October 24, 2015
I Will Magnify the Lord
This morning I woke up feeling ill, like really ill. I can't pinpoint any direct cause other than to say that I feel unwell, generally, unwell. The word that comes to mind is malaise. The dictionary defines malaise as "a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify."
In medical literature, malaise is often indicative of some larger problem, and oncoming illness or disease. I looked up the diseases listed, and I don't have any of those symptoms so the only thing I can contribute this feeling to is anemia. I know I am probably anemic from all the months I had my period (in perimenopause). I suffered very heavy bleeding, and now that my period is over (hopefully, forever now), I am still feeling run down. But even in that thought, I don't feel better. I mean, I feel worse now then I did then, and that makes me wonder if this feeling is tied to depression, one of the illnesses listed, and so what I am experiencing is really a combination of things (depression, anemia, and excessive fatigue).
I am sitting here drinking my coffee, and thinking about this problem. I mean every problem should have a solution, so it is up to me and the Lord to figure this one out. If this is just physical, aka, my teaching schedule, my chronic fatigue, and my anemia, well then, I know what to do about it. I mean, I have 6-weeks of teaching left, and then I will have a three week break. I need to change my sleep schedule so that the only thing I am doing is sleeping -- just meaning that I need to cut back on everything else except for work, school, and sleep. Lastly, I need to be more consistent eating iron-rich foods, and with taking my supplements. This should help me feel better -- if -- this is the only thing in play. The best defense is a good offense as they say, and with chronic fatigue the offense best used is to keep yourself from getting to that point, that point of total and utter depletion. I know my boundaries, I know where the line is, that line that says "don't cross me," and yet, often when I get really stressed, really pushed to the wall, I either get close to it or I step on it. In doing so, feel the effects in my body, and then shortly thereafter, I begin to crash. I literally crash.
I know that I have allowed myself to get to that line already once. The last time I did that was 1991. I was working at Teradata, in a highly toxic environment, and I was pushed, literally pushed to perform long hours of work, unrelenting in fact, and without so much as an ounce of support from management. In truth, my boss wanted me out, and I felt that there was a conspiracy a-foot. I was enrolled in school, doing good work, but the drain on me was powerful, and before long, I started to make mistakes. I don't blame them really, it was just a matter of time before I was going to implode. You cannot work 70 plus hours of work and maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Furthermore, I was suffering from depression then too. I was in a difficult marriage, my ex-husband at that time, was pressuring me to leave school (I had gone back to get my BA). I was bound and determined to not give in, and the stress from work and school was getting to be too much for me. Furthermore, I was feeling pressure from his parents to start a family, and well, all of that was just making me sick, really sick. In the end, I quit my job, finished school, and then shortly thereafter, found myself pregnant (don't you love that phrase -- found myself -- like it was another immaculate conception, LOL!) Yes, I had my son in 1993, and for all intents and purposes, I let go of all my desires for graduate school, career, and future control (success) in one-fell swoop.
Since that time, I have suffered bouts of depression regularly. Sometimes they have been serious bouts, and other times, they have just been nagging bouts (the kind that come and go). I have realized most often that my depression is tied to an unwillingness to go or do something that someone else wants me to do. In short, whenever I feel that I am no longer in control, and that someone is forcing me to do something against my will, well then, I begin to feel depressed. I feel the cage door close, and I feel that sensation that I am stuck, forever stuck. It is so important to me to feel independent and to feel free. I understand authority, and I have a great respect for authority. But, sometimes people who are not in authority over you try to demand that you do this or that, and in doing so, you find that that pressure causes you to 1) either give in, 2) flee or run away, or 3) stand your ground. When you give in, then you find that you allow that person to rule over you, and while you may do this for a short time or a long time -- eventually -- you come to resent the power they hold over you. The kicker is, of course, that the power they hold over you is YOUR POWER. You simply gave your power to someone else for a time, and in doing so, you allowed another person to call the shots, to make the decisions, and to determine the best course of action. I know that I have done number 1 and 2 too many times to count. I rarely (in the past) stood my ground, but when I did, I was liberated in short order. Yes, standing your ground against a boundary buster (to quote Townsend) is difficult, really difficult, but it is the first step in establishing a healthy boundary line, and thus, working towards a healthy life.
In sum, I know that the causes of my feeling unwell stem from one of three things: work, school, or home/life. I have blogged about these three things for years, so I know my own situation well. The problem is that often we are so close to the issue, that we step right over it. We don't see "the forest because of the trees!"
As I think about this today, I know that my work is a big factor in my feeling so poorly. I know it, I have known it since 2013 simply because the work I do is physically demanding to me. I have known that I cannot stand on my feet all day long since I worked at Macy's in 2010. I left that job and worked at UOPX, and I can remember how happy I was to finally spend my days sitting at a desk. Of course, I learned in that job that being tied to the phone didn't work well either. As an INTJ, talking to students, emoting all day long, is emotionally draining to me. No, I have known what kind of work suits me best, but I made the decision to try teaching, and since then, I have suffered in this path. I have suffered, and yet, I have made excuses, justified it, and in the end, accepted it simply because I felt that what I was doing was worthy, "a good thing," and that it would benefit me in the long run. Sigh. My work, my choice of work, is a big issue, a major contributor to my physical, emotional, and mental well-being. I know it, I know it, I know it.
With all this on my mind, I spent most of the morning struggling to "do" the tasks on my list. Finally, I gave up and got into the shower to sulk and to soak. The shower helped me feel better physically, but I couldn't shake the mental fog I was in. I mean, I did feel better, but I still wasn't free from the heaviness I felt, from that oppressive hand that seemed to be holding me down. So after pulling myself together, I decided it was best to get outside so I drove over to Target to pick up some items for dinner and to buy some office supplies for my exam prep plans. I'm glad I did. I don't know if it was the change of scenery or just getting out in the bright sunshine, but whatever it was, it helped. I started to feel better as soon as I left the house. Sometime, while shopping at Target, I felt that depression lift. What a relief! I knew I had so much on my to-list, and that there was no way I could handle everything with this black cloud hanging over me so long as I was feeling so utterly depressed.
The good news is that I completed all my student grading and I even worked on my research paper outline. In all, by dinner time, I was feeling better, and I had taken care of everything on my list for Saturday. I am so relieved to know that this evening I am caught up, and that I am prepared for my assignment due-dates in the coming week!
I am giving God all the praise because in between the morning and the late afternoon, He gave me the grace and fortitude to complete my studies, and to finish all my student grading. Oh, God is so good, so very good.