Growing up I was one of those children who received a perfect attendance award every year. I never got sick. I had unimaginable immunity and went through my formative years blissfully unaware of sickness or medicine or the inability to do things on account of being ill.
Somewhere along the way that changed.
Over the years since graduating from law school I’ve seen my immunity go down bit by bit until now, when it seems almost non-existent. I’m not sure whether it’s the stress of work, the constant travel, or perhaps the intense pressure I put on myself (at times) for failing to succeed at traditional things like marriage or having kids or settling down into a “traditional life.” Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things, but somewhere along the way my healthy, positive, confident self shifted and soon I found myself getting sick on a fairly regular basis, gaining weight and just not entirely happy.
So I dove harder into work and traveled more and slept less and ate terribly and ultimately, suffered the consequences.
Then this past November everything came to an abrupt halt.
While home visiting my family for the holidays, I went to see my doctor because of some rashes on my shins that had started in July and just wouldn’t go away. I had been to the doctor in Delhi between every trip as the rashes got worse, but nothing seemed to help. My doctor at home took one look and knew right away what it was.
“Have you had more stress than usual?”
“I guess-but things always seem stressful.”
“What about your travel? Traveling more than you used to?”
“Yes-but I can’t help it-it’s my job and I don’t really have a choice.”
He just looked up from my chart as I said that and stared at me and all of a sudden I was bawling-uncontrollable, heaving sobs of pent up frustration, exhaustion and maybe even some anger. He let me cry and then handed me a tissue and said “you always have a choice.”
I knew he was right, but years of type A living and the need for perfection made it difficult to tell anyone that this was serious and that I needed to change my path. The bottom line was that this was my body crying out for attention-for some rest and just some good old fashioned TLC. Before I left his office, my doctor told me that I needed to think long and hard and that I had some tough decisions ahead of me.
Even after my doctor’s stern warning I still went back and forth, unsure of how to proceed. My family and friends were incredibly supportive-never tiring of reminding me over and over again until I finally heard them, that no amount of work was worth my health or my life. But I was scared to tell my bosses-would they believe me? After all I kept working and producing even when I was sick-would they think things were serious enough to bring me home?
When I finally worked up the nerve to tell my bosses that I was sick and I needed to come home, they were all incredibly supportive and things began to happen quickly. Before I knew it I was offered a really wonderful new position working with someone whom I admire greatly. My packout and move was set up in record time so I could rotate back to the U.S., and I finally decided to take some much needed time off to take care of myself.
After packing out and finishing up my last day in the office, I got on a flight and traveled down to Kerala in South India to a place called Somatheeram for two weeks to for Ayurvedic treatments to help me start down the path to healing myself.
The lovely little cottage where I’m staying has a view of the Indian Ocean and the sound of all varieties of tropical birds and the waves crashing into the shore. There is a lovely, open air dining hall where they serve food that is specially made to help one regain internal balance. Every day I get to meditate, do yoga, swim and then get two hours of Ayurvedic treatments. I have time to read and nap and rest and not a single work email to check or respond to.
In this beautiful place near the water, for the first time in a long time, I’ve given myself the permission to make it all about me and to take the time to heal.