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The Body at Work

“Even if everyone around you knows that you are unwell, you are still expected — and expect yourself to be — a “wellness warrior.” Valiantly fighting the good fight. Resilient to a fault. Tireless, impressive, and utterly independent.” – Sarah Ramey

When you have a chronic illness or chronic pain, not only does your ability to navigate life feel slippery, but you feel like you get through a basic day held together by the metaphorical providence of bandaids and a prayer. The thing is, we might look fine, healthy, and all of that, but our lab results show something different. And, the experience inside our bodies is anything but normal. The biggest challenge is being believed versus being told that “it’s all in your head” and battling the expectations we hold for ourselves as we wander in the valleys of what is often a circuitous (and confusing) healing process (which sometimes is a chronic condition–meaning that the ups and downs are the path one is on). 

Adding a normal workday on top of that is daunting. Adding the workflow and pace of a job at a stressful high-growth organization to that mix and you’ve got a fast track to burnout, despair, depression, or any of those other unpleasant things that happen to very under-resourced bodies under extreme stress. 

Frequent trips to the doctor’s office, supplements on top of treatments after treatments, and the drain on the wallet and the psyche take a toll as well. With chronic illness, chronic pain, and other mystery ailments, regardless of diagnosis crossing the threshold into this territory can mean giving up identities, dreams, and ambitions (as well as bad habits and lifestyles that didn’t serve our well-being). Even with treatment, sometimes that old self doesn’t come back. Anyone who finds themselves on this path remains changed (hopefully for the better in some ways). 

Optimally, this new normal is often a radically different way of being that’s differently attuned to the nuances of how well you feel and what you need. Even if the illness/ailments/pain doesn’t entirely go away, one becomes more aware of their inner resources: their energy, their need for rest and boundaries, and their need for nourishment. (Things we most often blip right over as we speed through our entrepreneurial days, amirite?)

In this conversation with Liz and Mollie, we sit down to talk about what chronically ails us, how we manage it, and our work world. We talk about spoon theory, the uncertainty of not knowing what’s wrong, what to do when grit and “doing all the right things” doesn’t get you out of it, when not to suggest Ginger tea, and how to hold space and offer support for the folks in your life and work-life with chronic illness or chronic pain.  


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