Sometimes it feels like you can keep going, and going, and going. Like a Duracell bunny. Nothing will stop you. And then there are the other times. When you’re pulled up short. You can’t breathe. It’s all too much. And the brakes are slammed on.
This isn’t the blog post I had planned today. There is no video or audio this time as it’s too honest and raw for me to do anything other than write it out. And to be honest I’ve ummed and ahhhhed about even publishing it.
Ever since I first started blogging, a decade ago, I have always been honest. And I need to be totally transparent with you here.
It’s all just been a bit too much recently.
Well for the last 7 months or so to be honest.
And it’s all my fault. So no one is to blame here.
I bring it on myself time and time again, because of who I am and the way I am.
I’m an extrovert. I’m uber sociable. I’m an organiser. And I love to help out.
So I say yes to everything. And I suggest outings, parties, holidays, adventures, fundraising and more.
But then it all becomes a bit too much.
Because I am an extrovert. But I’m also an introvert.
I’m uber sociable but I’m also very anti-social.
You see I love being around people. I love dancing with friends at a costume party. I love family day trips out. I love giving talks and going to events.
BUT afterwards I have to crawl into my cave to recover.
If you see me out partying on a Saturday night, you’ll most likely find me curled up in front of the TV in pyjamas on the Sunday.
And this is how I have always worked. But sometimes my body can’t keep up. Sometimes the extrovert, the sociable “yes” Sophie pushes my body into melt-down.
At times I try to ignore it and push on through, but the physical always gets the better of me.
The first time this happened to me was when I was 17. I was in the final year of secondary school, studying for my A levels.
I was head over heels in teenage love. I had a super active social life. I finally had a driving licence. BUT I also had a part-time job, exams to prepare for and universities to visit and choose between.
I didn’t realise that just because there are enough hours in the day is not a reason to fill them.
I crashed and burned magnificently.
I could no longer swallow. I was exhausted. I had glands the size of golf balls in my neck.
But I didn’t want to have to give anything up.
So I kept powering on through.
School, homework, nights out, job and repeat, with some sleep occasionally thrown in.
Until suddenly I couldn’t keep going anymore.
I was diagnosed with pneumonia, and probable glandular fever.
My mum explained to me “you’re burning the candle at both ends and something’s got to give”.
I had pushed myself to my physical limits and received a message back from my body, loud and clear.
That was over 23 years ago and, despite learning my lesson, I still fall back into old habits of wanting to do EVERYTHING.
And my body comes back at me with a nasty reminder each time.
Well that happened to me again recently.
Over the last 7 months it’s all been a bit full-on. I won’t go into details but basically it wasn’t until my body started to break down that I realised how much pressure I’d been putting on myself. It felt a bit like I’d been holding my breath all this time.
It was the morning of Good Friday. I woke up and felt like someone had replaced my throat with razor blades. My limbs were leaden and it took all my energy to move from my bed to the bathroom.
I am very rarely ill these days, because I tend to keep an eye on my energy levels, and I take a break before things get too far. But I’d kept pushing through this time and I’d missed the signs.
I kept telling myself I’d be ok. I gave myself the Friday to rest up and get over it.
By Easter Sunday morning I was feeling mostly better so we went to the beach for the day with friends. But it broke me all over again.
I spent the next two weeks trying to slow things down a bit and recover. To no avail. And last Friday, I decided I was done with being ill.
I threw in the towel and let my body win. I spent the last 4 days at home nearly the whole time (except for a family trip to the cinema to watch The Smurfs on Sunday!). I switched off all internet – emails, social media, messaging and more – for 3 full days.
I read books: You can heal your life by Louise L. Hay and A fall of marigolds by Susan Meissner
I coloured in: Bon Voyage by Lizzie Mary Cullen
I watched TV with Ben and the girls: Moana, The Intern, Joy, Homeland Series 3
I played cards with Ben and the girls: Uno, Happy Families, Snap and Patience
It took me giving in completely to actually get better.
And I’m promising myself that I’m going to be listening from now on. No more pushing myself to the extreme. Next time I’ll slam on the brakes much earlier.
Funnily enough it was a member of a business group that I’m in on Facebook that spelt it out to me, she said
“Sophie, you spend your time helping mums to find happiness in their lives and to put themselves first. Now it’s time to practise what you preach.”
And that’s what I’m going to do.
I’m going to re-read my 10 day guide to falling (back) in love with your life.
I’m going to practise a whole lot more self-care.
And I’m going to work on saying “No” a bit more often…. (well I can always try!)
Thank you to my lovely readers for your well-wishes as I fought to get better. Thank you to my lovely friends for all your offers of help and support. Last but not least thank you Ben for helping me out so much with the kids while I was useless!
P.S. If you have a friend, family member or colleague who’s burning the candle at both ends, do share this with them.
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