I was living a fast-paced life: my career was going well and I had heaps to do within tight timelines. Being the control freak that I was, I just had to do it all. I thought I balanced work and life pretty well too – to beat the stress of everyday traffic, on weekdays, I lived away from home just like when I was a university student, all by my lonesome in a condo unit. To keep my body healthy, I became a pescitarian, cut down my alcohol intake, and did pilates.
Until a life-changing event happened, a little over a year ago. I got seriously ill. My world came crashing down – I hated my body for betraying me. I was unsure of what the future would look like, so I refrained from planning my next steps. During my long medical leave, I came to reassess my priorities and started to enrich myself spiritually. I continued to be productive: did DIY projects, studied another language online. But the fear of the unknown future still bogged me down.
Slowly, towards the end of my medical leave, I became anxious, and I had panic attacks. My husband, parents, and siblings did their best to be strong for me and to reassure me. I was referred to a counselor, who at first I was hesitant to talk to. I didn’t imagine getting anything out of it, so I went with reluctance.
I do not know what she did, but my counselor was able to get me talking, and I was surprised I was able to say what I felt to someone I hardly knew. After that first session, I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the conversation (I was crying the whole time!), but I felt a strange sense of littlest relief. There was still the fear, but she helped me with a mantra on relishing what I have in front of me now – not looking back too much and not looking way far ahead. Whenever I have dark thoughts on “what ifs” about the future, I would remind myself of this.
When I got better, I made a decision to take a one year hiatus from work. I traveled, served in our community, volunteered for animal and environment non profit organizations, and rekindled relationships with family and friends. I am grateful to having been given a second chance at life, and allowing me to live out a deeper sense of purpose.