Your skin feels as though it's been sliced open and salt poured into the wounds. You alternate between wanting to sleep and being wide awake. You wake up at 5am but want to go back to bed at 10am. Your stomach can't hold anything. You feel... hopeless, a failure, a person who's not fit for the world.
Yet this is the reality for some people who suffer from mental health issues. I refuse to call it a “problem” because I don't let it stand in the way. For me, it's another mountain to conquer. It doesn't define me, nor will I let its label be the one thing people know me by. I'm a daughter, sister, friend, author, photographer, impromptu comedian and sometimes poker dealer (For the record, I deal blackjack better than I do poker). At the moment I'm also having a love affair with my bed (some things never change!).
But I'm still learning to live in this brand new body. My energy levels are still all over the charts, as is my concentration. I can go for weeks without having a problem before having a run of bad days. And it's learning how to deal with those bad days that's the hard part.
When the sickness began to rise a couple of weeks ago, I put it down to the heat and the high humidity. It was the same with the almost constant exhaustion and need to sleep. Ditto with the refusal to eat and drink. And then when I did get to bed, I couldn't sleep. Too hot to do anything.
Then I began noticing other things. I couldn't settle in to any one task. Work of any kind was becoming an impossibility. I'd get up to fetch something only to get halfway across the room and forget what I'd gone for. The sheer frustration was making me cry.
Slowly it dawned on me. What I was feeling wasn't a direct result of the weather (although some of it was. I'm not great with British summers. Other summers, yeah, bring it on. But British summers with their unpredictable weather and high pollen counts can be a nightmare). What I'd most likely done was use one little word way too often.
I'd say “yes” to this project and “yes” to that project. I'd said “yes” to one idea and “yes” to another. In amid it all I'd forgotten that I now need to regulate myself. Suddenly I couldn't burn the candle at both ends and run at a million miles an hour. Suddenly I needed to take time out and relax. I was horrified. But I know that I have to do it in order to build up the strength for some of the projects I want to work on. Even if it's napping on the sofa with the cat, I have to stop and listen to my own body because, if I don't, then I'll be right back to square one. And that's a frightening prospect.
One day I know I'll be able to run at a million miles an hour. One day I know I'll be able to light the candle at both ends. But first I've got to learn how to do it again.