I try to take time on Sundays to rest. Having a chronic illness and post exertional malaise because of it can make even the simplest of existences exhausting. It is one of the symptoms that I despise the most and it often leaves me frustrated and angry. I feel unable to keep up with life almost constantly and that can really wear on a woman.
When I was younger, I remember being really tired, more tired than my friends. I didn’t understand why but thought how I was feeling wasn’t that bad. I don’t think I ever mentioned it to a doctor. It would probably be more mild if I didn’t have three kids to keep up with, like it was then. I think about that sometimes, my role of becoming a mother and how it has impacted my health. Of course there was no way to know that this would happen when making those decisions and now that we are here, there is only one direction to go; forward.
There are definite dips in my already limited energy for a few days every month. I have previously been diagnosed with PMDD but I’m not so sure anymore if that is an accurate diagnosis. Anyway, for those few days I can barely function, plagued with a fatigue that is absolutely debilitating. During this time it is especially important that I rest.
Of course, for me to be able to do that, I rely on my husband to pick up all of my duties. I am not always great at communicating my expectations with him. Okay, I am never great at communicating my expectations with him. I have been trying to finish a book and I had no plans of leaving the couch today. For the most part, I didn’t have to. He put our youngest down for a nap and then went to the basement to work on the ongoing organization that needs to happen down there as well as make a material list for the ongoing house projects we are trying to get ahead of.
I got irrationally angry when the other two kids were hungry and asking me for food. I had all these thoughts. I mean I would never go start working on something without making sure the kids had lunch first. I would never go outside and light a fire to burn some cardboard without telling him that’s what I was doing. I would never leave him hanging when I knew he wanted to rest.
Or would I? I have left him plenty of times. He pitches in a shit ton and rarely gets the acknowledgement he deserves. I was angry that he wasn’t tending to the kids and I had to get up from my spot of rest. I was angry that he had heated himself up soup before he said he was going to and ate it, but didn’t heat me up any even though I told him I wasn’t hungry. I was angry, ultimately, because he has more personal freedom than I do, even if he doesn’t realize it and may never realize it.
Even when he is home, the kids come to me first. I feel no amount of release with his presence, the amount of pressure is the same whether he is home or not. Even when I am trying to rest to prepare for a long week ahead, it is me the kids come to for every single thing. I know this is not uncommon, there are plenty of memes to tell me I am not alone, but when they walk past the person who was the second party involved in their creation to then come find me to ask me to get them a snack? I want to rip my hair out.
By Sunday, most weeks, I am a pressure cooker. He is gone twelve hours a day during the late fall through the early spring months. Then Saturday always feels busy. He has had a lot of side jobs he does on Saturdays or he tries to do something around the house. For six days a week it is, really, only me. It is fucking exhausting.
When you have fatigue and stress intolerance and a body who wants to do nothing but eat and sleep and die, even the smallest of tasks is huge. This coming week we have two appointments that I will need to bring all three kids to during my youngest child’s nap time. I am dreading it, already, because I know how much it will take out of me. The first appointment will leave me exhausted for at least a day. Then I will do it all over again a couple days later. These are things I really need to mentally prepare for. My husband? He does not need to mentally prepare to go to an appointment. He can just go. Hop in his van and drive to the appointment ten minutes before he needs to get there.
That is another piece of the freedom I envy. I accept that this is what I signed on for with kids and choosing to homeschool. I am having difficultly accepting the piece that is the illness I wasn’t anticipating that makes every simple task so much harder. I have to think days ahead of time to make sure I don’t do anything too strenuous. To make sure I have adequate rest and have had plenty of water. I have to prepare the day of the appointment to manage my stress so I am not tapped out by the time the appointment rolls around. I have to start getting everyone ready to leave an hour before the appointment. And I have to wrangle a hyperactive four year old and an angst almost six year old the entire time.
This is on my mind tonight, so I am writing about it because it feels heavy right now. I feel ashamed, at times, to be complaining about this. We have so much to be thankful for, truly. I don’t have to work because we can live off one income. My kids are (mostly) healthy. During the warm months I have more help than I know what to do with. It is just these dark, cold days that put me in a bad place, mentally. Physically.
Instead of taking a nap today, I went for a walk. My body wanted me to sleep but my brain really wanted fresh air. I needed to clear my head, knowing how irrational and irritable I was being. I grabbed my dog, put on the only boots that keep my feet warm, and headed out the back door to the property my in-laws own behind ours. There were animal tracks all over the place, none that I could positively identify other than a deer. I stopped to take photos along the way. It isn’t a long walk, maybe twenty minutes at my normal stride. I wasn’t more than halfway through it and felt like I should turn around. Instead, I pushed myself and just took it slow. The fresh air truly was just what I needed along with a break from the chaos.
When I came back in, my mood had turned around. I am more than exhausted now and my body is achy. I hope that I didn’t hinder my day tomorrow by going for a walk today. I feel sad that I can’t go for a short walk anymore without repercussions. I feel sad that the weekends is almost over and I was miserable for all of it. Tomorrow is a new day and I am hoping the fatigue will lift to my normal level before I wake in the morning.
I know this isn’t forever. I am going to heal and find something that helps. It has been such a long road that it feels like it is forever. I just need more time, more money, more resources. I need more patience and to practice acceptance. Every day I get a little better, my mind a little stronger. I hope that with time, I will be beyond this and my life will be mine again.