On a sunny yet brisk day in October, I began a daily practice of ocean dips.
I had a vision of biking down to Banfield Park, stripping down and diving in. Diving is the only sensible way to get into the ocean in October. As plans go, that plan did not work out. Never before had I seen the tide so low at Banfield Park. I must offer thanks to the morning meditator atop the rocks for reopening himself to the outside world in time to offer words of encouragement as I pondered the entire affair. Wading around the dock no more than waist deep, feet numb from the frigid ocean floor, both hesitation and determination accompanied the choice to submerge nipples and noggin. The hit of 11 degrees celcius is invigorating to say the least.
It has been years since I can remember feeling rested and refreshed. Without turning this first entry into an extensive autobiography, I acknowledge that I have turned on my body many times in this life. Just over 13 months ago, as I let go a plethora of destructive coping habits, I was hopeful for an upsurge of energy. I expected an upsurge of energy. Oh, expectations. Amateur mistake.
“Your body is asking for more rest right now,” he said. I sat with my therapist, investigating emotion around the looming possibility of a chronic fatigue diagnoses. “A diagnosis does not need to be a life sentence, or an identification, it can be a signal from the body and right now your body is asking for more rest.” My therapist is both eccentric and wise and I appreciate his insight; still, I have been struggling with the whole diagnosis thing. I wish I could say I have been navigating this experience with grace and acceptance, and in moments that might be true, but overall I have been riddled with moodiness, ugly cries, and resistance. I have internalised the capitalist productivity and achievement-based ethos of the times and any surrender to the recommendation to slow down is fleeting at best. I already slowed down. Don’t you know how much I slowed down last year? What do you mean slow down more? Who am if I work less? What is my worth if I cannot contribute ‘full time?’ Shame spiral. Analysis paralysis. And scene.
I have been offered much advice – much unsolicited advice to be more descriptive. A friend, a dad type (if my dad was more leftist) explained to me that very few people have the capacity to say “I love you. I don’t want you to suffer,” and so instead their suggestions roll in. Rest assured, I have had my iron checked. And B12. And thyroid. Lots of acupuncture. And homeopathy. And a sleep study. And more blood work. And therapy. And somatic therapy. And psychedelic therapy (Dare I mention it to my recovery community, but it was transformative). I meditate daily. Sometimes more than once a day. I pray daily. Often more than once a day. I spend time outside. I journal. I affirm. I move my body. I cook for my dosha, if you’re into Ayurveda. Sometimes, I even rest. I’m doing my best, and some days my best looks like the breakdown and crash of debilitating fatigue. I get dizzy and light headed. I could swear that my body weighs 1000 pounds. All plans for the day are null as I teeter into what I can only describe as child-like sensitivity and tearfulness. The crash cycle is one of the hardest parts. When I feel well I want to do everything. I want to ride my bike anywhere and everywhere, and hike, and swim, and cook, and hang, and enjoy. I overdo it and within a day or two I am burned. Beyond spent. Back to bed, tired to the depths of my soul.
I don’t know what else to do, or not do. Something within me tells me that my answer is in the ocean, so I am going to keep looking there, everyday. I am going to write about it, because as you might imagine, fatigue can be isolating. I am frustrated that my body is not doing what I want it to do, and some days I would rather wallow in that frustration than reach out. My tired mind tells me some brutal stories about my worthiness and I do not want to succumb anyone to my weary company. I am working on the self-compassion too, I promise.
So, follow along if you’d like. Come plunge into frigid waters one day, if you’d like. I’ll be at it daily, holding hope and fear together, like only a human can.