I logged on to write a post called "Taking Care of Me," then realized I already wrote one with that name , just a few months ago! As I said in that earlier post, I seem to have to keep learning the same lessons over and over again.
As I've mentioned here a lot recently, I've been feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and frantically busy. I've had several mini breakdowns lately, including Thursday night (as I wrote here), when I said, "I just can't go on like this!" Well, I finally listened to myself.
I am canceling my plans to go to the NJ CFS Association 's annual Conference on Sunday. Last Sunday, we went on a 4-hour college visit, and it took me most of the week to recover from that. I just couldn't stand the thought of feeling so totally wiped out for another week, and the conference would be an all-day 11- or 12-hour ordeal (I live about 2 hours away) that totally wiped me out last year. As soon as I made this decision, I felt an immense sense of relief, so I know it is the right thing to do.
The ironic thing is that I am doing much better health-wise and am able to do more these days, but I don't feel much better on a day-to-day basis because I am pushing against my limits constantly. I have let my activity and stress level increase along with my stamina, so I am in no better shape overall than before. As I said, I just can't go on like this anymore.
I feel lately as if my life is nothing but obligations and responsibilities. When I look back over the past week (or any of many past weeks), I can't see anything that I did for myself, for fun. My time is filled with must to-dos, and the pressure is starting to get to me. I realized yesterday that there are lots of things that I used to enjoy, that I no longer seem to have time for: reading magazines, watching movies, reading my favorite CFS blogs, camping with my family. Some of these things are trivial, some are important, but the point is that they are things I enjoy that I no longer have enough time for.
I set goals every year for myself and try to keep track of them on a weekly basis (otherwise, I write the list and forget about it until the end of the year!), and some of the items on my list I am failing miserably at. For instance, I have recognized this problem in myself before, so one of my weekly goals is "Do something fun for myself." Whole months go by when I can't think of a single thing I did toward this goal! Same with "Go outside for 10 minutes a day," "Meet Ken for lunch," "Meet with friends," and "Do something fun with the kids." See the pattern?
An online friend of mine includes progress toward her goals on her blog, and I was stunned when I saw that almost all of her goals were things for herself: learning new things, making time for things she enjoys, etc. I tried to learn from her and added a new goal to my list: "Take one mental health day each month for myself." I thought this was a brilliant, mind-blowing idea - to take a day off all to myself. I tried it in May and was surprised to find that I had trouble thinking of what I could do with a day off. Taking away all productive to-dos, I didn't know what to do with myself! I did end up enjoying the day but have yet to find time for another one!
So, I am rededicating myself to trying to find some balance in my life. I realize that I need to take better care of myself (another goal I am doing terribly at is "Rest when symptoms flare"). I have a tendency to spend all of my time and energy doing things for other people. I know that some of this is unavoidable. I am, after all, a wife and a mother to two teen boys. In addition to focusing on myself and my family, I also recognize that it is important to me to help other people, and I want that element in my life. However, I am realizing that I can help far more help to people if I'm not constantly exhausted and overwhelmed.
THIS time, I am determined not to forget how horrible it feels when I am so frantically busy and overwhelmed. THIS time, I pledge to take better care of myself and not get to the point where I am so wiped out that I am short-tempered and miserable. THIS time, I am committed to take time just for me and discover what makes me feel relaxed and happy.
What do you think? Will I be ranting and writing the same things a few months from now? It's almost like another sickness - my need to be constantly productive, always accomplishing something. I mean, granted, there is a LOT to do around here that often goes undone - it seems we are always behind. But my husband doesn't have trouble relaxing or taking time for himself. Maybe it's a flaw in our female psyches, this need to get everything done. I thought CFS had cured me of much of this destructive drive to do everything, but as my health has improved a bit, it has snuck back up on me. I know the computer is a big part of my problem.
I need help!! Do you have these same problems? Do you have any ideas on how I can learn to relax and take time for myself? Any ideas of how to remind myself of what's important in the midst of chaos?
OK, I am logging off now (I swear!) and spending a relaxing evening with my family (really, I mean it!). Enjoy the rest of the weekend.