There seemed to be so much genuine interest in this post that I thought I would put pen to paper about my experiences in the hope that it helps comfort someone in the same situation or it helps someone prevent this, if they too are pushing themselves to the max.
It's taken a few weeks to start writing because in all honesty…I didn’t know where to start! I definitely couldn’t start in 2017 because this really started when I was a young girl. I think a good place to start is that my mum and dad were the hardest working role models I knew. They always inspired me to work hard to get ahead in life as that is what I watched them do. My parents always encouraged me to dream big too, which I too am instilling in my children. Life had dealt them some hard financial blows at times, yet they were always eternally optimistic (which I admire and honour myself) and always very conservative with their money. This was and still is a sound concept, however one thing I knew from a young age is that I didn’t like or cope with financial pressure. I didn’t like struggling for money and I didn’t like wearing the same Billabong T-shirt that was too big and baggy and not a flattering colour, for the entire 5 years of high school free dress days! I much preferred the security blanket of our private school uniform. This was one of my main motivations to head to uni in the hope that an education fixed this for me.
On the day I turned 14 years and 9 months old, I started my first job. This was the earliest I could legally work and I worked for Bakers Delight for $4.32/hr. I stayed there for a few months until I moved next door to Coles as a checkout chick for a massive payrise to $6.15/hr (approx.). I worked every Thursday night and a 10 hour shift every Saturday. I worked full time over the holidays from the day after my final exam of year 12 until the day I started uni and then I worked to fund my way through uni for the entire 4 years. The day I finished uni on the Friday I started full time work on the Monday. This pattern that started way back then, means I missed leavers weeks, I missed a gap year and I missed travel and I missed a rest and break of any kind after big stints of stress and hustle.
This was all pressure I put on myself.
I was just focussed on achieving and ticking off the next goal.
There were many life paragraphs after this with a similar theme but so as not to bore you I am going to get back to 2017 shortly. In reflection though and looking back I have always been a driven person. I have always had big goals. I have never coped at all well with financial pressure and I have never prioritised self care and resting my very busy mind, even though I was from my early 20’s, (following Glandular Fever), a very health conscious person.
The 18 months prior to my neuro symptoms involved extreme stress, building our house in Busselton via correspondence from Pinjarra and sourcing everything for it myself, running a prospering business at night when the kids were asleep, wrangling 3 small children, relocating to Busselton, trying to integrate into a new school community and also trying to cook everything from scratch for the kids. I was trying to be superwoman and super business lady! We also had huge financial pressure as we were planning on moving down here to farm in the dairy industry and that rug was pulled from under us at the 11th hour and 59 seconds. We ended up beef farming instead which was a much lower income and not enough for 2 families. Which meant all of a sudden I was the primary breadwinner for the family too. This was an unplanned and unforeseen development.
I remember in 2017 that I found it so hard to learn the parents names in 2 different years groups. My cognitive function was not great which was an early warning sign. I remember being so embarrassed to ask someone’s name again for the 3rd or 4th or 10th time but I just could not remember anyone’s names! My brain was giving me clues it needed a rest….
Then occasionally I would feel what I called ‘nerve tingles’ at various places on my body. My hands started to go numb at night too. I would also have occasional twitching. I started seeing a Integrative GP and had some x-rays of my neck and went to at OT to see if I had carpal tunnel (I didn’t). I had bloods taken and I had no auto-immune antibodies. After a week of extreme stress during the last week of June and end of month, end of financial year, last week of school term and also a week I reached a new milestone in my Young Living business, I felt a lightening bolt type feeling go through my left eye. Then that weekend when I went to bed I felt my nervous system was on fire. It felt like it was pulsing and I was twitching all over my body like one twitch per second. It was horrifically scary. I would lay there feeling cortisol and adrenalin surge into my stomach as I contemplated whether I had a fatal disease and wasn’t going to be around to raise my beautiful kids.
Over the next month my symptoms continued and I noticed other scary things like a tremor in my left hand…so I could see the fork quivering as I bought it to my mouth. I was so worried for my life due to these symptoms that I totally lost my appetite for the first time in my life. I love my food. I have never missed a meal in my life I am pretty sure (other than during gastro) and for a whole month I struggled to eat anything as I was so worried I had a terminal illness. My integrative GP had referred me to a neurologist but I couldn’t get in till late August. I didn’t want to go to the neurologist as I was certain I was going to get a life sentence. I can honestly say that this was a terrifying time in my life but at school and in public I put on a smile and a brave face and crumbled as soon as I got home.
Other symptoms included, slurring my words, a left sided delay in both my arm and my leg, big jerks that would wake me up when I was sleep with my foot or leg lurching upwards, numbness on the left side of my face and pins and needles type feelings all over.
Over the next period while I waited for my neurologist appointment I googled the hell out of everything. I had narrowed it down to 3 diseases Motor Neurons, Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinsons. I was certain I had one of them. When finally my appointment came I took my mum (an ex nurse) because I was fearing the worst and I thought she might need to drive me home. I had an MRI prior to this appointment which was labelled an “un-remarkable brain” which might have been funny if I had a sense of humour at the time, but it meant that my scan was all clear!
The neurologist diagnosed me with Neurological Dysfunction and he said it was the most common thing he diagnoses in his day. He said they don’t know much about these symptoms but basically it’s an umbrella of symptoms with no disease present and he gave me this website to look at (which I had found in my own searching but dismissed it) which was written by a neurologist! I had most of the symptoms listed http://neurosymptoms.org
He explained it to me that my body was like the original Commodore 64 computer but with too many modern day screens open. He said we were originally hunters and gatherers and our bodies have not evolved to live and cope with chronic stress for a long time without reprieve. He blamed stress for my symptoms and said that I might have them forever. As I left there I felt a lot of my health anxiety lift and my appetite returned. Someone told me I was ok and that I was going to be ok and that my kids wouldn’t be without their mum and that was all I wanted and needed to hear.
He did say that I could have the symptoms forever, however I have been hell bent on being symptom free ever since and healing my nervous system entirely! Whilst my symptoms have improved considerably over the past 3 years I am still not symptom free.
I am still work in progress.