Always Find Time to Rest or Your Body Will Slow You Down

The painful lesson I learned this week.
Illustration of a man resting on a sofa.
Take time to rest. | Image made with Canva AI.

It never fails. Every time I push myself too hard, too long, I pay a heavy price.

Every. Single. Time.

Living with a chronic illness is like having a credit card. It’s true whether it’s a mental or physical illness. I’m lucky enough to have both. (Notice the sarcasm here. 😜)

On the bipolar side of things, pushing too hard often leads to episodes of hypomania or mania.

While the extra energy might be helpful to get through a trial, mania is never free. The higher the high, the bigger the price to pay. For me, that price is usually depression that drains all color from my world.

With a physical illness (I have Familial Mediterranean Fever | FMF), the credit card bill often comes with physical symptoms. Fever, nausea, fatigue, body pain—they usually all make an appearance.

Just like you know when your credit card bill will arrive, you can almost plan on when doing too much will demand its toll.

My invoice came Tuesday afternoon. After weeks of pushing myself beyond my healthy limits, my body threw itself full force into a death spiral. The price included seven hours of bathroom time, with a battle raging in both the north and the south. I was helpless to stop either.

Lying on the thick gray memory foam mat (ad) next to my bathroom counter, I begged God to just take my life rather than another round of the painful convulsions pushing everything inside my body to the outside.

Then came the fever. First 100, then 101, and finally a top of 102 F (37-38 C). My head pounded with the ferocity of a 50 member drum group, and every flicker of light made the pain explode from my eyes inward.

It’s Sunday afternoon now. My temp is down to a normal FMF level (99 degrees), where it will probably stay until I rest for a few more days.

Tax season pushed me past my limits. While I knew I was exceeding my limits, I lied to myself that working seven days a week wouldn’t be so bad. I scheduled time to rest, so I knew I’d be okay.

As often happens, I was 100 percent wrong.

Listen to your body. Pay attention to your limits. Say no to work when necessary.

I would rather lose my job than fight a similar battle again. Nothing is worth the price of working too hard.

Of course, there are times you have no choice. Despite my high fever, my family still needed a grocery order. Sick as I was, I loaded myself into the car, drove to the closest store, and waited with pounding head as the nice young man with the Duck Dynasty (ad) beard loaded my car.

But then I had to get the groceries into the house, wearing a mask to protect my octogenarian parents. Even with a wheelchair ramp to relieve some of the struggle, it took all I had to make those five trips back and forth to my car.

Sometimes you have to push, and it’s almost impossible to know when the price will be too high. All you can do is pay attention to your body’s signals and be as mindful as you can.

Then, if you do put too much on your credit card, shut down as soon as you can. Rest is the only way to pay the bill, so sit down, settle in, and pay the price.

Until next time, keep fighting.

This story first appeared in the Sunday All Things Bipolar Newsletter. Sign up here and I’ll send you a few gifts.

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