I wake up with the feeling that my head is full of cotton wool. At least, that’s how I describe it. It’s hard to put the feeling into words. Thoughts seem sluggish and disoriented.
“You need to get out of bed,” a quiet voice whispers.
I glance at the clock. It’s 11 am and well past the point of social acceptability. I don’t want to get out of bed. It’s warm and I’m so, so tired. My brain is half-remembering the dream I’ve just woken up from and it’s taking longer to distinguish reality from the nightmares. Minutes pass before I remember that I’m supposed to be recovering. I’m past the point of lying in bed all day. I get up.
The next step is to have a shower. I think I forgot to have one yesterday, so I really should today. “Why bother?” my brain asks. “We’re not seeing anyone or going anywhere.” I really don’t have the energy to shower or dress myself, but I’m supposed to be recovering. I drag myself into the shower and then get dressed.
I think I’m hungry. When was the last time I ate? I should have breakfast, but by now it’s well past noon. Lunch, then. I don’t have the energy to cook anything, and I don’t feel hungry. Do I even need to eat? I could drag myself to the nearest fast food joint and eat something greasy and unhealthy like always. But I’m supposed to be recovering, so I make myself some toast.
I nearly forgot my meds! The daily medicine is a part of my recovery. They cause me to have nightmares and I don’t sleep well. They mess with my system and have loads of side effects. When I first took them, I was constantly nauseous for a month. But they made me feel numb and they quieted that little voice. The doctor says I should come off them soon, as I am supposed to be recovering.
What now? I could curl up and watch a film. I could go grocery shopping or go for a run. There’s a constant, nagging feeling that I’m supposed to be accomplishing something. Most people are at work now, contributing to the world and achieving their dreams. What did the therapist say? Small steps. Last Christmas my parents gifted me an exercise bike, the sort you set up in the living room then ignore forever. I sit on it for five minutes, half-heartedly turning the pedals. I’m supposed to be recovering, and it’s better than nothing.
My flat is a mess. I haven’t done the washing up, and the clothes have been drying for a week. I should put them away and run the Hoover around. It’s all exhausting though, and I’m tired again. I could take a nap. I want so badly to get back in bed. But I’m supposed to be recovering, so I’ll wash the dishes. There. I’ve achieved something today.
There’s the sound of keys in the door. My partner’s home. He asks about my day and I tell him. He tells me about his. He’s proud that I’ve achieved something today. I want so badly for him to shout, so I have an excuse to cry and go back to bed. But he’s sincere. He’s proud. “Small steps,” he keeps saying. Small steps.
He cooks dinner and leaves the washing up. I’ll do it tomorrow, I promise myself. We watch a movie and chat. We waste the evening and it’s bedtime. He falls asleep, and I stay awake. Midnight comes and goes. By early morning I finally drift off. I don’t even stir when he rises for work.
I wake up with the feeling that my head is full of cotton wool.
Small steps. I’m slowly recovering.
Author Bio: Lucy is a twenty-something aspiring writer based in the UK. A science graduate, self-proclaimed nerd and avid feminist, you can contact her at email@example.com.
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash
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