The Rest Room
The Rest Room
On convalescence & chronic illness

On convalescence & chronic illness

A podcast and a letter

A little while ago, my doctor told me that I need to convalesce. My instinct? To record a podcast episode about convalescence. In which I was called out (kindly) for that being my first instinct.

The episode is, I think, a fascinating conversation about what realistic convalescence in 2023 looks like when you live with a long-term health condition and can’t just disappear to “go and take the sea air”.

After a difficult few months, exacerbated in the last few weeks, I was putting the finishing touches to my script for the first episode of The Rest Room for 2023 (all about Post-Exertional Malaise), when I realised that I just need to take a break.

My capacity for work, or even basic tasks of daily living, and the impact they have on my ability to function has changed. So, after stubbornly clinging to some of my own projects for my own sense of wellbeing, it finally hit me that I need to respect my need to stop, rest, and recover.

It feels appropriate, then, that this episode is about convalescence. It’s a topic that good friend of the podcast, Jo Southall, and I arranged to talk about long before I decided to take a break. And I’m so glad that we did.

In it, we discuss:

  • How we contextualise “health” in a modern world 

  • How to start incorporating convalescence into everyday life 

  • Exploring presenteeism, plateaus, and the stress bucket

  • Learning to give yourself permission to rest

  • Shifting your mindset when it comes to rest and recovery 

  • How to convalesce at home

  • Whether technology has affected our ability to convalesce…

…and much more.

To listen, you can just click play at the top of this email, or you can listen on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and Google.

If you’d rather read the transcript of the episode, I’ve made that available on my blog.

Please note: if you receive this email within the first few hours of it being sent out, it might take a few hours for the podcast to filter through to some of the podcast platforms like Amazon or Spotify.

A huge thank you to TGA Mobility for sponsoring this episode. They believe that when it’s hard to move, you needn’t stop living.

Over Christmas, I had the opportunity to borrow and test out their new, foldable Whill F powerchair on my trip to Germany, and it helped me travel comfortably and independently. I have to say I was thoroughly impressed, it was incredibly comfortable and so easy to use, fold, and transport.

I know that buying a wheelchair is a big decision, but for if and when the time is right, TGA are offering 10% off new scooters and powerchairs for Rest Room listeners with code RESTROOM10.

Visit TGA Mobility

And now please indulge me a moment…

For this week, I had planned on writing a year in review, a reflection on my first year on Substack. I’ve loved it here. I’ve loved the time and space it has given me to explore topics I’ve always wanted to explore, to connect with people, to think more deeply about my own personal experiences of learning to come to terms with my own health over the years, and to try to translate topics that are so often left unsaid in clinic, into accessible resources for people trying to muddle their own way through.

It has given me a huge sense of purpose and motivation, and it has meant so much to be to be able to do this work. I have so many ideas, so many things I want to explore. It’s the stuff I always felt like I needed. But I also have to be realistic about my capacity.

I wanted to explore convalescence as a topic because I was struggling to figure out what that meant when I was just at home. When I derive a lot of purpose and wellbeing from work, when Sebastian’s working in the week (it’s much easier to rest and relax when we’re doing it together), and when for my whole life, my coping strategy has been to have a “thing” that kept me grounded during my more difficult times. And when I spent my childhood “pushing through” in order to keep up with my peers and do the things I wanted, and expected myself to be able to do.

But at the same time, I recognise the challenges of my work, my “thing”, also being in an online space where I have to read, think about, and talk about the very thing I’m supposed to be convalescing from.

And I don’t know how good that is for my state of mind - being constantly saturated in the health of other people, the things that can go wrong, the anger, the sadness, the confusion.

And so, I’ve taken the decision to take a break from The Rest Room. And from all of my work, for the foreseeable future. To take time to explore convalescence on my own terms.

It has been hard, making this decision, but I know it’s the right one. In many ways, it’s scary. Not knowing what will come next or when I’ll be back. What I will do. But with everything I’ve learned over the years, I finally feel ready to try and focus on rest and recovery.

To my readers, to my listeners, thank you. To all my guests, thank you for sharing your time and expertise so generously. I know it has made a difference to so many.

To patients who have shared their stories, to medics who have listened and shared in their clinics. To families, friends, loved ones, thank you for supporting those in your lives who are sick.

To my paid subscribers, I want to thank you for financially supporting me, especially during these difficult times. Thank you for enabling me to do this work. Thank you for your incredibly kind emails when I paused paid subscriptions last week. Many of you told me specifically not to use my energy emailing you back, but please know, your messages made me cry happy and grateful tears. They’re saved in a folder and I am grateful beyond words.

To Sebastian, my parents, Lucy (and Sesame), Tashy, and Colin - I love you all. Thank you for always being there for me. For letting me know things will be ok.

And to Philly Guillou. Without you the podcast would be nothing. I literally couldn’t have made it without you. You are amazing. Thank you.

So yes, I guess…that’s it for now. Thank you again to everyone who has been here with me. I hope to see you soon.

Lots of love,


The Rest Room
The Rest Room
Welcome to The Rest Room: a place to explore what it means to live (and live well) with chronic illness.