On Friday I had a 1 1/2 hour meeting. It was no big deal - we were meeting on Skype, from the desk in my office area and really shouldn't use too much energy. Or so I thought. Because it turns out that thinking and focusing uses a lot of energy.
At about the one hour mark, whatever energy I had left started leaving my body. I wasn't getting tired so much as actually feeling energy and strength drain from my body like water from a barrel. By the time we signed off, I had nothing. I felt like RA Guy at the supermarket, unable to move. Perhaps not quite as catastrophic, but I could see it from where I was. This has never happened to me before. I've been tired, felt exhausted, known that the crash was imminent, but never experienced such a profound low in energy without being quite sick.
I managed to scrape together some lunch and it helped the dizzy and the nausea a little. Had a nap, a weird one with what felt like fever dreams, half awake, but with people and conversations happening around me despite it being just me and the cat in my apartment. The rest of the evening was spent in a haze of feeling awful. There was lightheaded, there was nausea, there was feeling as if every sound was an assault on my eardrums and I know The Boy and I had a conversation, but none of it went into even short-term memory.
By yesterday, I was well enough that I could write an article due later today, but when it was done, the wooziness was back and I wasn't feeling right. I went to see my doctor, told her about Friday, checked my blood test results from last week and with the exception of being low on vitamin D, I am perfectly fine.
"How," I asked rather plaintively (OK, maybe petulantly), "can I feel like such crap and yet be perfectly fine?" And she talked to me about having no energy left and pacing myself and I didn't really listen. Because I don't when people tell me this - if I pace myself, I'd never do anything.
I went back home and fought the urge to work some more, telling myself that two hours in the day was enough and was pleased with my progress. Immediately thereafter, I angsted about how I was going to get through a two-hour meeting planned for the evening, one in which we would be discussing Very Important Things. Something made me take a look at the agenda and as I did, a small voice in the back of my head asked "is any of this more important than your need to rest?"
And then I e-mailed my regrets to the meeting. Spent the rest of the day having a nap, a nice dinner, watching wonderfully mindless TV, then reading a good book.
Last week, I mentioned how believing you’re indispensable is the first sign of an impending nervous breakdown. I have discovered it has a corollary. Believing everything on your list is absolutely crucial is the first sign of an impending physical breakdown.
I have completely and utterly lost perspective. When the people who love you say they worry about how much you're working, you should listen. When your doctor tells you to pace yourself, you should listen. When your body begs for mercy, you should listen.
Is any of this more important than your need to take care of yourself?
It is a question I need to ask more often.