Shannah Kennedy talks about her battle with chronic fatigue


The Life Plan FCBalance Coach Shannah Kennedy talks about her new book The Life Plan and her battle with Chronic Fatigue.

When did you get chronic fatigue and what happened?

I suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome (adrenal burnout) in my late 20s, and my body just shut down and would not keep up with anything.  I couldn’t go out, couldn’t watch TV because my eyes burned, no lights, no walking, just like you have a great big hangover but you have not been anywhere!  It is an awful and debilitating illness but you look totally normal so it plays with your mind quite a lot.  I started to get quite depressed so employed a life coach to help me through it and teach me some fundamentals around self care. I was the A type over-achiever perfectionist, I still am but with a great deal of self-preservation built in.

Do you still struggle with chronic fatigue – does it ever go away?

I don’t think it goes away and now if I burn the candle at both ends, I go down hill very quickly and the fatigue is debilitating.  I cannot afford to do that to myself as I have a family and business and never want to be in that position again. Over the years of having a life coach I have thoroughly entrenched myself into the job of being a better version of myself, which means constantly tweaking my activity levels to suit where I am at with work, travel, clients, children etc. I think it has been a gift for me in a weird way as I have done so much more research on the mind and body as a necessity to get my life back.

What should people know about chronic fatigue?

Symptoms are insomnia, aching and dull pain, lack of focus, and a feeling like you are pushing all the time, like through the mud. Nothing seems easy and light anymore.  It is a very painful time as every day there are major aches in different areas of the body.  I think a lot of it can be bought on by pushing and doing too much and not looking after ourselves, but I also know people who have it that are not those A typers.  Knowing thyself, monitoring ourselves and actually addressing issues, which I never did, I just pushed through anything, is something I wish I had learnt earlier.  The Life Plan is about learning to know who you are, what is important to you and why you do things.  It is about creating a path for yourself based on your values which in my early 20s I did not know.  Now all of my decisions are based around my health and I do not push through now when I start to get pain (my big warning signs).

Obviously you knew to manage your chronic fatigue, you had to change your life. What is the biggest mistake that most people make in trying to change their life?

Changing it without thinking things through properly and not consulting their own set of values. So many people do not have clarity on their values so often make decisions that are not in alignment with what will make then confident and happy.

Is that why you wrote the Life Plan?

I wrote The Life Plan for everyone.  Anyone in the world who may want to learn basic life skills, the foundations on how to be happy, confident and have clarity on how to move forward in life.  It will take you back to your true and authentic self and teach you structures on how to make informed decisions that will work for you life. It is a gift, for yourself, for others, of clarity. We are never really taught life skills so it is time to learn and open your world up to new opportunity and possibility. Essentially it is life skills and self help made practical and beautiful and palatable so you can grow and evolve as a person.

How do we know when our life needs to change?

The Life Plan is not about changing your life so much, but more about learning.  We have business plans for our business, and we need a life plan for our life.  A general and broad direction of where we want to head and why.  Knowing our why is what gives us purpose and clarity in life, and simplifies it all so we can make great choices.

What do you think is the most common stumbling block in achieving our dreams?

Lack of self confidence and belief.  People give up when they are so close or they get a tiny knock down and take their eye off the big picture.

What is your favourite part of your new book?

My sabbatical, without a doubt. It took a lot of courage to leave my business, take my children out of school and travel the USA for five months.  Every time I look back at that trip I am filled with delight that we created such an incredible life experience as a family.

What do you consider is your greatest achievement to date?

Being open to learning, growing and evolving as a person, which is difficult as you need to constantly look in the mirror, be authentic and honest with yourself and park your ego at the door.  Trying to be the best possible version of myself each and every day is challenging but also incredibly rewarding.  The coaching, the books, the speaking – it’s all an incredible gift to be able to get this message to people in a simple, easy and practical way, but there is a lot of hard work behind the scenes.  Also managing chronic fatigue and constantly working on my mental and physical health I consider a great achievement as it takes a lot of effort.

What is your favourite thing to do when you’re not working?

I love love love going to the movies and absorbing the story. I love walking on the beach (hence we live bayside) and I really enjoy just pottering around the house (boring as it may sound but I love tinkering).  I also just love watching the footy on Friday nights with my husband and kids on the couch and being a unit (lots of fun!).  Favourite big thing though is travelling the world with my family and seeing it through my children’s eyes and photographing it and turning it into coffee table books – I get such joy out of photos.

Megan Houston

Balance website, community and content manager. Email

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