Last year I had so many firsts, in a long time. I’ve worked so hard on my health recovery, and I’m proud of each new achievement, not only the big ones, but all of those tiny little markers, and milestones that have formed the foundation to my increasing health, stability, and what I see as a re-birth.
A few years back, the thought of working again seemed an impossible reality. Especially when I was in a wheelchair for a year, with a further two years of very little mobility. If you had told me then, that I could work two jobs, then I likely would have laughed.
Now it’s my reality.
In the continual vein, of arranging my life to suit my new self-care regime, and all of the personal changes that I’ve encountered, it’s been very important to work in a way that feels good to me. This means, work that I enjoy, that is kind to my body, which uses my skills, and gifts, and that gives me room to pace to some degree.
I wholeheartedly believe that individuals who have gone through such a difficult, yet transformative experience, such as a health crisis that lasts many years, need to revisit their values, and honour a new passage in terms of how they operate a career, or earn money.
Because the ME/CFS, POTS, Fibro, and Hypermobility “types”, often hold the high-achiever, helper, anxiety, adrenaline junkie personality traits, it is essential that work doesn’t fuel these traits.
Of course, one could work in most jobs, and, if mindful, be considerate to ones wellbeing. Yet often, I see a pattern in the types of careers that an ME/CFS person has previously held and the impact on their health. If you wish to return to a previous role, then your transformation in terms of self-care, may be enough to integrate this back into your life.
However in lots of cases some people will be exploring a whole new way of working.
I have made a graded return to my previous role as a Psychotherapist over the last two years, and have revised some ways of working to approach things in more of a coaching style. It’s been interesting starting up self-employed business again, for a second time, and I realised that nothing was lost, even though it takes considerable effort to launch a new / or revised business / career, you hold all of the previous experience at your fingertips, and to add to the pot, you now have all of that wisdom and depth from getting through a harrowing time, and coming out stronger, all at your disposal.
Equally some of the foundations you have been building in your recovery, allow you to make wiser, and more successful decisions. Hence my second job!
Where there is a need, the universe will assist if you are open. In addition to my self-employed practice, I had a feeling something extra was needed. There was a piece of me being unfulfilled. My previous employed jobs were for Public and Charity sectors, within Education roles. I had thought that working in these ways was a thing of the past, yet I missed the feeling of working for a company, and my work with children. Additionally I wanted a second wage to supplement my growing client practice. I wanted that feeling of containment too that comes from a more structural type of work.
I wasn’t sure how this was possible, because when I felt into it, I didn’t want to be travelling into London half the week, not at this stage. So I put it out there – then two weeks later I saw an advert for online English teaching from home.
I was intrigued, but not altogether sure how this would work, but I’m glad I took the bait…because over the next two months, despite many new challenges, in getting recruited, learning new cyber systems, getting my teaching get up sorted, and an initial baptism of fire in some first classes, I found that before I knew it, I had a new second job which was really exciting, full of the unknown! Here I was taking some more steps out of my comfort zone, and proving to myself, yet again that anything is possible.
When I stopped to think, I couldn’t have thought of a better plan for myself, so I’m so glad that it was delivered my way. Not only do I get the enjoyable feeling of being part of a company again, being a self-employed contractor gives me the room to be flexible, in light of my body, and my other work. Working with children again has been such a joy, and I really hadn’t realised how much I had missed working as a teacher / educator. I also love the fast paced, corporate side of this job, it’s heavily performance based, and learning things that are also helping with my self-employed coaching work.
There were many challenging moments starting up, and lots of obstacles, I really didn’t know quite what I was doing until I entered my first cyber class room and taught a lesson. Yet I have been reminded once more, of how much we are afforded when we have gone through the journey with debilitating health, it’s those amazing strategies that we develop, that give us more personal staying power, and more self-containment than we previously had. When one has deepened the relationship with self, then trying out new things in the world, is much more about play, rather than intense fear.
Now I find it’s such a beautiful balance between being a TEFL teacher and a Therapist / Coach, that I can remain grounded and also not stuck to any one image of myself. I know it happens with many people in caring careers, but in the past, I was somewhat attached to my role of being a therapist, a guide, and I couldn’t always separate out the role from the requirements of the moment.
If you get stuck in image, or rigid about your path, then you could be missing out on your next new adventure. Let it arrive. I’ve learned so much from trying things that I wouldn’t normally do, or that I would let slide on by. Another example of this is a successful eBay shop that my husband and I run. This definitely would never have been on my radar, as I’m not really into “things”, and I didn’t think I was into sales, but having this extra business bloom out of nowhere a few years ago, was just what I needed when I couldn’t do any other work, for extra cash, and for purpose.
It gave me such routine to ride of on my electric scooter each day with the big parcels on my back, and it taught me a valuable lesson about going with the flow. Equally it was a really enriching thing to do with my husband, it brought us some common ground, helped his hoarding decrease, and my knowledge about vintage stuff increase!
Keeping your feet on your ground, and out of any consuming, and energy draining personality traits is so important for health recovery, especially ME/CFS. We really can’t separate our psychology from our body. We are innately woven together.
So this year, I’m continuing with my TEFL course, and further looking to expand my self-employed work with exciting new workshops to help empower people. I really am passionate about helping others accelerate their changes.
I’m holding my first well-being workshop for people on a journey of healing from ME/CFS, Fibro, POTS and Hypermobility on July 7th in Leigh on Sea, Essex. I’d love for you to join if you can.
Thanks for reading, and do believe that you can work again, it’s completely possible to find what’s right for you.