My normal daily schedule can best be described as “Vampire Life.” Ok, that’s probably a severe exaggeration. Basically, I wake up between 8 and 10 a.m., function through my day, get the kids in bed between 8 and 10 p.m., and then spend the next 2-4 hours (give or take) working. Those are the hours that I blog, do web design, play words with friends, stare at Facebook, crochet a scarf for my Little Man, create my school plan for the next day/week, surf Pinterest to see how I am failing at being SuperMom, catch up on all of the TV shows I am binge watching, and read whatever ridiculously wonderful young adult novel I am obsessing over. This schedule can be tiring especially on nights that one or more little one doesn’t sleep or comes to get in bed with me or on days that I stupidly signed us up for a homeschool activity that starts at 9 a.m. which means we have to be up at 7 and out the door at 8 a.m.
BUT! For some reason, this schedule has worked for me. The last 3 years that I’ve been homeschooling, and honestly even before that this has been my normal schedule.
The last two weeks as soon as I have gotten the kids to bed it has been all I could do to get myself down the stairs, teeth brushed, and into the bed before I completely pass out.
To be fair, I haven’t gone to sleep every night. Many nights I have stared mindlessly at the television. My two current TV binges have been The Librarians and Shameless (clearly mind engaging theatrics).
I guess you could say I’ve been in a funk.
Maybe you’ve noticed that my posts have been non-existent. My web design business isn’t exactly flourishing as it is, but even what little work I do have has been neglected. My Little Man’s scarf is still sitting untouched in my bottom bedside table drawer. Don’t even get me started on Pinterest again. And the book Heartless by Marissa Meyer that I pre-ordered in July and finally came to my Kindle in early November… I’m still on chapter 1. I just can’t concentrate long enough on any of it. I have kept up with my Words with Friends games, but to be honest, I’ve been losing quite epically.
But… what can I say? I suffer from depression. You may remember reading my post, “Keeping My Sanity.” Obviously, these last few weeks I’ve just had a little more depression than usual. My meds work well and it will straighten out in a day or two. Right?
Last week we went to the Zoo for our quarterly on-site Zoo Club meeting. It was a 2 hour drive there and back. On the way home I was struggling to keep my eyes open. After an hour I stopped at a local friend’s house and she pumped me full of high caffeine coffee to make it the rest of the way home. I was completely baffled as to why I was so sleepy. So exhausted. So utterly drained of any and all energy. Yes. I had just walked around the zoo, but this wasn’t a physical exertion type of exhaustion. This was narcolepsy. And I don’t fall asleep in the car! Thanks to a First Responder EMT for a mother and a serious case of the “I might miss something’s” that I never quite grew out of, I’m fairly nervous in the car so I don’t sleep! Not even when someone else is driving!
When I finally got home, it was all I could do to drag myself through my usual nighttime routine- feed the family dinner, get the kitchen cleaned up, get the kids’ teeth brushed, dressed for bed and in bed. Once the kids were in bed I laid down and… that’s it. I was asleep. I slept for 12 hours.
One would think I would wake up feeling at least moderately rejuvenated, but no. I spent the entire weekend dragging through. This is just status quo for the last couple weeks, right? Extreme lethargy. Damn depression.
Monday morning I had a doctor’s appointment. Nothing special, just a regular checkup following up on my antidepressant. We did our usual routine- temp, blood pressure, intake questions, heart rate… You know the drill. The doctor came in and we talked a bit about this and that. I told her about my recent depression and my narcolepsy issues more in passing than actually asking for help with it. Like I said, I just figured it was kind of a phase for me.
Turned out my blood pressure was dangerously low at 88/60 (normal range being around 120/80). I hadn’t give this much thought when the nurse first took my BP because frequently doctors have trouble even getting my reading. But the doctor took it again and it was still 88/64. Hmmm… Well, that kinda sucks.
After talking to me extensively about hydration to bring my BP up, the doctor then ordered blood work to be done to test my thyroid. Thyroid problems can often cause low blood pressure, but also causes depression, fatigue (like my extreme sleepiness), and inability to concentrate.
This all sucked because it was Thanksgiving week and I definitely did not want to end up in the hospital being hydrated for Thanksgiving rather than scarfing down the 15 pound turkey I bought. (Thing One is still safe I assure you.)
I spent the next few days trying to drown my BP back up with a combo of far too much water, coffee, and strawberry Gatorade. I’m happy to report that my readings over the next few days ranged in the normal scale. Meanwhile, the doctor called back with my blood work results and my T4 horomone levels were low signifying, as she suspected, a thyroid problem.
Ok. This isn’t life threatening. In fact, I don’t even have to do anything except continuing to hydrate well for 6 weeks then we will recheck my thyroid. If my levels are still low I will probably start medication. My grandmother has hypothyroidism and diabetes runs in my family. In conjunction with my sugar-aholic tendancies I’d honestly be surprised if I wasn’t at the very least on the path toward thyroid issues. Maybe I’m not there yet and I should definitely be significantly more proactive in watching my health here on out.
But the point of this post today is to say, that the depression that I was dismissing because I have anxiety issues, and the sleepiness that I keep attributing to lack of a good night’s sleep, and the inability to concentrate that I just blatantly ignored… these were signs of a more serious illness. These weren’t just a phase I was going through. I was ignoring the very real and clear signals my body was giving me because… because why?
Because as a mother, wife, and woman I have far too many things going on in my life to take time out to think about what’s going on inside me. Because I have too much going on in my life and I just need to take control and stop whining about my problems, or being lazy, or not being the amazing 100% me that I can be. Because I don’t take time to analyze what these signs are. Because I have depression and I know I have depression, I’m on medication for it so obviously any other symptoms are just further justifications for me taking the anti-depressant.
Does this sound familiar?
Stop it ladies! We are humans. We are bodies made up of intricate systems that all interconnect to make us function. And if we are angry like I was a year ago, we need to address that. If we are hungry, we need to stop and eat something (obviously healthy and not sugary). If we are sick, we need to take a day or two or three off and let ourselves heal- and that doesn’t mean still cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry- it means REST! We are humans first and foremost before anything else. And if we can’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of our significant others or our children or our homes or the other 50 million things we have to do. And if we ignore or dismiss or justify our bodies screaming signals at us, those signals are going to compound and get worse and what may be something simple now could become something very bad.
So let’s all take a deep breath. Let’s all allow ourselves to be the simple humans we are. Let’s all listen to our bodies, minds, and hearts and know that they are our best guides to being the best, amazing 100% us that we can be.