Feeling tired never felt so good
Last night I went to bed early because I was tired.
“So what?” you’re probably thinking. The thing is, that’s quite a big deal for me. It’s probably the first time in over 11 years that I’ve done it.
“11 years! Who does she think she’s kidding?”
You see, this time 11 years ago I slept nearly all the time. I was exhausted. Constantly. Not in a ‘I’m quite tired’ sort of way, in a ‘I actually can’t move’ sort of way. There were occasions when my food had to be cut up for me because I didn’t have the strength to do it myself, when I had to drink through a straw because I didn’t have the energy to lift a glass.
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In 1999 I was diagnosed with Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome/ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), thanks to the wonderful efforts of my doctor at uni. I had thought I was going mad. I’d be fine one day, couldn’t get out of bed the next, and then sort of so-so on the third. I ran in a three-day cycle for weeks. I thought it was ridiculous, that it was all in my head, that I should just get on a grip. But I couldn’t. The 2 minute walk from my room to the dining hall at college took me 20 minutes, and I had to rest several times on the way.
I’m better now. 100% better. Which is (apparently) quite rare in cases where you’ve had it for as long as it affected me. But this week, for I think the first time since I got ill, I started to recognize what feeling ‘tired’ is – for a normal person. I spent such a long time feeling like I had little or no energy that everything else got thrown out of whack. A bit like getting used to the weather here I suppose, and so now thinking anything below 22°C (71.6°F) requires a jumper.
Once I got better, got my energy back, lost the myriad of other symptoms, I took my life with both hands and ran about doing everything I could. People commented on it – that I was trying to make up for lost time. In a way, maybe I was.
And still, although I was (am) better I knew ME had left its little marks on me. I would be fine-fine-fine-shattered. Sure I’d say “I’m tired” – you’re supposed to aren’t you? But it wouldn’t mean much to me. It wouldn’t have much of an impact on what I did, or didn’t do.
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Now, finally, I’m starting to recognize that in-between point – tired – and know what it means. ‘Here is a sign that I should go to sleep soon,’ rather than ‘Yup, I can go on for a bit longer.’
So last night, when I felt tired at 9.30pm I started to go to bed. I didn’t open my laptop up and check my email. I didn’t pick up my book and start reading. I didn’t do any of the millions of things I normally do just before I go to bed, ‘because another 5 (read 50) minutes isn’t going to hurt.’ I got ready for bed, wrote my 5-line journal, and turned the light out.
I didn’t pass out within 30 seconds like I normally do. I waited probably a full 7 minutes before I went to sleep. But they were a strangely satisfying 7 minutes. It’s a weird thing to be excited by, I know. But I am. It’s one more step along the path of my life after ME, one more of the little marks lifted.
Feeling tired has never felt so good.