This post was written on August 21, 2023 but posted on October 20, 2023.
I’ve been stuck in bed again this summer and I’m miffed about it.
My Crohn’s decided that it’s been long enough since my last flare-up and I needed to have the extra layer of challenge. So after a short stay in the ER with a possible partial intestinal blockage (again…ugh), I was put onto a new round of meds to reset my immune system and hopefully get my tummy to calm down! Just because the rest of the world is going crazy, doesn’t mean that my blobby tummy buddy needed to join in that party and be all extra like that!
Thankfully, after two months… two long months of pain, isolation, fatigue, and insomnia, the medication was done and I was finally feeling better. People that knew me said I was looking healthier and more alive again! Finally, I had energy to do more than simply…exist in my apartment.
But during those sixty(-ish) days, my emotions and mind were all over the place. The only thing that was consistent, was a quickly-building sense of restlessness and need to be doing something— anything! I tried to do things that were within my reduced abilities, but it was so difficult. I had no drive or spark for anything. If I had energy, I would start to do something, like work on a web project with an online friend. But as soon as I would start, I’d feel… so empty and that there was… I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s like the energy was immediately zapped away. The little something inside that makes me excited about doing things in which I have interest has been snuffed and, even though I’m trying to relight that little something, it just won’t stay lit.
But the restlessness was still there. The feeling of wasted time was growing. Even though my main focus was my health and taking care of myself during this flare-up, I just couldn’t deal with it. I wanted to get beyond these unexpectedly imposed physical limitations that I now had to deal with. Again.
And this was coming during a time of great mental distress with my chronic, clinical depression and anxiety (among other mental health and personal issues) that were not definitely not helped with this time being bed-bound. It was getting quite severe and compounded after a few weeks of the flare.
At first, it was kind of nice to be forced to rest. Although there was so much to keep track of, follow up with, and figure out for the treatments, coverage, and whatnot, that I got caught up in that, which quickly overwhelmed me. Once that was figured out, though, I was able to take a breath and relax.
But when that sense of restlessness started building up, and I had the experiences of not being able to actually do much of anything with those feelings, I grew totally frustrated with myself, my conditions, and the situation in general. The people around me also seemed to not completely understand just how drained I was and when I was saying things like, ‘I can’t do anything,’ I really meant it quite literally.
Actually, I think that I had the hardest time accepting that this time. *big big sigh*
That brings us to the latter half of August 2023. The past three months feel like they haven’t even happened, yet time seemed to go on for over a year during that time. My sense of restlessness is still here, though it’s been tempered somewhat by my newfound abilities of walking, running, jumping, and having more than no energy to use in my day-to-day. No longer am I doing the bare minimum of surviving as a “pile of skin and bones” heaped on my bed or the sofa. Or, frankly, stuck on the toilet.
Of course, there has been a lot that I’ve had to do to catch up from those two months. That stuff has to get done. Cleaning around the apartment needed to be done desperately as I couldn’t keep up with everything in that department. So as much as I wanted to jump into doing things other than the practical, that wasn’t just gonna happen overnight. I think the restlessness was getting to me and pushing my expectations since I hadn’t been able to do much this year so far. Or rather, I hadn’t yet been able to achieve all that I’d hoped to, and this flare-up had put me yet “further behind” in many ways. Especially financially.
Restlessness is good, I believe. It can motivate and lead us to look for what’s next, which, when you have a curious and creative mindset, can lead one anywhere! It’s similar to how boredom can be a helpful tool as well. I believe that we need downtime where our brain can be bored and search for new things or be looking at things in a weird way that you normally wouldn’t. Of course, we should be careful not to let restlessness and boredom take over our thinking. As pretty much everything in life, we need things in moderation and with other factors and “ingredients”, if you will.
So to wrap up this post, I’ve been reflecting on my time with this most recent Crohn’s flare-up and I am doing my best to re-frame things that I was thinking and feeling at the time. I was putting unneeded pressure on myself because I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, or what I was able to do. Outside voices and influences of the world telling me I needed to do more, be more, and that my value is tied to my performance and participation in society or just being “productive” according to some elusive standard. All of that was compounding the mental health problems and taking focus off my mission of health first.
I’ll tell you this, though. It’s incredibly difficult to stick to your guns in today’s world. Especially when extremely fatigued and socially isolated.
While it’s good to look back and reflect on this time, how it affected me, and how I responded to situations through it, I’m doing so with compassion and grace for myself. I’m not giving myself an evaluation with a grade, after all! This is just a reflection and learning opportunity for further growth. It doesn’t need to be a big thing. However, I think that it’s important for me to move forward and in dealing with these types of situations in the future so I can hopefully identify similar situations, then intervene to deal with them differently. I can also prepare for those situations with specific tools that will help me handle them better and more kindly towards myself.
Anyway, that’s it for today! Thanks for reading all of that. 😊