In December 2015 I did the Lightning Process with Helen. I dithered for years – I’d had chronic fatigue for almost 10 years at varying levels, sometimes incapacitating but most of the time ‘just’ feeling bleugh enough to never be able to plan anything with the certainty I’d be well enough to go through with it. Life was definitely on hold with no sign I’d ever get better, and I was miserable.
Then in 2015 I got seriously ill again and was housebound for 3 months. Life stopped completely and I was in danger of losing my job. For lots of reasons the moment had come to bite the bullet, borrow some money on top of the mass of debt I’d already racked up through being ill, and see if the Lightning Process worked for me. It was terrifying and exciting in equal measure.
I’ve written a previous blog on the course and how miraculous it was, so in summary I went home after 3 days completely well. It took a while to get fit for life again, but once that happened there was no stopping me.
Life while I was ill – mounting debt, no chance of planning any kind of future, couldn’t afford to do anything nice, worry, stress, had to sell my flat, constantly warning people I might not be well enough to do any kind of activity, managing my employer (when I had one) in the hope they would understand.
Life since I recovered – where do I start?! The biggest change is that I can now plan with certainty, and it has opened up a future I’d given up on. It has given me choices and options I had tried to forget existed because it was too painful to think about what I’d lost. Instead of battling from one day to the next, I slowly realised I could make decisions on what I want to do instead of trying to work out how to survive the next hour/day/week. It took a while to get used to in the best possible way!
I needed to do something about my finances, and I live in an area where salaries as an event manager are pretty low. Definitely not enough to get back to some kind of normality. I had dreamed of going freelance for years but always needed the safety net of sick pay – now that I was better could I finally take the plunge? The risk of not finding clients was a problem, but I knew I’d been good at what I do before I got ill, so shouldn’t I have some faith in myself? I went for it. It was rocky for a while, but I’m now established locally and have a network of clients. I can choose the events I want to work on and the people I work with, and I love the freedom it brings me. I work harder than I ever did when I was employed, but it’s on my terms. And in the last couple of years that crippling debt has reduced dramatically, and one day I might even be able to afford to buy a flat again. It seemed impossible before, and although it will be hard work I might just be able to pull it off. That kind of possibility is really exciting.
Outside of work, I’ve taken up kayaking on my local river. Aside from being more unfit than I’d like (!) I know I can go out and not think about whether I’ll have enough energy to make it back again. The pleasure of drifting down the river on a perfectly still evening can’t be beaten, it’s good for the soul.
6 months ago I realised a long-held dream when I finally made it to the top of the local allotment list. 2 friends who wanted to be involved have come and gone due to pressures of life, so I’m managing it on my own. Once that would have been scary in case I didn’t have the energy – now it’s liberating. It’s good physical activity, I’m learning loads, and it’s incredibly satisfying picking my own vegetables. And the season has barely started – so far I’ve only had spinach and I’m already ridiculously excited for more harvests! Another thing that’s good for the soul.
I’ve started going camping – putting up a tent and sleeping in less-than-perfectly-comfortable situations is no longer incapacitating! I’m seeing some beautiful parts of England and enjoying peace and tranquillity. It’s fantastic.
Next week I’m off on holiday for a week to beautiful Corfu (inspired by watching The Durrells – it’s every bit as beautiful as it seems). I remember a few years a friend saying ‘let’s go on holiday’ and me feeling utterly miserable that I didn’t think I’d ever go on holiday again. This year I’ve saved for it, paid in advance and got spending money ready to go. That seemed like an impossible dream a few years ago. I’m very proud of it and will spend some of the time giving myself a pat on the back, while enjoying a glass of wine or 2 over some amazing food.
The thing that is incredible but also now completely normal is that I no longer hesitate to say yes to anything I want to do. I’m well, and I occasionally remind myself I was once very ill, just to remember how far I’ve come. Some friends still don’t believe I’ve recovered and warn me not to do too much, but I know my brain has changed and those fatigue-related pathways don’t exist anymore. I am well and there is a whole future ahead of me. The hardest thing is deciding which of the many things I want to do I’ve got time for! There are definitely aren’t enough hours in the day. Who would have thought I’d be able to say that a few years ago? To those people who helped me manage the condition and compassionately told me I needed to accept I’d never fully recover, I’m very glad to say you were wrong. It’s not a life sentence, and I have my life back. I just wish I’d done the Lightning Process years ago. It’s brilliant.