“I think your forehead is starting to wrinkle from all the worrying!”, my inner voice said as I was looking at myself in the mirror. “And these bags under your eyes… If they get any bigger you’ll soon be able to use them in place of a shopping bag!” Okay, that’s enough, I answered with teary eyes, searching for my concealer after a week-long migraine. At 21 years old and after two months of overworking I had been avoiding the mirror, but I shouldn’t have. I finally thought to myself that this is just too much.
Everyone has a weak spot, mine are migraines.
Three years ago, when the end-of-highschool exams were closing in my migraines got worse, to a point where I went to see a specialist. She diagnosed me with migraines – oh, really? She wrote a prescription, told me to exercise more, drink more water, and avoid stressful situations. I really like this last one, as if I wouldn’t avoid all of them if I could.
Living with migraines is not easy, you have to figure out what brings them on and then avoid those situations – but some of them are unavoidable, for example exams, worrying, lack of sleep, the summer heat… When a migraine hits you it can last for days, and the pain is so indescribably intense it makes you throw up and nothing helps. You just lay there while it gets worse and pray that somehow you’ll fall asleep, as that’s the only thing that will make it better for a while. I’ve decided to try something else instead of pills, which didn’t help out much anyway – every morning, coffee. And it worked. If I skipped the coffee my head often hurt in the evenings, so I really stuck to my new morning routine. It worked until New Year 2017.
That’s when the tough weeks started, when I had an assignment due every single day at uni. And of course exams, papers, exercises… coffee stopped helping. My inner voice was screaming at me: “Stooop!” I didn’t have time for myself, for things that make me happy, for things that would relax me…
In January I froze my fitness pass, I had barely written anything on my blog, I didn’t leave the house unless I had to go to uni.
After a week-long migraine and the flu (after seven years, since I’m very healthy otherwise) I was forced to skip a few assignments, and I realized then that all of this was just too much. I put my body through too much and I should have realized that much sooner. I have three exams in one week ahead of me. I know I’ll burn out if I try to pass them all. Will it end me if I skip one of them and take it in June? No, it will end me sooner if I don’t do that.
It might be time to start listening to my inner voice, which often says “I don’t think this will go through” but I ignore it, which might be the right thing in some cases, or else I wouldn’t amount to anything in life. But when it starts to impact my health it’s just over the line. And it has crossed the line a long time ago. I don’t have to finish all exams in my first try and I don’t have to meet every due date and it doesn’t have to be perfect. My head doesn’t have to hurt every day.
We are all overworked these days, and it’s on us to not surrender to it but to face it correctly.
Listen to your inner voice, you only have one health. And only one life too.