I had a bit of a revelation today. An epiphany of sorts. Or maybe life just slapped me in the face and told me to quit being stupid.
See, back in February or March, I had some bloodwork done that showed I had several severe vitamin deficiencies–iron being the worst. In fact, my iron is so low, my doctor was shocked I was even moving around. It’s the kind of anemia where you do blood transfusions instead of taking a pill once a day.
Suddenly all of these symptoms–the fatigue, the cold hands, headaches, depression, etc–all made sense. I finally had a diagnosis to latch on to. An explanation for why all of my mood stabilizers and antidepressants stopped working. A reason for the bone-shattering, life-destroying exhaustion I feel from the moment I wake up until I crawl back into bed.
But then I ran into a problem. I can’t take iron pills. They make me violently ill after a few days, and at the amount of iron I need, I just can’t do it. My doctor said I’d probably need infusions which would be done at the hospital, but before we could even set that up, we lost our insurance.
So here I am, hanging in limbo, barely able to function. My brain feels foggy on good days and like it’s slowly dissolving into goo on bad days. Getting out of bed is sometimes so exhausting that by the time I go to the bathroom, I’m ready to just climb back in and sleep the rest of the day. I rarely make it through a day without a nap because I physically can’t stay awake. I can’t take care of my family. I can barely take care of myself.
But I keep trying. I get up every day with plans to do the stuff I always did before. Clean the kitchen, make some coffee, get some writing in, laundry and going for a walk. And nine times out of ten, I end up disappointed in myself because I can’t do it. I end up sitting in front of the computer and nothing gets done because I can’t clear the fog in my head or I end up with a massive headache.
That’s what this last week has been like. It started well last week–I walked two days in a row and got a bunch of writing done–and then BAM! all that energy was gone. But I still had these lists of things to do–blog posts, prepping for NaNo, editing Heaven, adding to Uncalled For, writing stories for Girl Genius week–but I didn’t do any of them. The more I didn’t do the things on the list, the more stressed I got. Then the anxiety set in (which I think is causing an ulcer) and the guilt.
The breaking point was earlier today. I needed some black embroidery floss for a project. I have like every color under the rainbow (literally, I bought one of each color twenty years ago) but no black. I decided to run to Walmart, but I barely trust myself to drive in town, let alone the twelve or so miles to Walmart, so my husband offered to drive me.
We picked up a few groceries, and lucky me, there was exactly one black embroidery floss left. Score! On the way home, I’m telling him about the exhaustion and all the trouble I’m having getting stuff done for the week and being overwhelmed so he lets me order pizza so I don’t have to make lunch. Then we’re unpacking the bags and no embroidery floss. It’s not listed on the receipt either which means the cashier missed it when she checked us out.
I just lost it. I was so fatigued at that point, I was having trouble walking straight or thinking clearly. And I used what little energy I’d had that day to go to Walmart for one thing, and I didn’t get that thing. It was too much. I broke down into tears.
Later, after I had my pizza and was trying to calm my racing thoughts so I could actually nap, it hit me. Why am I even doing all of this? Why am I stressing myself out over stories and blog posts and projects? It’s not like I have to do these things for a job. I mean, I guess people that read my fanfic will be disappointed if I don’t update, but all of the pressure is internal.
It’s me making lists and plans like I did before I got sick and expecting to finish my goals like I’m well. What the fuck is up with that? It’s insane.
I’ll say it again… I’m sick. Like mega sick. Anemia isn’t something to scoff at. My doctor was literally amazed I could walk and cook dinner and do anything because my numbers were so low. I should be dead. But here I am, stressing about finishing goals I set when I was feeling better.
So, I’ve given myself permission to suck. I’ve used that phrase before when writing rough drafts. It took many years to learn the lesson (first drafts don’t have to be perfect, you know), and now, I need to transfer that to my life. It’s okay to suck. So, I haven’t updated Heaven in nearly year. So, I’m behind on Uncalled For. So, I couldn’t keep up with my prompt-a-day I wanted to do this month. And NaNo is most likely going to be a flop. In the grand scheme of my life, does any of that matter? Not really. Those things are important to me, but my health should be more important.
So, until we get our insurance back (hopefully in a few months after my husband has his surgery and finally gets back to work), and I can get treatment for the anemia, I have permission to be as sucky as I need. If all I have the energy for is watching Red vs Blue then that’s what I’ll do. If I have enough to go Pokemon hunting, I’ll do that and not feel guilty because I also didn’t do the dishes. I’ll attempt NaNo like I do every year, but I’m not going to be disappointed when I only manage a few thousand words because that’s a lot when I’m this sick.
Why is self-care always the hardest?