With a title like that, I’m sure you’ve all guessed that I’ve been under some pressure lately. Oddly enough, the one person who didn’t know was me. I thought I was having a heart attack or something. Duh. The doctor said most emphatically that there was NOTHING wrong with my heart!
There, that was the good news and the bad news in two short sentences. The lived reality was a little more drawn out though, and probably began on Christmas Eve, 2018, when I started to get muscle spasms in my back. The reason? Trying to mow about an acre of steep land with a battery driven lawnmower and whippersnipper [edge cutter for non-Australians].
I’d been mowing little bits for weeks, so my back was used to the backwards and forwards motion of the lawn mower; it was the side-to-side motion of the whippersnipper that actually did me in. Continuing to do normal ‘stuff’ for a few more days compounded the problem and led to about four weeks of misery. As the muscle is in my middle back, twisting hurt, getting into bed hurt, rolling over in bed hurt, pushing up from bed to go to the loo was agony. All because those damn muscles are used by our arms for just about everything.
Adding to this physical misery was the weather. Fire season has been awful this year, and despite the rain during the last couple of days, I’m still not sure it’s over because the ground is bone dry. With so little moisture in the ground, any day with wind becomes a potential bushfire day. Warrandyte has had many small fires, but nothing major, unlike the rest of the state, thank god. So add an almost constant, low grade fear to the backache.
Part of the reason for that fear was that I was due to start my paid job in April. Who would turn on the pumps and protect everything if I was out working?
As things turned out, the start date was delayed until the 3rd of May, which was just as well because April ended up being an awful month. Beloved little friend Buffa died, the offspring had medical issues, lots of driving backwards and forwards, very little sleep, constant anger thanks to the political situation both here and overseas and bang, I had what felt like heart palpitations…for hours.
As I said at the beginning of this post, the doctor said it wasn’t my heart. All the tests proved that it wasn’t my heart, but I wasn’t ready to accept that it was ‘just’ stress and anxiety until yesterday. You see yesterday was the day I taught my first class at the retirement village, and it was wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, that I could literally feel the weight of all this combined fear and anxiety falling off my shoulders.
Last night I slept for seven hours straight. Today I feel ready to take on the world again. More importantly, I feel like me again, positive, optimistic, Pollyanna-esque me. 🙂
I don’t like talking about negative things much, especially when they relate to me, but this episode really shocked me as I’d always thought of myself as quite laid back, competent, easy going…
I was wrong, and I suspect I’m not alone, so if your life feels as if everything is becoming too much, please don’t soldier on. Stress creeps up on all of us, no matter how strong we think we are, and stress can cause actual, physical symptoms. Chronic stress can also depress the immune system which can then lead to even more problems.
Please, don’t dismiss the negative things in your life as ‘just’ stress. There’s no such thing. Stress can cause real damage, so be kind to yourself and put some balance back in your life. If you are doing too much, take a good long look at your day, and ask yourself whether all of those tasks are really important, or whether they’re just part of you, wanting to live up to your superwoman image?
The crunch for me came when I realised that I was physically incapable of driving all the way across town and back on just a couple of hours sleep. But I did need to be at that appointment so I threw my very tight budget out the window and took a taxi there and back. Those two trips cost me almost $200, but I ended up napping in the back seat of the taxi instead of at the wheel of my car.
I’d like to be superwoman, but at 66 I’m starting to learn my limits. And I’m so much happier for it.