A Very Tired Tuesday

by Claire

Tuesday hit me hard. Of course I was tired – the weekend was massive, just simply too huge and I knew it. Monday was written off as a recovery day and I expected to be tired on Tuesday as well, but I didn’t expect to be so devastated by it.

I woke up at 12.30pm after another sleepless night. Instantly I was overcome by the uselessness of it all. What did it matter that I was tired and weak? Good management, bad management, recovery-rest day or not my existence wouldn’t be materially changed or altered. I would still be here, housebound and impotent whether I had the energy to do my yoga or not. Wash the dishes or not. Meditate or not. Play the piano or not. What was the difference? Breakfast seemed too hard so I had a glass of water and a packet of plain Sakata crackers in front of the laptop. I was cold and cramped and tired. I reheated chicken and potato for lunch and stood in kitchen for ten minutes quietly sobbing – I just wanted to stop living like this. I thought about calling someone, my Mum, or best friend, but I couldn’t stand the thought of hurting them with my despair. I ate lunch in front of a gardening program on the TV. The food just sat in my stomach and made me feel bloated and nauseous. After that finished I put on a movie from the hard drive. Moving from the couch to set up the TV made the room spin, and the action sequences were too much information for my eyes to handle so I played with my phone during the last half of the movie. After the movie Guy came in and I spent the next half hour weeping into his shoulder before having a dysautonomia collapse.

Let me state that even though this all sounds terrible, I am getting better. This terrible day was preceded by days of mental and physical activity and although I am not quite back to normal yet, I can function enough to take care of myself. Today I have the brain power to write, I can physically hold a book to read, I made a green shake for breakfast and cooked an omelette for dinner. I was unable to leave the house and napped for two hours after my meditation, but I feel stronger and I am capable of supporting my own weight. To put this into perspective, the last time I had a day of extreme fatigue and collapse it took me a whole week before I felt this good.

But the bigger issue here isn’t the awfulness of being trapped by fatigue, it’s the acute depression that descended seemingly out of the blue.  I have had depression since 2003 and have been on anti-depressants since 2010. It took a lot of hard work and therapy to get me back on track but now my depression is so well managed that it rarely affects me at all. So why was I suddenly so depressed on Tuesday? Partly it was the ‘come-down’ from the weekend. I had been social and had had fun. Monday was full of purpose as a structured ‘recovery day’ and Tuesday was the first day of back to normal. My reality is extremely isolated and returning to the aloneness was upsetting. Of course, being extraordinarily fatigued is also upsetting, but you think I’d be used to that by now.

In actual fact, that is exactly what triggered the depression. I am not used to this any more. When I was living in the city I was facing this devastating scenario almost every day. It was all I could do just to work on living through it. All my energy was working towards fortifying my spirit. I was balancing acceptance of my situation with hope for a recovery. Every day I was bracing my heart for another day in prison. With the promise of recovery came real hope. I could do more than just live through this. My recovery has been so painfully slow that I can’t measure the improvement over days or weeks – it is only months that show what gains I have made. Slowly, over the last five months I have shifted my focus from acceptance and resilience to managing my productivity and developing my interests to improve my quality of life. I can cook and clean occasionally. I can go for short walks. I have started teaching myself Spanish again. My life is fuller and richer, but as a consequence I was unprepared to be plunged back into a world where all my energy and focus needs to be on just getting through it.

I’m just glad it’s over.