Monday, 25 January 2016

A shrivelled heart

I wrote the following at the beginning of 2015.

"Self preservation shrinks the good parts of life. Entering a new year and still struggling with feeling like life takes more energy than I have, self preservation seems the only option. 2014 seemed to consist of doing less and less, lots of visits to the dr, trying yo get my meds right and generally feeling frustrated. I watch other people who seem to be taking such delight in life and I ask myself what my problem is? Why is each day a battle? Why can't I seem to get to the end of the day and not feel on the verge of exhaustion.

Maybe this is all normal. Maybe parenting and working and life is just like this. But I don't think it is. I know tiredness is part of this season but dragging myself around doesn't make sense. I talk to other mums who are enjoying this season. They delight in their kids and though housework and cooking and managing tricky stages and behavior is draining, they can get out of bed in the morning."

Well unfortunately 2015 brought more of the same. I saw a great holistic gp who did tests and diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue.  This is a debated condition and not officially recognised.  Basically the adrenal glands which produce cortisol and adrenaline get drained due to long term stress and anxiety.  High levels of cortisol and adrenaline are bad for your body in lots of ways but once your body can't maintain it your cortisol drops and you get terrible fatigue. Both stress and exhaustion lead to sugar cravings and your body gets into a terrible cycle of sugar crashes, fatigue and anxiety about feeling so awful. Plus the wonderful side effect of weight gain, particularly around the tummy.

Her recommendations included dropping sugar, gluten, taking probiotics and omega3 and 6. I also needed to some exercise so starting cycling instead of driving. By March I had lost weight and was feeling much better.

But thanks to an infected toe, antibiotics, general anesthetic and hospital food, my get well plan hit the wall.

In April i got a nasty flu like virus. In the July holidays I got another one. By the October holidays I was barely functioning dragging myself through each day. I just wanted to sleep forever.

More tests and chronic sinus headaches meant more antibiotics. Specialists revealed the problem was actually my upper back and neck. And possibly post viral fatigue. 

And in November I had the end of my toe amputated.

And there is no easy fix. Rest, changing my diet, exercise to strengthen my core muscles and reducing stress. Switching meds again to see if that helps.

So back to the shrivelled heart...

I think the most painful part of the last year has been the slow hardening and shrivelling of my heart as I have to carefully calculate the energy - physical, mental and emotional- which I can afford to expend.  Conversations I want to have will take to much and so I don't start them, time with precious people is a luxury I couldn't afford, generosity of time and affection, even to my own kids and hubby felt impossible. And each cruel and cold calculation shrivelled my heart some more. Cause I love people and doing things and making life good. And I haven't been able to do it.

So a year later I am making big changes. Thanks to hubby's new job I am able to stop working.  Leaving my dream job was a very hard decision. But it had got to the point where I couldn't get out of bed in the morning and I felt working was just becoming impossible.

This year I am determined to take back control of my health. I will have three days of 5 hours without my kids. My wonderful husband wants me to rest and slow down. I am looking forward to doing simple things like reading, going for walks and writing. I want to spend time in the vege garden and with the chickens. I want to enjoy not rushing and being able to look after my kids with out constant childcare logistics. I am even looking forward to having a cleaner house and cooking recipes from my loved but not well used, cook books.

And through this I hope my raisin-like heart will swell and be refreshed again. I want life to hold new promise and possibility and to regain some of the confidence I have lost. I want life to be more than a test of survival and a disappointing struggle.