First, a confession: it’s been an intense, difficult few months.
A few months of unexpected battles with people determined to do the wrong thing. A few months of working so hard that I injured my neck and shoulder so badly that one morning I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get out of bed. Then: physiotherapy. Then: more physiotherapy. A few months of nothing quite going right, from mysteriously astronomical electric bills to deliveries that never arrived to an entire wall of outlets in my apartment that simply did not work for a month.
While a lot of this was happening, I was handling it. Rushing to hit impossible deadlines. Bending over backward to wait in my apartment for a delivery multiple days in a row. Frustrated, but moving. Energized. Pushing forward.
Then, I met the biggest deadline. Delivered the big kahuna. Finalized the project that had punched me (almost literally) in the neck.
And I crashed.
Suddenly, my energy levels tanked. My mood plummeted. I cried in frustration over tiny things: a last-minute cancellation by my cleaner, Ikea mysteriously cancelling my order after I waited for four hours for it to arrive, an internet stranger’s unkindness, an accidental snub.
As soon as I no longer had to push through, my body and mind screamed Enough. Enough pushing. Enough running. Enough handling things.
It wasn’t an intellectual decision. In fact, my utterly destroyed energy levels and dark moods scared me. Panicked me, even. Sleeping 10+ hours can be a warning sign of my depression. Sluggish movements made me afraid my iron might be low. My anxiety and OCD ticked upward, never a good sign.
I scheduled therapy. I got myself allergy meds in case springtime pollen was partly to blame. And I turned to my normal coping mechanisms: self-kindness, sunshine, a ruthlessly pared-back work schedule. I went back to taking my Fridays off. I asked for an extension on a client deadline for the first time in a long while. I adhered to my physio stretching schedule with religious devotion.
But for weeks, I was tired. The bone-deep, moving-slower, brain-fog, teary-eyed kind of tired. The kind of tired that makes it feel like you’re walking through water instead of air.
And even though I had a suspicion that my body was simply asking me for rest, it was scary.
It is scary.
Scary not to feel like myself. Scary not to have the energy for the long hike or the dance or the day trip. Scary to need a nap so badly I felt heavy in the middle of the day.
It took weeks to make small gains, to start to see the sun peeking through the proverbial clouds. But then, one day last week, I felt a little more myself. And the next day, again, a little more.
And so still I rest. Commit to taking no new clients this quarter. Give myself permission to spend an hour on my balcony in the morning simply soaking up sun. No to-do list in the background. Nap. Sleep in. Eat well. Stretch. Breathe.
It’s yet another reminder that I don’t work part-time simply because I prefer it (though I do). I do it because I can’t sustain more. I do it to save myself.
And so I’m easing back into my version of normal. No technology Fridays. Fifteen to 25-hour workweeks. I’m not quite back to the energetic parts: the long hikes, the dancing in my apartment. But we’ll get there, too.
For now: I rest.
In the sun. In my apartment. In Guimarães. Curled around a sleeping dog who smells faintly of shampoo.
If the winter hasn’t treated you particularly nicely either, well, hello there, twin. I hope you get to rest as well. I wish for you sunshine on patios, long naps, and a soul that grows ever more soothed.