Episode 6: Valentine's Day With a Health Condition: Embrace and Celebrate You!Feb 13, 2024
Hey there, Teisha here, and we're already at episode six. And it's all things Valentine's Day today. So, Valentine's Day is this week, and love it, hate it, or indifferent about it, for some reason, I think this can be a day that stirs up emotions. And in living with a chronic illness, we're definitely not immune. I shouldn't probably use that word, but we're not immune to these feelings. In fact, I think our illnesses may at times intensify these emotions. So don't worry. This episode has something in it for everyone. If you're in a relationship but feeling lonely, if you're in a relationship and feeling really happy and content, if you're single and not happy at all and feeling really lonely, or if you're single and loving it, this episode is for you as well. So let's get started…
Wellbeing Interrupted Podcast Intro
Welcome to Wellbeing Interrupted. The podcast dedicated to exploring the transformative power of a healing mindset. I'm Teisha Rose, your host and the founder of Hurdle To Hope. If you're on a quest to not just survive, but thrive after a life-changing diagnosis, then you're definitely in the right place. Living with MS and now stage four breast cancer has taught me a vital lesson. In the face of a life-changing illness, our mindset is everything. Each week I'll share insights, tips, and strategies to help you build a happier, healthier, more balanced life. So let's begin your journey from Hurdle to Hope starting right now…
How I met my life partner.
We've been talking about some pretty full-on topics the last few episodes from living with uncertainty to the different language that is used to talk about illness. So I thought this week is a good chance to lighten things up and get to know me a little bit better and how better to do that than share the story about how I met Andrew, my beautiful partner, way back this week in 2005.
So in 2005, February 2005, life was going really well. I just returned home from an overseas adventure. I've recovered from a pretty full-on relapse which this time I was in a wheelchair, but also couldn't use my hands or arms. So the level of dependency was beyond anything I'd ever experienced before, but I got better. And after rehab, I started planning a new adventure, and I ended up going over to Romania, which was incredible. I actually volunteered in a day centre for children with special needs in a town off the tourist trap. It's actually called Craiova, which is sort of west of the capital. Anyway, I'll chat about that another time.
But, yeah, I'd come back from this experience, I wasn't sure what to do. I'd finished my social work degree, which I studied social work and began working in a town called Bendigo, which is a regional centre of Melbourne, Australia. And on returning home, I thought I'd get back into life in Melbourne, but it just didn't feel right. And I thought there's no way on a social work income and working part-time for my health, I could ever afford to buy a property. So I thought, let's go back up to Bendigo and just see what's happening up there.
So my mum and I went up to Bendigo for the day. And the stars aligned I guess, or they started aligning. We were in a real estate agent, and I've heard that a block of one-bedroom units had just been the sale that just fallen through, and were now available to purchase. So we quickly went around there, had a look. It was amazing. It was perfect. Years before, there's no way I'd have been happy to purchase a one-bedroom unit. But having spent time in Romania where families were more than happy in one bedroom unit, I thought, I'm single, I'm by myself. A one-bedroom unit will be absolutely fine. So I actually seen it was vacant, was able to move in straight away, rented before settlement went through.
The first night I was by myself in my unit, I still remember ringing a really close girlfriend, Jen. And I said to Jen, right, I've just turned thirty. I've spent the last five years single. I've either been in hospital and rehab getting through massive relapses, or then travelled, spent 2001 over in Scotland and travelling around Europe by myself, then I came back, I've studied social work, had a career change, moved to Bendigo, then to Romania. I've done all of these amazing things, but now I felt I'm ready to meet someone. And I said to her, how am I going to meet anyone? Back then, I'm pretty old. There was no online dating. And like, I can't go out and sit around the bar or you know, I was thinking, there's, I just couldn't see how meeting someone would ever happen.
The next morning, I opened the front door and I was at the front unit, and there was this awful smell. And a little bit later, the Body Corporate had organised a plumber to deal with the overflowing drain out the front of the unit's property. And that plumber, straight away, I felt a connection with. And I know it sounds really corny, and I won't be telling Andrew that I've talked about this on the podcast. But as soon as our eyes connected, I was just drawn to him. You could just, in that moment, tell what a beautiful soul he was, and I felt that immediate connection. And I've never subscribed to the love at first sight narrative, but there certainly was a connection from that very moment.
And over the next few days, Andrew kept coming back to deal with the drainage issues, and we, yeah, we kept chatting and made him cups of tea. On the Friday, a few days later, I came home, and he was no longer there. And I felt so upset. And I was getting ready to go out on a Friday night with a girlfriend. And I remember sitting on the bed thinking, if it's meant to be, I know I will cross paths with Andrew again.
That night we went to a restaurant we often go to, but it was busy. And so we walked around the corner to another restaurant. And as I was walking down, I noticed Andrew was sitting at the front of this restaurant. And Andrew later on said he, on that night, was actually on the way to Melbourne to the U-turn because he thought, no, I can't be bothered. I'm just going to, have dinner at a restaurant. And yeah, it was sitting out the front. So our paths met again. And from that moment, we've been together.
Valentine's Day Scenarios for Those Navigating Health Challenges
Okay, so as I mentioned earlier, there are four situations you might find yourself in this Valentine's Day. Have a listen. Hopefully, one of them will resonate with you. And I know, over the years, I've found myself in each one of these.
- So the first is you're feeling alone, you're not currently in a relationship. And sometimes when that happens or all of a sudden, I don't know if this was with me, you think gosh, you feel like you're surrounded by couples everywhere. You look there's a couple, and you feel a bit envious of that. You might feel a bit embarrassed. Think, why am I single? Why isn't anyone wanting to be with me? Why can't I find someone? And you long for that connection and support and intimacy, and you worry about how your illness will affect a new relationship. How, with your illness, how you ever meet someone. And when you're feeling all of these emotions, that's when Valentine's Day was really tough.
- The next situation you might be single and loving it. It's just what you need is time to focus on yourself. Your life, it's full, it's busy. You have great friends around you, great family. You might be a single parent. You might have made a decision to be by yourself. You might have a really fulfilling career, and that's all you want to focus on at the moment. And I've been in that situation as well. When it was Valentine's Day in Scotland, I was so excited that I was no longer in a hospital bed, that I was working. I couldn't care less. It was Valentine's Day. I was celebrating being healthy. And celebrating this amazing new adventure.
- The third scenario you might find yourself in is you're in a relationship, but you're feeling lonelier than ever. You feel like there's a real lack of support and a lack of understanding, and that could be really hurtful. It can also be really frustrating. Emotionally, you may feel exhausted. You might not know what your next step is. You're scared about the future, but you don't know what to do. Maybe you're scared of being alone. Maybe the relationship's no good for you, but you're putting up with it because you think, well, who would want me? I don't want to be by myself. So you put up with being treated in a way that you shouldn't be.
- The fourth situation, you might be in a relationship, and you're happy. You feel fortunate to have a partner by your side as you deal with your illness, but your relationship isn't defined by your illness. There's so much more to the relationship than that. And it's also in recognition that your partner has their own challenges, that it can't just be about MS or cancer, as Andrew goes through. He finds things as well. He just doesn't share them on a podcast. And that's what I love about our relationship, is that I have the confidence to be by myself, to do things that I enjoy doing. That I want to, and that I choose to spend time together as well because I love that. And that's why the moment it's really difficult because Andrew is up at our new block. So follow me at Hurdle2Hope on Instagram, Hurdle2Hope with the number two. And you'll see what he's been busy doing up there. And it's actually nice that we miss each other because the alternative would be we're living in separate places at the moment, and we'd be enjoying it, which we're not. We can't wait for this new adventure to begin in 2024 when we live up on our beautiful property.
Embracing Self-Worth Beyond Relationship Labels
Originally, I was going to go through and give you different tips on how to get through each of these different scenarios or how to, you know, even if you're happy, how to maximize and ensure that happiness lasts forever. But as I've started recording this, so I'm thinking, no. What can the best bit of advice be to my younger self who found herself in these different situations? And like what I talk about with our mindset being everything because it's our mindset that's in every situation. We find ourselves in living with an illness. Well, guess what? Our mindset is also the common denominator in all of these situations. So regardless of whether you're single or in a relationship, we need to start shifting from being defined by our relationship status. Because that status can change at any time. And through no fault of your own. You know, it might be a relationship breakdown, but it also might be because your partner passes away. Or it might be that a relationship comes to its natural conclusion, and it's not right for either of you. This is why I think it's really important that we're not defined by the status of our relationship, as this can change at any time.
So this Valentine's Day, know that the most important person is you. And it's about loving yourself, it's about caring and nurturing for your well-being. It's about reaching a place where you don't fear being alone, that you continue to grow and evolve and start liking yourself, to start loving the person you are.
In 2000, when I had that massive relapse, that I spent weeks and weeks and months in hospital, unable to move for a long time, and then that fear of not being able to walk again. It was back then that I realised that I feared being alone. And it wasn't because I wasn't surrounded by beautiful family and friends who supported me through these really difficult times because I was very blessed to be surrounded by so much love. But at night when you're lying in a hospital bed, alone with your thoughts, that was terrifying for me. I'd never experienced that before.
So when I started walking again, I thought I'm going to travel like all of my friends are doing in their mid-twenties, but I decided I wanted to do it by myself because I didn't want the pressure of letting anyone down if I couldn't keep up with the pace, given that my legs hadn't fully recovered. But I also wanted to prove to myself that I can do this by myself. I really wanted to embrace that feeling of being by myself. I wanted to not be worried about what others thought if I was sitting at a restaurant by myself, eating a meal by myself. I wanted to have the confidence to go to a movie by myself, to hop on a train and end up in a country town by myself.
So for me, this was the best decision I've ever made because, from that moment, from those twelve months I lived in Scotland, I've never felt uncomfortable being by myself. And that's why I'm not surprised that I met Andrew at the time I did because I travelled by myself. I've had all of these incredible experiences, especially in Romania, because travelling by yourself in a country where not many people speak English was really full-on, although I was very fortunate to be surrounded by an organisation that supported me in volunteering, so that was an amazing experience in itself.
But when I met Andrew, I wanted to be with someone. I wanted to have that connection, but it wasn't because I was scared of being alone. So I actually don't think I would have met Andrew five years before because the timing wasn't right. It was right when not only had I travelled, but I'd changed my career. I'd moved to a country town. Andrew grew up on farms. I was never going to meet him in Melbourne. And I'd also bought my unit. So I knew that I could do this by myself, but I was choosing to be in a relationship, not because I thought I needed that status, but because I wanted to share my life with someone. And I was also really clear on the qualities I wanted in a life partner. I wanted someone who was kind, who was generous, who was loving, who was sensitive, who had a great sense of humour. These were things that were so important to me, and Andrew had all of these qualities.
Prioritising Self-Care and Love While Living with Health Conditions
So if you're living with a health condition, a health challenge, a chronic illness, whatever that you refer to it, regardless of what situation you find yourself in, whether you're single and not loving it, whether you're single and loving it, whether you're in a relationship and not happy, or whether you're in a relationship and feeling great, regardless of your relationship status, this Valentine's Day week, do something for yourself that makes you feel good about yourself.
As if you are single, by feeling better about yourself, you're more likely to attract and meet the person you're meant to be with. Or if you're by yourself and you're not wanting to meet anyone, that's fine. Still, do something for yourself so you feel good within yourself. And if you're in a relationship, still, it's so important to feel good about yourself. If you're not happy in a relationship, doing something to give you some more self-confidence. So you make decisions about your future, not out of fear of being alone, but by what is best for you and your health.
So enjoy Valentine's Day and this week, and I'll look forward to our next chat. And remember, if you're not following me on Instagram, please do. It's Hurdle to Hope, hurdle number two, hope. And yeah, you'll see what we're doing on our new block and all the other things I've been up to. A really good spot for us to connect and for you to share some of your thoughts as well. Bye for now.
And if you have made it to the end of the episode, apologies for my voice. I've actually, this is the next day, and I've actually just finished editing. The episode and my voice isn't great throughout. So back to doing more speech therapy exercises, which I do daily. If you don't know what I'm talking about with my voice, listen to episode one. I go into how the trauma of being diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, along with having MS, created the perfect storm for muscle tension dysphonia. The muscle above my voice box seized up. So this time last year, I could hardly say more than two words. So doing so much better than that, which is great, but still not perfect. Although I just noticed sounding so much better today, and the perfectionist in me years ago would have rerecorded the whole episode so it sounded better. But I think that perfectionism actually contributed to all of my relapses with MS years ago. So I'm not going to do that. Instead, it's a beautiful sunny day out here, so I'm going to enjoy a Sunday by myself. Chat soon.
Wellbeing Interrupted Outro
Thank you so much for joining me today on Wellbeing Interrupted. If today's episode inspired you, or you think it could help others, please share it by tagging @HurdleToHope on your Instagram stories or just by telling a friend about it to spread our message of healing and hope to those who need it most. Your ratings and reviews are invaluable. By taking a moment to rate and review on your listening platform, you help us attract inspiring guests and create content that empowers all of us to thrive. Don't forget to follow me on @HurdleToHope for more insights. I'd love to see you there. Always remember, to thrive after a life-changing diagnosis, your mindset is everything.