Recently, I’ve felt like I was running on empty and had entered a new state of exhaustion. It started gradually about a year ago, and as I am inching up to year 40, I assumed this is just what it was like to be growing older.
During the summer, I was constantly falling asleep in my clothes from the night before, sometimes in one of my daughters’ beds, while putting the kids to sleep. Other times, it would be on the couch after cleaning up from dinner. I couldn’t operate like I used to. I thought, “This is it. I can’t keep up my usual pace. I’m burning out.”
I don’t drink coffee, with the exception of the occasional tiramisu dessert. I just don’t like the taste, unless it involves lady fingers and sugar! I drink a cup of green or white tea in the morning, but I thought, “Is this how moms are getting through? Do I need something stronger? Should I start drinking coffee?”
I decided to try a few things first before I made the plunge to cocoa beans. First, I tried exercise. I was running around with the kids, always on my feet, but I wasn’t raising my heart rate enough. I always got a boost from starting to exercise, but this time, nothing.
Then I decided it must be stress. Running the website was taking its toll, I thought. I have to do less, so this summer, we pulled back a bit, while many of our kids were home from school. I knew we would pick up again once we get to September.
And during the summer the kids and I seemed unstoppable. We were swimming, hiking, traveling. You name it. We were doing it! Having them off of school for 10 weeks, I felt like we had to carpe diem! But, by the evening my carpe was nowhere to be found. And my ability to keep up during the day was challenged. I panted more on hikes and walking uphill was so much more difficult than it had ever been.
Also, instead of a best friend, my husband was living with an exhausted mess, me. We weren’t staying up late playing marathon games of Mancala, watching movies or anything else exciting for that matter, because my day was over by the time the kids were to bed, and I was being woken every morning by the kids while he was off to work. It was a tough cycle.
And, did I mention that I was gaining weight, too? I was awake less hours over time, and I was lacking my normal energy levels. Overtime, the problem was affecting my ability to button my pants (that’s trousers for the international crowd). I just bought the size up, ignoring the expansion and getting on with my life.
I even thought that maybe it was lack of vitamin B12 because I don’t eat meat, so I started to take B12 pills. They weren’t giving me more energy, but I still continued to take them. I was desperate.
I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn’t live like this. It was affecting my kids, my marriage, my work, my life. If it’s not just me getting older, not a lack of exercise (at least not directly, but I still could use more), not stress, and the B12 isn’t helping, I needed to go to the doctor.
It was hard to make the appointment because every morning I would have energy again, so I’d blow it off, thinking it was a waste of time because I was feeling better today and that I was finally over this. Then every evening, the exhaustion hit me like a brick wall.
So, I booked an appointment and explained to my doctor what was going on. She said I was due for blood work, so she ordered a full work up. I was too busy with the kids to have time to worry about what it could be. I had a follow up appointment with my doctor the next week to go over my results.
It turned out that I was anemic. Very anemic. And, it was, oh, so fixable.
But then I got hard on myself. Why did I feel like I had to figure it out myself at first? Why didn’t I just head to the doctor when I was feeling like this in the first place??!!
After one week of prescribed iron pills, I was feeling a major boost. I could stay awake after the kids went to bed! I had energy to exercise! My husband has his best friend back! Even our World Moms Blog newsletter has finally gone out!
Being a parent and, thus, caregiver, if it was my kid who was feeling this way, I’d be at the doctor’s office in a heart beat. Why, when it was myself, the appointment with my doctor was put on the backburner? We can’t forget to put our own oxygen masks on.
So, World Moms, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to immediately right now, or if that’s impossible, schedule yourself an hour in your calendar for this week, immediately, to check in with your health.
Are you up to date with your mammograms? When was your last gynecological appointment? Are you seeing a doctor on a reactionary basis – when was the last time you booked yourself in for a physical?
Everyone is different, and my story of trying to self diagnose is a bit embarrassing. Especially because I could have solved this in one doctors visit months ago! I was popping B12 pills that I didn’t need, and if it was something more serious, I could have nipped it in the bud.
Did this post ring a bell with you? Are you feeling tired? What are you planning to do about it?
This is an original post by World Mom and founder, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA.
Photo credit to the author.