After three or four weeks of no sleep, it finally caught up to my body. I felt like the Terminator at the end of the first movie (see below for reference). My joints ached from a nasty fibromyalgia flare up. Fatigue made every movement sluggish. Getting out of bed took some serious exertion. I just did not have it in me.
I spent the better part of the week in bed trying to recoup. I suffered through Monday and Tuesday at work. While trying to do some paperwork Tuesday evening, I started nodding out at my laptop. It did not get better the next, so I called out Wednesday. I fought through Thursday. I gave up by Friday, leading to another call out. Even the days I went to work, I went straight home and to bed.
It was some of the worst pain I experienced in months. It hurt to walk or lift anything. It is difficult to not be hard on yourself when even your basic abilities are that limited. I knew that the doctor could not do much for me if I went. I had to wait it out and simply rest. Unfortunately, this gave my mind the time it needed to wander down the path of darkness.
Some old friends decided to come by and say hello. First, my unrealistic expectations paid a visit. I thought I had this shit under control once and for all, and here I am back at square one. All of that progress over the last three years washed down the drain.
Next marched in rumination. I could not help but greet them with anxiety. A goal I outlined nearly two years ago was maintaining balance with my overall well-being. If I was feeling this way, how would I ever be able to keep up with other areas of my life like work and relationships? I spiraled.
Then came in emotional distancing and numbing. In order to protect myself from….well myself, I started shutting down. The natural coping mechanism when experiencing a negative stimulus is to avoid it. This includes thoughts and feelings. I made a piss poor attempt at distracting myself with closing my eyes or watching a plethora of YouTube videos.
Then, the big guy, my best bud, my old pal, hopelessness peeked around the corner. He and I had quite the history. He usually only came around when he needed something and had horrible timing. Hopelessness was always hiding in the deepest, darkest depths on my psyche. He knew he was not welcome. Keep in mind that I would never do anything to hurt myself. I swear my life on that. However, it is difficult to keep your mind from wandering there once it has ventured there before.
I greeted them with a grunt. It was time to have a conversation with them. I acknowledged the fact that they would all be part of me. They were there during all of the trauma over the last two decades, and they made themselves at home. They had to move over for some new roommates however. These new guys were more supportive. I did not want my old buddies to move out because without them, I would not have become who I am today. I learned a lot from them. I get that they wanted to visit me while I was so down, but they never gave me the support I needed to get back up on my feet.
With that being said, they understood. They moved over hesitantly. The new guys stopped by. Self-care reminded me that I needed the rest in order to get myself back together. Self-esteem told me that I was doing a great job with what I had. My realistic expectations told me about the huge adjustments I made over the last few years for my health and the hard work I put in.
Hopefully, my old buddies can take a few notes from the new guys.
-The Caring Counselor