I’ve not really participated in this ten year review – I don’t think I can be bothered hunting for a photo of me from ten years ago or even reflecting on what the last decade has been like. It’s easier to breezily reflect on the year gone by, which for me has gone in a direction that I never saw coming.
For the most part, I was comfortable last year. I had a job that I was pretty good at because I knew it like the back of my hand and I could handle the hierarchy that came with it because I understood how the power dynamics worked. I suppose what I never fully appreciated is that comfortable really isn’t the same as being happy.
My job came with a whole host of issues that I battled with on a daily basis leaving me constantly fatigued. I had made four trips to my GP since 2014 complaining of tiredness, convinced I had some thyroid issue or iron deficiency. It took me until last year to fully understand how fatigued both stress and difficult people can leave you.
In March, I ended up with a jaw issue where I struggled to speak, resulting in some time off work. Three weeks off work, sitting around, popping some diazepam to ease the pain gave me some much needed reflection time.
I suppose what stood out for me were the reasons I stayed in my job; I loved my staff and the patient base I worked with – I didn’t love the job. Pharmacy is driven by money as many are probably already aware. I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable at some of the questionable practices that were being expected and the ethical dilemmas I felt faced with.
It was made clear to me by the doctor and dentist that my jaw issue was stress related. However, frustrated at being doped up on pain killers and not getting anywhere with the pain itself, I visited a reiki practitioner.
For those new to reiki, there’s nothing too hocus pocus about it. It’s a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It can be a hands-on or hands-off approach and is based on the concept that all matter, including human beings, are made of energy. Energy flows through us so if energy is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.
This wasn’t my first experience of energy healing- I received my first introduction through Dr Saleh when I stayed in Palestine in 2017. My interest in it had only grown since then and I looked into continuing it when I came home. I was however put off by some of the more questionable evolutions that had taken place with what I considered to be essentially a very simple concept – it took me a while to find somebody who kept to the traditional teaching.
After my reiki session, not only did the pain in my jaw ease up but some new areas of awareness came into play. Whilst I had already planned to start the process of applying for counselling: my plan had involved keeping my job, cutting down my hours and ploughing on for another two years. After my period of sick leave, nothing felt more unbearable.
Despite not knowing whether I had been accepted onto the course, it was clear I had to leave my job if I wanted to be healthier. It was also becoming increasingly obvious that for me, work had to be something I was passionate about. Although my current environment was unhealthy, I was fairly sure moving to another pharmacy job wasn’t going to be the answer. Much to my dad’s delight, I was offered more management posts when I handed my notice in and much to his disappointment, I didn’t take any of them preferring to freelance instead. I should add that the offer of management posts isn’t that impressive as there’s currently a shortage of experienced pharmacists wanting to stay in the profession.
I’m six months now out of an environment that I had worked in for around ten years and it’s taken some adjusting as has navigating the freelance field. Although I’m a worrier and have a multitude more bills than what I did from a few years ago, I’ve not had any major panics over work. My fatigue is almost non existent although it was most definitely not an overnight change and I have also opted to work less which makes it bearable dare I say, even enjoyable to work in a pharmacy when I do.
I tried my hand at reiki, taking my first course the week I finished up from work and used plenty of family members/friends as guinea pigs thereafter. I recently completed my second level which means I’m a practitioner now. If you had asked me about holistic therapies while I was at university, I would have given the standard smug answer that most in my course would have – they don’t work.
However having worked in pharmacy long enough (15 years!) to witness the over-medicated world we live in, I do believe there are other options out there worth considering. For me, reiki was one that aligns with a concept I believe in; many illnesses (not all) can have an emotional component to them. Restore the balance within and it can reduce symptoms or cure ailments.
When they say that you never know what a year’s going to bring, nothing could be more true for me about 2019. I never expected to leave a comfortable, well paid job to go into the uncertainty of freelance work. I most certainly never expected to become a practitioner of reiki. It makes me quite excited about the endless possibilities 2020 could bring!
Anything that you never saw coming in 2019 but pleasantly surprised you?