Energy is a bit of a mystery to me. It’s elusive. Sometimes I have a lot of it, but most of the time I don’t. I do not know why. But I am getting closer to an explanation, I can feel it.
When I had a burn-out in the beginning of 2010, I had no energy left. Before that, I did many things, and I was used to not worrying about energy. I just did things and it worked. Well, up until it didn’t.
The burn-out came together with a depression. For a while I was crying and desperate about everything (being busy with studying, financial problems, and not following my passion). Then, it stopped. I felt empty. I did not feel emotion anymore. Everything was the same colour of grey. The things I loved to do felt pointless. Nothing gave me joy anymore. Fortunately I realised that this was not good, and that I had to go see a doctor.
He gave me antidepressants. I have the common type of doctor that just gives you a pill when something is wrong, fighting the symptom, not curing you. I also went to see a psychologist a couple of times. However, she was terrible. She kept talking about herself. I didn’t go back after the second visit and didn’t have the energy to find another one. Instead, I read books and tried to work on myself.
Slowly I recovered, the depression was gone after about a year, and I got rid of those horrible antidepressants. They caused some nasty side effects, like no libido, being forgetful and foggy, and generally not really being there.
Even though I got better, my energy did not return. Of course I knew I could not expect things to return to the way they were before. That would not be healthy, as those were the circumstances that caused my burn-out in the first place. So I tried to be patient and take my time to recover and find new ways to live.
In the years after that I slowly gained some energy. Not much though. I finished my studies and found a job within a week. Life was busy again and sort of normal, even though I was exhausted after my 24 hour work weeks.
I read about hypothyroidism and recognised many symptoms (brain fog, slow metabolism, etc), and I found out that many people with sub-clinical hypothyroidism (high TSH, low-normal T4, which I had) benefited from taking thyroid hormones. The good thing about my doctor is that if you have a good story, he will work with you. So I got my medicine. It helped! My brain cleared up and my metabolism sped up as well.
Meanwhile I was still struggling with my job. My brain did not work well enough to have enough focus during 8 hour work days. I shifted jobs within the company and that made a difference. But I was still always walking on the edge of a cliff. I had migraines regularly and could barely keep up.
Then I lost my job because I became redundant. I fell into a black hole again. What did I want? What could I still do? Who was I anyway? Finding a new job for only 24 hours was not easy. But after half a year I found one.
That was one and a half years ago, and the new, slightly boring job has helped me recover some more. It’s easy for me, and that helps, because added stress drinks up my energy like nobody’s business. Additionally, one of my colleagues has become a very dear friend, with whom I can explore the wonderful and fascinating world of the mind and feelings.
I found the time and space to grow up a little more. I explored my youth a bit, and my relationship with my parents. I learned that anything is possible, and that we define our own boxes and limits. I also learned that the only opinion that really matters is my own, and that that doesn’t mean that I can’t be open to suggestions.
Now I have more energy, but still less than I had hoped for. But I’m slowly starting to understand what’s going on. I’m still learning to reduce the headspace I give to people and stuff that don’t really matter. I’m still learning to respect my boundaries and needs. I’m still learning to accept emotions instead of trying to solve them or pushing them away. I’m still learning to love myself just because, instead of for what I achieve or mean to others. And my expectations about what’s possible may not even be realistic.
I have decided that if this is it, it’s okay. I’m okay, just the way I am, with my limitations and gifts and everything. I learned from my friend/colleague that I don’t have to work on myself. I can trust that once I know better, I’ll slowly start to do better. I’ll get more in tune with my needs and emotions, and it will become more and more clear when I’m being true to myself and when not.
And I’m grateful for this amazing journey. For the first time in my life, I care whether I live or not. That’s new to me. I used to feel as if it didn’t matter whether I live or not. Not that I wanted to die, but if that would happen I would be okay with it. Now I want to live. I want to experience life and feel and sense and love and I think that’s an awesome gift.