June 10, 2010
Here is an example of how, in the stress of over-burdened lives, even if self-imposed, our bodies need a break.
During the middle of the night on Tuesday, as I lay there for several hours watching a stream of consciousness that passed for a disjointed conversation with some kind of semi-intelligent being, I flashed back on a bout with a strange disorder I had almost ten years ago. It is called Guillain–Barré Syndrome (GBS) and is rare, affecting only 1 or 2 out of 100,000 people. Definitely a step above the common flu or cold.
If you look it up in Wikipedia, you’ll see that it is an autoimmune disorder affecting the peripheral nervous system. What happens is that initially the body works to get rid of foreign antigens caused by an infection somewhere in the body. So far, so good. That’s what the immune system is designed to do.
Unfortunately, instead of shutting down when the infection is over, the body goes into autopilot and starts attacking something else — you. Bummer. Specifically, it goes after myelin, an important part of nerve tissue. The result is weakness, generally beginning in the lower limbs and . . . well, if you really want to know the gory details, you can read all about it in Wikipedia.
I only mention it here because I thought I was having a relapse, though not nearly as bad as I had in 2000. And I’m writing this to tell you that in the middle of Tuesday night I remembered something about the dreams I had when I was in the hospital with GBS. Every night I had disturbing dreams, the closest to nightmares I had had in a long time. Climb a mountain with no end. Discover all my relatives were coming to dinner in fifteen minutes. Take care of a client who wouldn’t leave the office. Watch a huge wave rushing toward my house.
Analyzing this later, I realized the dreams pointed to how I was living my life; always feeling I had to do more. I had to reach for that 110% that perfectionists insist is average. Couldn’t stop with good enough. Couldn’t take time off.
Then, during the middle of my stream-of-consciousness routine, I realized that I still feel pressure to do more than is required. I may call myself a “recovering perfectionist” and write posts about perfectionism, but I still tend to put more on my plate than I can chew.
Consequently, when I got out of bed yesterday morning, wanting to go right back, I thought about self-imposed pressure. What did I feel I had to do that didn’t need to be done and could be eliminated? For crying out loud, I will be 75 years old on Friday. What in the world is wrong with taking two days off a week? If I can’t give myself permission to do it now, when will I?
So I began by thinking about writing this post. Did I really have to do this? No. I haven’t made any promises to do it, and besides, I imagine the sun will rise and set, and your life will continue if you come here on Wednesday, June 9, and don’t find a new post.
Now is is Thursday. Didn’t get more than the part above done yesterday. And I think a bottle of pick-me-up pills would go down well right about now. But the best medicine is probably just letting up the pressure on me so my body can heal itself.
By the way, that picture is of my husband lying in a poppy field this spring while I was busy taking pictures. Now he knows how to relax!