One of the good things about having hypothyroidism and crashed adrenals as a result of autoimmune disorder is I have learned the importance of rest. Before now, rest meant nothing to me. Naps were for toddlers, the elderly and losers. I would push myself to the absolute limit and beyond, and quip that “I’ll rest when I’m dead!”. Busy-ness was my badge of honor. I prided myself on how little sleep I needed, how fast, strong, smart and capable I was. Regardless the circumstances, I would always manage to land on my feet.
This time, life had it in for me. I landed on my back, in bed, unable to get up. For two months with limited mobility, I lay there, crying, anxious, berating myself for my inability to be (what I considered ) “normal”. Why didn’t I feel well? Why as I so weak? Why was I so useless? The rent was paid and there was food in the cupboards, but I chose instead to focus on the sink filled with dishes and the piles of laundry on the floor. My children were both well cared for despite my illness, and in turn were very loving and forgiving toward me when I could not get up and cook their favorite meals, or go outside like they wanted me to, but I chose to be unforgiving toward myself. It took four agonizing months for me to realize all I needed to do to heal myself was to let it all go and rest.
Old English, from Latin sabbatum, via Greek from Hebrew šabbāṯ, from šāḇaṯ ‘to rest.’
Everyone’s read the humble-brag facebook posts about how busy everyone is and how many hours of work they’ve put in and how little they’ve slept and how much coffee they’ve drank and just how successful they feel they are going to be.
We are told that rest is for the weak; sleep is for the lazy. We are taught to keep late nights and force early mornings, encouraged to endure long work days fueled by carbohydrates and caffeine, in the promise that success as defined by the masses will be waiting for us.
As a result, we often neglect our health, relationships, families, and live at such a pace that by the time we have amassed the wealth and lifestyles we have spent our entire lives chasing, we lack the vitality to enjoy it. Being ill this time around really was an eye opener for me. I could no longer live a life fueled by unhealthy stress. I would no longer drive the struggle bus. For all my hard work, I was no longer strong. I could feel myself losing muscle tone. Even though I slept 12 hours everyday, I would wake up exhausted and weak. Everything had to change.
The thing about illness and dis-ease is that it is most usually cured by rest.
I hired a Life Coach, because I knew I could no longer afford to struggle alone. After consulting with my doctors and joining a few support groups, I changed my diet- no more caffeine, no more gluten. Most importantly, I changed the course of my life, the direction of my thoughts, desires and outcomes. In time, I learned to let go of the ideas of things like “fear”, “struggle” and “failure”, and began to trust that the universe was, at all times, collaborating with me to create the reality I believe I will have. Finally realizing that I have the permission of the universe to succeed, I decided to rest. I released my worries and fears and decided that I was going to believe that I was taken care of. Slowly, I began to see a change in my physical and mental health.
Today, I am a much more relaxed, happier version of myself. My confidence is growing and I am able to get out and exercise- not a whole lot, but enough to keep me moving and pain free. I pay attention to my nutrition, and listen to my body. I take naps, happily! I make sure to get enough sleep- 12 hours a night most nights, but never fewer than five hours. I respect my body and its limits, and understand that quality sleep is an important part of self-love and self-care.
I have let go of fear. Today, Love is my source. I try my best to be aware of when I am making decisions out of fear, and choose instead to make decisions out of gratitude and love. The sum total of these actions help me to remain in a calm, joyful, worry-free, drama-free state where “rest” is my main goal. I still have a ways to go to get back to baseline where my physical health is concerned, but for now, I am grateful for the lessons learned.