Tag Archives: willpower

Working with energy

Nope, not a New agey post from me today, more a pondering of how the biology works, or in my case, doesn’t, partly prompted by reading some excellent material from Dorothy Abrams. I don’t have a deep understanding of bodily energy systems, but I can observe, and am starting to notice, and question a few things.

For the last ten years or so, I’ve run flat out whenever I could, punctuated by times of illness and burnout when I could barely move at all. To do this I have learned to ignore pain and exhaustion, which is something I’ve been trying to unpick for a while. Yesterday I noticed that my muscles can be tired, while the rest of my body jangles with restless energy. It’s like being on a caffeine high, without drinking the coffee, and it contributes to not being able to sleep. My guess is that it’s the adrenal system.

Adrenaline is there for short term bursts of life saving fight and flight activity. It’s there for emergency dashes to the water hole, and for when you’re going to need to walk a long way to find any food. It has its place and its uses, but we aren’t supposed to use it all the time. I find I’m easily tipped into anxiety and often feeling threadbare in a way that leaves me wide open to depression, and I think this is because I’m pumping more ‘energy’ into my body than my body is realistically able to use. What I’ve been calling ‘running on willpower’ might better be labelled ‘running on adrenaline’.

In the last few months I’ve started to feel like I need to take proper care of me. I’m tired of living with pain, and the depression and anxiety are no kind of fun. I’m looking for root causes. Most of the circumstantial causes have gone, leaving a legacy of thought and behaviour habits to tackle. If I kick into fear/adrenaline mode at the start of each day, I start pushing and forcing myself from the moment I get out of bed, and then later fall into bed so wound up I don’t sleep, thus perpetuating the whole cycle. I can afford to stop doing that now, so am trying to get my adrenal system to step down.

This is another form of being vulnerable. Risking saying ‘no’ to things, and people. Not trying to do everything right now. It’s a process of learning not to think of myself as a commodity that should be available on tap, but as a person. I still struggle with that one, it’s another legacy issue. When people don’t treat you like you’re a person, you can end up believing it – it’s such a tidy explanation, you don’t have the same rights as real people because you’re too flawed to count. Intellectually I’ve been resisting that for a while, but the emotions often move more slowly.

I think that to move forward, I’ve got to explore making the constant adrenaline drive stop. I’ve got to let myself be tired and sluggish and a bit useless for a while. Then perhaps I can get some better rhythms going around being able to rest and recharge. There’s every reason to think that if I can sort this, I can reduce pain, exhaustion, depression and anxiety such that I end up with more energy and more scope for doing things. That helps me feel less self-indulgent about the process, because I still struggle with ‘because it would be better for me’ as a justification for anything.

Being with someone who supports me, and who will manifest that support in practical ways, is a huge difference. Being with someone who soothes my anxiety with gentle physical comfort, and who encourages me to take care of myself, not because I’m a massive inconvenience if I get ill, but because I am worth taking care of. Having the space in which to do this is so important. Head space as well as right physical environment. Having the inspiration from other Pagan writers to challenge my ideas about physical and emotional pain. I’m going to try and do something radical to change my life, and to be well.