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Maybe it is all in my mind


By January 2014 I had progressively gotten worse and I had now reached a plateau. The human body and mind are amazing. In order to be able to function I was running on auto-pilot. It was as if I had never known life before this reality and when I started to think back to happier and healthier times they felt like an entire lifetime away.  I was no longer able to go for my daily walk on a regular basis and any time I did feel up to it, even the shortest walk left me exhausted. I had had to stop volunteering at my local animal shelter. This probably broke my heart most of all and I didn’t even pop in for short visits anymore because I was so ashamed that I could no longer offer help or support.
Acupuncture, a healthy diet and a multitude of supplements were all keeping my head above water. At the time it didn’t feel like it was making any difference but I know now that I hadn’t looked after myself in this way I wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed in the morning.


Shame and Fear


People ask me now “why didn’t you speak out?” There are many answers to this question. As I said before I had come to accept this reality as the new “normal”. Moreover I didn’t people at work to think that it might be affecting my performance and I can honestly say it rarely did. Plus I was scared to imagine that what doctors were telling me was true – that it was all in my mind. If that was the case, then what? Would I be sent to a psychiatric unit? I wasn’t calling my illness Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I just called it “This damn fatigue” and I felt like my body had really let me down. I ate well, I had exercised, I lived a clean life, I had never smoked or done drugs and I rarely drank. I felt like loser, a whiny little child. I had always been perceived as so strong, capable and independent. The shame I felt was almost unbearable.


Where has Nancy gone?


This feeling of shame was compounded when in May 2014 I went back to Italy to visit some friends before heading off to Mykonos for a week in the sun. The next part of my story is really hard to put into words but I’ll give it a good go. While I was in Italy my thoughts were filled with negativity. I couldn’t help but compare myself to the person I had been when I had lived there so many years before and the comparison was not a good one. This thought process was verbalised by a friend who asked me “No offence but where has Nancy gone?” I constantly felt vulnerable, inferior and very fragile all the while putting on a smiley face which I’m sure everyone saw through. The truth was I couldn’t wait to leave.


Release


Then one evening over dinner with a friend I discovered that my ex-boyfriend had become a father. This was a guy that I had truly believed was my soul-mate and I had been convinced we were meant to be together. I had beaten myself up for more than a decade that it hadn’t worked out and I hadn’t allowed myself to really love anyone since. I have never wanted children and in that moment when I heard he was a dad, I literally felt a part of myself come back into my body. I have no other way of describing it. If it was his destiny to become a father then we were not meant to be as I led myself to believe. The peace I felt afterwards was a balm to my soul. I had released a huge burden.
The following days and weeks felt like a dream. Synchronistic moments showed up at every turn from special treatment on my flights to and from Mykonos to an upgrade at my hotel, to the owners of the hotel treating me like family from the moment they met me, to my very own Shirley Valentine romantic encounter!


Things can only get better


Upon my return I felt revitalised and ready to get back out in the world. My health slowly improved and I started to believe that I probably had been suffering with depression due to the stress and heartbreak I had endured since that relationship had ended. I started a Facebook page called Life and Soul and I began exercising at the local gym. I still wasn’t 100% but life was good again.
At the end of the holiday I had been ready to say goodbye to my holiday romance. I felt we had had a really lovely time but that’s all it was – a holiday romance. He, however, wanted it to continue as a long distance relationship and my friends and family were VERY excited about this new development. I hadn’t trusted myself for such a long time that I went along with what everyone else wanted for me. Yet again I went against my inner truth. Needless to say in September the relationship ended badly and what should have been a beautiful holiday memory turned sour. ALWAYS trust your inner truth!

Because I was feeling so good I stopped many of the healthy protocols I had put in place while I was sick. I thought "why spend money on therapies and supplements when really all I was suffering with was an extreme form of heartbreak?"
I was still exercising regularly and enjoying the improvements to my health that I saw every day. In October I decided to join a 6 week challenge at the gym to take us up to Christmas. My motivation had been waning so I thought it would be a perfect way to encourage me to keep going. I’m not a fan of the gym but I’m also not a fan of rain either. I’d much prefer to be out walking but the Irish weather doesn’t always permit that. :-) To be fair, Hannah’s classes were much more fun than other classes I’d been to and I loved the dancing element in Zumba. For those 6 weeks I went to a class every chance I got averaging 4 times a week. By the end of the challenge I felt toned and strong and I won 2 medals for my efforts!


Crash!


Over the Christmas break I was walking on air. I said to myself: “2015 is going to be my year!” I performed my annual ritual of clutter clearing and making a vision board of what I envisioned 2015 looking like. I was pumped and ready for the year ahead!
Sadly, very shortly afterwards I crashed and burned. “This damn fatigue” came back with a vengeance. I screamed at the sky “why is this happening to me?” and all I heard in response was “It’s not depression.”  - To be continued.


Footnote:

I’d like to take this opportunity to say a BIG thank you to Andreas and his beautiful wife Evagelia who own Panormos Village in Mykonos and who are now known as my Greek family. Without even knowing me they took me under their wing and treated me which such protection and kindness from the moment I arrived. Their hotel is stunning, the breakfasts are delicious and their hospitality is second to none. I feel so grateful and blessed to have met them and it proves that no act of kindness goes un-noticed.

 

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