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Hiding In Bed

Everyone knows the benefits of good sleep. Experts recommend 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night in a dark space with the thermostat set at a maximum of 68 degrees (65 for me). A colder environment promotes "hibernation", which is basically what we are doing each night, in order to re-energize for the day ahead.

If you're anything like me, though, sleep has become a way to escape from all the stress of adulting. Even when life is good and all is right with the world, there are stressful moments throughout each day. Decisions have to be made (as does dinner), unexpected issues pop up at work, one of the kids gets a violent stomach virus. It all adds up, and there are definitely days when we go to bed thankful that that particular day is over.

When the road is rough, however, just finding the emotional fortitude to put one foot on the ground becomes a monumental and overwhelming task. There is that fleeting, beautiful moment when your eyes first begin to flutter open, and you see the sun shining in your window, hear the birds chirping, and you are filled with hope for a great day. (One that will obviously start with a great cup of coffee.)

Then it hits you. Or in this case, me. Suddenly, everything that was eating at me when I closed my eyes the night before comes barreling towards me like a tsunami. My heart starts pounding, my breath comes faster, and that familiar sense of dread takes over my body just like those damn hot flashes (that had disappeared when I was on estrogen, which I now can't afford....see what I mean?!).

I left a job at a place that I love because my body couldn't do it anymore, and there were no non-clinical positions for me. I don't get to see my co-workers or my favorite patients anymore, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. I no longer have insurance and, even worse, neither does my daughter. I have $34 to my name, and don't even want to think about how overdrawn I am at the bank right now. Bills are not getting paid, and losing my car and my apartment are now a very real possibility. Finding a non-clinical nursing position is proving to be a lot more difficult than I would have expected. The stress and anxiety that this creates is at times paralyzing.

Add to that the fact that my only son is getting married in eight days. It's emotional, but I can handle that. What I'm struggling with as it gets closer and closer is the fact that in ten days he is leaving, moving thirteen hours away to attend Cornell. I know it's temporary, I know I can visit whenever I am able, I know that it is normal that our children grow up and leave us. None of that is any consolation right now.

My bed is the equivalent of a kid's couch fort. I can hide from the world in a cozy, dark space where nothing can get to me. Honestly, if it weren't for my dog, I would spend a lot more time in bed than any person should. Deep down, though, I know that barricading myself in that fort is not going to get me any closer to a job, and in ten days my son will still be gone.

But here's the thing - I still believe I made the right decision. I never would have healed had I continued to do what I was doing instead of giving my back a break. The fallout is scary and unpleasant to say the least, but so far at least one new door is being opened. Even better, that new door opens on the same day my son leaves, so I will have something to occupy my mind, body, and spirit (although I'm sure it will still be through a flood of tears). Eventually I hope to turn this new chapter into a profitable small business. I just have to hold on. I am blessed with generous friends and family who have kept me going so far, and hopefully I will find a full time position that utilizes my experience and knowledge.

It's humbling and frightening to no longer be able to do what you trained so hard for. I'm struggling with it, I'm not going to lie. I miss it. Hopefully I can get back to it one of these days. But hiding in my bed, no matter how comfy it is, isn't going to make that happen. So I put my feet on the floor. I make coffee, I walk the dog, I read my morning devotionals, and I keep going.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? If so, here's my advice. When you need to sleep, by all means do it. Being overtired definitely makes things worse. I often find that when I'm getting overwhelmed and starting to shut down, a few hours of sleep was really what I needed, and I wake up with a much better outlook. If you find, however, that you're spending more time in bed than out of it, get up, get dressed, and keep going. You can always build a couch fort.

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