Well, this isn’t a podcast I had planned for this season, but here we are. In this episode I share more about my decision to take May off of Blue Jay of Happiness work, the health stuff going on behind the scenes and how I’m coping with some of the shameful feelings coming up.
I so appreciate your support and can’t wait to come back in June. Listen to this episode wherever you get your podcasts on here:
Links and further reading
- What is spoon theory?
- Sasha from Frank and Feel
- Seriously, you have to see Antelope canyon
- Follow me on TikTok
Today I’m talking more about the month off I’m taking in May, the physical health stuff behind it all and how I’m dealing with some of the shameful feelings I’ve had around it all. Let’s get into it.
Hello you, how are you doing? So, this is definitely not an episode I had planned for this season, but here we are. As you’ll know by the title of this podcast, I’m taking a month off Blue Jay of Happiness which is my confidence mentoring business I run part-time. And today I wanted to talk a bit more about why and some of the tricky emotions that have come up for me.
And to start it all off, I have to talk about Covid. Last year, 2021, I caught Covid twice. The first time was in August and it wasn’t too bad, it basically felt like a heavy cold, and we all know it could have been so much worse – I think the vaccine helped me there. And I recovered pretty well after a couple of weeks.
I then caught it again in December and honestly, it was SO mild. I had a headache, a scratchy throat and was a little achey… the only reason I decided to get a PCR test was because I had Christmas parties and gatherings to go to and I wanted to be sure. I tested negative in time to see family on Christmas day, but I remember vividly on that day feeling tired and achey, but I put it down to the fact I wasn’t quite fully recovered yet.
When January came, I’d decided to join RED January, a campaign that challenges people to move intentionally every day in January to raise money for charity. I thought more movement would help my fatigue and joint pain and at first – it seemed to. I was doing dance workouts, yoga, going for walks. But as the month wore on, my symptoms got worse and by the end of the month I was crying after yoga because of the pain and stuck to very minimal stretching.
I’d also noticed some heavy spotting between periods and I realised I needed to see a doctor. That appointment went well, I had physical exams and blood taken to check my thyroid, iron levels and any vitamin deficiencies. When I called for the test results I was told they were all normal and that no further action was needed. When of course I felt like further action was very much needed because I was still in a lot of pain. So I asked for a follow-up call with a doctor and the receptionist was confused because my test results were “fine”, but agreed to schedule an appointment. I then waited for 4 weeks for a 10 minute phone call with a doctor who was pretty preoccupied with my weight and lifestyle habits and told me I needed to go outside for more walks. I asked her what she thought it was and she said ‘post-viral arthralgia’ which is basically post-viral joint pain.
After that call I felt pretty dejected and low, but I thought I had to try. So I got out for more walks, but things only got worse. The pain started waking me up at night and I was feeling utterly wiped out from longer walks like going into town. It’s funny, I’ve read a lot about spoon theory at work, but I’ve never really known what it means to be out of spoons, but now I know I’ve felt it in my bones. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, spoon theory is a tool the chronic illness community uses to explain being out of energy and it is very different from just feeling tired. I’ll put a link to a brilliant article my colleague wrote on the subject in the show-notes.
So yes, by this point it was the end of March and I decided I needed to go back to the doctor, but I didn’t want to talk to the same doctor or have to wait 4 weeks, so I used my health insurance I get through work and spoke to a private doctor. They were very understanding and have referred me to a rheumatologist, who I’ll be speaking to, if you’re listening to this the day it goes live, tomorrow. And I’m hoping I will be getting some answers.
Through all of this, work has felt hard. Like clockwork at the end of the workday I get a headache and a cloud of exhaustion. By the time I get to Fridays, I feel spent. And I was starting to feel like I just couldn’t do Blue Jay work. Not because I didn’t want to… I’ve been so excited about Blue Jay work this year, I’ve tightened up my niche and messaging, I’m working on my first course which I am so excited about… but my body was just spent.
Around this time I noticed Sasha from Frank and Feel was talking about taking a month off each quarter to replenish energy and not head into burnout. It made me think back to the last extended break I had from Blue Jay, which was when I burnt out in 2020. I took about 2 months off then because I simply couldn’t keep going.
The idea of taking a break before reaching that point made so much sense to me. And of course, I have my day-job which pays the bills, so the only way I can reduce workload right now is to cut Blue Jay work. So that’s where the decision came to take May off of Blue Jay work.
But I would be lying if I said this decision came freely and easily. There has been some shame that’s come up. A small voice saying “you’re already doing the bare minimum with your business, can you really not sustain even that?” or “you’re half-way through a podcast season, can you not just at least finish it?” there’s even been thoughts about me not being capable of creating a course and maybe that’s really why I want a break.
But when these shameful voices come up, I zoom out. I remind myself of what I’m going through, not only physically, but mentally. Being in pain every single day is exhausting. I remember seeing something online about chronic pain that describes it like this: most days: this isn’t so bad, this isn’t so bad, this isn’t so bad, every now and then: oh my god I can’t cope, this is horrendous, why is this happening to me, then back to: this isn’t so bad. And I really relate to that, most days I can cope, but now and then I feel overwhelmed by it. I cry about the things I don’t have energy for, I cry about the pain and how unrelenting it is. It’s a lot.
And even if I wasn’t going through this, taking breaks to support your energy and avoid burnout is an incredible thing. When we zoom out further we see what’s been happening in the world the last few years, we are all, on some level, exhausted. And we all have different capacities and I’m learning not to feel shame about my own.
So, that is why I’m taking May off. And I’m not expecting the month to be over and for me to magically be better and not in pain, but I’m hoping the break will refresh me and that I’ll have learnt a bit more about what it is that’s going on, whether it’s long-covid, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (which were all mentioned by the last doctor I spoke to) or something else entirely. Hopefully I’ll know how to manage it better.
And I feel excited for the break. It feels very different to the break I took in 2020 when I was burnt out. Then I didn’t know if I was going to come back to Blue Jay work at all… this time I know I am and I will be picking up exactly where I left off.
It also helps that for the first two weeks of May I’ll be off my day-job too and most of it will be spent on a big family holiday in Arizona. I haven’t been away since just before covid all kicked off and the idea of being in a different country, of seeing incredible sights like the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon (which I recommend googling to see pictures of) is just so, so exciting.
The rest of the month I will be working my day-job, but Fridays will be free for rest, creativity, anything I need before returning in June. So there won’t be any podcasts or newsletters in May and I’m planning on taking a break from social media… the only potential exception being TikTok because I’m having a lot of fun over there and I don’t want to hold myself back from stuff that feels fun, so that will be the place I’m most likely to pop up in May, maybe with some Arizona content, so follow me @katbluejay there if you want to see that!
When I get back I’m going to continue this season of the podcast, I’ll continue writing newsletters, I’ll continue an Instagram live series I started, interviewing fellow creatives about all things confidence and I will continue working on my confidence for creatives course. And I’m excited about all of it.
But now, it’s time to listen to my body and mind. I hope you can do the same and take what you need right now. Thank you so much for your support and understanding through this, it honestly means the world. I’ll be back in June… but until then – take care.
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