In 2018, life was really good. I was at the top of my career and was healthy & happy. Then, I came down with a bad case of Ross River Virus that lingered. After ten months, I resigned from my job so a dedicated manager could be there for my team and so that I could focus fully on my health. In constant pain, debilitating fatigue and terrible brain fog, I searched for answers. No medications and few health professionals helped me. After 15 long months of mysterious lingering illness, I was told that the Ross River Virus had triggered Fibromyalgia. I was grateful to have a diagnosis, but wished it had been an easier one. Also during the time I was sick, my Mother passed away, and I felt I was no longer even a daughter. Needless to say, all of this loss tore away the wrappings of my identity and when I looked in the mirror, I did not recognise the person staring back. I felt empty, sad, scared, and lost.
Now, nearly four years later, I am finally starting to feel like myself again. I still have pain, fatigue and brain fog, but it is improving. I’ve achieved this with a shift in priorities, major diet changes, renewed commitment to exercise, working on mind-body health, and the wonderful support of a loving husband, family, friends, and a few special members of my health care team.
I can look at myself in the mirror again and feel hope, love, and strength staring back at me. I’ve lost 25 kg and increased my physical strength and flexibility. I’ve accepted the idea that the future may not include the same career. I know that I will have to continue to actively manage my health to minimize flare-ups. Initially, I thought that I was not the same person as before I got sick, but I’ve realized that isn’t true. I am still the same person that I was before but the challenges of the past several years have simply helped me discover different priorities and strengths and to accept some aspects of myself with more love and self-compassion. Now it is up to me to continue the important work I’ve started and to embrace and celebrate this new, and dare I say, improved, version of myself. Participating in ShaBo STUDIO’s 40 over 40 project, has provided a heart-warming step in that direction.