Nothing dramatic happened. I didn’t have an episode of any kind. I had no need to rush to the ER. No serious injuries or urgent calls to my doctor.
My body simply revolted this week.
And it was so subtle, it took me a couple of days to notice.
From waking up in the morning feeling like a weight, sculpted to the shape of my body, pinned me down, refusing to let me rise from bed, or even turn over to take my medicine, to watching hours pass, aware only of the increasing pain creeping up the back of my neck, waiting for a signal of some kind to push me to activity- my body simply has not wanted to move.
And that happens. After all, I do have a chronic illness. I used to spend every day in that haze, the hours ticking by as I debated the merits of standing to bring my dishes to the dishwasher. I love that it now seems wrong to feel that way.
But, while I struggled through each day of this past week, the mornings beginning with impossibly leaden limbs, there were two distinct days which I experienced, repeated, throughout the week.
Both involved copious amounts of napping.
On one of the days I managed to push through the barriers, to exercise, smile, laugh, and enjoy myself. I found myself reaching out to friends, and I was able to bring my dishes to the dishwasher without excessive debate.
And on the other, I simply made it through the day. I did a little bit of exercise, I made myself meals. And I waited for it to be nighttime.
The key difference between the two days was that on the first, I had plans. I had preexisting commitments, that I did not want to let down. After all, it’s not like I’m experiencing a medical emergency. The incline of my life simply tilted upwards for a while. Nothing that hasn’t happened before, nothing that won’t happen again.
And when I had a reason to get out of bed, a set time to be presentable for, I rose to the challenge. I was able to lift the crushing weight and carry it with me. I even got in visits to the gym before preparing to leave.
And once I was out, or Skyping with a friend, or doing whatever my plan that day was - I enjoyed myself. Yes, the weight was heavy on my shoulders. I was achey and got tired faster than usual. But I felt so much better having accomplished something. Being distracted. Living.
But when I had no one waiting for me, no purpose to my day, it was very easy to let the time pass. Because I was feeling awful. And why should I further exhaust myself when I’m already sore and tired, if I don’t actually have to do anything? Any of my tentative plans for the day could wait, and it would make no difference.
And on those days I found myself withdrawing. I ignored texts from friends, and as my boredom increased I grew lonely and miserable.
I fed myself. I exercised. But I did not live.
And I so desperately wish, now that I have identified the cause for those days of lethargy, that I could simply decide to push myself through them.
Maybe when I’m feeling better I’ll make a pact to do just that.
And on some days, I can. On some days, I can manage the weight myself. My own internal motivation is enough to push me through the day.
But sometimes, the weight simply feels too heavy.
And I can struggle against it. I can push with all the strength that I possess.
But sometimes, I need something to push towards.
Sometimes, I just can’t manage it alone.
Sometimes it’s transformative, to have an event to look forwards to, a friend to see, a deadline to meet.
Sometimes, it helps to have a reason.