Dear Diary – New Year, Old Me

Really, really old me. My body feels twice my age right now, and it has for quite a while.

Welcome to my laundry list of complaints. I’m tired, so tired. Exhausted, really. All day, every day. My head hurts, my neck hurts, my shoulder hurts, my stomach hurts. I have reflux, and my iron levels are low, and when I got increasingly cold and tired I decided to look up what might stop the body from absorbing iron – guess what, acid reducers do. Without the acid reducers, my throat forgets how to swallow. Pain killers, acid reducers, mental health meds, vitamins and minerals that can’t all be taken together, juggle, juggle. Meds become a bit of a balancing act, more time/mental energy consuming than they should be, I think.

Sometimes I get so tired of being so tired. It’s bleak. It’s grim. I can handle work, or kids, or home, and really only one at a time. I get Christmas until New Year’s off work each year. This year, all of my grand plans went down the proverbial toilet. I had plans to organize my overflowing bedroom. I had plans to put away all the things in boxes that I still haven’t put away from our move 4 months ago. I was going to deep clean. I was going to buy new bedding. I was going to finish transferring everything from my old computer to my new one, and wipe the old one for my son to use. I was going to do photoshop work I’ve put off for months because my exhausted, foggy brain wouldn’t work right.

Instead, I made a small Christmas dinner, I did some laundry, I went to buy some groceries. I cooked dinners. I took down the Christmas tree. I spent more than half of my time in my pyjamas. Some days I didn’t brush my hair. Many days I didn’t shower. Many days I could barely dull the raging pain in my body, many days I couldn’t quite think, every day I was run down and exhausted.

Every day I told myself tomorrow would be better. Sure, I’m beat, but I worked all December and then did Christmas baking on weekends on top of errands. That had to be it. I decided that next year I would scale back the baking, which really made me sad since I love doing it… my body won’t cooperate anymore. Boxing Day, I thought, yes I’m tired but I did dinner yesterday, I just need a day to relax. The day after Boxing Day, okay, maybe I need two days. Three days. Four days. Five days? Getting ridiculous and frustrating. People tell me just relax, just take time to feel better, that I deserve that. But I hated doing nothing. I wanted to get things done. I couldn’t truly relax because all I kept thinking about was everything that I had planned to do that wasn’t getting done, and how I certainly wouldn’t have the time or energy once I went back to work.

Friends started to insist I must be avoiding them, despite my own insistence that I just don’t feel well enough. And it’s hard to quantify pain or fatigue to other people. It’s even harder to get through to them that sometimes you can’t just rest and feel better, that sometimes even despite your best efforts you still feel like shit. It’s hard enough for me to try to understand. I often feel like this bumbling detective, trying to understand my own illness. Trying to pin down a reason for why I feel how I do. Is it because of seasonal depression? Is it because of my flaring bursitis? Is it because I did too much, or too little? Am I tired from painkillers, or am I tired from pain? Does my body feel awful because I’m depressed, or am I unhappy with life because of pain and fatigue? I once rambled this train of thought to my husband, who listened for a while, and then said “You feel like this because you have fibromyalgia. That’s why.” But it’s hard for me to wrap my head around that, and harder for me to ask other people to comprehend. Sometimes there’s no reason aside from a fibro flare. Sometimes my body just won’t cooperate because it’s sick. Period. I hate it more than anyone else does, but I have to accept it.

I currently have a referral in for a pain clinic. I’m also on a wait list to see a psychiatrist. And I have an appointment to get a steroid shot for my shoulder, which historically has helped for about 6 months. Sometimes I can bolster myself by reminding myself of these things, that I just have to hang on until… that these things will help me feel better overall. I’m able to do that less and less as time goes on. The longer I feel like I’m just hanging on and surviving, the longer I feel unhappy with everything in life, the less able I am to convince myself of that. Because I don’t know if I’ll feel better, truthfully. Just like I don’t ever know if enough rest will help, if I’ll wake up feeling okay tomorrow. Life feels more and more difficult to keep up with as time goes on, and it’s like I’ve been treading water for so long that my limbs are too tired to continue and I start dipping under. Maybe I won’t ever get up on dry land again, but it would be nice to feel like there’s some footing under me, at least, to just feel a little less worn out.

Depression and illness has crept up on me like contractions did, during labour. Slowly. Ow, that hurts. Ooh that hurts. Yikes, that really hurts. But then faster. And it hurts more, and more, and the reprieves in between get shorter and shorter, until you’re just riding this wave of pain that feels like it’s never going to end.

So this year, I couldn’t find it in me to care about the new year. All of the celebration and tradition felt arbitrary, asinine and frivolous. I honestly could not care a whit. I can’t care about the bulk of life, right now. I feel very defeated. Defeated, deflated, disenchanted.

Here’s to a new year, same as the old year… where people pretend they’ll be better versions of themselves and then laugh when nothing changes. It’s the running joke, right, new year – new me, for a week, anyway. I haven’t made new years resolutions in years, because those resolutions are always as meaningless as a one-night stand. Nobody follows through, I know I certainly wouldn’t, and I just don’t care to engage in the empty ritual.

Frankly, I care less and less about a lot of things. Whether people like me, whether people suit me. I’ve cut a lot of people out of my social media, not because they’re bad people or because I hate them, but because we have no relationship at all. I care less about pretending. No, we’re not friends anymore, not really, and I don’t have interest in seeing the bits of their lives that they deem social media-worthy. I also don’t need them to see those bits of my life either. Facebook had begun to feel like a bad high school reunion and I’m so over that. A lot of my curiosity is gone, whether that’s because I know that none of it matters in the end or whether it’s a depression byproduct, I don’t know. I don’t care anymore about things that don’t add value to my life, and the list of what adds value to my life is becoming narrower. I just don’t have the energy.

Anyone want my list of practical, ongoing resolutions? These are things that might be useful to some.

  • Make goals. Identify the things you want in life and make plans to work toward them. But also,
  • Understand the things that you can’t change, and instead learn to shift your expectations.
  • Try to always be working on changing one thing you don’t like about yourself.
  • Figure out the things that make you happy and then do those things, even if they’re silly, without apology.
  • Life is too short for people you can’t stand. Cut those people out wherever possible.
  • Life is too short to waste on things that don’t matter. Figure out your priorities and pour your energy into those things.
  • Understand that your life is a working document, subject to change. But, also,
  • Understand that you can’t control everything, and life isn’t fair. Work with what is.
  • Take care of yourself as much as you can.
  • Take care of others as much as you can, but not at your own expense.
  • Keep learning.
  • Drink more water. No matter how much water you drink, you could probably use some more.

So, here’s to 2020 – where I will be doing exactly what I always do, either working on improving something in my life or myself, or hanging on until I can do the work. People act like the new year is a time of reinvention, but we are never reinvented – just renovating, building upon what yesterday was. That’s the real truth.

Ever the hopeful cynic, or w’ever.

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