I had to do nothing today. I had been looking forward to getting stuff done. I had a whole to do list waiting for me, segmented by category of work. My computer was charged, my schedule was clear. I was ready.
I laid down on my couch on my heating pad, with my book in hand. But my brain hurt. I started to read, but couldn’t focus. I realized if I kept going like that, I would have a full-blown migraine.
I stopped reading to hopefully hold it off. I rubbed my temple and started Netflix. There wasn’t much I could do. It was that or try to take a nap.
It’s powerfully frustrating to want to work and not be able to. You have the time, the place, and the work, but you could not do it. On top of that you have to deal with the feelings that you’re letting yourselves and others down.
I have constantly to repeat to myself “You’re not being lazy. You’re not taking a break. You’re ill and need to recover” It doesn’t matter if I believe that I shouldn’t need to recover. My body and brain are telling me otherwise.
Having a migraine is not the only experience like this I have or many people have. And having spent yesterday recovering from something else, like back pain, doesn’t mean that today I don’t have to recover from or suffer through a migraine.
Sitting still and not working can be really hard. It isn’t all that relaxing to lay there watching TV. It’s not as fun as it sounds. I try to take advantage of it and think of the unintended and enforced down time as relaxing, but it’s a challenge. Because it’s a lie. It’s being sick. And it’s not fun or relaxing.
It’s particularly difficult because we’re taught that being productive is much of our worth, that if we’re not working, we should be doing something else laudable, like working on a hobby or spending time with family.
We are all so busy. We tell each other how busy we are and use that a reason and excuse for everything. We are supposed to be busy doing, doing, all the time and if we aren’t, it’s almost shameful.
I’m trying to rewire my brain and give myself permission to be “sick.” I’m trying to remind myself it is okay to need to rest, to take time to recover no matter how inconvenient or irritating it is to me. I am trying to teach myself not to feel shame for needing the time and rest, because it’s as I said, I need it.
Do you ever feel ashamed of needing time to rest and recover while you’re ill? Do you ever get frustrated at how at the mercy of your body and mind you are? That you are always going to have these episodes? How do you explain it to others and to yourself? How do you give yourself permission to do nothing? Sometimes days, weeks, months, at a time?