Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night with your heart racing, burning up, only to get chills the moment you toss the covers off? So exhausted that you’re physically nauseous and think, “is this it? Am I actually dying right now? Am I even going to make it until morning??” That is what happened to me last night, and it was equal parts maddening and terrifying.
I went to bed at 8:45, fell asleep relatively easy, then woke up at 9:30 burning up. I kicked off the blankets, immediately got cold chills and covered back up, then started to sweat again. Sometime around midnight I finally fell back asleep, only to wake up at 1 to another hot/cold spell and sick to my stomach.
At 2am I moved to the couch, thinking a change in location might help me finally get to sleep. Sometime after 3 I finally fell asleep, then woke up at 5:30 to another hot flash, nausea, and a headache. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. My heart was racing. I felt for a moment like I was going to die right where I lay. What was wrong with me??
I’ve never felt so bad, and I knew it wasn’t an illness. I hadn’t caught a virus. I didn’t pick up a bug anywhere. At no point did the thermometer register anything but a normal reading despite catapulting from sweating to shivering in a matter of minutes. No, this sickness was self-made. It was the result of not sleeping, and not sleeping was the result of stress, and the stress was the result of doing too much.
I called in sick to work today and laid on the couch in utter silence until 10:30am, when I suddenly had epiphany. I’m doing this to myself. I’m a single mom, working full time, going to school part time, and also trying to maintain a social life. This has been the story of my life for years, but now it’s suddenly too much. Why?
Because I’m putting too much pressure on myself, that’s why. Because I’m planning too much, and trying too hard to be in control when life is seldom predictable or controllable. All it takes is one thing to not go the way I want it to, and everything comes crumbling down. I’ve always been structured, because you just have to be when you’re a single mom. But I’ve reached the point where it’s completely unreasonable.
I realized that I have everything planned out. I laid on this couch and thought, “when was the last time I woke up on a Saturday and didn’t know what I was going to do that day?” The answer – it’s been so long that I can’t even remember the last time. Today is the first day in months that I’ve lounged around the house with no plans, no goals to meet, no structured day or place to be (thanks to PTO and a fantastic boss)…and it’s because I made myself physically sick from stress to the point where I had no choice but to take it easy.
That is not okay! Saturdays used to be my favorite day of the week. I would get up, make coffee, turn on the TV or read, make some breakfast. Then after an hour or two I would get up and do some cleaning. Or during Farmer’s Market season I would head downtown for some coffee and fresh veggies. Do you know when the last time I went to the Farmer’s Market was? Yeah…neither do I!
And then, later in the day when I’d had enough of hanging around the house, I would text friends and see who wanted to head out for a drink or come over to hang on my patio, go hiking…anything! It was fun, because there was no obligation to uphold. I had obligations all week long with work and school and kids’ activities. It felt so good to just let a day unfold as it wanted to, and sometimes not even leave the house at all the entire day (because I’m an introvert and a homebody by nature).
It dawned on me while laying on this couch today that that is what I need more of.
- Fewer plans
- Fewer obligations
- Less control
- More down time
- More “let it be”
So my friends, I’m making some changes. You might see more of me, or you might see less of me. We might not have plans for next Tuesday at 6:00, but you might get a phone call on Saturday evening asking if you want to meet me downtown in an hour. You might see a little less of me on social media, because I’ll be taking some much-needed down time. But you might see more of me in person when I’ve had so much down time that I’m bored and ready to get out of the house on a whim.
Something else that I’ve let slip lately is my health. I’m the opposite of a stress eater, which means I’ve lost weight over the last few months. Too much weight. In a quest to gain some back, I’ve started eating like absolute crap, and haven’t exercised, at all. I’ve been eating all carbs and junk and sugar, and very little fruits and veggies. If you know me, then you know that is far from normal. So tonight when I drop the kids off at SRE, I’m going to get up off of this couch, put on something that won’t scare the hell out of the other shoppers, and I’m going to the store to buy some fruit and veggies so I can get back to my plant based diet.
Y’all, I’m taking my life back. I’m taking my health back. I’m taking my happiness back. Right here, right now, by taking a nap on this couch until the kids get home. If I’ve been anything less than my fun, spunky, happy self…I’m sorry. But please stand by…because I’m working on a comeback!