January is a rough month. And this January has been rougher than many. As soon as I started to feel better from the medication transitions I came down with a bad cold. I’m having trouble shaking it. A lot of my goals have been put aside while I focus on making tea and food that I can eat despite my aching throat. I haven’t worked out or attended my doctor appointments, or done much of anything but the bare minimum.
When I first got sick I felt like I had to do something so I pushed myself to be productive. I couldn’t focus and instead I took care of chores and cleaning. I burned up all my energy and woke up much worse the next day.
Since then I’ve been trying to force myself to rest, rest, rest, and more rest despite my need to be doing something, to work on something, anything. When I’ve had a spike in energy, I’ve had to be careful not to go all out and set myself back further the next day. It’s so hard.
This isn’t a new problem I have. It’s just exacerbated when I am sick or having a bad mental health day. But this kind of need to always be doing makes it harder to bounce back. Instead I stay sick. In fact, I probably have a cold because I didn’t rest enough when I was struggling with my medications.
I never know when I’m taking care of myself and when I’m being lazy. As a result, I fluctuate back and forth between trying to take care of myself and trying to work hard. I’m sure I’m not the only one, especially among those who have chronic illnesses. It’s harder when you already need more downtime, especially when the world isn’t set up for that kind of need.
It’s easier to take time out for having a cold, because people understand when you tell them you have a sore throat and lost your voice, but they don’t understand when you’ve been up all night because your new medication made you wired and awake.
Of course, it was also easier for me to email in sick when I literally couldn’t speak than when I was mentally low or my back was screaming. I felt like that was a clear need. I was sick (maybe even contagious) and so I should take time off. But I have trouble giving myself that permission most of the time.
I’m afraid of being lazy and of not being as productive as other people. I feel the constant need to prove it, like I have to do even more than others because I often can’t do as much as everyone else. And then I push myself to the limit and run into a wall, which gives me no choice whether to rest or not, like this cold.
So this week, I’ve been sleeping extra, reading more, and watching TV instead of taking care of my extensive to do list. Or at least trying to. I can’t totally repress my instincts, even if that means that I have to skip making dinner because I used up all my energy catching up on email and other small things.
I try to believe that’s why there’s frozen pizza: for days when I am not up to making dinner for whatever reason. Is that lazy or just what I need at that time? I’m trying to believe it’s the latter and for others I would of course recognize that there are frozen pizza days and cook from scratch days. As a result, I’m trying to trust myself to know the difference. I’m trying to rewire my need to be productive and always doing to more accurately represent my instincts.
This post has a lot of the word “try” in it. I feel like that’s not an inaccurate representation of where I am mentally, physically, and in general—this is what I think I was getting at with my post on resolutions. So in that regard, I am on track to fulfill my goals for this year, in a roundabout way!