Living a Double Life

At the beginning of this year, one of my close friends, Katherine Ormerod launched her new website Work Work Work; a place to interview and explore the lives of strong females in business, who have the chance to open up to Katherine, and to you, about something that they may ordinarily keep locked up for themselves. When Katherine asked to interview me about how I manage and balance two full time jobs, and what that means for me, my reply was “of course!! But surely it won’t be that interesting for people?” she told me to shut up. That interview was where I realised just how much I put in, and for the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I felt proud of myself. Largely because Katherine drew out of me things I was afraid to talk about or discuss with others. Talking through those truths made it resonate with me in a way it hasn’t before.

So I’ll fill you in; I am a Physiotherapist in elderly care. I work in an NHS hospital, on a busy ward in an acute medical setting. My patients are medically unwell, some acutely unwell and some for end of life care, or palliative care. The patient group I work with make it really hard for me keep my emotions out of it. I treat my patients as if they were my own grandparents, and that’s amazing for me, but also tough. I work alone, which is added pressure, as I should have a team, but the NHS funding just isn’t there at my particular job.

Typically, I have 8-10 patients per day to see. Treatment ranges from a quick stair assessment to make sure they are safe before I discharge them, to a more intense 45 minute session with patients who need rehabilitation following all manner of illness.

I love my patients. I really do. On a good day, I’ll have seen some of the most inspiring people who have led incredible, full lives and want to get well just as much as you want them to, I’ll have had time to make them a cup of tea and take them for an extra walk around the ward, maybe grab them a paper, and they’ll ask about my life and give me advice on how to make a marriage work.

A bad day would mean a patient passing away on the ward, a patient becoming unwell or taking steps back in rehabilitation. Or not being able to see everyone I need to because we’re short staffed. That’s a really crap day.

I usually work 4 days per week in Physiotherapy, but recently I’ve given myself a much needed break and taken a couple of months off. This past week I have taken on a short-term contract at an NHS hospital for 6 weeks. For 2 reasons: the first is that running Ropes of Holland and being self employed does not make me feel financially secure, and the anxiety in me rises when I don’t see regular payments on the 30th of every month. The second reason is that I miss my patients, and as wonderful as looking after Ropes of Holland is, it doesn’t fulfill my need to give a little back. I love to help, in any capacity.

Now on to Ropes of Holland. I started this ‘thing’ without knowing what it was, what it would be and what it would bring me, nearly 5 years ago. I was studying on my Physiotherapy degree when I launched it, and it was just to satisfy a little creative yearning that I didn’t know I had. I basically just wanted breathing space away from muscle anatomy before I started to crawl the walls. I was based closer to Manchester back then, as I’m from Stockport in Cheshire, so very Northern indeed. Slowly but surely some Manchester based brands came across my little blog and started to send me the odd dress or top and invite me to events where there would be free cocktails and food and goody bags- and this was where it hit me; WHAT IS THIS? WHAT IS THIS LIFE? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? I GET TO KEEP THIS STUFF?

I’m Lindsey Dawn Holland, born and raised in Stockport, granted I have 2 degrees, one in Dance and the other in Physio but still, I think really, I was pretty sheltered up until this realisation of people wanting to ply me with free things in order to use me as an influencer for their brand or whatever it was they were pushing. And this was just the beginning.

Ropes of Holland has grown, slowly, into something I am so very proud of. If I was to be completely honest with you; you get out what you put in in this job (and life) and I’m giving it everything. Being a Physiotherapist is much more stressful, exhausting and satisfying. Being a blogger is incredible, inspiring, creative and it can be stressful but that’s down to me and if I’ve taken on too much, (I say ‘yes’ a lot- but only to things I care about).

I want to tell you a few things about the person I was before I decided to give myself a flipping break:

I didn’t cope well with stress.

I was wildly anxious about a lot of things, mainly things that I couldn’t control.

I found it hard to find logic in problems.

I was a terrible sleeper.

I was always emotional.

I was clingy to those I love.

I would bury my head in the sand over any problem that came my way.

I would cancel plans with friends almost as soon as I was making them.

The decision I mentioned earlier about taking some time away from Physiotherapy taught me a few things. I needed to look after myself (as do you), I was running myself into the ground, beyond exhausted, letting people down because I was physically unable to keep plans in place, working every hour God sent because I was taking on too much, which meant I’d be up late and engaging my brain so I couldn’t switch off when it came to trying to fall asleep. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a 9 day long panic attack that just rolled and rolled and rolled and I couldn’t see the end.

I called in sick to work, and took myself to the doctors. Hearing the doctor tell me that I was underweight, had low blood pressure and was suffering this attack because of exhaustion absolutely kicked me into touch. From that day, and don’t get me wrong, it was not instant, I took every step possible to make my life more balanced, happier and calmer. I booked a dream holiday and quit my physio job with the intention that I would consider more physio work when I was ready. I was in a very lucky position because Ropes of Holland was keeping me financially stable at this time.

I’ve been back at my physio job for 2 weeks now, and for the first week, I cried every single day. I can no longer run 2 full time jobs, and that’s okay. It’s just so important that we take the time we need to enjoy our lives as much as we possibly can, and we’re the only people that can make that happen, ultimately. You have to make yourself happy before you can make anyone else happy. Someone said to me recently “you can’t pour from an empty glass” and that’s stuck with me like velcro!

I’ll apologise for the war and peace about my life, it’s just that, I’m aware my posts aren’t always consistent and you guys seem interested to know more about me so I thought I’d let it all out here for you.

I hope, if anything, you’ve taken away that it’s okay to work hard and strive for the things you want most in your life, but not at the expense of your overall happiness and health. Please do ask me anything you want regarding this piece, I would love to help in any way I can if you're struggling.