I’m not a huge New Year’s Resolution person, but this year, in the throes of exhaustion just after Christmas, I picked a theme for 2019:
At the time I was feeling very drained, and I had an image of my ideal self in my head: not super-fit, but fitter. Stronger. I wanted to push my body with exercise to make it better, more able to fight off illness, strong enough to keep going even when things get tough. I also wanted to make myself stronger mentally. I felt anxious and stressed most of the time. What could I do to make myself stronger? Other people depend on me – how can I strengthen myself to deal with that?
And then I came down with pleurisy (which if you don’t know, is inflammation of the lining around the lungs, and no, I don’t smoke and I don’t really know how I got it).
It happened quite quickly, really: one moment I felt alright, the next, I had a weird, burning pain in my chest. Every time I inhaled, it hurt, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe properly. The doctor initially diagnosed me with flu. I went to work, like an idiot, because it was my last week there and I didn’t want to let them down.
It all went downhill from there, really.
I spent the first four or five weeks of 2019 with stabbing pains in my chest, barely able to walk from one side of the room to the other, totally short of breath, unable to do the school runs, to pick up my kids, to do anything remotely useful. Now, seven weeks on, if I play with the kids too much or I try and run, my chest starts aching. Sometimes on the school run, I have to stand there silently instead of talking to anyone, because I feel so exhausted from the walk there. On top of that, just when I was getting over the worst of it, I caught a bad cold, so I spent another week being pretty poorly.
Then, one by one, everyone else got sick: first our daughter, who had to take two days off school. Then our son, and Chris, both of whom are still ill. In fact, my little boy is snoring next to me as I write this, clingy even in his sleep.
It’s been a rough start to the year.
I haven’t had time to think.
In the evenings, I’m still fighting off my own thoughts, that turn anxious and dark as my body gets tired. It’s a weird thing to be pestered constantly by your own thoughts. To not be able to switch them off. I talk about it not to gain sympathy but just to get it out there, because the more we talk about this stuff, the more we normalise and understand it. I’ve got a feeling exercise will help me out, but I can’t do that without my chest hurting, and I’m not sure it’s severe enough to see my GP.
I also, weirdly for a Christian, find it difficult to pray about my own mental health.
So that’s where we are.
Pretty much the opposite of strong.
I’m functioning, obviously. I’m able to do things pretty normally now (almost). I’m still laughing and having fun and doing normal stuff. It’s just, everything’s left me feeling a bit flat, underneath it all. What a weird, down way to start the year.
I haven’t been writing, which usually alleviates stress. I can’t keep my eyes open in the evenings for studying, let alone writing for fun.
But I’m finding time today, because I need it. Not because I want to lift anyone up or inspire anyone or make people happy. Just because I need to start again somewhere.
Really this post is just to touch base, but also to remind myself – it’s actually okay to not be strong. Sometimes I need to let myself just be what I am, and not what I’m trying to force myself into. Goals are good until they start to suffocate you.
I’ll get stronger, eventually.
Right now I just need to let myself be where I am right now.
For the first time in ages I feel inspired to blog, so you can hopefully expect more from me now as the year goes on! Hope you’ve all had a good start to the year!