Fatigue or something like it

I rung Healthline the other day after waking up and feeling so heavy I could barely get out of bed. I’ve never really felt that way before. Weary straight down to my bones. I was worried it was Covid-19 so as I lay my head on the pillow, one eye closed, fingers furiously Googling my symptoms, I decide I better ring Healthline. It was better to be safe than sorry. As I waited in the phone queue I ran through a list of the places I’ve been to in my head (keep using the Covid tracer app, friends!) – not that I had been out much lately even though we were back on Level 1. This pandemic has me erring on the side of caution and even though I miss ‘normal’ life, my risk-averse nature seems to just take over.

The healthcare professional on the other end of the line had the voice and diction of a warm hug. She made me feel at ease immediately, as if I were being hugged by my favourite aunty. She ran through the Covid-19 assessment with me and thankfully I didn’t fit the category. She asked if I wanted to be put through to triage and speak to a nurse. Half an hour later and I’ve been assessed by a different nurse who said I had mild fatigue.

How could I have been fatigued? I was staying home more than ever. A stark contrast to my pre-pandemic life when I was out nearly every single night at events or at social gatherings with friends. I have been RSVP’ing ‘no’ to most things, sleeping a bit earlier, sticking to a work schedule, eating a bit healthier… what was I doing wrong?

I made a self-care plan with the nurse and after our phone call, I stayed in bed and drifted in and out of sleep. Every waking moment that day was spent feeling guilty for just lying in bed and resting. I felt lazy and unproductive, especially because I was lucky enough to still have a job in the middle of a pandemic, and here I was unable to perform it. The rational part of my brain knew it was totally okay to rest so why couldn’t I just do that?

I realised that it’s because for a long time I’ve dreaded slowing down because I wasn’t sure how to handle my own thoughts and emotions without the distraction. Without the work and things to do, without the productivity and outputs. One of the items on my self-care plan was to do more of what I love – something I had been intending to do for years now but never followed through. 

Having fatigue during a pandemic really drove the point home that I had to look after myself physically, mentally, emotionally… I had to extend the same grace and passion that I give to others back to myself and fill up my own cup. To slow down and reexamine what happiness looks like for me. What things aren’t working and what can I let go of. I spend my days rushing, trying to cram a bunch of things in 24 hrs, to eat as fast as I can so I could spend the rest of my 30 minute lunch break relaxing, trying to plan for a future when times are so uncertain… no wonder my body finally had enough! 

So this weekend I’m planning to take my time with everything. From stretching under covers as I open my eyes to a new day, to savouring that first sip of coffee on a weekend, to finally sitting down to read that Vogue issue I bought back in September, ironically themed ‘rest and reset’, that’s been collecting dust in the corner of my room. And I won’t feel guilty for staying still.