Divine Retribution


Summer was officially at an end. I was consumed by a feeling of how little I had accomplished over the last 3-4 months.

I felt I was becoming lazy, and too used to being “comfortable.” Grad students aren’t meant to comfortable! So what if I felt tired? Graduate school is notorious for sleepless nights! Yes I was always achy, but my pain is not that bad! I should be able to push through the tiredness and the pain. Enough with “babying” myself. Mind over body, I told myself. I could do this if I really put my mind to it.

I know this kind of thinking is stupid! But at the time I wasn’t thinking straight:

I spent practically all summer in a never-ending flare, basically at a new sub-normal, and I was frustrated with it. I had just begun to figure out my new normal, but before I could even settle down, I was forced another level down. The pain has been so deep and constant that I often don’t even realize how much pain I have been battling until the shroud lifts for a moment.

My life felt out of balance and I was having to figure everything out anew, and I was tired of it. I was tired of being on the roller-coaster. And in my mental fatigue, I was beginning to doubt myself and my own feelings regarding my health. I was beginning to wonder if it was all in my head, if I was essentially making it up – and if so, maybe I’d be better off just ignoring the assertions my body was making, and eventually I might snap out of it!

I doubt I truly meant to be as cruel to myself as I was. It was a moment of weakness when I gave in to my own personal critic. Left alone, it would have been forgotten in a few weeks as I regained my mental balance. But spiteful words released into the ether rarely dissipate on their own. And this time, they were picked up by the wind and heard by the universe. Loud and clear.


I stuck to my vow to try to push myself just a bit more – I shortened my rest time after PT on Wednesday, and tried to go to work early. I drank more coffee to stave off the sleepiness that almost always engulfs me afterwards. It sort of worked. I was beginning to feel that I could do this!

Wednesday afternoon

I had noticed the traffic was unusually heavy that day. This remained the case the whole afternoon, even when I went to pick up my husband from work. And got even worse as I tried to make my way back to the lab. I was beginning to get seriously achy and tired by now.

This might not sound like much for a normal person, but sitting for long periods of time is extremely painful for me. And when I am driving, it takes up extra pieces of my energy pie in addition to just sitting. And now after exercising and spending several hours on the road, every minute that my foot pressed the brake, I could feel my back breaking. Not to mention, every thing took three times as long because we were moving at snail’s pace!

It was 10 PM when I finally got home. I was now out and about for over 12 hours. Needless to say, I was practically dead.


Despite the “resolution,” I decided to take it kindly on myself that morning. I limped into work by noon. My boss must have noticed my tardiness, because he made some snarky comment implying my ineptitude.


I did not feel too bad most of the day. I thought the extra rest the morning before had done the trick! I drank extra coffee again, and reduced the after-PT rest time so I could go back to work sooner. I thought this was working out pretty OK so far, and I wasn’t really even pushingΒ that much! Essentially, I thought I had gotten away with it!

That night, my husband suggested going out to eat. I did not resist the suggestion at first, but felt very put off by the crowd at a couple of the places we drove past. We settled for Chinese take-out, and got our favorite. After a couple of bites of the “amazing chicken,” it hit me.

I felt a swoon come over me, followed by rush of nausea. I suddenly felt I had sprinted a marathon, and needed to throw up – out of exhaustion – at the finish line. I couldn’t finish eating and needed to lie down immediately.

Yes, I had crashed. I should have known it was coming, but I had thought (hoped!) that I had gotten away with it.

I hadn’t.


All throughout the weekend, I continued to feel like a train had run over me; and then once the gates lifted, every car that was stopped behind the tracks for a mile, also ran over me one after the other.

For large parts of it, I could barely get up from bed to even use the bathroom. I have no appetite. The fatigue still has me by the throat. I have never had chemotherapy, so I cannot be sure – but I think this must be what chemo-exhaustion feels like.

Divine retribution for my stupid, stupid thinking!

Mind over body is all well and good, but the body always has the last say. The exhaustion that comes with a chronic illness is not like regular tiredness. And the pain of fibromyalgia is not like just getting random aches and pains. One does well to always remember that!



Featured painting: Dream Passage (8X10, oil on canvas)

8 thoughts on “Divine Retribution

  1. I am not chronically ill, but I am my chronically ill daughter’s caregiver. It is difficult for her to quiet that internal critic also but when she doesn’t, it’s exactly as you wrote – the body always has the last say …. and boy is she tired of that. I hope you can keep your personal critic quiet and regain your balance again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Julie! πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing for experience with me. I am both glad, and sad, that you could relate so well to the post through your daughter.

      It can be so difficult to keep our inner critics quiet when we feel we have not lived up to our own standards. I wish it was easier to practice more self-compassion, instead, at such times. I have been trying to be better with it for the past year or so, but I still slip up at times. I can well understand how your daughter must feel. Sending much love and sweet thoughts both your ways! ❀


  2. I fall into this trap constantly! I think it’s almost what I was saying to you – I tell myself I need to try harder and snap out of it, and then stupidly decide I can just ignore my illness altogether and pretend it never existed. Despite knowing where that leads, it’s still always such a nasty shock when the symptoms flare and I’m back at the mercy of my illness again. It’s such a challenge to avoid the rollercoaster, or to at least try and minimise the wild ups and downs. It gets more complicated by the fact that we are often far too critical of ourselves, and it can be so easy to only focus on the things we AREN’T doing well enough. If anyone else was in our situation, we would probably be far kinder and more patient to them than we are to ourselves. I’m sorry that your body sent you such a brutal reminder. I hope your rest over the weekend has helped a little ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for that thoughtful comment, Kate! I can completely relate to how you feel. You are so right – we would be so much kinder to our friends if they were in our position. So why are we so harsh on ourselves? Unfortunately, I have always been bad about that, but of late, trying to do better! I am trying to practice more self compassion… like, instead of beating myself up over causing this crash, I am trying to be kind about what kind of feelings led me to do that in the first place. Yet, I cannot help but feel like if I was kinder in the first place, this would never have happened!! :/

      I hope you can find a way of getting off your roller-coaster as well. I feel a bit stronger today after staying in bed all weekend. Thank you so much for the kind wishes! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Rene! I am hoping when the temperature cools a bit in a month’s time or so, and the weather stabilizes some, I will be able to regain my original new-normal instead of this current sub-normal. πŸ™‚
      Sending love and gentle hugs back at ya! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ouch! That sounds like how I was at college a lot too. 😦 I think there is particularly strong pressure to be doing more than one’s body can handle at college, even for healthy people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true! Especially graduate school, I think, really encourages pushing even healthy bodies to the limit. I feel like I have always had fibromyalgia brewing in me for a very long time, but the crazy college lifestyle is what really kicked it on full force.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s