Kind of a weird day today, so kind of a weird post. All about ME! But then it is my blog, so hey, bite me.
For the last few years I’ve had short periods of time when I seem to shut down, physically. Nothing is wrong, I’m not ill, I’m not depressed, I just have a few days when I’m really really tired and have to sleep a lot. Like, a LOT. Sixteen, eighteen hours a day for a few days, and then I’m back to normal. Never lasts longer than a week, usually less, and usually happens three or so times a year. I’d always put it down to the menopause and to a change in my hormone levels; from what I’ve read this can result in temporary exhaustion of this type, and when I discussed it with her, my doctor agreed that it was likely to be this. Fortunately my work has been really good and my boss has never complained when I’ve had to take a few days off just to sleep. I’ve always been open with him about the fact that I think it’s the menopause and he’s incredibly understanding. I’ve been very lucky in that respect.
For a few months now I’ve been having fewer menopause symptoms and seem to be coming out of it (at last! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!). Fewer mood swings. Fewer hot flushes. And no weeks when I’ve had to just go to bed, which seemed to confirm my diagnosis. Then, this morning, boom. Tiredness. Real, deep, swamp-like sleepiness. The alarm went off at 6.30 and I snoozed it twice, then reset it for 7. At 7 I snoozed it twice and reset it for 8. At 8 I dragged myself out of bed, fed the cats and made my breakfast.
One of my luxuries during the last few strange weeks has been to go back to bed with a pot of tea and breakfast for an hour or so before I get up. Normally then I’d get up, work till lunch, then get on with other stuff in the afternoon. Today, I was still just so…. sleepy. And I had, for the only day this week, the only day for some time, literally nothing in the diary. No online meetings, no appointments, nada. So I emailed work to say I was taking the day off (I’m currently working flexibly, fourteen hours a week, so no problem there) and after having breakfast and dicking around on social media for a bit I went back to sleep. For the whole afternoon. I woke up at 5.30.
So here I am at 7pm still sitting in bed drinking another pot of tea and thinking that I should probably get up and have something to eat. I’m not so sleepy any more, in fact I feel ok. I wasn’t short of sleep before – I’ve been getting between 7 and a half and 9 hours a night and sleeping, on the whole, very well. But clearly, if I spent the afternoon asleep, I needed to sleep.
So why? This hasn’t really felt like the menopausal tiredness, which felt as though my whole body was just out of fuel, and went on for days. This was just…. sleepiness. I really really really did NOT want to wake up and go about my day. Mulling it over, as one does, it felt like more of an emotional exhaustion than a physical or mental one. I was simply too sleepy to make the effort. And knowing that I had a free day, so I didn’t have to, I decided not to, which felt wonderful. It felt like a treat.
So (apologies – the C word again), I think this is a lockdown tiredness. Everyone has huge challenges during lockdown and mine are minor compared to those of many people. I’m not sick. I don’t have any close family or friends who are vulnerable. I haven’t lost anyone. I have an income which is as secure as anyone’s can be at present. I live in a house which is massive for one person, with outside space, and I live alone so I don’t have to contend with any of the issues which others have around sharing limited space with others. I am surrounded by a close and supportive community of family, friends and neighbours, and I have the technology to keep in touch with them. I never stop counting my blessings or being grateful for these things. In the great scheme of things I have it ridiculously easy, and I’m sure this contributes to how resilient my mood has been during this.
And yet. Having to get up and get on every day is hard. I live alone so there is nobody else to get me up, fed and exercised. I’m the one who makes me set the alarm for a decent time, get showered and dressed and sitting at my computer working. I’m the one making me prepare and eat healthy meals, adjusting the portion sizes to take account of the fact that I’m not exercising as much as I normally do. I’m the one forcing me to take an online exercise class every afternoon, making me tidy the garden and cut the grass and plant seeds so it looks nice and continues to do so. I’m the one keeping my alcohol consumption under control, limiting the time I spend on social media, stopping myself from reading ALL the grim news coverage, making myself watch something cheerful on TV and go to bed at a decent time with a herbal tea which I drink whilst reading my book before I go to sleep.
And I make myself do all those things. In many ways I’m living a model lockdown, staying healthy, staying sane and positive, making good use of my time at home. And for the most part I enjoy it. But it is hard, to be the only person, the captain and crew and passenger of my own little ship. If I don’t get up in the morning, the only people who know it are the cats, and to be honest they like a lie-in as much as me. Nobody else is going to get up, put their head round the door to see if I’m awake, shout from downstairs to see if I want a cup of tea. Nobody else is going to make lunch or supper for a change. Nobody else is going to suggest we go out for a walk, or that we ought to mow the lawn today, or encourage me to take the exercise class. There’s just me.
And that is fine. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a complaint or a moan. Loads of other people are in the same boat (or rather, different boats of the same model) and my boat is, comparatively speaking, a very luxurious one. I have lived alone for more than half of my adult life and I am very used to it and very good at it; I like it. But right now, it’s tiring for all sorts of reasons. And I think that subconsciously, I just wanted a day off. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is the only day in the next week and a half when I had nothing in the diary. I think my subconscious said “BOOM! Day off!” and directed me to sleep. To do nothing, just for one day.
And lucky me, I could. I have the luxury of being able to listen to myself, in this as much as when I tell myself to plant those seeds today while the weather is good and make a pot of soup with that broccoli before it goes off. So I did. I listened to myself and had a day off. It was wonderful.
And now, I am telling me that I really must go and water the seeds before it gets dark, and that I need to heat up some of the soup for supper so I’ve had something to eat today, so I’d better go do that. I’m not really sure what this blog has been about, other than to work through for myself what’s going on, but hey, as I say, it’s my blog, so why not? And I don’t think it’s a bad thing, for us to be honest and share what’s really going on in lockdown. It’s not all sourdough and PE with Joe. It’s being kind to yourself as well, and recognising when you need a rest.
Tomorrow – back to the F-word! The Bechdel-Wallace Test as reimagined by me – Zootropolis! Oh yeah!