The Dark Days

Today. Well where do I begin?

Well I’ll be honest, for the past almost two weeks, life has been a serious struggle. My energy levels have plummeted and I have one priority that is sucking the life out of me: sleep. But no matter how much of that good stuff I get, nothing can refuel my energy tank.

The other night, I was so shattered that I fell asleep at 5pm in the evening. And didn’t wake until 7.30am the next day. Usually, I will wake up to eat some dinner. But that night I was beyond exhausted to the point where nothing could wake my slumber. And after a whole almost 15 hours of sleep, I still could have kept sleeping. Probably for an extra few years if I had it my way.

My world feels like it’s in a daze. I see things happening around me, but it’s like it is all like a dream. Every thing is happening in slow motion and I am just standing back observing like it is a movie. Nothing seems real.

I have felt like this a couple of times in my life. The first was when I first got sick with chronic fatigue and had no idea what was going on. The second and cumulative occasions after that have happened when I have been having a chronic fatigue ‘setback’ or crash as it is more colloquially called.

For all of those not so offay with the chronic fatigue lingo a setback is when you have a dip in your chronic fatigue recovery process. Most of your symptoms return in amplified fashion and your energy levels are so phenomenally low you feel as though you can barely function. When these moments happen, naturally you freak out at the fear that after all the hard work you have put into getting better that the chronic fatigue is returning in full force. But the truth is, crashes are all part of the recovery process.

Like anything in life, recovering from a potentially chronic illness has it’s ups and downs. The up’s are fantastic! You feel like by some miracle that you are better, like your life is returning back to normal. You feel like you are flying on top of the world. But then the down’s hit. Your muscles ache, you can barely move from bed and the thought of eating healthy food makes you sick. All you want is chocolate, sugar and carbs to get your energy levels back up, even if it is false, temporary energy.

In this whole roller-coaster ride, there are two huge challenges. Well for me anyway. The first is learning to pace your energy levels when you are riding that high, trying not to overdo it and burn yourself out. The second is identifying what has caused the ‘crash’ and figuring out how to deal with it to avoid further repercussions.

As we have already established, I am very much naturally a type A personality: an overachiever with a habit of overdoing it. Admittedly, this personality type has been suppressed in my attempts to recover from this illness but when I reach those peaks, naturally that old me comes out in full force. I run, I party, I socialise like crazy. There is no stopping this girl. Suddenly, I think the true me is back. But the hardest part is trying to take a step back and stop those urges and find that balance, a difficulty I am still currently working to address.

And then there comes the downs. Oh how I hate that bitch! And she comes in many forms. The first is when your immunity is low and you pick up a sickness. Now this is not like any normal person being sick. Imagine feeling like you have the flu 24/7 + actually having the flu or a virus. It’s actually the devil. When this kind of thing hits you it’s like a tornado, and you just got to ride it out. There is no exercise, minimal physical activity and lots of drugs and cuddles until you get better.

The second is a one-off overexertion or the accumulation of overexerting activities. Socialising for too long the day before. Overdoing it on that run because you had more energy. A super stressful day at work. The post-malaise hits you almost immediately and for the next few days after you feel lifeless, unable to think straight or function like a normal person. But when you have these kind of days, slowly overexerting it here and there, that’s when shit really hits the fan. You are too fatigued to work, study or do anything besides lay there, listening to meditation. Even trying to watch an episode of your fave Netflix TV show or having a conversation is out of the question. Your body and it’s energy just goes on strike. It may be for a couple of days, it may be for a week but there is nothing worse then when it drags on for a couple of weeks and you struggle to lift yourself back up again. You are super depressed, crying at people’s happy posts on facebook. You are angry at the world. You just want somebody to inject you with a coffee with a never-ending high. But you must keep up with your program, working at your baselines with exercise, work, study and whatever else drains your energy. And most of the time, gradually, the energy returns.

And the third well this can be a fuzzy one. Issues with medication, eating the wrong foods (mainly foods you are allergic to), changes in weather or vitamin deficiencies, these are all difficult ones to deal with. In my experience, after eliminating gluten and dairy in the hope to make myself feel better I have found that when I ‘accidentally’ (and by accidentally I mean sometimes purposely) ingest these foods, my body goes in to lock down. Which is all the more reason why I have to be super vigilant about what I put into my body. When I eat gluten in particular, my brain just switches off and my body transforms to that of a 90 year old for approximately one week. As much as some glutenous foods taste I often have to think, is it worthwhile feeling like an old woman for a week to eat it? Most of the time, yes.

In all my time trying to recover from this horrid illness, some of the worst crashes I have had are from medication. In the hope of seeking assistance from naturopath’s and specialists and trying out various supplements, I have found that most my body just rejects in it’s highly sensitive state. She can be such a needy bitch sometimes. On the very rare occasion I have found some supplements that really work for me and make me feel better. But more often then not, when I take supplements I feel confused, cloudy, unusually energetic, somewhat bi-polar and just all round weird in the head. It’s safe to say, when somebody recommends I try something these days, I tread with absolute caution.

So now you know the in’s and out’s of chronic fatigue crashes, lets get back to my present reality. My usually optimistic self has temporarily gone into hibernation. I feel distant from myself. I feel disorientated and off with the fairies. I am highly emotional and depressed. And I have absolutely no appetite, except for chocolate. So the question is what kind of crash is this and how do I deal with this?

Well at the moment, it seems this crash may be related to a vitamin deficiency. What a lot of people don’t know is that with chronic fatigue your body has gone so haywire that even the simplest of normal bodily functions consume so much of your energy. And energy comes from the foods and derived vitamins that we put into our body. Therefore, most chronic fatigue sufferers need a greater then average dose of vitamins in order to compensate for the immense loss of energy.

After visiting the Doctor the other day, with my ridiculously pale skin, chronic fatigue diagnosis and confession of my vegetarian diet, automatically he began to suspect an iron deficiency. And with a history of anaemia, there is probably a high possibility that this is the case.

So with another pathology request in hand, once again I trot off to the pathologist where for the 1 billionth time, I get my blood taken to see what is going wrong with my body this time. I tell you what it is lucky I have good veins otherwise this almost-weekly trip would be harrowing. For once, my body has done something good.

As I eagerly wait for the results to come back on Monday, I must now just try and persevere with this irritable, moody, nauseous, not-hungry, wacked out and incredibly tired version of me. Honestly I don’t know who it is worse for- me or the people around me. I think the people around me deserve a whole lot of credit for putting up with me in this state at the moment. Or maybe a medal. Something valuable because not even I can stand me in this present state.

Well here is to hoping I get back to my mildly energetic self asap, otherwise all hell may break loose.

Lets hope tomorrow is a better day.

teaghanlee x






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