I remember laying on the couch after my second son was born listening to him cry from the other room. He was 8 months old and crying in his crib. And crying, and crying, and crying.
But, I wouldn’t get up. I couldn’t get up. I didn’t care if I got up and he cried for hours. My body and mind were done. I didn’t have the strength to think about lifting my head much less actually lift my head. I had no desire to help that child or even myself. We were both objects of unimportance.
I will never forget what I thought to myself at that moment.
“I wish I was 6 feet under so I could sleep forever.”
Was I sleep deprived from having an infant? Yes.
What I was feeling was deeper than sleep deprivation. Something wasn't right.
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t care. I. Just. Couldn’t.
I knew I had to seek help. What I didn’t know is that this was only the beginning of an 11-year journey that is still ongoing and every year it’s full of new surprises.
Initially, I was sure I would be diagnosed with postpartum depression. Instead, I was diagnosed with a hormone disorder called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. I was prescribed a thyroid medication and began to feel better.
The glimpse of feeling “normal” again was such a relief and quite encouraging, but it didn’t last. We began trying different medications and adjusting dosages. Meanwhile, I had a sneaking suspicion the doctors were doing their best based on their formal education when really, they didn’t know how to actually help me.
I’ve tried every different medical and natural therapy I could think of….. , even the celery juice, which actually was great, but ultimately it didn’t solve the problems. My condition became a broken record, the medication or proposed cure would work for a short period of time then my symptoms would creep back in.
My suspicions were right, nobody really knew what was going on, they just prescribed options to help with the symptoms. I visualize this as putting a band aid on a gaping wound that really needs a good cleaning, and possibly stitches. They were addressing my needs from the surface level and unable or unsure of how to address the real issue.
I’m going to skip the details of the subsequent next 10 years and just say that I have struggled.
I’m a pretty natural kinda gal. I like to hug trees. I don’t eat much meat. We never kill anything (even snakes and spiders) at our house. I meditate. I do energy work. I am a Yoga Teacher. I am ONE with nature and YES, I do firmly believe with all my heart, we are all one, connected by the energy of Love.
So why the hell do I only feel good half the time!? Why do I bloat for no reason to the point of distention? Why am I tired so many days out of the month.. hell the year? As it turns out, I kept searching and I found the problem and a solution to go along with it. This…. Is another story.
My message to you today is not about what my solution was, it’s about how I’ve learned to cope with and manage through debilitating fatigue, pain, and brain fog.
For 10 years, I’ve lived through this while still being a Mom, Wife, Teacher and Business Owner. Living like this has required me to give myself large doses of permission, grace, and even strategies for survival.
Whatever you’re going through, It’s okay to not feel good during your search for relief… which may take YEARS. The following 10 tips will help you live your life more peacefully, with clarity and acceptance of yourself and what you are dealing with.
1. Accept that a bad day is happening and tell yourself, “It’s okay.” Just like the good days, the bad days won’t last forever. Mentally prepare yourself for those ‘bad days’ personally and professionally. It’s okay.
2. Once you have accepted that ‘well, today is just a bad day.’ Give yourself permission to rest and relax. If you must work, then do so in small blocks with plenty of rest in between. Acceptance of the permission, the act of “letting shit go”, and being okay with it takes a fair amount of practice.
3. Re-prioritize. Your first priority is now resting and taking care of your inner peace. From this point forward, on the days you feel bad, practice letting go of what doesn’t serve your peace of mind. Move chores to the bottom of the list and yourself to the top of the list.
4. It’s okay to be vulnerable. Let friends, family, and clients know that you are having a rough day. If anyone has a problem with you canceling, you being sick “again”, or their having to pick up the slack, remember, that’s exactly what it is… THEIR problem.
I, personally, always worry about letting clients down, but ALL of my clients understand. That’s the type of people I choose to work with. If it’s a family member, compassionately tell them, “ I know you are ______ (or whatever to validate that you understand what they are going through), but today I really need your help.”
5. Remember you are NOT lazy. You are NOT crazy. You are NOT a hypochondriac. You are NOT a loser. You are dealing with this the best way you know how. Continue to seek answers for healing. Continue to trust your instinct no matter what others say to you or what you think they assume about you. This is your path to walk. This path is bumpy and downright muddy but you won’t give up.
6. Write this on a piece of paper and take it everywhere you go. Paste it on the walls, on the mirrors and glue it to your soul… this is NOT YOUR FAULT.
7.Skip the workout. Your body is under stress and is in a state of disease. Incorporate a little movement into your day, but give yourself permission to skip the workout. Enter the mindset of nurturing your body with movement and breath. Tip number 8 is the perfect example!
8.Introduce a Breathing Practice into your daily routine. That may sound silly, right? To practice something that comes so automatically to us may seem strange, but most of us are shallow breathers. Generally, our lungs’ full capacity goes unused and we don’t stop to focus on the main thing that connects us to life - Our Breath. To practice breathing is as simple as sitting still for one minute and inhaling for a count of 4 and exhaling for a count of 6. Try it, you will have a new outlook on your day. YES, in just one minute. It’s that powerful!
9. Remind yourself of your STRENGTHS when you are feeling down. Consider some specific challenges you have overcome, re-live and replay those hard moments and allow yourself to be impressed at the power you have as a strong woman who lived through them. Allow your mind to hold on to that pride in your mental and physical strength for a few seconds. You and that strong person you imagined are the same person.
Here is a guided Breathing practice that helps you focus on your strengths all throughout the day. Strength Centering Practice, Blog, Worksheet and Audio
10. Batch your work. When we live with pain, fatigue, and fog that comes and goes with our cycles and seasons of life, it requires an enhanced level of awareness and prioritization to produce when you are feeling well.
Living like this for so long has taught me to accept that I will only feel “well” half of the time. During my continued journey toward a resolution, I choose to practice batching, giving myself permission, and breath work, among the other steps I’ve shared here. It’s not easy, but when I implement these actions faithfully, I’m able to feel productive, serve my clients, and be present for my family.
Here is your plan of action: Get prepared for the bad days!
Set up priorities for yourself and write out action steps in a journal or calendar. When you are feeling tip-top, you won’t have to spend time figuring out what you should do. With this list, you will be crystal-clear on what needs to be done.
Go get it, Girl! Go get your life back. Go get the right doctor. Go get your freedom. Go get support. Go get unconditional love for yourself. But you GO GET IT and thrive forward!
Please join Erika's private women's Facebook Group called Braving Vulnerability Together.