There’s something fucking funny about Chronic Fatigue. Heartbreaking, but fucking funny.
The way that twenty minutes after getting up, you have to get back into bed again. The way that halfway through a meal I am too tired to keep eating so I stop and come back to it later, when it’s cold and withered…or I continue at it but can hardly chew, so end up giving myself indigestion because I’ve ingested whole chunks of chicken as apposed to nicely chewed mouthfuls.
Today is a classic one of those kinda days. I am so fucking tired I can hardly function but I can’t just lie in bed because…well, I just can’t. So instead I get up for ten minutes and attempt to do something, but am so fatigued I end up lying right where I started in the first place: BED. I have made my bed three times already and it’s only 12pm, each time with the motivation that that will be the last time I am lying in it today…but this kinda tiredness is as though I have been smacked in the face with a spade and am wearing a rucksack filled with a thousand tins of beans.
It’s days like this I just want guidance. Guidance on how to manage this fecking thing. Like, am I feeling so exhausted because I have been trying so hard to get back into the world of work, and use my focus and energy and adrenaline (what’s left of it) to do productive stuff that I love? Or do I feel so tired because I got a lot of sun yesterday, on a lovely walk, with friends? Or do I feel tired because of the PMDD shit that’s going on, and it’s just that ‘time of the month’? Or do I feel tired because I am in the process of somatic experiencing (releasing trauma)? Or am I tired because I’m eating something that isn’t working for me? Or am I tired because it’s a combination of all those things? Or am I tired just for the crack?
All I want to do for myself today is walk to my favourite hill just down the road – it is hardly even a hill, so exertion is minimal – and write my journal. The minute I woke up that is what I wanted to do. There are, of course a bunch of other stuff I want and need to do, and will do, but this is the nurturing and resourcing thing I want to do. But have I got there? NO. I have headed out the door twice but crumbled on the bench half a second from the front door, feeling too like shit to continue.
But I can’t just lie around. Beneath this fatigue is a bunch of fucking anger at this situation, and this needs to be heard because otherwise it just buzzes around my body and makes everything ten times worse. In these moments, or on these days, it’s like a battle between what needs to be done and what you want to do, to keep your soul alive. The kitchen was looking as though a bunch of vegetable munching and tahini eating teenagers had had a week long party and not washed up for any of it…a lot of this mess is/was mine. So I knew today was the today something needed to be done about it but I felt too shit to wash up. Plus, I wanted to use any inch of motivation to do something nice for me.
On the second bench-sit-down/failed attempt to reach my hill, I decided to attack the sink. And what followed was hilarious. I was so cold but didn’t have the energy to walk up the two flights of stairs to my room to get some trousers and a jumper (today it’s sunny so I’m wearing shorts, obv.), AND do the washing up. That’s how it goes – work out how I can expend the least amount of energy possible, to conserve it for what’s needed. So, I got my down jacket and put it on and just imagined that my legs were super warm too. They weren’t. They were fucking freezing. I whacked on the hot water full pelt and squirted a months supply of washing up liquid onto my sponge, turned the music up in my ears, and started WASHING UP. And then…I started to cry. And then…I couldn’t stop! It would have been a fucking hilarious sight but thankfully no-one was there to see it. Me with bubbles up my elbows, water flying everywhere, my down jacket getting a soaking, my legs in goose bumps, and me sobbing over the sink.
I sobbed, I scrubbed, I sobbed, I scrubbed. And then I looked around and it was all clean! But I wanted some more of that…the sobbing felt like such a release. And so I attacked the cooker too. I sobbed and scrubbed that too, but this felt a bit like I was trying too hard and the cooker is a bitch to clean, so I left that not feeling so inspired…more, frustrated.
I don’t know if I’m doing this ‘right’. I don’t know if there is a better way to manage your energy. I sure as hell think there is, but I haven’t worked it out yet. I don’t know if it’s good to push yourself sometimes. I don’t know if when I do, that is what makes me ten times worse the following day (PROBABLY). But what I do know is that to keep my soul alive I need to feel normal, human and capable. So, maybe what I needed was to move this anger around and have an outlet – the dirty dishes – and get it going. And it clearly worked. These kind of mini breakdowns is where healing happens: keeping it stuffed inside is where it doesn’t.
If in doubt, wash up. And if in even more doubt, wash up and have a good sob.