Over the past year, I was “exhausted” but didn’t know why. I’d wake up, go to school or work, come home and crawl into my bed. When I was at work or school, I kept thinking about how badly I was craving my bed. I didn’t know why I felt so weak, and it was miserable. I didn’t have it in me to try to break the pattern because I became comfortable with the constant weakness and exhaustion. I went to the doctor, had a blood test and realized I had vitamin deficiencies for vitamins D and B-12. They also found out that I was anemic. Along with my pre-existing anxiety, it was the perfect storm.
I was kind of surprised because I always thought I ate (somewhat) healthy, consuming huge amounts of broccoli, fruits, salads and carbs. But anemia and vitamin deficiencies are common. I don’t intend to dramatize this, because there is so much worse that exists in the world. However, no one ever talks about how shitty it feels giving into anemia.
Growing up, I was always cold. It was a fun inside joke my mom and I shared. We’d come home from running errands 2 hours ago, but you’d never know because we still had our coats on. Over the past year, however, I went from adorably complaining about the cold to straight-up freezing. I would sleep in 2 sweatshirts, a pair of sweatpants, socks and 4 blankets, and even then, I couldn’t shake the chill. Oh, and the heat was on. Nothing was enough to tame the constant chill I felt. I would wake up pale as a ghost, dreading getting out of bed–and my anxiety didn’t help.
If anything, my anxiety made it easier to talk myself into accepting that accomplishing nothing was OK. Sometimes it is OK to do nothing; self-care is real, and it matters. When it’s happening everyday, though, that’s no longer self-care; it becomes self-destructive. Eventually, doing nothing interfered with my goals. All my anxieties were rising to the surface, and I had no idea how to navigate it anymore.
I couldn’t do anything musical, which was rough. Music is one of my favorite things on the entire planet, next to my family. For months, I didn’t have it in me to play, write, or perform music. I felt too weak, and being out of practice so long would make me anxious and frustrated when I messed up a chord or hit a wrong note. My skin was so thin. It felt like one of the few things I was good at and loved was slipping out of my hands, and it was terrifying. The few days I woke up feeling confident about my musical abilities, I would overdo it to make up for lost time.
I wasn’t always suffering. Using the word “suffering” feels too strong for what I felt, because my vitamin deficiencies and anemia weren’t all terrible and I was technically fine. There are real people suffering from very real and serious diseases, but luckily, I wasn’t one of those people. I just didn’t have enough energy to do what I wanted because of my anemia and vitamin deficiencies. It was as simple as that.