I woke up in high spirits the other day. I jumped out of bed and into my morning rituals before sitting down and recording a podcast episode. During the recording I noticed my thoughts getting extremely scattered and unorganized. It was as if I was looking out of a dirty window and couldn’t make out the silhouettes in the distance. I was leaping from one topic to another all while trying to process the things I was landing on. Usually this a beautiful hopscotch between what’s in my mind and what comes to light when I verbally speak these thoughts to life through the microphone, but this was different. I felt mentally foggy and my vision was physically becoming impaired. I was seeing sun spots as if I was walking on the beach on a bright summer day without shades on.
As I was wrapping up the recording I instantly felt a pain behind my right eye. It was unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. It was like have a throbbing toothache in my eyeball with an uncontrollable pain that induced nausea. I laid on the ground with my heart beating rapidly, and to be completely honest with you, I was extremely concerned and on the brink of a panic attack.
After laying in different dim locations in my house for about forty-five minutes trying to seek solace and escape any light or noise, the pain became so overwhelming that I couldn’t contain the sea-sick-like symptom that was going on in my stomach. I ran to the restroom and held on for dear life. I heaved for what felt like forever before the acidic fluid in the pit of my gut made its way into the porcelain bowl that was staring back at me. I had an empty stomach yet the contents that was coming out was very familiar. It reminded me of the wrath I used to have to face on mornings after nights of not living right. Those frequent evenings spent sitting at my assigned stool at the bar as I poisoned myself. I wrestled with gravity as I got myself up just to flop myself back down on my bed. Confused and concerned, my eyes finally closed as I drifted off to sleep.
Since I’m writing this, I clearly survived but I woke up with so many questions. The main one being “what the hell was that?”. After sitting with this for a few days I finally feel like I have my answer. It was my bodies response to stress, anxiety and overwhelm – all of which I didn’t even know I was experiencing. You see, I’ve had a toxic relationship with work since the day I decided to become my own boss. The day I took that leap of faith was the day I began my quest to prove everyone wrong, to give the middle finger to anyone who doubted me (mainly my dad). I was ferocious and relentless in my pursuits and year after year I built up a tolerance for how much I can do and how far I can go. It was ‘grind-culture’ and ‘beast mode’ before the terms even existed, and I was obsessed.. no, I was addicted.
Because my threshold or endurance, if you will, for pain, stress, anxiety, pressure and overwhelm is so high now, I’ve created a disconnect between what my brain says and what my body feels. On any given day, regardless of the workload, my brain is like drill sergeant from hell. He yells at me to get my puny butt up and to keep going. But my body, even though it’s physically strong and such an amazing machine, it doesn’t have the same endurance. The brain talks, but the body walks – and mine has been sprinting. Because I’m so focused on my goals, I usually can’t hear when it’s telling me it needs it’s time to recharge. I often joke that my mind is like a Ferrari engine and my body is like a Tesla. Even though it’s built for optimal performance, its useless when the battery is dead.
This experience was yet another reminder of how I need to start paying closer attention to what my body is trying to tell me. To be more present with myself and start looking for those signals within that transpire as physical indicators that it’s time to slow down. It’s astonishing how a backache can be stress or how a sore neck can be overwhelm or how an anomaly such as the experience I just had can be derived from internal tension that I wasn’t even aware of. Looking at it now, I can see so clearly what I was stressing over and the overwhelm that it is creating in the subconscious of my mind. I see now how it had no choice but to make itself known before I caused further damage to myself – It was my bodies way of protecting me, of loving me.
Look for the signs and give yourself exactly what you need, when you need it.