I’m not Wonder Woman, nor do I want to be.
It’s a pretty obvious statement really, but it hasn’t stopped me acting like any of the above in the invincibility stakes – to my own detriment.
I’ve struggled with varying degrees of fatigue since I burnt out in 1999 after graduating university. In my life of living invincibly, I have worked more than full-time (there is such a thing when there’s extended trading hours and you can work till 9pm every night, as well as Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays), and studied full time – although I wouldn’t describe it as studying exactly. It was more attending classes between partying, writing 10,000 word essays the night before they were due, and spending nights filming or chained to an editing machine. I was a film student and that’s how we rolled. Perhaps the unhealthiest of the uni students, we squeezed in 4 hour editing sessions at 2am in the morning, surviving on a diet of vending machine chocolate bars and hot chocolate, crisps, and late night runs to Fast Eddies for pots of tea and chicken burgers and chips. I can’t believe I survived!
Ever since then, I’ve spent my life over-working, over-partying, over-loving, over-volunteering and over-exercising…I’ve lived a life of overdoing it – ‘it’ being whatever was the flavour in my life at the time. I’ve even over-blogged, so much so that it impacted on my relationship. If you’re a seasoned blogger, that you would understand.
At the age of 37 I’ve pretty much learnt my lesson.
I know my limitations, which aren’t like normal people. I can’t work full-time, I can’t go out partying, I can’t attend multiple meetings during a week, I can’t drive at night, I can’t commit to people to do…anything. I’m blessed with so many amazing people wanting to meet me at the moment and I feel like a failure because I need to schedule them in, not because of my crazy schedule, but because of my fatigue. My learnings have come too late.
As I sit here my eyes feel puffy and bloodshot and my body is heavy – especially my limbs. I feel beyond exhausted. I feel like I have been hit by a freight train, although there is an absence of pain today.
This morning it was a challenge to raise my arms and legs whilst lying in bed. They were a mixture of cement and rag-doll state. Heavy but floppy. I struggled to raise my head off the pillow. Even to open my eyelids. But I got there and managed to do a few hours of work. Luckily I didn’t have to drive anywhere as that would have added an element of danger to my day – something I do not need. My car doesn’t either – it really can’t handle another accident.
It was a real struggle to get through the onset of brain fog this afternoon, but how can I explain brain fog for those that don’t know what it’s like?
I guess it’s like how you feel when you are not thinking straight, when you’ve had a big or late night and wake up groggy the next day, when your brain is struggling to fire up and get functional. After a few productive hours I sat there at my computer, staring at the screen knowing that I had things to do, but not being able to do them. My eyelids were heavy. My eyes watered and I could not focus. After a 20 minute meditation break I managed to write an article (half sitting up on the couch – not the perfect posture at all!), and then fell into some weird stupor on the couch – somewhere between awake and asleep, I knew what was going on around me, but my body refused to participate in anything. And now I sit here contemplating dinner. Sure, I’m writing – I’ve wanted to write for myself all week but haven’t been able to. But dinner. Cooking. Eating. I really can’t be bothered. I could so go to bed once I hit publish on this post.
This is what happens to me after a day in the office, a workshop, after giving a speech, after attending a meeting. Sure, it has degrees, and today is a bad example, but its generally the way it goes. That’s why I ‘schedule’ in down time around these activities. That’s why I can’t overcommit (I’ve learnt the hard way after having to pull out of or cancel various activities and meetings). My health is numero uno, as is my safety. When I’m like this, driving, well, it’s dangerous for me.
I have tried so hard to accept and deal with my fatigue. I’ve tried all kinds of diets, had all kinds of tests, I’ve exercised, not exercised, slept, not slept. I’ve decreased my working hours, worked from home, drank caffeine, given up caffeine. I’ve tried supplements, quick fixes, miracle cures. I’ve seen specialists, tried alternative therapies, I feel like I’ve done it all. The only thing that has helped has been cutting back, accepting my limitations, and being kind to myself. It’s been decreasing the stress in my life. It’s been listening and watching my bodies reactions to everything. It’s been being more mindful, and restoring that mind / body connection.
But it’s not a cure.
I accept my fatigue but I hate it.
I hate the fog. I hate the feeling. I hate how it interrupts my life and what I want to do, because I know I could do so more. It’s been 15 years, and I’m tired of it.
In saying that, I persist, and I will do what I can do in this life I have been given. Hell, it could be so much worse. I’m lucky. I walk, I talk, I’m alive. And I’m not in the grips of depression. I am generally the happiest I have ever been – ever! I just need to remind myself that I’m human and that I’m no superhero. I also need to allow myself to have down days, because we can’t have it all nor do we really want it all. What we have already – this glorious thing called life – is enough, and anything else is icing on the cake.