About four or five years ago I sincerely believed that I had learned much in terms of practicing self care and was practicing it more than I ever had. I’d been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in 2003, and Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia in 2009. Because of this, I believed that I learned to slow down my life. And in some ways I really did. I stopped working in 2013 because it was just too stressful for me to continue working while trying to manage my health conditions. I was very proud of myself, actually, for doing this because I quit my job before it got to the point where my employer could fire me, whereas my three employers before that had all let me go due to my health issues and frequent absences. But, I must have built some thick skin because my absences decreased over time, even though my symptoms were increasing.
What this meant, though, is that although I was trying to practice self-care, I also was driving myself into the ground somewhat and eventually had a meltdown/breakdown. But, I couldn’t see this coming because I really thought that I was doing the right things for myself. Even after I stopped working I still held myself to a strict workout schedule of 5 days a week, which I had developed over the past year or so due to wanting to lower my weight and high blood pressure. When I was tired and needed to rest, I would generally rest in the beginning of the day and then workout afterward if that was part of my schedule for that day.
I did rest on days that I absolutely needed to. Still, when I look back, I have no idea how I kept up a workout routine like that and was active in AA for as long as I did considering the severity of my health problems (I kept up the workout routine for about two years or so). Eventually, though, I grew more and more tired until I just couldn’t keep up those routines anymore. Also, I realize that due to memory loss I had lost some of my coping mechanisms that I had always used when I am sick. It turns out, then, that even though I really believed that I had learned to slow down, in a lot of ways I had not.
I still tried to keep up my routines for a few years after that. I was never able to do so consistently though since about 2015. Part of this, too, was because I have been totally exhausted due to having an onslaught of repressed memories and working through severe abuse, as well as taking care of sick cats. And, I felt so out of control in terms of my mental health that I over-did trying to treat it, which has only resulted in more fatigue.
I have always had a problem with pushing myself past my own limits, however, today I am truly learning to slow down for the first time. Part of the reason I learned to do this was out of necessity due to the memories, and part of it has been intentional. And, it’s a good thing that I am learning this because I currently have had mono for about 5 months or so.
Despite all of this, it seems as though I’m doing too much. This past Wednesday I had a breakdown and was able to recognize that I was more exhausted than I realized, and that this definitely played a part in why it happened. I also for the first time was able to recognize what triggered my PTSD that resulted in this breakdown (on top of generally being exhausted). I have not yet been able to do this in the way that I did last week.
Usually when I have a meltdown/breakdown or a bad day, I jump back into whatever routine I’m in as soon as it passes. This time, though, I remembered how I used to take a day off after I started to feel better when I was sick years ago. So, I spent Thursday and Friday resting as much as I could and skipped exercise for those two days. It seems to have helped because I was able to do things outside of the house on both Saturday and Sunday. I am tired today, but want to work out. I’m going to do that tomorrow, though, because I am seeing an optometrist today and don’t want to wear myself out.
It’s interesting to me that while I thought that I was practicing self-care more than I ever had (which I associated with growth from AA), that I’d actually forgotten some self-care techniques that I developed as a kid and used into my adulthood for some time. Today, though, I am beginning to remember those forgotten coping skills, which I hope will help me to be able to actually recover from mono. I don’t like being sick for this long, so I need to do what it takes to get better.
It’s weird to look back on my life and recognize that I really had some faulty thinking and beliefs about where I was in life and what I was doing/accomplishing. As I said, I think that some of this was due to memory loss, but some of it I also feel was to justify my participation in AA and because I felt like I needed to make my life out to be better in order to “stay sober”. But today I realize that I don’t need to make anything up/convince myself of anything or justify things in order to not drink and to function in life. Still, when I look back, all of my weird ideas of my life before integration (during my time in AA) embarrass me quite a bit.
I do think that part of the reason why my brain started integration was because some part of me missed my life before AA and sobriety. I must have somehow recognized deep down that in a lot of ways, my life was better before I went to AA and met the people that I did. So, I must have decided that I wanted those parts of my life back.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment below.