Unknown Speaker 0:02
Welcome back to The pyjama interviews. I'm your host, Michelle Irving, and I am thrilled to be with you here again, this podcast is for intelligent creative women, talented women who also live with chronic illness and are looking to find a way through. Today's episode was recorded live. And I'm thrilled to share with you a beautiful, powerful conversation with two of our guests. Stay tuned at the end, we are currently open for anyone who wants to join us for Queen of the underworld. And you'll find all of the details in the show notes and at the end of this podcast to join us. So let's dive in.
Unknown Speaker 0:46
So thank you so much, everyone for joining us. One of the things that I know personally is that the emotional uncertainty of living with chronic illness is complex. And it comes up in such strange ways it comes up in diagnosis and in treatment, but the longer you live with the chronic illness, the more your world can feel like it shrinks a little in this sense of limbo where I'm going or how I'm going to navigate this. So I've specifically chosen Chris and Tammy to come have this conversation with us. And here's the reason why. Firstly, tenure I've known for a few years now. And I've watched her start to recover some of her physical capacity. And she'll talk a little bit about her health conditions. But I've also watched her, you know, foray out into the risk of being an entrepreneur, and what has then bloomed in her life, quite astonishingly, for her and some lasts as well, since taking that move. Chris is with me. And Chris is in our current Queen of the underworld programme. And it has been a very rich discussion with Chris, and I'm looking forward to her sharing some of her career experiences, and really the wealth of wisdom she has in her maturity and her maturity in her feminine, as well as what has been reflected as she's come into some of the work of reflecting on the story of illness that she inherited. So welcome, Chris, and welcome. Tanya, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you. It's great to be here. Beautiful. Tanya, I might just start with you. I'm wondering if you will share with us as I always ask what your health experience currently is. And anything else you want us to know so that we get it on the table, and we're all spinneys in the room together. Sure. Thank you, Michelle. And lovely to be doing the quickie crease. So my name is Tanya Damaris. And about five and a half years ago, I actually developed a condition called central sensitization that occurred from actually a Nic manipulation so I developed my condition very suddenly and very severely within half an hour of having the neck condition and that caused that cause chronic fatigue so central sensitization is a condition of the brain and the central nervous system because every single nerve in your body so in the beginning, like many of us with invisible illnesses, no one knew how to treat me No one knew what was thrown. I was treated for whiplash, I had MRIs, CAT scans so during by ambulance to the output, so nothing was picked up. But I knew something was seriously wrong. And those that spent a lot of time with me beforehand and afterwards, knew something was definitely definitely wrong. So in that time, I've had a diagnosis and I've gone through treatment so very unconventional treatment without medication. So mine treatment from my team, my medical team
Unknown Speaker 4:07
involved yoga, meditation, lifestyle changes, and also working with Michelle so I worked on Michelle with what I felt was a really important aspect of my journey was dealing with all the emotional stuff because of course my life completely changed. So in the last five years, quite miraculously, I'm pretty much pain free. I have very few symptoms and about 90%
Unknown Speaker 4:37
I guess recovered so I don't hardly ever suffer from chronic fatigue anymore, and I'm doing really well. And in that journey, I've learnt a lot and it's been difficult and rewarding at the same time.
Unknown Speaker 4:55
And it's been a deep journey. 10 years as well like this. This didn't just go
Unknown Speaker 5:00
way with quickies. This was a very long, deep journey in that five years. Yeah, it was that there was without question that has seen niver went through, I actually had open heart surgery at 24. I was born with a heart condition and it was picked up very late and I had an emergency
Unknown Speaker 5:21
surgery and that's pretty intense. But going through this is
Unknown Speaker 5:27
so much harder. It was open heart surgery was easy compared to these. So very big, very life changing big journey.
Unknown Speaker 5:37
Curtis, and thanks so much for sharing that with us. And Chris, I'm now going to ask you to share with us about you and your health experience and conditions as well. Sure. Thanks, Michelle. Hello, everybody.
Unknown Speaker 5:54
I'm Chris, I've been living with severe active rheumatoid arthritis for this is my 36th year. So just to 59 and I was diagnosed at 23.
Unknown Speaker 6:07
It's a family disease. And my first experience of it, I remember really clearly being in an exam at the Alfred hospital when I was a student nurse.
Unknown Speaker 6:17
And my fingers were killing me and I couldn't grip the pen properly. And I remember thinking God, I hope I'm not getting what man has got.
Unknown Speaker 6:26
And I keep going.
Unknown Speaker 6:29
At the end of my staffing year of nursing, I was exhausted, I was burnt out anyway. And I decided, because I had a academic father, and a director of nursing mother that I needed to go to university, I was the eldest child, I was expected to go to university and I hadn't, and I took myself off to Monash to do a science degree,
Unknown Speaker 6:52
which turned out to be the best thing I could ever have done. So I was diagnosed during my first year exams at the end of that first year, after being told by the GP that was all in my head and to go back to work and you know, having MRIs and my disease was rotating around my body. So one week, I'd have this really inflamed foot, and then later be my back. And I was incontinent and I had MRIs and then I'd be my hands and it was awful. And by that time I'd been in the biomedical library a fair bit. And when I walked into see my new young
Unknown Speaker 7:29
rheumatologist to just come back from finishing his training at the Mayo Clinic, and he asked me what I did. And he looked at me and he said, you know what you've got told me and, and that was it. I'm still saying, Stephen, after 35 years, he's not allowed to retire. rheumatoid, it's probably the least sexy autoimmune disease you can get, I think, people think it's an old person's disease. And it's not the peak age of onset is between 20 and 40. And it's usually women.
Unknown Speaker 7:57
I've had, I've lost count of how many surgeries I've had, it would be round, the 35, Mark, got multiple joint replacements, I've got restored don't bend. But through that I've, I'm retired now, but I've navigated a working life, and actually found myself in a position I never thought I would be in and that is
Unknown Speaker 8:15
married and parenting, which is pretty darn good. But you do certainly have a smaller world. And I do find that physically, I have been for a long time on a declining trajectory. And now I'm starting to get secondary autoimmune diseases like thyroid problems and other things that are arising because of my physical state. Yeah. And I think what's very interesting to me, Chris, that you've had, I've learned so much about you in the last six months, too, and part of your experience. And one of the things that we've talked about is this full career like this was not a small career that you went into. And I'm just wondering, yeah, from your perspective, before you came into Queen of the underworld, you were moving to retirement. And your question was, what am I gonna do? And I'm just sort of curious if you want to sort of share just where you are at.
Unknown Speaker 9:08
in that transition.
Unknown Speaker 9:11
Yeah, I, I stopped working couple of years ago, I had eight surgeries in four years, and I just didn't pick up at the end at all. All the joy had gone out of work for me, and I was leading a research team. And we had a lot of money in grants, I had number of postdocs, and I was supposed to be working two days a week. But as with most academic type jobs, they eat up as much of your life as you're prepared to give in, and then all the rest of it if they can. And I've decided to stop and it's taken me a long time to physically I think, get to a phase where I really feel like I want to get back out in the world again. And then of course, COVID has come along in the middle of that too, but had this real desire to find something useful that I can do.
Unknown Speaker 10:00
Where I can give what I can give and not go into overdrive as I used to do and give because I had to and then keep giving at great cost to myself and my family. So Queen of the underworld has really helped me in that space to
Unknown Speaker 10:17
be more comfortable where I'm at and take away that pressure I really felt at the beginning of the course that I needed to find something I really want to do and at the moment, I'm just feeling much more comfortable just spending some time on me instead of everybody else and just exploring what might be good to do and not feeling like I have to rush into it either. And I'd like to catch this I'd like to catch with tenure because it is so common
Unknown Speaker 10:47
this push I talk about it a lot
Unknown Speaker 10:51
and it's important to talk about so in the culture we live in it's but it's it's around push people are working during COVID what we know is that that is bleeding into what used to be private time as well there's an ongoing you can't actually get out and do things even if you're living with chronic illness, other people leaving the house is not happening like so even that quiet time has gone and I think one of the things about that is that we get conditioned because people haven't seen our private world and the quietness that we live in, we get used to pushing when we're on pushing when we're out in the world. And what that does is actually use up all of our excess energy so we're moving into performing wellness, rather than actually honouring where we're at. And I'm just wondering what that has been like where you found that in yourselves and then what the transitions being because I know tenure this has occurred for you working for yourself there has been a transition from the push you were used to like how do you run a business without push? This is weird. So would you like to talk about that first? Perhaps tenure? Yeah, sure. So I was
Unknown Speaker 12:09
like incredibly unwell when you know it at a stage I kind of pushed on living a life of a normal person because I wasn't diagnosed everybody else around you expects you to act in a certain way and then I got to the point where you know I remember I went back to her my T crazily doing building design drafting architecture, the accelerated course which was crazy it was 35 our contact awakened 20 it's the most intense course you can do and then I got to the point where I just couldn't you know, I'd be struggling into the course it was very contact base and I wasn't diagnosed so I wasn't getting the support. So I really crashed I was fine diagnose that Christmas you know after handing me my last assignment and then I had to learn myself boundaries You know, they're just really really important not only with myself, but in every single aspect of my life with my relationships with how I ran my household with everything so and I had a really good rheumatologists in the beginning and also had a GP that was monitoring my diet that worked in and so what was said to me Don't push yourself so if you get to the point where you really feel like you have to push yourself you can't because the first year of going through treatment especially Chronic Fatigue is really vital that you you just take stress away and you just kind of go through the processes so there is treatment for chronic fatigue and central sensitization it varies you have to find your own path with it but there is with work I had obviously I didn't have any money so you know, it was you know, you can't be at a lower point than that you know, there's no help with the government for disability because you haven't been sick for three years you don't have a illness that fits into the cap. So it was just really horrific. I actually fell into my business through someone I used to work for who started their own, I guess so the social Fairtrade enterprise and and then she said, Oh, you know, do you want to sell some of my things, you know, and I said, Okay, and she was really supportive. So she was 20 years older than me and she was working four times as much as me so I started just doing kind of markets and events and stuff like that. So I could choose when I worked, so I might do say Saturday, and then I might take a risk the weekend after and then gradually start to build it up. Having my own business was perfect for me.
Unknown Speaker 15:00
Because I could choose when I wanted to work. And so in the beginning, it was kind of the first year of doing it was a slow burn. But I had a really good team I had support around me intensive, a hackathon. So I had a, I was in the incubator programme at RMIT activator and also joined a pilot programme for the government. Now she graduated on Tuesday. So I had a lot of support with them saying, Okay, do this, do that do that nothing come naturally, quite entrepreneurial. Because I was took forever student studying architecture, building design photography, I had a really strong retail background awaiting Maya, while I was a student. So I kind of knew retail, and then I stuck really true to my values. So my values was not so much about the money. It was more about doing this, right. You know, it's about the people that make it, honouring my customers, you know, to give them a really beautiful product that they'd love given incredible customer service to them, and doing right with whoever I was working with. So that's how it kind of grew. And then there was incredible support for the business. So I've watched a few other startups. But yeah, this is really, yeah, it's growing. And it's been a great model. But in terms of what you sort of mentioned, Michelle, about, if you work from home, if you work for yourself, how do you set boundaries, we've done work here on my couch. And I know at times, because I'm a creative person, I've been zone building my website, or Christmas last year was crazy. I found it hard to switch off. And I think what you need to do is just kind of set boundaries. So next two days are quiet days. For me, I'm not doing anything major. I also work with different people that helped me streamline things. So I could do all my social media for two hours for the week, and that kind of things. So it was a lot of just trial and error. And just being committed to doing that and having the right people around me. So you absolutely need to put yourself first. So one of the things I've noticed for you tenure is, firstly, there was all this financial support that you had no idea about, and you got into the RMIT incubator there were grants like this was, if you'd set out to start a business, like, that's not going to be obvious, but for you, because you fell into it, there was this financial support. And I think what that has revealed to me, it's my own experience. And it's what I also watched with women in terms of meaningful work. And the spinning entrepreneurship or the spoony job is that there are places there are ways for it to unfold in a way that works for you. And the other thing I've watched you do is you have built this business slowly. So your health is now at a much stronger capacity than it was three years ago. But three years ago, you were doing it gently, slowly. And you were very strategic about what you took on as a task. And what beat you beat off to chew at any time. And that's something that
Unknown Speaker 18:18
comes from an inner knowing, but it's also something we can learn. And Chris, I want to bring you in on this because just today, we had Queen of the underworld this morning, Wednesday is going to the underworld. And Chris was sharing about what happened when she knew that part time in the academic world was the only way for her to go. And I'm wondering if you would share that story again.
Unknown Speaker 18:43
When I got my dream job, exactly, yeah, which I'd mapped up. So I'd made it to associate professor in my mid 30s, which I was quite proud of. And because I just got married and Ian and I were trying to have a baby which was difficult on my drug. So I had to modify my drug treatment majorly. And it was pretty hard. I was headhunted for an associate professors job between a local university and a local big private Catholic hospital. So I took it on but part time and I made it very hard for myself in order to manage my health and fit in with what ended up being doing IVF and everything else. I used to spread my halftime load over the week, so I could get to the Badger meetings on campus, which was 10 minutes one way and I could do all the things I needed to do at the hospital which was 10 minutes the other way and still have rest and do everything else. Once I had a baby
Unknown Speaker 19:43
that went out the window, and I was kind of invisible to both employees because I had two days a week childcare and I was doing a lot of work at home. And you know I made this ridiculous bid for myself because I made myself so visible and so available before even though I was
Unknown Speaker 20:00
managing it. And it really worked for me, it didn't work for me anymore. And at the end of my contract, the dean called me in and said,
Unknown Speaker 20:09
it's been great, we want you to come on full time. And as I opened my mouth to say, I can't do that I want to stay part time, which I was struggling with Anyway, she said, it's full time or nothing. Because I was in an environment very much where women worked full time, they struggled through doing PhDs and having families because it was nursing. So when I started doing my PhD first and then got into it, most of them had done it the other way. And we were encouraging all these young women to come in doing PhDs starting to do postdocs and telling them that they could make academic life flexible and family friendly.
Unknown Speaker 20:45
And very plainly, it wasn't going to be like that at all. And I very clearly sat there and just said, No.
Unknown Speaker 20:54
And I walked away at the age of what I was 3839 walked away from what had been my dream research position, just as I was building up all the contexts and everything else. And and then I walked away from the university, because as it turned out, everyone who was my pa the day before, suddenly thought that here I was at a loose end, and I could stay home and write their grants for. And I got out. Yep, absolutely the right thing to do. Yeah, yeah. And what I heard you say today is you've never regretted that.
Unknown Speaker 21:31
You knew it was the right decision. Yep. Yeah. And then, would you like to share with us just a little bit next chapter of that story, then as you went looking for jobs, I had an unusual skill set. So I've worked over the next 10 years, I worked in some fantastic health related jobs where I really looked at health through a different lens. So Professional Regulation and private health insurance. And they were really fantastic things to do. I was very clear with all of those jobs that I only wanted part time, and I disclosed my illness in all of them. Yeah, I was confident they wanted me by that stage. But I was very clear about what I couldn't, couldn't do. And I purposely picked jobs to where I wasn't going to be pestered out of hours.
Unknown Speaker 22:19
And I wasn't going to have to do a lot of them, negotiating the out of hours, phone calls and things like that. But there was one job I went for, there was a new position that was being put up, and I could see they were pleased that I was what they wanted. And then it was supposed to be a full time job. And I said, I can't do it full time. And this is why, you know, I have a four year old I have,
Unknown Speaker 22:42
and I have rheumatoid arthritis. And I could see the guy in charge, his face just drop.
Unknown Speaker 22:49
And he just looked at me and he said, I need your full time. And I actually turned around very cheeky and said to him, if I had the capacity to do this job full time, I would be running, I would be in your position running my own research group, not here. Working for you know, I wasn't gonna get the job, at least the system rang me up in exchange for that. So sorry, you were perfect for this. And it was fine. I was glad I didn't have it. You're just you don't need it. And it's the only job you went for and didn't get as well. All the other ones you turn here.
Unknown Speaker 23:23
Yeah, yeah, or one job was interesting. They had two jobs going. One was full time. And one was part time. And I got called in and interviewed. And then I didn't hear anything. This was at medibank, private for about four weeks, and I thought what's going on, then I got called back to another interview. And they started just chattering away to me very excited. And it took me about 10 minutes to work out that they were offering me a job. And it was all the good bits for me out of those two jobs created into three days a week.
Unknown Speaker 23:52
And I worked there for four years, and I was wonderful. It was really good. But you know, so the thing I've always told other women, especially other women academics, when I've spoken to them about career things is don't think you have to stay on that pathway and keep moving forward. Because we get so siloed and so narrow and so focused, and to step back and go sideways, creates you look on the same problems in the same disciplinary through a completely different lens. And that breadth is something really quite special. And you met you won't it's not a straightforward career progression. But it's probably the only one I could have had that I could physically manage and enjoy my son and, you know, keep my marriage in a good place and all of those things that
Unknown Speaker 24:50
but it was also really interesting and challenging as a person to have that proof.
Unknown Speaker 24:57
Yeah, and you do go deep in it.
Unknown Speaker 25:00
But it worked for me. And I think the thing was to just not be afraid to look at things and go well, I'll explore that. Yeah. And to go and meet people and think, Okay, well, yeah, I like you. I like what you're doing. And I'm, I think I'd like to work with you. Yeah. And one of the things I just want to pop in here with is that, so when we hear these stories, and we hear Chris's story, and we think, oh, that's just Chris, like, we just think odd. But that doesn't happen for everybody else, or whatever. That's just Chris. And then I want to share that I have done the same thing. And it really is a sense of I turned up, that was a full time job. And I said, I can do this part time, my money available three days a week. And I think all of the jobs I applied for I then said that too. And I think only one said no, but I didn't just apply for part time jobs. I also applied for full time jobs, and then was strategic around it. I'm now in a situation says two things. And this is the crossover is
Unknown Speaker 26:07
I never intended to run my own business. And I certainly never intended to run one around chronic kills. Okay, that was never my intention. And much like 10 year, I sort of fell into it. But what's happening at the moment is that I'm having conversations with corporate HR people and execs at that level, and chronic illnesses. Now, because of COVID. And everybody working from home, it has more visibility in the workplace in that people have worked out, people can work from home, and remotely. And they've also started, there's a big shift in visibility around chronic illness, it's gonna take a little bit of time, but the shift is on. And just yesterday, I was in a conversation with the head of people and culture for a national organisation. And the three questions she asked me were,
Unknown Speaker 26:57
what sort of conversations should we be having? When should we be having them? And how do we have them without offending anybody. And I have to say, for the 15 years that I've worked as like, nobody ever asked me any of those questions, and I had to work out how to navigate that for myself. But that's one of the beauties of where we are now. Because it's not just Chris or 10 year old me, or any of the other women that we know that we've had on these panels, or in the pyjama interviews, the shift is on. And then it's really is just a matter of opening strategically to how that's going to work for you. The next thing I really want to explore with both of you is how you find your ground and your power when you feel wobbly. And when you're navigating something that is emotionally tricky. And the ways I want to talk about this is both of you have done work with me around the queen, the warrior and the wise woman. And Chris, I'm wondering, we might come to you and then tell you, we might speak with you as well about this empowerment that you find even in the midst of your own body. Chris, would you like just to share a little bit about, you know, what you've discovered in the last six months about your own power and where you are operating from?
Unknown Speaker 28:19
Yeah, it's been a fascinating journey. And I still feel very much sort of in the middle of it, too. A lot of it, I think, for me, liking to intellectualise everything has been finding a framework and words things to put around how I was feeling.
Unknown Speaker 28:39
And to give myself self space to reflect back on where I've been or where I've come to, but also to really find my ground and operate from my maturity much more, especially in relationships with family, not so much my partner, but certainly with my son, and my mother especially. And that's been fantastic. And all in all, I feel much calmer, and I want to take on what's happening with COVID, much less angry, which is good when they did that through what we've done. And I think we talked a lot about the warrior woman who stands at our boundary, and I think realising that I could step back and just look after me. And not what I gave everybody else this space was was really important because I've always been in there sorting everybody else out or concert or running around at their beck and call, which I think is happening to a lot of us that have got teenagers or young adult children and ageing parents as well. You're sort of stuck in the middle.
Unknown Speaker 29:58
And that's been a
Unknown Speaker 30:00
Really good feeling to be able to really come into myself that way. Yeah, and I feel I feel much more calm and adult in the way I can deal with things, I think there were a lot of decisions that were being made early in the process that we're coming from, from a much younger me, a very good girl who always done the right thing. And was the part of me that from above, my parents was always the one that was acknowledged. Yeah, always, that's been my role as the eldest child of three brothers, the only girl, that good girl has been the part of me that my parents always sort of valued. And it has been such a relief and such a joy to be able to step out of that, and just be me. And within with that, it has come quite a shift in my relationship with my mum, which is fantastic. And in a short period of time, in a short period, cause Yeah, one of the things and I'd really love you to share just practically, what has that shift been for you? Like being the good daughter, the eldest daughter got two people and a lot of expectation on yourself about giving, doing more, even living with chronic illness, that push was really strong in the family. Yeah. So what have you done or changed practically, to transform that relationship? I've said no more.
Unknown Speaker 31:30
And I've done things when I've been able to do them, not just when I've been asked to do them, or I've planned things. So my mom's just had a knee replacement. And we sort of I sort of said to her beforehand, I can, I can do this and this and this, but I can't do these other things. And lo and behold, everything got done, because my sister in laws and my brothers actually stepped up, which they normally wouldn't do, because I would do it all. And I mean, first as well. You jump. As expected I live closest.
Unknown Speaker 32:10
Was there edits been really good that sharing around? It's been good for everybody in the family? actually. Yeah, it's been it's, it was actually really nice to have everybody participating in a way that like, and have you managed any guilt or other people's backlash, or just those feelings you would have had previously from the good girl who just thought this was not possible to do otherwise? Well, the lack of backlash has been lovely. Yeah. Yeah. There have been no negative consequences at all. Yeah, what a shame. I didn't figure it out. 20 years ago. Yeah.
Unknown Speaker 32:46
But yeah, I think you just get stuck in these patterns. Yeah. And, and finally, to break out of some of those, and say, okay, you know, I could always do it with work. It was always hard with home, you know, yeah. I always had good boundaries at work. You know, I refused to have a work phone. And they would contact me by email, because I could control when I got on check the emails and dealt with the work, and they knew that they would get things within 48 hours. But not only that,
Unknown Speaker 33:18
but not to expect anything earlier than that. So deal with it while I'm here or wait. And that was really good. Otherwise, you would have been on the phone all the time. But yeah, family is another ballgame completely. Yeah. And the intimacy of those relationships in the long history in the way that it gets entrenched. So Tanya, I'm curious about you, and the ship that you've found in your own sense of power over the last five years, because living with chronic illness and not being diagnosed, and then going through diagnosis and not being validated or not having the support? What has worked for you practically, in growing your own confidence over the last five years.
Unknown Speaker 34:02
I think the biggest shift for me was and it took a while, was having the conversations with family members that really mattered. So I'm thinking in particular, my father, because my mother's passed away. So my father was, Oh, you know, my father's an immigrant. So he was the one that came to Australia with a suitcase and built his company, and he did that and trying to get through to him, that I wasn't okay. So his partner used to come and stay with me. So when I had in my ride, so I wasn't coping at all. She'd come and stay with me. So she saw firsthand and so she was also advocating for me with my father a bit. It was really I think about two or three conversations that I had personally with my dad, and just sort of said, Look, I I can't do what you want, you know.
Unknown Speaker 35:00
It's just not possible. And then when he gets there, I think the hardest thing is especially, I can imagine we've had been rheumatoid arthritis riders, it's really difficult in in to people. No. I think the other thing with having, say central sensitization with no, and most people don't understand that by Google, and it doesn't even explain it. And then Chronic Fatigue is, you know, there's so many myths around it is, people think it's something that it's not, you know, it's, you know, you're depressed, or you'd be so good that and, but it's not, it's a real condition is changes in the brain and nervous systems. So when I could have those conversations around, these are my boundaries, this is what I'm capable of. And then also myself actually accepted where I was there. I'm like, okay, because I kept wanting to be something that I wasn't at that time. Yeah, I said to myself, Oh, I don't, I don't know if I'm ever going to get well. And I'm, this is where I met. And that's it. And then all that pressure came off me. And then once I accepted me, then things changed. I mean, luckily for me, once accepted, where I will say, I did start to get better. And probably because a lot of the pressure was taken off. But it also took a long time. So So putting boundaries in terms of how I was going to live my life. And obviously, with family relationships with a new one that said, all relationships with anyone, it's, it's not smooth sailing, you know, and I've certainly made so many mistakes, and probably people around me have made sort of, we've acted awkwardly, but I think the most CMEs, just to be kind to yourself, because we're only doing what we can at the time that we're in it. So we can only do the best that we can at the time that we can. And I was striving for a really long time, I kind of realised recently to kind of be this person, emotionally and with people. And I thought, Well, I'm not, I'm not really there yet, you know, I still got that bit to work from because we central sensitization, we go into fight and flight, we can overreact, we can get over emotional, and we don't want to do that. So start having boundaries around, okay, instead of actually sending a text, I will write it and write it and write it and I won't send it or stuff like that, yeah, just kind of accepting where you are. And then hopefully, people around you will kind of be quite forgiving as well. So yeah, it's also a change that happens. And I want to be clear about this, too. So there's parts of us that are good at showing up in certain relationships and certain ways, and we can keep our cool in those. And I'm really aware that when I'm having conversations, that I really want to be transparent with everybody, including every other woman that I interface with in this sort of spinny domain. This is an ongoing process for me and this relationship about how to manage relationships when my anxiety rises, or when my uncertainty rises, or what activates that. And I always like to think there are limitless opportunities for me to grow and mature and I will be presented with them over and over. And that's one of the things I think about this to 10 years, I think that we get some grounded skills, and then we get the opportunity to strengthen and mature those. And usually the wobble is actually it looks like the wobbles the terrible thing or the anxieties, the terrible thing. And it is certainly not pleasant. And we know when we're off centre, but the wobble is usually an indication that the emotions have been bubbling away for a long period of time. And that we're only just now getting to the awareness of this is not okay anymore. And this has to stop. And you don't even need to know in that moment what the change is. But knowing that actually it's been going on for a while, give us your sense, your nervous system, a little bit of relaxation to ease back. Because what we can do in those times is say who I should be, or who I aspire to be. And then we have that gap between who we aspire to be and who we are. And then you know, God knows he had social media and everything else into that or family dynamics net and it's just drive yourself crazy. So I always had the thought in my mind of whoever is saying it in the room at the time,
Unknown Speaker 39:44
gets to be the person to lead the conversation. Sometimes that will be me and sometimes that will be somebody else and if there isn't an adult in the room despite despite everybody being 50 and over, then we need to recognise that there isn't an adult in the room.
Unknown Speaker 40:00
And the signer person is the one who recognises nobody's in there at all. Like, that's might be as much as you get in the moment of the conversation. Yeah. So I think that what you've done, this was not easy for you tenure with your dad, either, like your dad is a fixed person, he has some strong views, and you've managed to navigate that. And it's also the case that, you know, at this point in time, that emotional catching up emotionally with where you've been, is the next level of work. Is that right? Really tenure for you? Yeah, yeah. I mean, physically, and in other aspects of my life, I feel in a really good place. And you're so the next speaker is kind of, you know, it took me a really long time to be able to have conversations adequately with people. So I actually had to work on that. So I've worked on that, but it's just kind of managing, you know, my emotions, too, because I'll get over it upset. And you know, so I know that I do that. And so that's kind of the next step. But he actually said a really good point they that they had to talk, but yeah, I mean, we've had many conversations about things, and there's just been so many lightbulb moments, you know, so and it's been invaluable. So yeah, yeah. And we're not always going to be perfect. Yeah, no, with you crease, you had a really good outcome. But for some of us, it's not quite like that. And I know some people with chronic illness will say, oh, walk away from that relationship. But some of us can't, you know, we've, we still got to negotiate those relationships and just sort of see, well, how can we do this? While we're kind of not always Okay, so yeah.
Unknown Speaker 41:48
It's not hard. It's just learning new skills. And it's learning how to make it easier. That's what I'm all I'm always interested in the easiest way. For this to go for me and the other person. And sometimes, it looks like the easiest way is counterintuitive, actually speaking, when you feel so frightened to speak actually can be the easiest thing to do the easiest way for everybody to get over it. Yeah. Yeah, I don't think I always made it easy either. And, certainly, the I had a couple of years off at different times, after I left academia to so where God just needed the space and either left a job or to leave of absence for 12 months. So because I'm also parenting a boy on the autism spectrum, so that was interesting going in the early years, too.
Unknown Speaker 42:46
Although he's an amazingly together, young man, and he's always been sucked cepting of who he is much more so than I was, and confident in himself. Yeah, he's also the adult in the room in our house.
Unknown Speaker 43:01
At least now, you know, to recognise who's the adult or when you're not in it. I think that's the trick. Yeah, it's pretty good. But it Yay. Yeah, I'm happy with how things have gone. But it certainly wasn't easy. And I've certainly made plenty of mistakes on the way I think you've just, you know,
Unknown Speaker 43:19
as I keep saying to Dan to, you know, you're not not going to get it right all the time. But, you know, you only get one go. So you just got to start again. And yeah, that's okay. You know, trying and failings. Alright, but yeah, you've got to try in your own time and space to and many, many times I pushed way too hard. Yeah. Because it was what was expected. And I thought I could fit that mould. Yeah, but I'm very much brought up in that environment of if you're just driving harder, you can get there. And it's, it's just rubbish with what we literally. Yes. You know, it's absolute. Lee, just rubbish. And you had some of those feelings coming into retirement, but that's now shifted. You're not even looking for a solution this time now? A meaning in that way? No, no, no, I'm actually enjoying trying to enjoy the opportunity of just, everybody's at home. We're all Well, we're all safe. We're all together. And that's good. Yeah. And yeah, things will come and look where I've landed up here.
Unknown Speaker 44:30
Last night, yeah. Thank you. Actually, I had a similar situation where during COVID actually got a full time job.
Unknown Speaker 44:40
Gracious, yeah, I did so and my business just peaked just before it. I got this job. So I was really disappointed. That took months to begin to go through federal police check. And it was working for the government. So I worked there for not long
Unknown Speaker 45:00
About three weeks.
Unknown Speaker 45:03
And it's not 2015 that you do in COVID. In uncertain times, it's like your job to issue your business video, I made that decision. And I did have a few friends that are high achievers to say to me I you know, we're actually disappointed she put out but now they sort of say the opposite, you know, so you just got to trust that you're doing the right thing. So yeah, I don't it all regret, sort of walking away from that job. And I did feel really terrible, because I felt like oh, well, you know, they've invested so much into me, they've taken me on, I've gone through this massive recruitment process. And but I wrote a really lovely email, and they took this job waiting for you at any time, if you want one. So at least I've had it on, you know, good terms. Yeah, I think that, yeah. And those jobs can often come with a lot of pressure that is different to the flexibility. One of the things, I don't think it's about running a business or not running a business, or having a job or not having a job, it's about how we navigate that in the times where the uncertainty for us physically or emotionally is very hard, because we all know how to navigate it, when we've got enough certainty or enough capacity, but how to navigate it when it's higher. And I think that that is totally possible. And there are particular ways in which you can practically do that. And one of them is exactly what you've said, Chris, and Tanya, and part of that is your authentic No. Because when people know that your know is honest and real. And it's not something you're trying to say, but not really willing to back up with your energy, that no can often bring a shift in what the possibilities are.
Unknown Speaker 46:55
Absolutely gorgeous, definitely. So what some of your experiences, Michelle,
Unknown Speaker 47:03
in terms of the nose, so what I have learned to do is work with the push. It turns up in me, it's very strong, my background is leaving home at 17. living on my own for a very long period of time not being partnered until the last four years, and always providing for myself. So it's actually illness that has taught me how magical things can be, which is bizarre. Because I've been bed bound twice in the last decade for long periods of time. I was employed for each of them. But it worked different ways. The first time with the auto immune life threatening illness, and it wasn't clear if I was going to live, I was absolutely terrified. I didn't have
Unknown Speaker 47:53
savings, I'd been sick for a long time getting sicker and not knowing really that actually this was a problem. I had no sick leave left with my job. And I was deeply terrified. And what I did was the thing that we all find hardest to do is there was no choice but to ask for help. I actually had to ask for help. And I actually had to say what was happening. And two things made that possible. First was I had a mentor who was much older than me and immediately said, I'm going to put $5,000 in your bank account. And that was mind blowing for me. Because I'd been raised in a family where money was not the thing you did for other people and you were responsible for yourself. And if you were not able to finance yourself, no matter what your circumstance, you had failed. And you were a failure as a person. And illness taught me this, it taught me how to ask for help. And that all my help was different to what my family thought it was. And in fact that the story I had from my family was the opposite of what actually was in my life. And so I didn't know that was that was actually what normal people did. And I didn't know that resource was available. The other thing that happened at that time is I worked out that my superannuation had income protection, also something I didn't know. The second time I was bed bound, it was trickier. I was three days into my dream job, three days into it. And it hit me out of the blue and I got vertigo and I couldn't walk and I wasn't able to walk for about nine months. And then I was able to walk very widely. I was able to keep my job. And one of the ways that worked out is that I had a colleague and they valued me from my intellectual capacity was fine. It's just I couldn't walk and my
Unknown Speaker 49:48
typing on screens was I couldn't read I couldn't watch TV. It was just I couldn't do anything because of the sensitization was extreme. But I could share my brain
Unknown Speaker 50:00
And ideas if I put my phone on speaker and put it away from me.
Unknown Speaker 50:05
And all of that has taught me at the times where financially we are taught that we're a burden or financially, we feel there is no way possible. Actually, things can be possible. And there are ways to be open to that. And the survival instinct and the survival anxiety that comes up, often closes us and tells us there is no option I've failed, there's nowhere to go. And in fact, I've seen it happen over and over.
Unknown Speaker 50:35
And I've seen it happen in Queen of the underworld. I've seen women come in and think, you know, who has this amount of money sitting around in their bank account to do Queen of the underworld. And it is magical. What happens when instead of, we say we can't do something, and the finances are gripping us to say, how might it be possible? And it's just regardless, I just want to share that it doesn't matter what the thing is. My question now is always, how might this be possible? Not how do I work out how to do the thing that everybody else wants me to do? So that's how I've worked that out. And yeah,
Unknown Speaker 51:14
thank you for asking. And it's a practice. And I work with, you know, the fear, she comes up and I work with the trust of knowing that I've always got it, I'm always going to be able to access it, there's always going to be intuition is always going to be insight, there's always going to be information. My job is to work out how to hold myself open for that information to come.
Unknown Speaker 51:41
You do not have to live a life, where your dreams, your love your career, anything that is in your heart is stymied, and never to be experienced, because you are living with chronic illness. That is a story we are told about chronic illness. So we're told when we're chronically unwell, that it's over, your dreams are over, the possibilities are over, there is no way for you to go. And what you want, has to be second, third, fourth, fifth or everything else. And that is not the case. And the reason I want to share that with us, because it's fundamentally untrue for the first thing, it's not my experience, and it's not your experience, once you start to look at how deep your power is. And the first part of that is shifting the story of illness that you've inherited into the story that is honestly, truthfully and magnificently yours. The second thing about that is that we are taught we need to push, we need to accommodate everybody, we need to be the good girl, or if we have an explosive tantrum, it's over. And we're on just this consistent emotional wobble while living with chronic illness. One of the things I know is that you are an intelligent, creative, talented woman, you wouldn't be in connection with me if you weren't, you have worked out 1000 things before we met, you've worked out how to have jobs, you've worked out how to study, you've worked out how to be creative, you know how to work things out. And what I am sharing with you and Queen of the underworld is how to find a way through and work it out with chronic illness, press or tenure. If there's anything you want to extra share on that process. Chris, I think for me, being in the space with the other women in the group has been wonderful, too, because you're with a group of women that get it. Yeah. And we're on the same journey even though our experiences have been very different. And what we want out of it is often different to
Unknown Speaker 53:48
it's a wonderful community. Yeah. And it's been very, very valuable. And we've got women who from 26, we've got two women who are actually bed bound during the course. And it sounds crazy to say, but they are flourishing. You're not like we have one beautiful woman with a remarkable women. These women are the people who you would think you would be told well you're bed bound there's nothing to change the experience. So just incredible. Yeah, wonderful women that I would never have been in contact with. Otherwise, can you say anything else you want to share before we close out about your business? Actually, one thing I wanted to share I have a Facebook page put my central sensitization journey. So Michelle, you want might want to share that and it's purely when I started doing my treatment I just put posted, this is what I have. This is what I've tried. And here it is, you know go and give it a go. And I did want to add a few things. So we've spoken about this quite a bit and I have with other friends of mine that I'm in close contact with. We found for us there were quite a few things.
Unknown Speaker 55:00
It really made a really big difference in our recovery. You know, obviously diet movement and a really important part was the emotional how you actually emotionally dealt with what was going on for you. And we thought it was really imperative coaches. Thank you so much, Chris, and Tanya, for joining us for the conversation.
Unknown Speaker 55:26
This conversation was magical, and I'm so thrilled that we were able to bring you more conversations, more connections, more power with women, magnificent women living with chronic illness. As I mentioned during the podcast, we are now open for the eight month immersion of Queen of the underworld. You can book a consultation call with me, it's completely complimentary. We can talk about anything that's important to you. We offer one subsidised scholarship for every course that we do. And I've worked with lots of women about how to get the financial support you need in order for you to do the programme that works for you. All of the details are at the web page, Michelle irving.com.au. And you can follow me on Instagram at Michelle Irving official. You can follow Tanya from tonight's episode at Kochi eco shop on Instagram. And the beautiful Crispin LAN is a private citizen and so you'll find her connection in our pyjama interviews Facebook group, which is totally free, and you're also welcome and deeply invited to share. I look forward to sharing more with you next week. Thank you so much. And I wish you the deepest love, meaningful work and your own sense of deep personal power while living with chronic illness.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai