I had grand plans to head into December well-rested and ready to take on the balance of 2008 with energy and motivation. Instead, on Sunday evening, my head started to fill up with goo and I spent most of the week in a cold-induced fog. Thanksfully, my ability to breathe through my nose returned this morning, along with my sense of smell and an expanded capacity to recognize. My oatmeal tasted like oatmeal today, which was a huge improvement over the papier mâché I choked down yesterday. Sadly, the raisins continue to register as slightly metallic.
One of the things that came up for me (in a emotional sense) during this cold, was the amount of guilt I have around being sick and missing obligations. When I was growing up, I often pretended to be sick in order to have a break from the social demands and discomfort of elementary and middle school. My parents knew that most of my colds, sore throats and upset stomachs were the result of my insecurity and propensity to be the most picked-on kid in the class and so they allowed me the bulk of my “sick” days. However, despite a talent for convincing my body to be sick on cue, I knew that staying out of the classroom wasn’t entirely necessary and so I carried around a little bit of guit about it.
As the years went on, school started to get better and I found I didn’t need to stay away like I had before. However, that sense of guilt about staying home when sick (even when I really and truly was ill) stuck with me. I’ve found in recent years that I’ve felt a need to be given permission to be sick, dragging myself into jobs when I’m near-catatonic in the hopes that someone else will recognize my ailment and say, “Oh you poor girl. You should go home and take care of yourself.” I needed permission from an outside party to be sick and take care of myself.
I’m beyond the worst of that now. I recognize when I’m sick and I do everyone I work with a favor by staying home (no one wants Typhoid Marisa sitting next to them in a poorly ventilated office). However, traces of that guilt still remain and they cropped up like a mofo this time around, despite the fact that I could hardly breathe and my brain ceased functioning sometime Sunday night, only picking back up around 3 pm yesterday afternoon.
I don’t have a solution to this issue (although I do believe that it goes hand in hand with my feeling that I’m never working hard enough or doing a good enough job at my place of employment), but like most juicy internal hang-ups, recognition is always the first step, so I’m putting it out there. Does anyone else react like this when they’re sick? How have you dealt with it?