One year ago, I woke up like I did any other morning.
I used to write flashbacks about the year in December. But usually, a lot would’ve happened. Good things, mostly.
But I can’t really say that about 2018. It was a really bad year for me.
I got sick in February. It started with pneumonia, then turned into mono. My low resistance gave way for everything from the past 26 years to come up and mess me up (or so the doctor explains). It all turned into extremely high stress and anxiety levels and even added depression.
I’m not even surprised about that last one. Not being able to travel, have a proper social life, and live on my own will make one depressed if that’s all you want. Add to it that I can’t even take the bus for longer than about 20 minutes before it overwhelms me (sensory overload). My brain works too slow for me to participate in traffic any faster than walking. I can’t really go to busy public places like restaurants, stores, or even parks when it’s busy.
But that’s going to change in 2019.
I’m working with a physical therapist to increase my physical health. I can go out for walks for about 40 minutes now, which is much better than not even being able to walk to the store and back (~15 minutes). My treatment with a psychiatrist starts next week.
I barely have any plans, I only have tickets for Dermot Kennedy’s concert in Utrecht at the end of May, and I was hoping to travel to the US for a couple of months in the fall (although that may be changed to another time or a shorter period).
But I also hope to be able to go for walks and increase that and work out at the gym a couple of times a week—actual workouts, not just some exercises. I want to travel before the fall. I can start with visiting friends around the country and turn that into longer travel periods.
I want to be able to take care of myself. Cook more, clean the house, do my make-up every once in a while. You know, stuff like that. And add more hours of work, from 20 hours to 30, 35 hours.
Anyway, to end on a more positive note, let’s see what good things DID happen in 2018:
- A weekend away in the Netherlands with my running group in February (the weekend before I got sick) and cheering them on in Rotterdam in April
- Found out who my real friends are and I’m so thankful to them
- Traveled to Bosnia, Italy, and Spain (and between the Netherlands and Hungary a couple of times)
- Took a holiday to Spain with one of my best friends
- Found a new job in April that I LOVE and can schedule around my health
- Monthly dinners with another one of my best friends
- Moving back home wasn’t the best thing, but it means I get to see my family and especially my nephew a lot more
And in 2019, I’m going to learn to stand up for myself and my limits. How to take care of myself. Many people say a burn-out or depression is the best thing that could’ve happened to them after they recover. I can’t wait for me to be at that point.
I never knew anxiety and stress could have physical issues, except maybe fatigue.
We always learn they are mental issues, that can result from pressure at work, school, sports. And when it happens, just go to bed a little earlier, or plan a free weekend.
But I’ve learned. It can even come from friends, hobbies, family.
A while ago I wrote:
That means that my stress and anxiety are so high, that it makes me physically sick. I’ve been exhausted for months, and this week it was so bad, I thought I had the stomach flu.
Even last week, when I was on work-holiday, I got physically sick.
And why? For the most random reasons. Even for stuff that I was actually looking forward to!
I was on holiday with Ilse, and I spent my mornings working, my afternoons lying next to the pool with books, and the evenings going out for dinner.
On Tuesday afternoon while I was lying next to the pool, I got a little nauseous. The later it was, the worse it got. I couldn’t even go out for dinner.
After talking to Ilse and my mom, retracing what I’d done and talked about that day, and my plans for the next week, I thought maybe I was stressed and anxious about going to Amsterdam during the weekend to cheer on one of my best friends during her half marathon. So I canceled and felt fine the next morning.
On Wednesday, I got the same thing. And this time, I had no plans in the next weeks, except for the dentist and (physical) therapy.
We went out for dinner, I only had a salad and I didn’t even finish, and when we got back to the hotel, we booked the courtesy room for the next day. And about an hour later, I was fine.
This time, I didn’t throw up (thank God), but I was physically sick. I couldn’t even stand on my feet on Tuesday.
I get headaches, stomach cramps, weak muscles, dizziness, nausea. Sometimes I get so upset, I could just start crying. I lose my focus, sometimes I can’t even listen to someone telling me a story.
And a weekend off doesn’t help. Sleeping an hour (or two, or three) extra doesn’t help.
So hopefully these therapies will.
Ok, so when I wrote How to Tell Friends & Family You’re Actually Tired a while ago, I realize I wasn’t too… friendly about them.
While they don’t always understand, I do have to say that they are The Best—yes, they even deserve capital letters.
So I thought they deserved a thank you.
Because I’ve been sick since February, that’s over 8 months. And my friends still ask me to meet, to plan ahead, to come to events.
And while I have to decline most of the time, I’m very thankful they still ask me and think about me. It makes me feel more normal.
My friends in Budapest: Julika, Andrea, Paula, Matt, Kris, Lucas, Belle, Mór, András, and I bet I’m still forgetting some. (Sorry guys, you know it happens.) Thank you for asking me out, for coming to the doctor with me, for coming to hang out at my house even though it was way out of the city center.
Ilse, Niki, Esther, and Sander, thank you for still asking to meet, even if it’s only a short dinner or bookstore visit. Thank you for the way you respond when I have to cancel last minute, or when I can’t confirm anything ahead of time. Thank you for slowing down with me.
Stacey, thank you for being so patient when traveling and living with me. Thank you for taking care of me, for adjusting our plans, for not complaining when I can’t do something you really wanted to (even if you’re probably thinking it).
I seriously love you guys.
When people ask how I am, I usually say ‘fine’. But when I’m sick (and they know about it), this changes. I don’t want to say ‘fine’, because I don’t feel fine.
While mono started as a physical illness, it’s now a mental one—or so my doctor says.
I’ve been playing around with the idea of taking up personal blogging again for months.
Wait, did I say I was getting rid of mononucleosis? I must’ve been joking.
I said I was going to blog more, and once again I disappeared.
In short: after my last update where I told you I hadn’t been feeling so well, I started working fulltime again. I couldn’t handle it, so I went on sick leave for two weeks. Then I went back to work for a week, came to the Netherland for a week holiday, and went back to work. And now?