So, let’s. I work 35 hours a week. I write a blog for the University (though not as often as I should!), I coach a team with the Lethbridge Volleyball Club, I do yoga at the Canadian Yoga Institute downtown and I’m in my PSII in the Faculty of Education. Those are just the thing I’m committed to. I also lift weights three times a week and try to have a social life. I am BUSY.
And I know I’m busy, but I’ve been doing this for the last three and a half years, so I feel confident that this is just how my life goes. Whenever people hear about all the commitments I have, they are shocked, but I’ve never really thought about it before. That was my normal.
Until I had an episode where I lost vision in a portion of my left eye for a couple hours. I started getting intense headaches every morning and then one day I went to do my class readings – and I couldn’t. Every time I tried to focus on the words, they would slip away from my eyes and mix themselves up in front of me. I couldn’t make it more than two lines into a chapter before this started happening and I had to give up.
Now, as I’m sure you can imagine, in your fourth year of University, there are a lot of readings. In your fourth year of Education, there are about a thousand. Reading is pretty crucial for a student, and pretty crucial for a teacher.
My mom told me I had to see a doctor, no exceptions. Unfortunately, sitting at the walk-in clinic for hours when I have work, school and coaching to attend to wasn’t feasible. I kept putting the appointment off until I remembered a key piece of information – the University Health Centre. So I headed down to the basement of the Student’s Union Building and made an appointment for the next day.
To my vast surprise, the doctor on call on Tuesday mornings didn’t dismiss me as crazy and tell me to “get more sleep,” as has been my experience in Lethbridge walk-ins. She asked questions, listened to my answers and took over two pages of notes on my symptoms (which include the headaches, a lack of appetite, exhaustion and loss of balance) and then gave me my prescription: stress leave. From work. For minimum one month.
I burst into tears. I have never not worked. I got a job when I was 14 and have had at least one ever since – usually two at a time, and occasionally three. Stress leave. I couldn’t believe it.
So I’m currently on stress leave. I’ve had a CT scan, an ophthalmologist appointment and I have an MRI on Monday. I am not working, so I have all this free time, to do strange things like relax, do homework, buy groceries instead of always buying food on the go, cook, bake, watch TV with my roommates, blog for the University…
On Sunday I slept for 17 hours. SEVENTEEN HOURS. That’s how exhausted I was.
So this is my public confession, that I am not Superwoman, and I’ve finally learned that I can’t do it all. And that’s okay. But the kicker is that maybe if I’d taken some time to myself in the past two months, I could have avoided this.
Take care of yourselves. University is a great experience, but it can easily sneak up on you and ambush you when you really need to be staying focused. Take naps. Take baths. Watch TV. Go to the gym. Read a non-academic book. Anything. Just know your limits and put yourself first, or you’ll end up like me – burnt out and forced to quit things, instead of being able to make that choice for myself.