I am guilty of ‘do what I say, not do what I do’. I am always banging on about pacing and taking care of yourselves. However, my actions over the Easter weekend have resulted in 6 weeks of additional illness. Let me explain.
One of my close friends was on a very important course for work and had an incredibly stressful week with presentations and mini essays. I had been providing emotional support but could tell he was reaching his limit. So, when he was told he needed to research and write a 3,000 word essay in 3 days I offered to help. Initially, the help was supposed to be a bit of research, guidance and proofreading. I was relishing the thought of using my brain again, unemployment is starting to make my brain go slightly mushy. The topic was Russian history – perfect!! Both my BA and MSc dissertations were on the subject of Russian culture and politics and so I threw myself in to help him.
Unfortunately, my friend has no academic experience and no knowledge of Russian history. So, my couple of hours help and support turned into 3 days (the whole Easter weekend) of talking to him on Skype, researching, getting him to explain his own view of the subject and writing the essay all at the same time. SENSORY OVERLOAD!!!!! I SHOULD have stuck to an hour a day and explained my self-enforced limits but I didn’t. I pushed myself. I could feel my body and brain wilting but I was enjoying myself! I love history and research, yes I am a nerd, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.
My body began to shut down in the following order:
1. Face became hot and flushed
3. Glands became swollen in my throat
4. Sore throat
5. Voice became husky
6. Heart started to race
8. Overwhelming need to get horizontal
9. Sense of confusion/disorientation
11.Unable to feel arms and legs fully.
My friend regularly asked if I needed to stop and rest and kept saying he didn’t want to make me unwell. I did rest regularly but found it too difficult to turn my brain off and so it wasn’t quality rest. Even when we weren’t on Skype I was still thinking about the essay and what needed to be done next. I do not blame my friend for making my M.E flare up, my energy management is my own responsibility and I should have paced and said ‘NO’ when I started to feel heightened symptoms. As the title of this blog suggests, I am a people pleaser. I put other people’s needs ahead of my own all the time! This is something I need to start rectifying or my pacing techniques will never work. Pressure from other people causes me to push past my limits daily. Whether that is unpacking groceries, taking Patch for a walk or helping with academic work. I impose limits on my own personal daily activities and when I have no external input my symptoms are manageable, but the second someone asks for something from me my best intentions fly out of the window!
I was fully expecting a couple of days of ‘Payback’ and that is what I got. However, on day three…..Labyrinthitis hit and I was unable to stand up without falling over. My body was obviously so run down that it became susceptible to infection. Labyrinthitis was the illness that I 100% believe triggered my M.E 10 years ago and so I have been incredibly worried about whether this infection will have a further negative affect on my M.E severity. I have been dizzy, disorientated and nauseous for 6 weeks. As my body has fought the infection my M.E symptoms have also flared up, that is to be expected. I do not know how much longer the ear infection will go on for but…. come on…I have a (M.E. restricted) life to get on with!
I am bitter. In the past 6 weeks I have managed to leave my house maybe 6 times and still can’t drive due to disorientation and lack of spatial awareness and job hunting is impossible. However, my friend’s life has gone on as normal. He got his mark back – it was an A- (well done me) and has been on several weekends away, nights out, work activity days since and the 3,000 word essay seems like a very long time ago….to him. People pleasing, in my case at least, is always one sided and I always seem to get the thin end of the wedge.