I’m home sick. Yesterday evening I was feeling just too tired and could’t figure out why.
I was also feeling a bit emotionally labile….
This is what happens then:
1) I start getting frustrated with being low on energy
2) I may or may not cry because life is horrible enough to not allow me enough chance to do whatever I may think caused this fatigue. (Sleep, in this case). I never consider ‘illness’ as the primary problem, despite being, you know, a medical doctor. Har. Har. Har.
3) I start worrying about my mental health, solely because depression is one of the things I fear most. I get annoyed with myself for being ‘weak’.
4) I tally my options to solve whatever basic thing I think is the problem.
5) I worry about the impact of another bout of depression on my life.
6) I decide to eat healthier, get more excercise, and rest more.
7) It finally crosses my mind that, rather than some psychological issue, I may simply have caught some kind of virus. Or something somatic.
8) I decide to wait and see.
9) If I turn out to ‘have something’, I’ll still try and find ‘more healthy’ explanations for the problem. Illness is about the only thing where I maintain an avoiding coping strategy… I get stuck in denial.
In the past year and a half at least, option 7 was usually the outcome. But that’s the effect of having a mental health history. Mental health will never be something I can count on, my risk of a recurrence of depression is 95% based on general data, my risk of relapse in anorexia is somewhere along the same line. (Yet, at the moment, I can’t imagine relapsing into THAT. I just know the risk is there.) I have ADHD, that’s just how I’m wired, and that won’t change. (Though, adequate management of that may reduce the risk of the prior problems).
Meanwhile, somehow in life up till now, I’ve internalised a message that I shouldn’t whine, and that all physical complaints are whining. The problem with that is that, while I logically know this is not true and I am in fact more of a sucker-up than a whiner, I have a hard time taking my physical complaints seriously and taking proper care of myself.
It gets even harder when people respond with ‘it’s not that bad’ or ‘don’t complain’. I don’t complain, I mention a problem. I may not even ‘show’ it, because in the above mindset ‘acting normal’ is the only option. If I have, for example, a very painful persistent foot cramp somewhere, I will try to not show I’m in pain, try to subtly ‘walk it out’…. and I guess the impression is mostly that I’m weird rather than I’m in pain. If I matter-of-factly say I almost passed out from the pain, I mean I was trying to get somewhere while feeling like, for example, my belly is being crushed by an elephant, and the pain was so severe I had to sit down to prevent passing out.
It doesn’t help me to take my body seriously if any doctor who sees the above history thinks of ‘panic attack’ before thinking of ‘asthma’ if I am short of breath.
So back to yesterday. I was feeling exhausted. I put out my outfit for the morning, got stuff ready and went to bed, worrying that I may be pushing myself over my limits but not knowing how to solve it because really, I’m just a bit tired.
And then I couldn’t sleep.
Not because my mind was busy, my mind was remarkably quiet.
I got a headache, but not my normal right-sided headache (mild migraine?), it bounced all over my head. Quite annoying. And all my muscles started hurting, making it very hard to be comfortable. Paracetamol didn’t help, but I did find myself hot then cold and going through chills despite 1000mg paracetamol. Was great fun. All started within 2 hours maybe.
And this morning my throat was sore, and come to think about it, my cough is no longer related to asthma. The latter had begun to stabilise after the cold or something I caught a few weeks ago… also turns out that an empty inhaler is pointless. Anyway.
I decided to be wise, and call in sick, hoping it would reduce my sick time, hoping the problem is just fatigue and I’ll be fine halfway through the day. I’m partly proud of myself, partly worrying that I’m overreacting and should have gone to work, partly trying to figure out when to go back to work and…. what I should get done when. That’s also a bit of a denial of the truth: I spent my morning in a painful feverish half-sleep, my main activity of the afternoon was to go to the grocery store (I live alone, and I need to eat if I want to get well sooner) where I sort of had a few dizzy spells and the whole thing was just awful and painful, my wrists hurt which makes writing a bit challenging (I can rest my wrists while typing) and in general staying upright is a challenge. And I am very very tired. And cold. Or hot. So no, I can’t expect to get much done. And I’m not sure how I expect to get through uni tomorrow either, that’s a bit more challenging than picking up something to eat, drink and some paracetamol.
I’ve had the flu shot…. hopefully it has at least SOME benefit….