And boy, do I have a story to share with you. It’s one of intrigue, and suspense, and mystery, and DEATH. *dun dun dun*
Okay, not really. Well, actually, my mom and I have to put our eldest dog down during my blogging absence, so in truth there was some death involved in my life story these past few months.
But the main reason I’ve been away from this blog for what feels like forever comes down to this: I got sick.
While my journey of clean eating as mostly stayed on track (I do love sushi, frozen yogurt, and gluten-free cookies), I learned an incredibly valuable lesson about keeping the rest of my life healthy.
So this is a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute – just sit right there – (I got you singing, right?) I’ll tell you how stress can make you sick! Be aware!
Ah, self-amusement is fun.
For those of you who know me or read my info, you know I’m a substitute teacher. I mostly substitute in suburban schools, but on occasion I’ll sub in one of the city districts in my area. Back in March, I was asked to substitute for three weeks in my area of specialty in a city school. I had subbed there before, so I knew a few of the students, which I find helpful, and hey – three weeks of steady work is fantastic. So of course, I said yes.
A few days before I started this job, I came down with some kind of stomach bug/food poisoning. I ate a burger (with no bun) at a restaurant that REALLY didn’t agree with me. I couldn’t work for a few days, and my first day back to work was the first day of the substitute job. In hindsight, I should have taken more time off to let my body properly heal, but I didn’t, so moving on.
I have so much admiration for the teachers at this school. They are able to do such amazing things in a tough environment. My schedule was brutal, I rarely had a break between classes, and for some classes the students just WOULDN’T. SHUT. UP. I’m not someone who enjoys raising my voice to be heard, and I had to do that for most of the day. Seriously, taking attendance for 20 minutes is ridiculous. Thinking it was just an adjustment period of being in a new school and adjusting to the energy it takes to create lesson plans, keep control of a classroom AND learn names of students, I didn’t think anything of the fact that I was utterly exhausted at the end of the day. I started to go to bed at 9:00 pm – a bit earlier than my usual 10:30 bedtime.
But then 9:00 pm didn’t work – I was still exhausted when I woke up. So I tried 8pm. Didn’t work. I took a nap at 3pm for an hour when I got home, and also went to bed at 8pm. Still didn’t work. Even 12 hours of sleep didn’t make me feel any better. There was absolutely no reason for me to be that tired.
And the stress of the job kept building. I started sending kids to the office because I couldn’t deal with their insubordination by myself. I spent most of my day needing to yell just to be heard. I stopped caring about making the curriculum fun and interesting, and just did the bare minimum, counting the hours until I could leave. Instead of teaching students, I felt like I became a babysitter. That is not why I became a teacher.
I think it was during the 2nd week of this job that I started crying at night because I didn’t want to go to work the next day. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, and I started to hate being a teacher. I began to seriously contemplate looking for a new career outside of teaching. Not just a new job – a completely new career. And anyone who knows me knows teaching has been a love and a passion for most of my life. Even in 2nd grade I was a mini-teacher, keeping those around me on task (which is why I strongly believe my teacher always put me next to the students who often were off-task). This job was making me depressed.
During that 2nd week of the job, I came across an article on adrenal fatigue and an easy at-home test. I was intrigued. I looked at the symptoms of adrenal fatigue:
Feeling tired for no reason – check.
Trouble getting up in the morning, even when you go to bed at a reasonable hour – check.
Feeling rundown or overwhelmed – double check.
Recent illness or high levels of stress – double check.
Craving salty and/or sweet foods – check.
More alert at night than in the morning – Check, in the beginning of the job – I felt great after a nap, so from 5pm-7pm I felt pretty good. Then I’d get tired again. By the time I was reading these symptoms, I was tired all the time.
So I decided to take the at-home test, which was an eye test. Basically, it’s testing how well your pupils can stay contracted. A poor ability could be a sign for fatigue. And how long did my eyes stay contracted? FOUR FREAKING SECONDS. And man, pulsating pupils are kinda freaky.
Being me, I then start researching everything adrenal fatigue. I listened to podcasts (Balanced Bites as three pretty terrific ones) and read articles. I figured I’d try to heal myself first, and if that didn’t work I’d then go see a doctor.
To help heal, I quit the things that added stress to my body, good or bad: blogging, exercise, and work (within reason). I had been too tired to blog anyway, but it helped ease my stress to tell myself it was okay to get healthy first. Krav Maga, my go-to exercise, while super fun, wasn’t helping my body heal from stress, so I stopped going for about a month. I’ve been easing my way back, starting with only one day a week, working my way back to going three times a week. As for work, I finished out the job – I’m responsible like that – and then took a few days off. I won’t be subbing in that district for a long time, and I now make sure to choose subbing jobs in schools that have a low-stress factor.
But I’m not yet 100%. I still wake up sometimes feeling stressed for no reason. I have more trouble bouncing back from stress than I think I did before…it’s hard to remember. I can feel the difference in my body if I get less than 8 hours of sleep. If that happens for more than two days in a row, I know I don’t have the energy resources to do a high-intensity workout like Krav.
I never, in a million years, would have thought that stress could change my life so much.
Food has been crucial in my healing. I lost my love of cooking for a while – I was just too tired to do it – and I’m happy that’s changing. My food focus has been on eating more vegetables and natural fats (it’s a good thing veggies and butter taste amazing together!), sardines, bone broth, and taking my fermented cod-liver oil daily. Let food be thy medicine, and all that jazz.
As for blogging, I’ll be here as long as it doesn’t stress me out. And I totally know it was self-imposed stress. I felt bad when Monday came around and I didn’t have the energy to update. So, from now on my updates will be whenever they happen. They’ll be much shorter than this, since I don’t have hours every day to write (although what a cool job that would be). Sometimes they might just be what I had for dinner that night. Who knows? It’ll be a surprise.
Other things that have been going on: I finished reading Cholesterol Clarity and have almost finished Eat the Yolks, and I’d love to write up review for both books…someday (summary: they were awesome, I learned a lot, and everyone should read them). I’m 80% sure I want to take some online nutrition program and become a health coach as a supplement to my day job of teaching. And my boyfriend’s been fantastic through my illness/stress/fatigue stuff. Thank you, babe!
Until next time…be good to yourself.