Three years ago, effectively (technically November 30th, but it was the Monday after Thanksgiving), I woke up feeling just as lousy after 5 days off as before I started.
The next six months were hell. Two months to get a diagnosis. Two more before it even started to kick in. Two more before I could see the faint glimmerings of myself behind the cloud of cottonwool and exhaustion. My job did not renew my contract.
It turns out that was an excellent thing. It took a year of being unemployed to begin to recover. I job hunted throughout, but these days, I am so very grateful no one hired me before my current job. I had a year of being able to sleep in until I woke, of taking a 3 hour nap more afternoons than not – but still being able to get things done, at my own pace.
(During that year, I turned out 4-5 detailed and individualised cover letters and other applications a week. Oh, and planned a Pagan convention, created my Seeking site, did a bunch of teach-myself-new-tech projects, and a fair bit else. But there was a lot of napping, and resting involved.)
And then I moved to Maine, and it’s taken me a year and some to feel like I have an idea where my limits are. I’m now at a point where I can work a full day, and do good things at work, and come home and have the brain and focus to write. Or clean for 30 minutes without feeling completely wiped out at the end.
It’s taken a long time to recover. It’s made me so very aware of the friends I can count on, and the ones I can’t. Of trusting my intuition looking for solutions in unlikely places. (I remain convinced that my Feldenkrais lessons saved my sense of self in ways I can’t begin to describe.)
There are still challenges: my religious practices (the formal stuff, not the little stuff that’s warp and weft of my life) has not yet recovered. The thought of organising public ritual exhausts me still. (Though I’m dancing around what it would take to do a Pagan coffee-and-talk gathering once a month.) The same thing is true with my social life: I like my co-workers (and am closer friends with one), but a lot of my social interaction is with friends in more distant places. I want to fix some of that this year.
And it’s taken a long time for other things, too. To not flinch and bury myself when I know I’m behind on work. (Because I now have a boss who is very reasonable and reassuring. And where I can get feedback for the asking, rather than meetings once a month that are prone to rescheduling and interruptions and other stresses.)
But this weekend, I was rereading Lord Peter, the collection of short stories by Dorothy L. Sayers.
There’s one in there, where – look, I’m spoiling a story that’s been in print since the 30s, okay? – that I’d not read since before my diagnosis. Of a woman, hypothyroid like me, and what happens when she doesn’t get the tiny bit of hormone she needs each day. And what it’s like when she does. The dawning of a life, again, that seemed loss. And the dawning of having the energy to engage with the world again.
I woke up today feeling not-great (I have the horrible cold that’s going around, I’ve had it since last Monday, and I missed a Thanksgiving gathering I’d really been looking forward to. My week was mostly sitting on the couch knitting and attempting to nap.) But I also know that I’m getting better, and it’s temporary.
Three years ago, I was not so sure. And worse, not sure how to fix it, and who might be a help.
Thanks, again, to those who were. (You know who you were.)