Working with an uncooperative body

I’ve been in pain for years, and had come to think of it as normal. I know that lack of sleep, insufficient  oil, stress, using regular air beds, and being cold all make it a lot worse, and I’ve managed it as best I can based on this. At the same time, I’ve had dire burnouts every six to eight weeks for something like a decade. Deep pits of depression, related to exhaustion. Every time I’ve dealt with it by getting back up and at it.

This July wasn’t especially dramatic as a crash – pain, emotional dysfunction, loss of energy and willpower, despair – all the usual. What changed was that I just couldn’t face the process of getting up and doing it all again and trying to hold out for as long as I could before the next crash. My best efforts of recent years have only widened the gap between crashes, not solved them.

I made a radical decision to start putting my body first. To start paying close attention to what hurts, and when I’m tired, and acting on that rather than pushing through it. This has meant things like going to bed when I’m tired, no matter what time it is, asking my family to cover for me, saying ‘no’ to things. I’ve put down some voluntary work that had become stressful. Alongside acting to reduce pain, I’m looking at ways to build strength, flexibility and resilience, ways to get more emotional outlets that help me stay resilient, and reducing stress. I need more things in my life that enable me to feel good, and fewer things that leave me feeling shitty and I’m reorganising accordingly.

I have no idea what the consequences of doing this will be. Fewer reasons for anxiety will certainly help, and more rest, reducing exhaustion should help counter the depression. At a deeper level, the decision to put care for my body much higher on my list is about changing my relationship with myself, and not practicing self-harm or self-hatred as part of normal life. There have been plenty of times when I’ve pushed my exhausted body to keep doing things by inwardly hurling abuse and criticism at myself. On the really bad days, it’s self hatred that has kept me moving, reminders of how useless and worthless I am and how I need to get my sorry arse in gear and justify my existence. This too, I am putting down.

The decision to be kinder to myself is a decision to treat myself as an acceptable human being with the same needs and rights as any other human being. I’m not expecting this to magically solve all my problems, but it might give me the means to better deal with the days when I really hurt, or really have no spoons, and I have come to the conclusion that I’d give anyone else the chance to heal if they can and manage things better, and I ought to extend that to me. This year I have started saying ‘I matter’ – which feels radical, and dangerous, but I’m saying it anyway. My body is something I’ve called uncooperative, but I think it is my mind that needs to change, accommodating my limitations and not adding to what’s already difficult.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

13 responses to “Working with an uncooperative body

  • Sass

    I had a similar realisation a few years back, and it’s made such a difference. I’ll be cheering you on!

  • verdant1

    ❤ ❤ ❤
    (We can't do a lot without our bodies; best to look after them as best we can <3)

  • Rob Marchment

    Wow! Now I know ‘synchronicity’ is for real…! Without for a minute trying to cash in on this particular topic, I must cozy up to your words and sentiments and simply say: yes – that’s me too!

    I have been feeling and responding in a very similar manner for years now and to see this pattern described in print is a powerful experience.

    I shall grab your expression ‘I matter’ and see where it takes me. Oh yes, how long have I needed such a battle cry…!

    Thank you for this. No wonder Merlin ended up asleep in a tree when he tangled with your namesake!

    Take care,

    • Nimue Brown

      It’s a funny thing, but it happens a lot around here. My rationalization is that anything going on for me probably affects loads of other people too, and someone will run into it and go ‘aha! This blog is for me’, which is wonderful. But despite this line of thinking, it still surprises me every time it happens 🙂

  • Sheila North

    Radical indeed! Initially I suspect you’ll have disagreements with yourself along the lines of part of you feeling you *should* still push through, whilst the self caring part says “no, I shouldn’t, and I won’t”.

    Very best wishes with listening to the self-caring, sensible part.

  • hejyork

    “I matter”, such a simple and powerful mantra. And looking after yourself can be such a radical act and I hope it makes a difference to how you’re feeling and also to how you feel about yourself

  • EsotericMoment

    What an exciting endeavor! I find we often undervalue those pesky, basic, body cares because everyone else does without, we feel we should, too. You might find The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington to be a good book to reinforce your goals to care for yourself, especially about prioritizing rest and sleep. It’s a simple read that makes it easy to feel good when you put yourself and health first. Good luck!

  • Ella Wherry

    Oddly enough, I am approaching the same issue, just a little further down the road. I found this lovely Brit… I swear, she is fabulous and has some very interesting things to say. Here is one of her videos…I hope you hear something that rings bells!

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