It is both depressing and fitting that I write this post from bed. It’s depressing because I felt GREAT yesterday (or as great as one can feel while having a 3-month-long headache), then today I was rudely awakened, at 3 in the morning, by a migraine flare. It’s fitting because this post is about rest.
Rest has been my worst nightmare for many years. I don’t know why, but I can get so annoyed with sitting still, no matter what form it takes- napping, watching Netflix, coloring, playing a game, reading a book. Especially if I’m in my house, doing something so astoundingly unproductive borders on impossible. There is just so much to do to keep myself busy, I don’t understand the point of keeping intentionally not busy.
Even so, you can occasionally catch me watching a movie (as long as it’s not a Marvel movie, or any action movie, or a stupid comedy, or a scary movie) or playing a board game (as long as it’s not one of those board games that has a billion rules and lasts for hours). There is little hope for my social life without enjoying movies and games, after all. But napping and coloring…these are my arch nemeses. Napping and coloring are the proverbial hampster wheels of adult life: you’re going solo and getting nowhere.
When I first started getting headaches, I thought I’d find coloring fun and relaxing, so I chose to color some things for my friends. As it turns out, it felt odd to be nearly thirty years old and giving someone a picture of flowers that you colored. Did I expect them to hang it on their refrigerator? Or maybe just throw it out? I ended up telling everyone that they had my permission to go home and immediately dispose of my thoughtfully colored pictures. Much to my chagrin, most everyone hung them somewhere prominent in their homes that I see every time I come over.
So it is of course the case that napping and coloring are two of the only things I can do on my bad days. Especially when those bad days involve migraines (versus getting slammed with medication side effects, or my body being worn out from constant headache), I can’t look at screens or focus on anything for too long and I am suddenly relegated to spending the day on a Natalie-sized hamster wheel. At least I’ve learned to stop giving out the finished products from my coloring books, so that I don’t have to continue being reminded how weird my life is whenever I go to a friend’s place. And I can trick myself into napping if I cuddle with my stuffed Dory the fish.
Maybe you enjoy doing some or all of the aforementioned “restful” activities and as you read this post you’re thinking, “Get a grip, Natalie! I’d kill to have as much time to rest as you do!” Resting is built into our calendars, it’s what weekends are for. Heck, resting is even in the Ten Commandments- the Jewish Sabbath, the weekly day of rest from work.
So, the concept of resting seems universally and historically accepted by people as “a good idea,” and I won’t argue that. But control is something that people hate losing, universally and historically. Control is something I lose quite often right now, and it’s also what this post was about all along. There can be days at a time when I must cancel everything I had planned in order to…nap and color. Not even the most amazing coloring book or rejuvenating nap can make up for cancelling on a friend for the third time because my headache keeps flaring.
I get plenty of rest in my life right now- my headache sees to that. What I have a lot less of is control. But, what I’m learning, slowly, is that lack of control does not mean lack of choices. The choices are just…different. When I was awakened by a migraine this morning, I did still have options: see the day as lost to napping and coloring, or see the day as a pajama party with me and my stuffed Dory the fish as we create art that no one else will see.
As it turns out, choosing to enjoy in the midst of control-less-ness is surprisingly restful. And now, it’s pajama party time! Ttyl 🙂