‘Corporate escapee’ Louise Thompson and Dr Libby Weaver are preaching the same message with new books on how fatigue and an unhealthy lifestyle can wear you down
Five years ago, top advertising director Louise Thompson’s world had fallen apart. Bedridden with extreme fatigue, she couldn’t find the energy to dress herself, let alone open the bottles of supplements she believes helped her on the path to recovery. Thompson had gone from a high-flying existence – with a big helping of stress, of course – to physically hitting rock bottom. Her hair was falling out by the handful, she had a permanent headache and felt sick all the time.
“There were improvements over time as my body got the rest it needed, but they were micro-improvements. Nevertheless, we celebrated these small victories. Crawling to the sofa. Victory. Washing my hair in the shower. Victory. Progress was excruciatingly slow.”
Her journey to wellness, coupled with advice to those suffering from anything from stress to chronic fatigue, is chronicled in her book The Busy Woman’s Guide to High Energy Happiness (Penguin, $35).
Now a ‘corporate escapee’, Thompson’s life is happy, healthy and filled with good habits. The book begins with her story from start to finish, illustrating how cumulative fatigue can be. It’s a slippery slope, she writes, going from being a bit run down right through to severely fatigued, if you don’t stop to reassess.
Thompson’s book is very much a toolkit for those wanting to nut out what’s wrong with them. She lists, for example, the seven stages of fatigue, going from ‘situation normal’ through to the extreme of ‘bedridden’. (“Maybe you’re on leave from work. Maybe you quit. Maybe, like me, you collapsed and never went back. Either way, your body has made a decision and you just can’t push through any more.”)
Of course, not all readers will identify with Thompson’s story, which was definitely on the ‘bedridden’ end of the fatigue scale. However, the book’s toolkit approach helps to differentiate between the various stages and is aimed at nipping it in the bud at whatever stage it’s at.
Filled with ‘action steps’ and anecdotal stories from fatigue sufferers, it’s a snacky/bitsy book (in a good way) and easy to dip in and out of, rather than feeling like you’re having to follow an extended narrative.
Thompson isn’t the only one writing about fatigue – well-known Dr Libby Weaver recently came out withRushing Woman’s Syndrome, subtitled ‘The impact of a never-ending to-do list on your health’ ($29.95 in paperback, $19.95 as an e-book). Dr Libby’s book is less of a toolkit than Thompson’s and is an easy read but a reader could get bogged down in the science behind her argument.
Dr Libby, importantly, argues for improving your diet, in particular cutting out alcohol and caffeine. She sees these two toxins as creating a vicious cycle that’s hard to break: you’re stressed, so you drink wine in the evening to relax and unwind, then you need the hit of caffeine in the morning to get going again.
“I meet women who truly believe that there is nothing harmful about drinking 12 bottles of wine a week,” Dr Libby writes. “There is not a woman on the planet whose body, mind or soul can handle that much alcohol, week after week.”
The typical ‘Rushing Woman’ who has a problem with alcohol, Dr Libby says, is “on the verge of becoming a cyclone at any conceivable moment”. The solution? Stop drinking wine. “Stop for three months. Your liver is screaming at you to change your ways.”
Dr Libby also looks at the psychological aspects to Rushing Woman’s Syndrome, such as expectations, family pressures, technology and the inability to say no.
With adrenal fatigue and healthy, alkaline eating coming to the fore of consciousness right now, these are two books to check out if you identify with factors such as stress, alcohol (ab)use, caffeine addiction, an unhealthy diet and general anxiety. The great irony, of course, is that those who need to read this most desperately will decide they can’t spare the time. Until it’s too late.'