My journey (so far) with Chronic Fatigue
For the first time in almost 8 years, I stopped. I needed a break. A break from the constant effort of building my career- from teaching (and subbing) classes and from posting on social media. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of energy to post daily, especially with little engagement in return. Zoom fatigue is real too. Teaching 4 or more weekly classes online to mostly blank screens was exhausting, so I let 2 of the classes go. I had spent almost 8 years running around, teaching, subbing, trying to build my career. It took its toll.
One of the many things this pandemic taught me is the importance of slowing down, of just being. That forced stop gave me the opportunity to really see how what I was doing just wasn't working. The exhaustion set in and it probably took me 3 weeks of being able to do nothing to finally start feeling "normal" again. This lesson was so important and needed. I knew that I needed to make some shifts in my life to allow more space for stillness. That working or running myself into depletion just wasn't worth it.
My time in lockdown was 3 months of bliss (not taking into account the 4 months it took for the state to pay me unemployment compensation). I thrived in the quiet and solitude. I felt rejuvenated and refreshed. I developed a daily asana practice and practiced self care.
Unfortunately, that time didn't last and I had to return to work outside the home in late June, 2020. I fully intended to bring some of the stillness with me, but I soon found that would be almost impossible.
I work a customer service job, interacting with a ton of people daily and ride a bus to work. The stresses before included a long commute and dealing with shoplifters and rude customers. During Covid, those stresses have increased tenfold. The constant anxiety of catching Covid from people who don't know how to wear a mask correctly (or care to try) coupled with the people who don't feel like they should have to follow the safety procedures put in place...it wears on you. No one should have to put their life at risk just to be able to pay their bills and have food to eat. (Anyone else notice that the people who have to work outside their homes now also make the least amount of money?)
My sympathetic nervous system is jammed on to high alert all the time and it's super hard for me to regulate it. Aside from the exhaustion and stress, I'm also angry constantly (my window of tolerance is rather low). My counselor tells me that anger is a perfectly normal response to having someone put your life at risk (thank you for the validation!)
I have no energy and the smallest things seem super hard (even something like drawing myself a bath). I can't seem to find the energy to connect with friends or respond to emails. I even missed my period one month because I was so depleted. All I want is to rest and recharge. I have the tools but no energy to use them.
But there's no end in sight. Retail workers won't be eligible for the vaccine until May at the earliest (we're not even listed) and starting on March 22, the Governor is increasing capacity in stores to 50%, further increasing our risk of catching Covid.
I wish I had the answers or knew how to find my way out of this hamster wheel of Hell, but there's no end in sight. I feel stuck, like there's all this water pushing on a beaver dam but nothing is getting through.
There's no cure for chronic fatigue and it's something you have to be really careful with, really finding space to create balance and not overdo anything. And the extreme depletion can have deeper and long lasting effects on body and mind. Chronic fatigue can be caused by just doing too much- burning out your adrenals (think too much work and stress), and by any circumstances that create an imbalanced nervous system, like trauma, where your nervous system is always in fight or flight mode.
It's times like this that I really miss my cat. She was always such a comfort and her presence alone encouraged me to slow down and just be there.
I took this past week off. I used up all my sick time (it took me a year to earn it all!) but I was desperate for some rest. Now that my return to work is looming, my anxiety has reared its ugly head. I wish I could say that this week left me feeling recharged but unfortunately not. It's going to take so much more. It's my fervent wish that I will soon be able to manifest space for me to nourish my body and my nervous system.
I'm not sure how often I will post on social media, if at all. Somehow it just feels like there are more important things to worry about.