The Life Lessons I Learnt Following My Stressful Year

Today I share with you some important life lessons I learnt following a really stressful year.  I really feel like the last 12 months have been such a journey of self-discovery for me; you might also see quite a few common threads between my last 12 months and some of the feelings that I had and your own fertility journey.

If you’re on my email list, you might remember that 6 months ago I sent out an email that said “I’m sorry. This is it. It’s the end. I’m going to have to shut everything down because my husband and my daughter have been in hospital, and I can’t do it anymore.  I’m retiring. It’s all over.” That’s how I really felt at the time, but here I am.

Things started shifting in my life, even though I sent the email out almost 12 months ago, July 2018.  I had Olivia and decided that I wasn’t going to go back to work in the office and proceeded to work from home running my business, and I was doing one-to-one fertility coaching.

Honestly, I feel so called to work in this space with you. The way that this journey affected me, I feel really called to make the journey lighter for fertility warriors and to help you have success on your journey. Mostly, I know that a lot of us know what we need to know, but it’s that knowledge-action gap putting it into place, and that’s where I feel really called is to assist you – in implementing the things that I know that you know you should be doing, to make it a lot easier for you.

I felt really called, but I felt really lonely. Working at home by myself was kind of suffocating and lonely even though I was working with beautiful clients every day, and I’ve come to discover since then that it’s my personality that I need meaningful relationships in my life.

I’ve done a lot of personality tests, and one called the PH360 Health Type Test came back that I’m a connector. Human interaction is like my life force. I was in this quandary that I was doing work that I love just just really suffering socially, and it was in July that I said to Ross, “I think I’m going to need to go back to work in an office full-time because not a lot of part-time work exists.  I just feel so out of balance right now.”

Just like kismet, at the end of July, I was approached to work part-time in a job that I can literally only describe as pretty much having my perfect conditions. They make me lunch every day! 

Then, at the beginning of September, as many of you know, I ended up rushing Ross to the hospital. He collapsed at the hospital and started going in and out of consciousness, which turned out to be a ruptured spleen, which was the shock of my life. Honestly, when he collapsed in the emergency room, I was filled with all sorts of panic and fear that he’d had a stroke, or a heart attack, or something and literally had died in my arms in the triage, which he didn’t thankfully.  He ended up being in the hospital for 5 nights.  I’m very grateful that we have the medical care that we do here in Australia, but it was such a shock.

Then, the next weekend, Olivia was in hospital, and Ross ended up contracting an infection and was just going downhill.  So I was juggling Olivia who is sick and Ross who is sick, and then had to rush Ross back to hospital the next weekend. He had two collapsed lungs, he had further internal bleeding, and his spleen had re-ruptured because of this internal infection, and he was then in hospital for just about a week.

Then, the next weekend, Olivia was back in hospital. I kid you not.  I just started this new job literally a month prior, and I kept having to leave early because practically my entire family was in hospital.  It was such a juggling act, and there was literally no room in my life for anything else.

I was grateful that I had this job that I could go to, but I was also really stressed because I’ve only just started and I wanted to make a good impression. I was still on probation. I could not juggle any more plates, and I felt dread at the prospect of seeing friends, the prospect of working with clients. Just actual dread, and I don’t even know why I felt that dread, but maybe you can relate on your fertility journey that you’re here doing all these appointments. You’re here seeing naturopaths and acupuncturists, and just even the emotional weight of it all just seems so heavy, and everything just seems so full, and you have to kind of take a step back.

This is what I did on my fertility journey as well. Sometimes, you just have to take a step back from your friends, from your social life, from everything just so that you can recoup and protect some of your emotional energy, and that was very much the space that I was in in September. I wrote that email while I was sitting in hospital with Olivia in September. 

Managing the stress of trying to conceive

I sat with it until November, and it still felt heavy. It still felt like I couldn’t really continue with the work that I was doing because I needed to really work on myself, and Ross was still off work. He was off work in total for about four and a half months. Everything started to look up as we hit the new year, and I just kept going.

So what are the life lessons that I learnt from this really stressful year that may be applicable to you on a fertility journey, and how did I come out of it?

get help

I really credit all of the work that I’ve done over the years to help me navigate this path and know what I needed to do.  This is probably the most important of all the life lessons I learnt following my stressful year.  When Ross was sick and Olivia was sick, I started having panic attacks or anxiety attacks. I knew that it was a symptom of going through a really stressful period in my life and that it was okay that that was happening, but I reached out to a clinical psychologist to talk through some of the issues.

I had a few sessions there, and my main takeaway from those sessions for me was that I knew what I needed to do.  When we’re in these stressful situations, deep breathing is the antidote, and you just… You need to do deep breathing exercises in the good times as well as the bad times.

Deep breathing is really what it came down to, but I didn’t hesitate. I never hesitate these days to get help. If I think that things are out of alignment or out of balance, if I feel like things could be better, if I want just the help of somebody to help me work through it, I do not hesitate to join an e-course, or coaching, or anything like that, and that’s been a real mindset shift that I’ve had over the last couple of years.

I reached out to a clinical psychologist called Emma Govan Brodzinski. She is a fertility coach, but she’s also a therapist, and she said, “What you’ve gone through is a big thing like it’s not a little thing so you have to understand that that’s how you are going to feel.”

Then, I emailed her, messaged her in January or February, and she said, “You’re still coming out of this so… like it’s still a big thing, and you’ve only… This has only just happened,” so I want to encourage you  don’t feel like you have to bounce back in everything immediately. Don’t feel like everything has to fall back into place or fall into place, or just because you’re doing the deep breathing and deep work that instantly, things will happen for you.

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you need to break an egg to make an omelet

Another of the life lessons I learnt following my stressful year is that personal development is a process. Maintaining your self-care habits is an on-going thing. You always need to do these things.  It’s not just a once-and-done thing, but coming out of it now, I can honestly say that I probably feel the most happiest that I’ve ever felt in my entire life, and I’ve come back to the saying that sometimes you got a break a few eggs to make an omelet, and I feel like you’re probably in that phase as well.

Where it’s messy, where you feel like things might not be going your way, where you feel like you’re on this deep path of ups and downs, this rollercoaster, where you feel like you’re growing as a person and you feel like you’re the strongest you have ever been and the most resilient you’ve ever been, but still stuck, just remember that sometimes you got to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Sometimes, it’s going to be a process and it’s going to take time, and you will come out of this whole journey at some point. You come out of this journey a butterfly but sometimes you just have to wait.

outsource what you can

One of the most important life lessons I learnt following my stressful year is the importance of getting outside help.  Sometimes, it’s okay to have shaky moments in our lives where we question things, and if we never ever question things and go on the path that we’re always going on, then things don’t change. Before, I was doing it all myself. I wasn’t getting any kind of outside help.

Now, in my business, I’ve really implemented changes that have helped me run my business more sustainably.

I also recommend that you get a cleaner. Sometimes we have days where we just want to lie in bed or we just want to watch a movie.  Having a cleaner helps. I can feel anxious when the house isn’t clean, but having a cleaner just makes sure that it’s done every week.  If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, if you’re feeling like it’s a struggle to keep the ship afloat while you’re dealing with all of the things that you’re dealing with, get a cleaner if you can afford it.

You can’t always also have everything resting on your shoulders. When everything rests on your shoulders and when you’re responsible for everything, that’s how we really start to trip ourselves up.

discover yourself

I’ve been on this journey of self-discovery, and again, I didn’t hesitate. I felt like I wanted some clarity because I have long held a belief, and a lot of the times, the things that we do are a result of long-held beliefs that we’ve had. I had this belief that I wasn’t going to be successful at a business if I was also working in an office, but I love working in this office.  I also love my business. 

I had this huge internal struggle of how I was going to do both and why I needed to do both, and so I didn’t hesitate. I reached out to a life coach, Simone Denny, and we’ve been working together for about three months. In working with her I’ve taken personality tests that have really shown that I’m a connector and that I need that social interaction, and so I would encourage you in your life to maybe do a personality test. There’s also the 16Personalities Test. There are a lot of them.

Here you are possibly on this journey and thinking to yourself, “How does a personality test help me get pregnant faster?: It’s not necessarily about helping you get pregnant faster, but it is about helping you feel more fulfilled on your journey, maybe discover your purpose a little bit more.

This is a perfect time in your life to do some self-discovery, to do some self-analysis, to work out the things that you are passionate about, but also, to just allow things to be a bit messy until they’re not.

The secret is in being persistent, and keeping going, and accepting where you are in life, and knowing that wherever you are in your life, this is the path that you are on and that it’s your path.

I learnt so many life lessons following my stressful year.  From it all I truly believe that everything is laid out for us and all of the ups, the downs, and everything like that on where we’re meant to be like right now, you are exactly where you’re meant to be. I am exactly where I’m meant to be. If I hadn’t had this wig-out and had Ross and Olivia be sick, things would have looked very different for me in my life.

I don’t think they’ve happened for a reason, but I think that they have shown me lessons, shown me things about myself, and as I say, what a rollercoaster of 12 months. It was a really stressful year, but I can now say coming out of it all that I feel really happy and content, and I really hope that for you.


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The Life Lessons I learnt following my stressful year | Robyn Birkin | Author, Podcaster and Eternal Optimist
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