As a teacher, by the time I was about two weeks into the first school term last year, I knew something was wrong.
The almost-daily tears, the sense of dread, the long hours and total exhaustion led my husband to suggest that I leave teaching as soon as possible. It had been a battle from the beginning, but two years later, things were not looking any more hopeful for me in the classroom than they had at the start of my short career.
Not wanting to break my contract or abandon my students, I soldiered on for a few months, but ended up giving notice in the second week of Term 2 that I would be leaving at the end of the semester. By the time I left, I sensed that I was burnt out, and needed to look for a different type of work that would be less intense.
Fairly soon, I enrolled in a Master of Interpreting and Translation Studies at Monash, thinking that translation could be a good part-time job to do from home. I took to study like a duck to water, and felt much more confident in the academic world than I had in the primary school classroom.
One glorious semester at uni was followed by Christmas, my sister's wedding, an intensive Permaculture Design Course, translation placement, a month in Peru, another wonderful uni semester and then a month working on a garden project for my uncle's business. I felt fine, more than fine, in fact I was enjoying everything so much that I rode one wave of excitement after the other. Until...
I crashed again.
Enough is enough
I lost almost all of my strength, came down with the flu, started sleeping 10-12 hours every night, and didn't even have the energy to sing or dance at church anymore. By this stage, I hadn't had a period at all for over a year, not a good sign when you are trying to get pregnant. Things were not 'fine'.
Fortunately, tests finally showed a clear diagnosis: I had advanced adrenal fatigue. Unfortunately, I had been so highly stimulated that I didn't recognise the signs, and had been so bright and bubbly my friends couldn't even believe me when I told them.
What is adrenal fatigue?
When reality hits
It wasn't until this second crash that reality hit: I could not go on like this.
My world had suddenly been hit by a massive 'shrink ray'.
Seeing sense, I began to make some tough decisions. I left Facebook, quit my part-time job, left the church music team and phased myself out of the garden project.
I hoped that would be sufficient, but no, I needed to go one step further: I decided to drop my second subject and study part-time.
Can you shrink the Kingdom of Heaven?
The grief over losing what I saw as a 'full' life started to set in. If I truly wanted to recover, I would need to become almost house-bound and depend on my husband to bring in the entire family income. I would need to dedicate myself to sleep, gentle exercise and a nourishing diet – staying as calm and 'stress-free' as possible.
How could I serve God like this? The knowledge that outside of my shrinking world there were people dying who did not know God plagued me. If I rarely left my house, how could I 'go out' and preach the good news? The verses that came to mind when I asked the Father about this were 'make the most of every opportunity', 'pray continually' and 'do everything as a representative of the Lord Jesus'.
Not 'how much' I do or 'how many' I reach, but 'who I live for'
So this is what I'm declaring: If I am only awake for 12 hours, then I will live those 12 hours for the glory of God. If I can't leave my bed, I will pray. If I can call, text, write to and see friends, I will encourage them in the Lord.
If I am well enough to go out, I will be ready to 'give a reason for the hope that is within me'. And finally, I will recognise the opportunity I now have to walk, or maybe sit, alongside other low-energy people and share with them the hope I have in Christ, because victory is 'not by might, not by power, but by His Spirit'.
Rosanne Menacho is a member of Yahweh's royal household, a much loved daughter, sister and wife and a part-time student of translation. Her heart is to release freedom and joy in Christ, and to see Heaven come on Earth.
Rosanne Menacho's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/rosanne-menacho.html