reading in bed with hot chocolate
This post began stirring in my mind yesterday - my fourth day of being too sick to do much other than watch tv and occasionally read. I have been down with a bad flu for about five days now - I saw it coming and was able to rest accordingly, but that doesn't mean I didn't react to being sick as I usually do. I thought I'd write a little post about the process I've had to go through almost every day to even begin to enjoy my resting time.
As I've had some decent experience with being sick, I tend to know the drill when some new bug gets into my system. Rest, lots of fluids, suitable medication and/or painkillers. I figure that I've got the 'recovery mode' pretty well memorised by now.
But after a few days, I get restless. I want to get back to my studies, I want to read something without feeling like the room is spinning and my head is going to explode. I want to eat something without feeling nauseous. Basically, I want to be BETTER ALREADY.
I begin to get frustrated with my body for not being better yet, or with the flu itself for still hanging around even though I've been trying to get rid of it.
I reach the point where I just want to say 'okay! That's enough resting! Back to real life!' and just be able to do that.
But it doesn't work like that. My body takes quite awhile to fight these attacks off, and getting frustrated just leads to anxiety and stress. You start looking into the future and wondering how you're going to get 'all that done' when you're still sick NOW.
Often after getting frustrated, you feel like you need to justify to yourself and others that you are actually 'properly sick'. From the anxiety and stress you've created within yourself, you begin to doubt your own body or mind. 'I've been sick for so long, no one's going to believe that I'm still sick!' or 'I can't still be sick. I must be better and I'm just slacking off! People are going to think I'm lazy!' are common slogans for me, though I'm never fully conscious of them passing through my brain waves.
I find myself in this stage trying to talk to my parents or my partner, describing symptoms they have no need to know about, and talking about all the plans I've made for when I get better so I can get 'back on track' immediately. In a way, this is kind of like tempting fate. I get so worked up over this part that I often make myself sicker, which means it takes longer for me to get to the point of carrying out all those plans I made.
This stage ends up wasting time and energy for you, and for those you are trying to convince.
And sometimes, it just comes down to feeling lonely and isolated after so many days of trying to look after yourself without talking to other people very much.
That's okay. Just notice when you're looking for company and when you're looking for validation of how you feel.
You know what? To get back to all those carefully laid-out plans, and all those things you want/need to do, you have to get better. And pushing yourself too early can mean being sick for a longer period of time.
Do what you need to do for your health - see the doctor, set yourself up in bed, put on that comfort tv series, grab that book. Keep your fluids up. Try to renew your interest in things that you can do in a restful manner - remember that tv series you borrowed from a friend? Try to get through some of it. That book you've been meaning to finish? See if you can get through another chapter.
A favourite past-time of mine is to watch kid's tv shows in the morning. It gives my day a bit of structure when otherwise there would be none. I watch things like The Octonauts and Mouk while I eat my breakfast, and then I see how I'm feeling. By gently being in the present moment, you can show yourself how good it is to give yourself time to heal.
For all those dealing with flus and colds right now, I'm sending you healing vibes.