I’m tired. I mean, like REALLY tired. I wake up tired. I yawn during my workouts. I count the hours until I can grab a 30-minute nap with my daughter (who doesn’t really need a nap anymore, but happens to be a great excuse for ME to take one). And then, glory-be, I get this little burst of energy between about 4 pm and 7 pm where I frantically try to clean and cook and smile. Only to count the hours again until I can go to bed.
Clearly, I can’t do everything I need to do between the hours of 4 pm and 7 pm. So, I basically walk around blurry-eyed, yawn a lot and occasionally snap at people around me. Pretty pathetic for a healthy, active mother of three children.
For the record, this isn’t normal-tired for me. It’s the kind of tired that makes me nervous. As in, am-I-getting-sick tired. Or is-this-depression tired. Or should-I-go-to-the-doctor tired. Or am-I-gonna-die tired. For realz.
And so, today, as I walked (and yawned) for a few miles, I scanned the rolodex that is my brain to see if I could recall what life-threatening illnesses include a vague symptom of “fatigue.” And somewhere between “fibromyalgia” and “cancer,” I had an epiphany.
I am in the midst of a transition.
It’s not a major transition. It’s just the kids starting school. No biggie, right? But that minor transition rocks my world to the tune of about three hours less sleep every night. And that’s enough to make anyone tired. REALLY tired.
It got me thinking about transitions, in general. Some people (like my dear husband) don’t much seem fazed by change. They sort of shrug their shoulders and go, “Yeah…I feel a little off, but it’s all good.” If that’s you, hats off to you, man. And see you later, because you probably don’t need to hear what I have to say in the rest of this post. For the rest of the world population, all transitions large and small rock our worlds on some level.
I learned a long time ago to refrain from making any major assumptions or decisions about my mental or physical health during times of transition.
Maybe you, too, are in the midst of transition:
Is school starting for you or for your children after a long, lazy summer?
Are you sending your baby to kindergarten or college?
Did you just give birth or adopt?
Did you recently move?
Have you switched churches?
Do you have a new job or did you recently quit one?
Did you just get engaged, married, separated or divorced?
Have you recently suffered a loss?
Don’t underestimate the power of that transition in your life.
It doesn’t have to be a bad transition to be powerful. I noticed in my life, that every episode of recurring major depression that I’ve suffered was triggered by a good transition; as in a relocation or an addition of a child. Even good transitions carry with them emotional weight.
Now, add to that all the practical things that affect our health or mood,
like changing when or what we eat
or when, how long or if (!) we sleep
or when, how often or with whom we are finding personal connection
or when, how often and how long we are praying and reading God’s word
When these things change, even a little, it’s normal and expected to feel more tired. More or less hungry. More anxious. More irritable.
The key is to know what to expect. If we recognize why we feel “off,” we can ride the waves of change without completely freaking out. Or assuming we have fibromyalgia or cancer.
If you are in the middle of a transition, here are a few quick tips to get through without freaking:
1. Cut yourself some slack. Don’t expect that everything in life will look perfect, or even normal, during your transition. Your house may look messy. You may forget that today your son wanted to BUY his lunch, not pack. You may need to set the alarm to remember to pick up your kids from school. You may forget to buy icing for your son’s birthday cookie that goes with him to school, thus, sending your husband to the grocery store at 10 pm and requiring you to get up at 5 am to decorate the cookie. (These examples may apply to me, only.)
2. Do your best to eat well and get rest, whenever and however you can.
4. Exercise. You know all the reasons you should. They apply now, in the middle of a transition, more than ever.
5. Refrain from self-diagnosing or jumping to conclusions about your deteriorating mental state. Chances are, you do NOT have fibromyalgia or cancer. Wait until you are through the transition, and see how you feel then.
6. Apologize often for walking around in a daze, yawning through every meal, forgetting about lunch and for snapping at your husband or your kids. (Again, this may only apply to me.)
Q4U: Are you in a transition? Are you tired? How do transitions affect you?