming a small business owner. I don’t want a job that takes over my life. I appreciate my freedom too much. And besides, who was I kidding? I’ve never been interested in selling things, however beautiful or creative they are.
I know I’d love being an art teacher but my ear and more specifically my hearing aid would drive me crazy in a noisy school. Hearing aids, background noise and lots of screeching just don’t go together.
And writing. Yes. I love it, but I couldn’t do it full-time. It takes me so long to craft these blogs. I can’t imagine turning something around to a deadline. I want to write for pleasure and maybe, one day, try to sell articles, but it feels too risky chucking all my eggs in that basket. I want a more reliable way of earning a living.
And that’s when a new possibility started to float into my awareness.
It’s a job that enables, better still, demands that I return to studying and that I embrace learning again, not just whilst I study, but consistently, as part of the job. It’s a role that’s as close as possible to another dream job – counselling, but without the five year degree and the emotional exhaustion of dealing with clients with mental health problems. It’s a job where I get to work closely with other people and hopefully help transform their lives.
I’ve started training to be a coach. I have no idea yet what type of coach I’m going to be. I might work in maternity coaching or in the media or freelance industries or in corporate coaching or I’d love to coach people with Menieres.
I had my first training day yesterday. It was exhausting, motivating and exciting.
Finding where I want to be has bought me back to a quote I discovered months ago that intrigued me, but which I couldn’t, at the time, relate to. At that point I was writing in this blog about trying not to let the green eyed monster consume me, as I saw my friends developing their careers, whilst I was stuck in reverse.
“The more you know what you want, the more your concern about others fades away”. Alain de Botton
It’s true. Finding what I want to do and being absorbed by the urge to learn and put what I learn into practice has helped me massively. It also reassures me. I don’t know what Menieres has in store. It might throw a truck load more vertigo at me, but if I’m happy and excited and engaged and motivated, I’ll be in a much better position to cope than I was last time around.
If you have a friend or work colleague who you think might be interested in a series of one-to-one coaching sessions, please ask them to contact me. I’m offering free coaching sessions whilst I train.