My wake up call: why we all should slow down

I should have known something like this would happen. I knew I was burning the candle at both ends, but I thought I’d just get through it. Anyway, the hardest part was over. I’d started a new job, moved house, and given my three gorgeous offspring some pretty fantastic birthdays – all within a few weeks of each other.

But things didn’t stop after that. I sacrificed my exercise regimen, my healthy eating habits, my ‘me time’ – because I was busy.

“I’ll catch up on sleep later – anyway, I’m not that tired.”

“I’ll restart my running training next week.”

“I’ll do something special for myself when things slow down a bit.”

“I just have so much to do!”

These are all things I told myself while I was flogging myself like the proverbial dead horse – all the while waxing lyrical here with you about the importance of taking care of yourself. The irony is not lost on me, I promise.

141014 slow down fraud

For those of you who missed last week’s drama, I’d been up at the Sunshine Coast for work, then caught the train back on Wednesday afternoon. Rather than go straight home, I’d arranged to meet the gorgeous Gillian for a few drinks. We like to call these sessions our Champagne Cartel planning meetings. They kind of are, for about 15 minutes, then they’re a chance for us to chat and relax and have a bit of fun. Yes, we tend to tie one on when we get together, but never to the point of ridiculousness. (Okay, but not all the time.)

This doesn’t sound too stressful, right? It shouldn’t be, but it was clearly the straw that broke my poor broken-down camel’s back. I had one and a half beers and suddenly felt not well. Within half an hour or so, I’d gone from thinking I might need to get a taxi and go home, to Gillian calling my mother to come and get me (Husby was at home with the three kids), to being carted out of the pub into a waiting ambulance. SUCH a good look!

I felt faint, dizzy and nauseous, but the scariest thing for me was that my left arm was tingling and my hand went totally numb. I’ve heard enough stories to know this can be a sign of heart issues so when Gillian suggested for the third or fourth time she call an ambulance, I finally agreed.

The ambos and the hospital staff were all top notch – super friendly and professional. My mum came along with me, which was great, and poor worried Gillian caught a train home. A lovely paramedic gave me a shot of something wonderful which almost immediately quelled the nausea. I was so grateful – vomiting is my least favourite thing in the world.

When I first got to the emergency department, the attending nurse asked me if there was any chance I could be pregnant. I laughed and laughed and laughed, and then worried profusely for the next five minutes while she examined my wee. Pregnancy test: negative. PHEW!

I was then tested for a whole bunch of other stuff, including neurological issues and a stroke.

141010 hospital

I realised I am just at that magical age – 40 – where pregnancy and a stroke are both treated as a possibility. I’m not sure which would have been worse but thankfully I wasn’t dealing with either.

After much poking, prodding and testing, the slightly baffled (and 12-year-old looking) doctor said she thought I was dehydrated and exhausted. I was put on a saline drip and sent home to rest.

So I’m taking this as a wake up call. How much of this stuff that I do every day is important? How much can I live without? What I do know is that ‘me time’ has shot way up my priority list. As has switching off my devices and spending time with my family. I’ll still be here, of course, because this Champagne Cartel community makes me incredibly happy – and I feel like you are all part of this learning journey with me.

I hope that this scary little episode has taught me some long-lasting lessons. And I hope that it has saved some of you from making the same mistake. Don’t spread yourself thin. Sleep. Meditate. Exercise. Eat well. Turn off your devices and hang. Watch TV or paint your nails. Do whatever makes you happy, not just what you think you should be doing.

That’s what I’ll be doing. Will you join me? Have you ever been forced to slow the fuck down?

Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.


  • Oh hun, this scared the bejeebus out of me last week. I’m glad you’re OK and have heard your wake up call (and not just hit the snooze button on it).
    Funnily enough, I was wide awake at 4.30am this morning – no idea why. When I was still awake at 5am I decided to just get up. I’ve got a load of washing on and am sitting here in the quiet still of the morning, reading some of my favourite blogs – like, really reading them. It’s lovely and peaceful and I know I’ll be less stressed when I come home tonight to write my own blog posts knowing that the washing has already been done. It’s the little things, right?
    Much love. xx

  • Oh gawd, scary stuff. Glad you’re taking it as a sign to make change. I’ve learned that I need to schedule or make me time happen or it never does but it’s as vital as …. breathing.
    Forget the crazy busy ways and just do the basics for a bit. Tune that inner motor back to idle. Take care x

  • Oh babes, perhaps it was a blessing in disguise. I’m in bed today with books, laptop (for viewing purposes only) and lemon and honey. I never slow down when I’m sick, but it’s time we do. Because we have a family that relies on us to be well and happy and ‘me time’ totally promotes wellness.

    Maybe use two forms of birth control. Just a suggestion.

  • As a coach I spend hours every week helping other women slow down, do less and enjoy more. Sounds simple…….NO not at all. In a world that presents us with countless opportunities and enticements, many at our finger tips, and when we are highly capable, multi talented Mums doing less is not easy.
    I know because I am guilty of over working, over committing and over doing at the expense of my health, my enjoyment and my connections with those I love.
    I will not stop striving for that sweet spot, the right amount of doing and achievement and the right amount of not doing and nothing, It is a journey and i am up for it.
    Thanks for this honest post reminding me what is truly important and I do hope you are feeling enormously better.

    • Oh, thank you! It’s comforting to know I’m not the only doofus trying to do it all. As you say, it seems so straightforward, but like many working mums, I want it all. Sometimes that’s just not possible – and that has to be okay. xxx

  • First and foremost , I am glad you are ok.
    As a past ED nurse , I cannot begin to tell you how many people end up in the bays with ‘stress’ related episodes, even though I was only in my childless 20s, it always saddened me to see their families, esp little kids, because invariably they had school aged kids and I couldn’t understand why they drove themselves to exhaustion. I thought they were stupid and pathetic and I was so, so naive and wrong!
    Fast forward and I am 40+ now and recently had to call an ambulance for my partner to be taken to ED during a big party in our home . It was horrific at the time, the outcome is fine and I can talk about it now. I was equal parts embarrassed (WTF!) and scared witless.
    Slow the fuck down, alright.

  • Such a big wake up call for you super woman. I have to say this past month I have seen you every where, doing so much work and blog and awesome family stuff and have wondered how you have done it all!!!! Please take care of you and thanks for the reminder, we all need one from time to time! HUGS xx

  • Wow! Last Friday the Doc called me in to tell me that my blood pressure was sky high and that I had to start calming the F**k down or resign myself to having a heart attack or stroke, so I know where you’re coming from. For me it’s a bit different as my husband has just had a major health scare and things have been a bit stressy, but hopefully we are all coming right now. Hopefully you are too. x

  • good on you for getting to hospital missus. And for taking that wake up call seriously. It’s so often easier to see that others need to calm down their lives than ourselves. You have had a shitload of stuff going on there. I’m in blogging lite mode as hectic elsewhere but have sacrificed exercise for writing work. How short sighted us that !!?? Your points taken to heart here. TAke it easy sweet pea.

  • Oh, lady, I’m so sorry it must’ve been horrible, but I’m so happy you agreed to call the ambulance. Was the paramedic hot? Just kidding… Moving house is a bitch all by itself let alone with all the other stuff. Last time I pulled a number on myself I gave myself hives – super attrractive! Cheers to more you time x

    • The paramedic was a chick – and funnily enough, the same one I had the only other time I’ve ever been in an ambulance (when I was pregnant five years ago). Hives are awesome, hey! I usually get those – this one was a step beyond. xx

  • I am so glad that you are ok as this sounds really scary. I have recently had a health scare and wrote a similar post about listening to your body and I cannot stress enough how important it is.

    I think that as women we tend to put ourselves last which is a potentially dangerous thing to do. The huge amount that you had on your plate prior to this episode would be enough to knock anyone flat so I hope that your recovery is swift and that you can really recover in peace.

    Sending healing vibes your way xx

  • Very scary. Glad to read that you are ok. Life can get so jam packed that we don’t realise how run down we are until we crash and burn. It is so hard to let go of the ‘to do’ list. Please make sure you heed the wake up call, it is easy to do so for a while and then get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life again. How quickly we forget! Take care of you.

  • That’s more of a kick-you-outta bed call! You poor thing, what a fright you had. I’m just so glad it was nothing more serious than a case of lovely lady trying to be all things to all people. I’ve heard there’s a lot of that going around… x

  • Oh babe – now if that is not a wake up a call then I dont know what is! Years ago I was having mini black outs and like you my hand kept going numb and tingly and I couldnt hold a pen. Finally I went to a DR who sent me to hospital for testing for MS. I was given the clear, thank God but turns out I was stressed and my body was saying ENOUGH! Please hun, promise you will take care of yourself. You are far too precious to so many to let yourself get like this ever again. xx

  • Well, I love that headline… I just had to come and read it. I didn’t think I was going to get that end to the story though. I’m so glad you are ok and… you never mentioned… (what Bele said)… was the paramedic hot? Just jokes, enjoy the weekend and yes… switch off and just enjoy every minute. x

  • “If ya ain’t got yer health, ya ain’t got nuffin”

    The trick now is to slowly and innocently not fall back into into old habits. Make some new and improved ones instead. I’ve decided there is no such thing as the perfect work life balance… you just need to keep tweaking the recipe 😉

    Be well x

    • I totally agree, Sandra – work/life balance is a rort. We just have to prioritise what is on fire at any particular time and make that be okay for now. It doesn’t last forever, and the rewards are massive. But sometimes it has to be about us. Thanks for stopping by. xx

  • Wow you poor thing, there is nothing worse then feeling like your going to pass out & be sick at the same time. Was always a sign my blood pressure was dropping when it happened to me. Those signs our body gives us are very important. So glad you shared this as so many of us spread ourselves thin, especially as mums.
    We get so caught up in doing everything for everyone we forget “Mum needs mum too”.
    Take care and glad you got the all clear on your health and no more babies… We do love them, but no more please lol.

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