Why I am in Portugal

It got really bad. Feb – June this year was the worst.

My tongue was numb.

I had pins and needles in my fingers and arms.

I had a hacking cough for almost 6 months, coughing up phlem constantly and worse in the mornings. My poor downstairs neighbour had a terrible wake up call each day.

I had bad flu 3 times in 3 months and tonsilitis twice. Every time I had a confidential meeting in the air conditioned server room, my throat felt like a razor blade. I couldn’t concentrate in meetings – all I could think about was how terrible I felt and looked forward to going to bed that night.

I had to take 3 weeks off sick. One time I had to sleep on my side with a piece of raw onion in my ear as google told me it took the edge off the pain of earache. It kinda worked.

I had severe anxiety, like a monster was trapped in my throat and chest constantly, rising stronger and more impatient when I as in a conflict situation.Nothing seemed to help.

I had a 2 week holiday to India with my boyfriend. On the surface, we had a good time, but underneath I was dying and not able to tell him how I felt. Although it was sunny outside, in the photos my face is pale and wracked. At the end of the trip he found out his mum had cancer and I could not say what I needed to tell him for him and for me.

I was reading endless self help books for pure survival. I had rescue remedy in my top drawer at work and was having to overdose on it before any meeting. I was considering replacing it with something stronger.

My poor friend Camille was my rock and saw me through, without judgement.

What was wrong with me? I just couldn’t get better no matter what I tried. I started to feel like I had already achieved what I needed to in my life so there was no point and nothing to look forward to.

But things just got so bad that I knew I couldn’t continue like that and I had to take drastic action.

I went to the doctors again for my cough and flu and weakness and hopelessness. I felt weak, prickly, devastated and a total wreck. It felt serious. I needed help. I was a few minutes too late for the doctor to take me that day. I sat outside the surgery and I cried and cried. A nurse pulled up and took pity. She held my hand and said ‘sometimes we all feel like this. It’s OK.’ She squeezed me in for an appointment. A week later, after I thought I was getting better and I just wasn’t, Azim drove me to hospital to get a blood test. I spilled to him how I was feeling. He knew I was stressed and under pressure to keep the organisation running, but he had never seen me like this.

I found an accupuncturist, Marcelo who was incredible. He talked to me about nutrition and rosemary tea and my lifestyle in general as well as relieving my stress with his little pins. He looked worried that first day when he saw my unhealthy tongue and weak, fast pulse – my immunity at a terrible low. He helped me through the really lowest point.

During that time I also had a bike accident which left me with stitches on my chin and got my bike stolen twice – once outside Sainsburys and the other my handlebars stolen from Seven Sisters tube. It was not a good period of my life. Everything seemed to be conspiring against me. I was putting every inch of my life into saving the charity but not giving myself any nurturing time. Something in the universe was telling me something was majorly wrong with my lifestyle and life choices and I was going against myself.

After my bike accident, I tried everything to help me turn the corner….starting with hypnotherapy then kinesiology (finding out chocolate, grapefruit, soya and raw sugar were not good for me and starting to take lots of vitamin supplements to boost my immunity – B12, thistle milk, magnesium and zinc). I had lots of chats with my buddhist friend at work and when I was well enough went to tempopilates to raise my endorphines. I phoned an expensive life coach which helped me make the decision to finish my relationship and I went extreme and applied for a job on a remote island in Scotland to get away from it all. The job didn’t come to anything but the process of being as far away from London as possible and spending quality, challenging time with my mum made me realise I need to spend more time in nature. Opening my eyes after falling asleep on a blustery white sand beach on North Uist was my turning point. I met my friends and we had one of the best weeks of my life, going round the West Coast in a campervan. It was there with them I decided to take a year exploring different 3 month opportuntieis around the world. At the time it seemed like a distant dream.

At work, I had more and more conversations with my boss and realised I couldn’t buy into her vision as it was not tangible. After a particularly demoralising chat, I went home to find this opportunity for Portugal on my computer and I knew instinctively it was for me. 3 days later I had been offered the opportunity to come so I plucked up the courage to tell her I needed a sabatical.

As soon as I got here, I realised I could not go back. I love being outdoors, living with other people, using different skills, speaking Portuguese, being entrepreneurial. I just knew that my job and my lifestyle was not working for me anymore. I dont want to cycle past where my ex boyfriends live every day, want a completely new chapter where I can be myself, live in an arron cardi and for people to love me the same, to meet new people, to go camping at the beach every weekend if I want.

I’m not sure at all what I am going to do but there are lots of opportunities and I am not at all worried. Ive already been offered to stay and work with local honey producers helping them promote their products.

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