So here I am, sitting in the library, wondering quite where this week went wrong.
To be honest I think it all started from the hospital appointment on Monday.
After 12 hours of laxative and therefore diarrhoea (Such a pretty mental image right?), and then 24 hours without food, I was already pretty out of wack to begin with and had the beginnings of a migraine thanks to hunger and dehydration. I wasn’t taken to my procedure until around 4/5pm, which means the sedative hadn’t quite worn off by the time I made it into the office the next day. Why I was asked to come in on the day after I don’t know…let alone have the next day off? Meh, I just walk into the office and do as I’m told, I can’t do much more than that.
Since then my sense of time has just gone out of the window, the week seemed to fly by without warning and I’ve arrived on campus without any work done for my tutorial. Not to say I didn’t try, but I’ve found it hard to focus this week. The lack of sleep has probably had a lot to do with it. I’m currently having trouble staying asleep, or when I do I have freaky dreams and every so often a night terror – for which the last doctor I saw would give me nothing for.
I’ve been given pills to help me sleep by my regular GP but as I wasn’t able to see her, the last woman I saw just looked at me like I was a bit mad and sent me away to go and speak to a counsellor…like I haven’t done that already?! I mean yes, of course I have underlying issues which are preventing me from sleeping, however I feel like I’ve dealt with those as best I can. There’s only so much 10 sessions of therapy can do for you, before they tell you your time is up and you need to go and sort yourself out alone. To be honest no matter how much I talk about it, or accept the things in my life that have caused me to feel a certain way, depression and anxiety will always be a part of my life. Yes, seeing someone has made them a hell of a lot easier to deal with, and my bad days are now a rarity that will come creeping up on me every so often – but to have something there that would help me on those days would be useful. But now I’m stuck laying awake at night because I’ve run out of anxiety meds and sleeping pills that would otherwise give me a half decent night’s sleep. So then I spent all day trying to catch up with myself and not being able to concentrate, which then starts the vicious cycle of staying awake at night worrying about everything else I didn’t do or forgot about. Fun.
This brings me nicely onto the theme of fatigue. We all experience it in our lives at some point, whether it be physical or mental. Having mental health issues, a chronic bowel condition, competition prep, a full-time job AND studying for my final year in a degree…I’ve got it down to a T!
The biggest lesson I’ve ever learned (and I learned it the hard way) is to listen to your body. The amount of gym sessions I’ve put myself through, long ass nights studying, and hectic work shifts when I really should’ve been resting – way too many to count. We all do it, we all want to do our best and fit everything in to the day, but sometimes doing so just isn’t good for us. I’ve gotten better at it, and now I know when to take a step back and take a time-out. I’ve made myself ill, given myself injuries and just cried out of being so tired so many times, that it just isn’t worth it. How much time have I potentially wasted on this stupid, self-perpetuating cycle?
Now, when I know that I’m not feeling up to it, or my body is too tired, or my mind has just had enough; I take a time out. I accept the fact that I’m not going to the gym today, or that the work I need to do will just have to wait. My health comes first. Take yesterday for an example; I was supposed to go for a long run in preparation for the half-marathon, but my body was killing me after a heavy session on Sunday and I hadn’t slept well either, so when my alarm went off? I accepted the way that I was feeling, turned it off and got back into bed. Yeah, I couldn’t sleep, but I rested instead of going out in the cold and pushing myself. The last thing I need right now is an injury, and as long as I’m sticking to my diet plan, what’s to lose? I can make up for the one day I missed later in the week when I’m feeling better.
Fatigue is one of the worst things, it’s more severe than being just ‘tired’. It’s almost a numbness that comes over you, a thick fog of lethargy and apathy, and you’re nearly always acutely aware of it. Most people just carry on with their lives, ignoring it and eventually burning themselves out, but I know for a fact I can’t push myself that far. If I burn out it what help will it do? Will it make my mental health any better? Will it make the bowel issues go away? Will I be anymore productive at work or with study? Hell no. Instead it’ll make these things seem 100x worse and I’ll have to take even more time out to recover from it – so what’s the point?
As patronising as the ‘self-care’ movement may be, they’ve got a point. All I want to say to people struggling with fatigue is to just give yourself time, rest. Looking after yourself is important, and you should stop giving a fuck about everyone else once in a while and start putting yourself first. If you’re too fatigued, say it, accept it. It’ll help you in the long term. You know those times where you’ve been sat at home alone, or in a coffee shop just watching the world go by? What bliss. Embrace these things and make more time for them. Hell, if it means just taking an hour to yourself in a bloody bubble bath, do it. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
“There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances. We don’t always control what happens to us. But we always control how we interpret what happens to us, as well as how we respond. Whether we consciously recognize it or not, we are always responsible for our experiences.” ― Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
Until next time.