The last time I tried to be active for three days in a row (by active I mean waking up at a decent hour, taking stimulants so I can function, and leaving the house), it didn’t go so well. After the first day, I went to bed hoping to rest up and recharge, but I didn’t get as much sleep as I needed. I was hoping that I could catch up when I went to sleep after the second day, but instead I woke up after only three hours of sleep. After tossing and turning for an hour, I recognized that I was definitely not going to be falling asleep again so I started my day.
I can handle one night of insufficient sleep, but any subsequent nights leave me in very rough shape. Lack of sleep amplifies all of my symptoms: brain fog thickens, every muscle of my body aches, nausea increases, and an overall feeling of severe discomfort comes over me. This is precisely what happened the last time I tried to be active for three days in a row. Making matters worse, the third day was a Thursday. That evening, I went to the open mic at Rick’s Music World like I do every Thursday to run the Facebook livestream and see all of my friends there. Usually, socializing with everybody and playing music can take my mind off of my aches and pains while I’m there, but on this particular occasion there was nothing I could do to distract from the discomfort. I knew that I looked as miserable as I felt, which really had people worried because everybody at Rick’s is used to seeing my at my best when I’m there. This unpleasant time was the worst yet of several bad experiences I had attempting to stay active for more than two days within the past few months at that point. Much like touching a hot stove, we as humans learn to avoid things that hurt us. During the last couple of months, I made sure to get lots of sleep and rest between my active days. I’ve mostly been getting as much as I can get done one day, resting the next, and repeating, with a few double-headers here and there.
Although it’s human nature to avoid things that have caused us pain in the past (and those who are constantly sick learn to do this even more than the average person), one of the most important things I’ve learned over the past couple of years is that I constantly need to be challenging my limits. Sometimes our situation changes but we don’t realize it because we’re still playing by the old rules. I have lots of memories of certain scenarios causing me pain and discomfort: things like travelling, standing up in the same spot for long periods like at concerts, and car trips causing nausea and muscle stiffness. These memories caused me to avoid a lot of things for a while. After getting myself a bit better, I’ve tried to overwrite those bad memories with good ones and I’ve achieved that in many situations.
I reflected on the changes that I’ve made over the past couple of months and figured that I was due to give a three day streak another try… and guess what? It was a success. I’m writing this at the end of day three. Yesterday was a little rough, but I still accomplished what I set out to do. I wanted to go to some thrift stores and look for some things that I could flip for a profit on eBay. I called up my friend Laurel to see if she wanted to come with me, thinking that socializing might help distract me from my aches, and I was right, it worked. I went to bed last night hoping that I would not wake up after three hours as it happened last time, and I fully expected my body to demand many hours of sleep. I was pretty sure I was going to wake up at 5pm. To my amazement, I woke up at 2pm feeling totally rested and ready to face the day!
This experience just reinforced everything I already knew in the first place. Any time I suspect my situation has changed even just a little bit, I need to re-evaluate my limits and see if I can push the barricade around me a little bit more. I got a lot accomplished during these three days, and I hope I can repeat this experience soon.
I considered using this post to explain the pros and cons of keeping momentum for several days in a row like this, but that’s a post for another time.