One day it just stopped working
I had heard of the stories of people having ‘physical breakdowns’ from long term stress but I always figured I was young, did all the things I was meant to try and do to minimise my stress and honestly, I had stopped properly feeling stressed so figured I had it somewhat under control. What I did have under control was my ability to function under abnormal circumstances, I had re-written my wiring to handle what most people would find stressful to be my norm and frankly, having a physical breakdown wasn’t an option trying to raise my family.
So once all the noise surrounding me reduced and I wasn’t running on adrenaline, my body just started to slow. It was one of the most bizarre experiences I have had. I was mentally ok, after many years of battling mental illness on and off, I know when it isn’t right, this was different. My body quite literally wouldn’t lift itself, my legs were heavy, they ached, I would exercise and within two hours want to return to bed and sleep. I couldn’t seem to ‘go’ with any kind of pace, slowing my life right down to what I would consider a stop. I have been waking up from 5.30am since I was 18 years of age, my body clock generally always clicks in, I used to study early in the mornings yet now I found myself heavily wanting to sleep at these times. The only reason I would actually move is because the boys were up and wanted breakfast and the TV turned on.
This kind of started right before Covid hit and life was still somewhat normal, but I put it down to just feeling off and it would correct itself. This actually lasted 6-7 months and I now realise what my body needed most was sleep, rest and to be healed. It had finally stopped, I wasn’t showing any signs of slowing down so it decided it would do it for me. Throughout this period is when I have had an autoimmune disease diagnosis, lost the ability to weight train without chronic fatigue, found the major issues I have with my stomach, sought treatment for PTSD and no matter how much the Leo in me told me to go – it just wouldn’t. It just broke! For the first time ever, my body grew jack of me taking it for granted and would no longer cooperate. Well shit!
And so I rolled with it, I decided to let it come over me, ride the wave and hope to hell I found my way back to a new normal. I definitely didn’t anticipate it would take this long when I gave myself over to the process. I stopped weight training, began working with a clinical nutritionist, kept working with my chiro and psych and stopped pushing my body above a heart rate of 150bpm for anymore than 30mins at a time when exercising. It’s been a lot to digest but I know deep down my body has just needed this. On top of chronic stress, I have carried two babies and have never given my body the respect or rest it deserves even post birth. I have pushed it and it really just needed time to heal.
This whole process has been a lot to get my head around. I have shed quite a few tears feeling frustrated with how I feel, feeling alone with the heaviness of fatigue as you don’t feel as though people understand you, irritated that my immune system can’t seem to fight off the most basic of viruses. I have felt disappointment that I can’t do the things I want to do that others can do, I have felt like a disappointment and a let down at times. I am still going through this healing process and my body is certainly far from being at full strength, I actually have no idea if it ever will be or whether I even want to have it running at that capacity again. Small things have started to return, my body clock is turning on again more, my bouts of fatigue are slightly less, I have learnt to listen to my body more when it’s telling me it needs rest, I am mentally accepting that perhaps my capacity is just, very different. I am learning to silence my inner critic telling me that I am not good enough and instead re-writing that narrative to tell myself that I deserve to feel good and I deserve to do the things I need to for it to happen – this is no one else’s journey, it’s mine only and I don’t need to justify anything to anyone else. I have also learnt to take more notice of things that do stress me out, more normal parts of life like the busyness of the kids, trying to manage a household etc. For so long, I did not recognise this as stress, it seemed minimal compared to what I was dealing with. But now I am getting better at noticing when the kids are driving me nuts and we need to switch it up a little or when I am starting to move at a frantic pace, stopping and asking for help.
I had always heard the affects that long-term severe stress can take on a person’s body but never really took it onboard, I probably was arrogant enough to think that it would not happen to me. I was too focused on maintaining my mental health and prioritizing my physical health was just not even on the list. But again I find myself humbled and still feel like I have so much still to learn about myself in this life, but I am not afraid of change. I feel in many ways, my wiring wasn’t quite right and the last five years have delivered greater learning and development than what I did for the first 25 years of my life. I believe, these things, along with my body refusing to play ball was meant to happen to me to teach me how to change the person I was and get to more of the person I know I have wanted to be.
So much of my baggage got lost in transit and I ain’t going back for it!