The state of play today is that I am at home, recovering from a brief but exhausting stomach bug. This is a very infrequent situation, being off work. It usually comes, however, when my adrenally-challenged immune system goes into sleep-mode to make me do the same.
So, I get days like this once every six months to a year. Days when I really need to stay in bed, with a bucket or paracetemol on standby, and sleep for a good few hours.
This system failure is not, however, the postscript to the ongoing exhaustion of being a mum to a 5 year old girl, while working full time, and beginning the menopause. In a tiny two-bedroom flat which really has too much stuff (and the stuff is on every available surface, high or low.) That form of exhaustion has come to mean that Friday or Saturday night is no longer the designated “date night” but rather the “I need to go to bed at 8pm” night. Which is just terrific for maintaining one’s relationship with the husband. Fortunately, he is often pretty tired too, even minus the menopause and ten years. So, sometimes we crash out on each other in mutual fatigue on the sofa, trying to ignore this as yet another sign of the dreaded m.a. (middle age.)
It is also possibly not the postscript to the events of the last few years; being a first-time mum fairly late in life; losing my dad; having my hearing loss formally identified; leading the department for a year in the wake of major upheaval in the education system.
I say not, because, even though these things are/were all stressful, it wouldn’t take a lot for me to make them more so. ‘cos that’s how I roll.
I joke that I am a “cortisol addict”, but my default setting is one of constant mild anxiety, panic and self beration. My husband is particularly aware of this, my friends to a lesser extent. He works tirelessly to reassure me, or to pull me out of the hamster wheel, but it is an ongoing task for him. He even made me a fabulous book with clippings from friends extolling my virtues.
I do look at it, and appreciate the love and concern which went into it; but, in truth, the internal stress button has been glued into the “on” position. The stress alarm doesn’t ever really switch off; it can just be muted, sometimes, especially when on holiday away from home. Which is why I really need to go away during the school holidays. Even going back to see my mum in Glasgow is helpful, although that can bring its own, milder form of stresses.
While not anti-yoga or meditation, the thought of finding the time to do them, and losing therefore the time to maintain all the other parts of my life, brings more stress and self beration.
I am not ignorant of the debilitating effect of constant, albeit minor, stress on my body and mind. I am aware that this body and mind need to see me safely through several challenges over the next forty years or so. I know, also, that as a role model to my little girl, I need to be less wound-up about what is ultimately trivial.
I just have no real idea how I can do so. Short of an entire personality transplant.