In between bouts of seasonal flus that have felt more potent than in winters gone by, I gained a greater appreciation for existing with the privilege of relatively full health. The preservation and function of our mind and body is a central pillar of our lives that is too often dismissed as the Ulysses pact that it is; we should commit ourselves to leading as healthy a life as a priority today to avert the well-documented future consequences of failing to do so. It’s only when your health is temporarily affected that you begin to realise how central a facet it is in the operation of everything that makes you ‘you’.
My afflictions were not severe or major, but it was stop-start enough to render everyday life as slow and sluggish for a couple of weeks. Flu symptoms aside, the primary impact that this period had was disruption on my daily routine. The most effective benefit of adopting a routine is the significant reduction in uncertainty. By planning my day through time blocks and to-do lists, I’ve found that I’ve minimised the scope for anxiety to proliferate within the particular domains that I am structuring my time within. The effect of this disruption, especially in the two days that I had to take off sick due to illness, resulted in this build-up of tension and paranoia that had breached the banks of my self-esteem. In the confines of these two days where I was not focused on anything and was feeling more than under the weather, everything around me seemed to come apart.
That mental overflow took a while to settle and it left me wondering whether I was taking enough time during the ordinary weeks to reflect and rationalise those thoughts that were clearly inhabiting space in my head, but were subconsciously pushed to the back of the queue. It was somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy in that by justifying putting off my creative outlets due to work, family, and adult-admin pressures, I was prioritising the immediate sources of concern that needed addressing. But by neglecting to take that precious time out of my week where I am able to process how I am feeling and gain some perspective, it led to those lingering thoughts bleeding into the above areas of my life and heightening my sensitivity to problems that would not typically rock me as much. This is, of course, easier said than done given what life throws at you, but I’m trying to make more time to recalibrate to keep the daily revolutions running as smoothly as possible.
Rest hasn’t filled my life as of late. The sudden adoption of a level of responsibility and pressure that I was not previously accustomed to was not part of any desirable plan nor has it been a seamless transition from my previous iteration of what I had planned my life to look like. I initially tried to frame it in a positive light (as much as it can be) by approaching it as a challenge and an opportunity to grow. But the positivity of your mindset doesn’t necessarily detract from the steepness of the road ahead, despite how desperate you are in convincing yourself that a flat salt plain lies ahead. There’s only so much serene imaging of gentle, receding tides that I can conjure up before having to grapple with the constant feeling of keeping my head above the sweeping current. In my difficulty in adjusting to this new life, I started to feel insecure about my own competence. What if I’m never able to withstand the requisite pressures and shoulder the burdens that will inevitably come my way as I get older? Everyone else seems to be able to contend with ‘adulting’, so what am I lacking that I need to instil within myself?
In the thick of it all, it’s been truly exhausting. Those nifty to-do lists that I mentioned earlier never seem to end. There’s always an errand to run, a bill to sort out, or something that needs fixing. Endlessly. Activities that were selfish and purely for pleasure don’t feature nearly as much and, even when there is time for those things on weekends, I crave for that time to recharge my body and mind instead. During the busiest of these periods, I exist as tired in a permanent fashion, counting down the time to climbing the stairs into bed as respite for this perpetual wiredness. This state of affairs isn’t optional and appears to only snowball as I take on more and more; is this it, forever?