Clouded Dreams

Racing through my mind is a million thoughts. I don’t know what to think anymore. The uncertainty is encapsulating every ounce of my being and my brain is starting to hurt.

Unfortunately, this a common daily reality for somebody suffering from Chronic Fatigue.  Brain fog limits the ability to communicate with others, to make normal decisions or even absorb the simplest pieces of information. Quite frankly, it makes you feel like there is something majorly wrong with you, as if your brain has been involved in some kind of a traumatic event. You can no longer think as clearly as you used to be able to do and the ideal of your logical brain becomes a figment of your imagination as you begin to question your intelligence.

And this feeling, this fogginess over your brain by far surpasses any other symptom or side effect that comes with chronic fatigue. The one tool that we depend upon for our everyday functioning becomes just a hazy mess of disorganised thoughts and like the pieces of a puzzle you use all your energy to to piece them back together and make sense of what is going on. To this day, this has been the most challenging part of my recovery process, figuring out how everything fits together and in the grand scheme of things, how I fit in to the world around me like I used to.

With my scattered thoughts, I feel distant from the world in which I once felt so in sync with. Conversations with those around me become a constant struggle as I battle my distorted thoughts and attempt to communicate in a way that makes sense, but instead I find myself constantly feeling and sounding like a crazy person. Sometimes I feel as though I am losing my mind and the insanity is slowly creeping up on me ready to wrap it’s jaws around the life I am hanging onto by a thread.

Recently, the overwhelming chaos of thoughts inside my head resulted in a decision which if I was in a more stable mindset I would probably not have done- the decision to resign from my job. In the midst of everything going on and my somewhat mental breakdown I felt as though this was the most logical solution to get my head back in the right space. But now that I have made that call, I am not so sure.

I knew that I wasn’t happy in that job. I struggled to meet the daily expectations and targets, to socialise with the team and to be my true, hard-working self while my mind was to focused on bigger things. Bigger things like recovering from a chronic illness and returning to a level of normality. And I could feel the pressure of the busy environment and targets mounting up on me, making me feel more stressed and overwhelmed then I had ever felt before. The staying back 2-3 hours past my finishing time due to a difference in my balancing also wasn’t helping, contributing to my coming to work the next day more exhausted. I knew I couldn’t keep living in this way.

For a week before I made the decision to quit, this overwhelming sense of unfulfillment and depression began to consume me, in addition to the crowded thoughts already spinning around in my mind. The thought of working in the bank for the rest of my life, the thought of even working for somebody else in a job that I was not passionate about was making me feel sick in stomach with anxiety. I could not let myself fall into the trap that my father and so many other people had fallen into- working ridiculous hours in a job that I hate and having no time to do what we were put on this earth to do- live life to the full.

Amongst all the chaos spinning through my head, one thing was more clear then anything else- I need to work doing something I am PASSIONATE about. If there was one thing my journey of recovery from chronic fatigue had taught me, it was the value of living life to the full. I had burnt myself out living a life inflicted by societal norms trying to get through university, build a career and work to pay for an endless amount of debts. I had learned from that mistake once and was definitely not going to let history repeat itself. In that moment I decided to take the plunge and quit the job that had drained so much life out of me, I stopped caring about money or my future. In that moment all I cared about was finding my happiness and continuing on this spiritual journey that incorporated my recovery.

Despite it being days after the fact and the rare ningling feelings of shame and disappointment in myself, this amazing weight has been lifted off my shoulders. As I sit here, watching out over the water I know that bigger things lie ahead in my future, but they were definitely not going to be found on the path I was heading down. Right now, I feel more in tune with my journey then ever before and I feel as though this is the beginning of the most incredible adventure, the life I was born to live. I may be poor, but I am more spiritually rich and happier then any amount of money could ever make me. And my mind is finally clearer then ever before on my quest to fulfill my wildest hopes and dreams.

Here is to a future of adventures, wisdom and happiness.

Get out there and start living your dreams.

teaghanlee xxx

 

 

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Finding Your Inner Happiness

As I walked home after an epic day of op-shopping, hitting up a new gym and exploring my local surroundings, I couldn’t help but think how happy I was.

It was raining and the clouds were darkening the sky, but this overwhelming sense of contentment captured me and I just couldn’t help but smile and sing at how good life was at this minute. Despite my recent concerns and consistent habit of overthinking every single little thing, in that moment I realised how far I had come. How much I had grown as a person. And I loved that person I was becoming, even after all the emotions I had been through after the break up.

But trust me, it has been a long journey to get here. And believe it or not, chronic fatigue and my recent break up has been a huge catalyst for the discovery of this extreme level of happiness.

This may sound crazy, but I truly believe chronic fatigue was inflicted upon me not only to test my strength, but to make me slow down and find the meaning of life, and in the process inner peace. Life is full of tests that help us redefine our lives and guide us in the right direction. On the spiritual quest that chronic fatigue has led me to, I have become a firm believer of this and the workings of the universe. And it has made me a much more grounded and grateful person as a result.

I may still be working through the recovery stage of my illness, but I am very blessed to have found this level of happiness that fuels my passion for life and love. And all I want is for others to experience this same level of joy.

So here a few of my secrets that can make you a happier and more positive person, not only for you but for those around you. Give it a whirl and watch the magic mushrooms of happiness encapsulate you.

  1. Practice Daily Gratitude- Every morning, while on the commute to work, I take 10-15 minutes to write down what I am grateful for. The people, the food I eat, the sunshine, a roof over my head, my health and just life in general. No matter what it is, even if it is something as simple as waking up this morning, I make sure it is reflected in my gratitude journal as writing it down helps you appreciate it that much more. After writing it down, I close my eyes and think about how grateful I currently am and like the volume knob on a stereo, I turn it up full ball as if I am exploding with so much gratitude, I just cannot contain it.  The amount of happiness even just this little daily task gives you is overwhelming and it is the perfect way to set yourself up for an amazing day! So next time you are at the shops, grab yourself a book or journal and get writing about what you are most grateful for.
  2. Change Your Thoughts- It is so easy for us to think negatively these days with the amount of toxicity that pollutes our minds. Well how about challenging that? When I first got sick, the constant disappointment from medical professionals, support groups and others around me who didn’t understand what I was going through resulted in so much negativity, I became even more depressed. But when I got to a point one day where I was faced with the choice to give up or keep fighting, I chose the latter and decided to completely change my frame of mind. I started reading self-help books, listening to positive affirmations, self-help videos and podcasts and exposing myself to as many inspirational quotes as possible to get the positive juices flowing. Over time I have trained myself to change almost all of my negative thoughts to positive ones, even on my darkest days, to keep myself in the most uplifted and optimistic frame of mind possible. Although it takes time and can be challenging, the accomplishment of altering your entire mindset is by far one of the greatest achievements you will ever experience. Check out Tony Robbins 7 Day Mental Diet- Eliminating Negativity on You Tube. It all starts with small steps!
  3. Become a Minimalist- It wasn’t until I got unwell I realised how overwhelmed I was by meaningless things that surrounded me. As someone who was admittedly very materialistic and a ridiculous over-spender, my decreased energy levels not only forced me to stop overspending, but to enjoy life with less belongings. I stopped spending so much money on shoes and clothes, instead rotating among a core wardrobe. I condensed all my furniture down, decorating in with simple items and setting all areas up as clutter-free spaces. I organised all of my paperwork into one folder. I decreased all of my books to only those that still held meaning or value in my life. I changed my diet to rotate between key nutrients and ingredients to not only make planning easier but to avoid the stress of decision-making. I got rid of my car in exchange for utilising two of my most useful tools- my legs, which allowed me be one with nature. I traded over-complicated gym routines for basic, core exercises, yoga and stretching. I developed routines which my life centred around and planned more. I learned how to do more with less money. I traded excessive TV watching for meditation and brain yoga. Not only did taking these actions reduce the complexity of my life, making it more organised and cohesive, but it allowed me to divert the consequential conserved mental and physical energy to the more beautiful things in life. And the clarity that comes with it is incredible!
  4. Take a Step Back- As somebody who is naturally very loud and always try to be the life of the party, this was possibly one of the greatest challenges that came with getting sick. No longer was I able to be the crazy, social person I once was, but was instead limited to listening and being alone with my own thoughts as I struggled with the energy to be my usual rowdy self. But this was actually the greatest thing that could have happened to me. Instead of being so self-centred and ignorant, I focused all of my energy on carefully listening to others rather then being so caught up in my own nonsense and found myself learning more about others and life then ever before. I became a wiser, more empathetic and compassionate person and developed deeper friendships and relationships that had so much more meaning then I could have ever predicted. Not only that, but I found that when I conserved so much energy from avoiding self-obsessed or one-sided conversation, I became a lot more intuitive. I was more receptive to non-verbal cues and could pick up on other’s thoughts and emotions without them even saying a word. It’s amazing how much you can read and discover with the absence of conversation. So next time you want to prove to the world how big your personality can be, try to peel back the layers a little and listen. Speaking from experience, you learn more about yourself from what you learn listening to others then you do from talking yourself.
  5. Get Out in Nature- Nature is truly the most precious gift that the world has to offer. After so many years of being so oblivious to the world around me, this illness has allowed me to embrace the beauty that encapsulate this magnificent place we reside in. And it has given me a whole new appreciation for it, particularly after months of being confined to bed and the indoors. The sunshine, the clouds in the sky, the trees and flowers, the rain, the sand and the ocean. It is the most incredible gift that we have been given on earth, so why waste our time inside not embracing it? Walk barefoot in the sand feeling the sand between your toes, stand on the grass and feel the tickle on your feet, walk in the sunshine, run in the rain, breath in the fresh air. Nothing will feel as good as those moments that you have in silence, enjoying the beauty that surrounds you.
  6. Been Authentically You- So many of us are holding back our true potential to be the most real and authentic person that we can be, and it truly makes me sad. We are falsified by the burdens of this fake world and are forced to mask our true emotions and feelings that make us who we are. Cry if you are having a shit day, ball your eyes out and get it all out of your system. Scream into a pillow when you are angry and frustrated at the world. Dance and sing in public if you are happy and high on life. Go up to that stranger and make their day by complimenting on their incredible shoes. Hug the stranger who is crying over the loss of her husband. Smile at the angry customer who just yelled at you and wish them a good day. Laugh like you have never laughed before. Emotions are there to be expressed, not only as part of who we are, but to show the world the truly incredible person we were born to be. Don’t get caught up in what other’s think or the negativity of those who are different from you. We were all born unique.

So stop being bitter about life. Get out there and find your inner happiness. Show the world all the goodness you have to offer.

Your life is just waiting to be lived with all the joy and happiness possible.

Go live it.

teaghanlee xxx

 

How to prevent Chronic Fatigue

Before I got Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia, I felt invincible.

I was building my dream career as a PT, working the coolest job in the world at Platypus shoes and living the life in Newtown as a single girl. Between that and training like a beast at the gym, there was just no time to stop and relax. I thought my energy was never-ending. But how wrong I was.

Now that I look back, as I deal with the perils of life with this illness, I wish that I had learned to better manage my energy levels before I crashed and burn. I wish that somebody had stopped me in my tracks and told me to slow down before my energy ran out. But for me, now is too late to dwell on my past mistakes. I must instead suffer the consequences and work to overcome this obstacle that lays before me. And help others to avoid facing the same fate.

Here are just a few small tips to help you from overdoing it and avoiding travelling down the same path that I did.

  1. Avoid over-committing- As a type A, overachiever personality type, over-committing was just part of my DNA. But it wasn’t until later in life after being diagnosed with chronic fatigue I realised just how damaging this trait could be. And that I could have worked on changing it. Instead of putting all your eggs in one basket, trying to achieve everything all at once, focus on what you most want in life. I have found these days writing a list of goals, and then prioritising them has been most helpful. You probably can achieve everything you want to, but don’t be greedy and expect to achieve them all at once. Be patient and find that balance of priorities otherwise there will be two likely outcomes. You will either crash and burn like I did. Or even worse you will become a chronic quitter, that never fulfils any of their goals as they are unable to give 100% to each one. Focus on one thing at a time and you will see that amazing results will follow.
  2. Practice mindfulness and stress management techniques- Stress is one of the biggest factors affecting our current society. It is responsible for so many health issues, family break downs, mental health issues and even suicides and deaths. And the sad part is it can all be avoided. In such a busy and fast paced world, sometimes we forget that we need to stop sometimes and just let our mind and body reset and have a break from it all. Unfortunately, many of us ‘do not have time’ for this, when in fact it should be a priority before anything else. So stop making excuses and pushing yourself towards a nervous breakdown. Instead practice the art of mindfulness and you will find the incredible difference it can make on your stress levels. Start off with some deep breathing exercises while you are stuck in traffic. Or listen to some meditation on your break at work. I also highly recommend doing some meditation and deep breathing as soon as you wake up as it sets your mood and intentions for the entire day. Honestly, it may sound silly but the benefits, such as greater clarity, better ability to handle stress and enhanced appreciation of life, far outweigh the consequences of enduring a life of discomfort, anxiety and unhappiness.
  3. Find a work/life balance- What frustrates me most these days is the priority that so many people put on work over every thing else. They get sucked in to the pressures and demands of this working world and become overworked to the point where earning money and meeting targets holds greater weight then spending quality time with family or enjoying the simple things in life. Well if you want to continue putting all your energy into your job, don’t let me stop you. But say hello to a life of unfulfilled dreams, depression and anxiety. Perhaps even loneliness. Or instead of subjecting you to such a miserable life, you could instead learn to reevaluate your priorities. And your main priorities should be you, your family and friends, doing what you love and then anything else that follows. Yes sure we need work for money so that we can pay for the essentials and luxuries in life. But is it really worth sacrificing our other values for? I don’t believe so. When you are at work, give it your all. But when it comes time to clock off, leave your work hat at the door. Don’t let that bitter customer, the difficult boss or the tonne of work you have to do leave the office with you. And if you have had enough of working for the man or in a job that you despise, take a leap and do something that you enjoy, even if it entails working for yourself or taking a pay cut. After all, if you are passionate about your job, it doesn’t really become your job anymore. It becomes one of your greatest achievements. And you will be a happier person for it.
  4. Pace yourself- Pacing is an art I am still learning to master and it has become essential in day-to-day life to be able to successfully manage my energy levels. But it is also a crucial concept for everyone in life, no matter whether they are suffering from a chronic illness or not. Pacing involves learning to be more mindful of our days and how we choose to effectively utilise all of the hours which consume it. A great technique is to use a diary or organiser to plan your day every morning, and forever 50 minutes of physical or mental exertion you should schedule at least 5-10 minutes of down time to break each activity up. It is also beneficial to switch between mental and physical activities to ensure you do not overexert yourself too much with either, which will result in fatigue, tiredness or increased stress levels. Not only does this help you ensure that you avoid over doing it but it also sets you up for a more productive day. And upon crossing the tasks off in your daily planner, you will feel more accomplished and fulfilled in life in general.

If I wish anything, it is that nobody else every suffers this energy-depleting, mind-sucking illness. So if you can, please take the steps to indulge in some of these suggestions before it is too late for you.

You won’t regret it.

teaghanlee x

Midnight Revelations

Last night, at midnight, in a club of hundreds of people, I had a revelation.

Out of all places, who would of thought that on the dance floor of an Irish pub, in your sober state and surrounded by ruthless, intoxicated beings that you could have a moment. Well I confess, it happened to me.

Ever since the break up, I have been going through some major adjustments in the journey to try and find myself once again. Adjusting to being alone, finding my new routine and rediscovering my happiness. And boy, has it been an arduous and overwhelming process.

Naturally, when you emerge from a relatively long term relationship, in your state of bitterness and hurt, you kind of want to get out there and just have some random hookups to rub in your ex’s face. To show them that this is what they are missing out on, to make them jealous. Or to help mask the pain you are feeling with some other level of attachment. Not only did I feel I wanted to do this, despite the amicable breakup, but I put an imaginary sense of pressure on myself to do so. I did this, as the old, insecure and superficial me would once do. A person I thought had disappeared from my life forever.

After a few weeks, post break up (or maybe a week), I put myself on all the latest dating sites. Tinder, HER, Plenty of Fish, whatever I could find. I was just so clouded and keen to fill that void. And just quietly after 3 years of a relationship, was keen to get on the Tinder band wagon to see what all the hype was about. Now that I reflect, it’s a pretty stupid concept though, selecting girls and matching with them based on a picture. A true connection is centered around so much more then that. But admittedly, I did meet some cool people in the few weeks of my tinder/online dating journey.

In the whirlwind of emotion, I also felt it was essential to get myself back into the partying scene to try and get myself out there as much as possible (god knows why as I had had no success with this in the past). But after being in Melbourne for almost 3 years and having no idea of the latest lesbian night club hot spots, this was going to prove to be a bit of a challenge. And a scary one with the concept of not knowing any other lesbians in Melbourne. If I was back in Sydney, I would have been able to reconnect with all my gay friends and once again hit my fave lesbian pubs and clubs. But here, I was pretty alone.

In my journey’s on Tinder, I was lucky enough to meet some girls that kind of showed me the ropes when it comes to the Melbourne lesbian night life scene. However I knew my biggest challenge would not be finding cool places to hang out. The biggest challenge would be managing chronic fatigue with the required party lifestyle that I believed I needed to live out to meet girls. And learning to find a balance. Lets just say, late nights, drinking and lots of socialising don’t play out too well when you have limited energy levels. And managing that in between working, exercising and eating healthy was definitely going to be difficult. But if I wanted to meet new girls, this was the only way I could do it, wasn’t it? Well according to the old me, this was the case.

In the weeks, up until last night I focused on this mentality. As I scrolled through the profiles on Tinder and HER and the endless amounts of girls depicting drinking as a hobby or an essential in their pictures, I felt even more pressure to cave into the societal norms. Drinks, drinks and more drinks was the way it had to be if I wanted to find someone new. Or even just a new bunch of friends to hang out with. In hindsight, this was all probably a stupid idea.

On a few occasions, I ended up at some gay clubs where I bared witness to the new lifestyle I felt obligated to be a part of. I drank way too many shots, I danced way too much, perhaps even on a stage as well, and I made out with some pretty gorgeous girls. In those moments, I was happy and loving life. Was this what I really wanted though? To party all night to suffer the next day, even week after? To make an idiot of myself and make myself vulnerable after way too much alcohol? I guess I was just too clouded by my mission and hurt to think straight.

But last night, I finally realised something. This lifestyle, this so called obligation that I had pressured myself to give in to, it is not me.

For the past few years after getting chronic fatigue, I have battled so hard to change my thinking, my habits and my lifestyle. Instead of drinking shit loads of coffee to get through the day, keeping busy to the point where I never stopped, exercising like a machine and partying like crazy, I now preferred drinking tea, pacing my days, walks in the sunshine and Netflix and chilling as an alternative. My illness had come not to punish me or make me suffer, but as a blessing in disguise that allowed me to re-evaluate my life.

In that moment, while looking around the room at all the people making a mess of themselves, stumbling out of the toilet or dry humping in the corner, I came to the conclusion that I am not like this anymore. No longer did I feel like getting inebriated, hooking up with straight girls or dancing like I have had way to much vodka red bull. All I wanted to do was meet new people and have deep conversations about life. I had become a changed woman. And the changed woman was not having a bar of this orthodox lifestyle.

For weeks I had been fighting this inner me, the true me that I had become. Truth be told, I had probably been battling it for so much longer. Why? Because it seemed so different from the norm and nobody wants to feel different, even me. All I have ever wanted to do was fit in. But was it really worth sacrificing my newly invested values for? Probably not.

I cannot describe it, but I have always felt like I have never fit in. Even since the days of high school where I much preferred keeping to myself then conversing with people.But especially these days, after finding my new self, in every day society I feel it even more. And this has been one of the biggest challenges in my recovery. Not only have I had to adjust to life with a chronic illness, but I have had to deal with the fact that I am definitely different and think a lot differently to many of those around me. Or maybe I am just associating myself with the wrong people?

Now, I am not trying to sound egotistical nor am I degrading the lives of others around me. Each life has tremendous value, but it is up to that person to discover it. And I truly feel as though I am discovering mine as I operate on this deeper level of consciousness.

I am engaging on a spiritual journey, a life-changing shift and in this quest have discovered so much more about life then I ever thought imaginable. And it has made the little things in life, the petty things, seem so much more trivial. Bitchiness, negativity, drama, hatred, who has time for that? Well when you have limited energy and are on a quest to restore it, you learn that you don’t need pointless, energy-draining things like these in your life to deter you from what is really important- living life. It is the deeper things in this world that provide the most meaning and happiness. The kindness of a stranger, the beauty of nature, the feeling of overcoming your deepest fears, the moment you fall in love. One your death bed, it is these things that you will remember, that will matter.

In all the hype of clubbing, partying and drinking, I found myself contemplating all of these things. Drinking lemon water, having a deep intellectual conversation about life and drowning out all the music and chatter around me, the discovery hits me smack bang in the face. I am made for bigger things then this. And if I keep giving in to these imaginary obligations and trying to fit in with people with different priorities to mine, I will definitely end up back on the path I was on before chronic fatigue came and changed my life course. And that I do not want! So its time for me to get back on track despite this small hiccup of a distraction.

With the help of yoga, meditation, tai chi and healthy eating, I have found that I can derive more happiness from life then I ever thought humanly possible. In transforming from this old excessively energetic, frantic individual to this new, deeper and more centered soul, I am more in love with myself and my life then ever before. No longer can I try and be like everybody else and give into these societal and cultural norms. No longer should I feel like a weirdo for being different. No longer should I be distracted from my life purpose. I must stay true to myself and continue this personal journey that I am on.

For once in my life, my future is clear. Despite the shake up of a break up sending me slightly off course, I now know that I have been redirected back onto the right course. And my god the future is looking bright! World, you better watch out. Dare I say, there may still be some obstacles, like the aforementioned, that I may need to overcome but with each victory, I become a stronger, more intuitive person. And for that I am completely grateful.

What I want now in life is completely separate from anything the old me ever desired. I WILL travel the world, writing and sharing my passions with the people I meet and the one person who makes me happier then I make myself (you know who you are). I WILL continue to meet like-minded people and immerse myself in cultures who share the same morals and drive for life as I do. I WILL continue to fill my body with amazing, healthy foods that fuel me with the energy I need to live life to the full. I WILL restore my life energy and recover from chronic fatigue using yoga, nutrition, meditation and tai chi to help fellow sufferers and inspire them to reclaim their lives. I WILL complete every single thing on my bucket list. I WILL be unstoppable, courageous and infuse positive energy into the lives of others and the world around me.

I do not have time to waste on not being the authentic me.

This is my life purpose. Ain’t no time for diversions now baby.

Get out and live yours!

teaghanlee xxx