Thursday, October 18, 2012

Overachiever Syndrome

I've always been one to diagnose myself when I've gotten sick or hurt. For example, I've never had a doctor tell me that I am/was lactose intolerant, but I'm sure of it. When I was 16 and started getting really sick I kept a food journal and found that I always got sick in correlation to eating a dairy product. Stop eating dairy and voila, no more sickness. This would also explain why I don't like cheese, milk, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese, and all other dairy items besides chocolate and ice cream (how can you not like those, right?). I figure it's something I've grown into and out of sporadically during my life, based on my 8-year-old self's entry in the Dr. Seuss book, "My Book About Me", in which I emphatically state that my favorite foods are hot dogs, ham and chicken, "But don't give me any pizza- I can't stand it!". Anyone know an 8-year-old who hates pizza? If so, I'll bet it's because they always feel sick afterwards! Regardless, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Why diagnose myself? Maybe it has to do with the fact that my family doctor growing up was a quack not too bright, in my opinion. When I went in with what I now know was a torn meniscus and the only way I could explain the pain to her was that it felt like my knee cap was out of the socket, she replied with, "What you're describing is impossible". I was sent home with a recommendation for Tylenol and nothing else. Nevermind that I was brought in screaming, crying, and in a wheelchair because I couldn't bend my leg. Or how about the time I cut my cornea and her idea of fixing it was to put a giant eye patch on my eye. This did nothing to the pain or the tearing up, but did luckily make me look like a special needs pirate, which was EXACTLY what I was looking for that day.

I'm better about trusting doctors now, especially since I had one I really liked in College Station and now here in Sugar Land. I've got a couple of very smart friends who are in or just finished med school and trust them too, but I doubt any of the aforementioned people could diagnose me with what I've decided that I've got:

Overachiever Syndrome.

There's got to be such a thing, there's just got to.

Symptoms include, but are not limited to:
  • Inability to relax
  • Fatigue
  • Sense of laziness
  • Aches and pains
  • Memory loss
  • A full calendar
  • An empty gas tank
  • A fleeting yet overwhelming sense of "What have I gotten myself into?"
  • A love for people
  • To-do list full of projects
Here's what a typical night of mine looks like: I sit in my chair and think, "Man, I didn't do anything today. Oh wait... I scrapbooked 14 pages of Brooklyn's birthday, 2-year portraits and our trip to Chuck E. Cheese. I went to Ladies' Bible class, I got groceries, I took a shower, I took a nap, I made dinner, I gave Brooklyn a bath, I read my Bible and I wrapped Brandon's birthday presents. I guess I did okay".

Every night I think that I could have and should have done more that day. Even on days like the one I just described, which was, I kid you not, my Tuesday. I know I've got a problem. Anxiety has always been a part of me. I'm on medication for it (couldn't self-diagnose that one. Needed help. Can't prescribe medication on my own). I have almost an inability to relax because I never want to feel lazy. I hate asking for help doing things because I am an independent person who can do things for myself, thank you very much. I love to help others who are in need of help because I am a stay-at-home mom with a flexible child, so I have the time that many others don't have because they have to work. I try to use that time to my advantage by getting things done. I'm constantly volunteering my time to bring food to people, babysit, work at church, etc. and when I look at my overly-organized, color-coded calendar I sometimes think, "What have I gotten myself into?" The thought quickly passes as I sign up for another activity (that's where the memory loss comes into play). Story of my life.

Here's what's different: I've never tried to make a change to this lifestyle. I like to be busy, I enjoy helping others, and I love the feeling of accomplishing something and being able to check it off my to-do list. Now I'm trying to change, and it's very, very difficult.

This entire pregnancy with Peyton has been harder than it was with Brooklyn. I have been more sick, more sore, and more exhausted. Blame it on the 25 extra lbs my body started out with from what I didn't lose with Brooklyn or blame it on Brooklyn being a typical toddler who runs and jumps and plays all the time. Whatever the culprit, I am feeling weak in body, mind and spirit.

I pulled my groin about 2 weeks ago. Self-diagnosis, yes, but Brandon seems to agree. Could just be extra stretching getting ready for baby, but it's contained to one side of my body so probably not. It's so bad that I can hardly walk sometimes. I lay down on the floor and can't get up. I cry out in pain when I try to roll over in bed. Lots of dramatic noises that I honestly can't help. I hold Brooklyn and walk down a hallway at church with her and feel like I'm about to fall over. I'm already waddling from being 28 weeks pregnant, now on top of that I've been limping too. Brandon says the best thing for it is rest... which is one thing that anyone with Overachiever Syndrome is not good at. Needless to say, the pain remains.

I've finally wised up though, and remembered what we learned in last spring's Ladies' Bible Class- someone else's need does not necessitate a response from me. Sounds selfish, right? True, we should be selfless and willing to accommodate others, but the point is that we stop doing so at our own expense. I've been selfless to a fault, and my body is kicking my butt for it.

Brandon and I used to argue over a fundamental difference between us: I see things that need to be done and I do them. Brandon is very willing to help if I tell him what to do, but he doesn't naturally look around and see what needs to be done. Flaw here is that I don't ask for help... see previous paragraphs. Now that I've come to the realization that I am only hurting myself by doing things the way I've always done them, I'm having to ask for help a lot more... which makes me feel lazy. Laying around resting my muscles feels lazy. What do I do all day? Play and take care of Brooklyn. Brandon teaches 200 kids and then coaches after school. I feel awful asking him to do things that I feel I SHOULD be perfectly capable of doing myself. But truth is, I'm not perfectly capable to do many things at this point.

 I don't think it's pride. I think it's that I like my busy life and enjoy the things I do.

Regardless, here's my vow:

I will not volunteer for anything else between now and Peyton's birth. Events I've already committed to are one thing. I'll keep doing choreography for the high school despite how ridiculous a woman in her 3rd trimester looks dancing to Lady Gaga and Abba. I'll be handing out candy when the kids go Trunk or Treating at the Pumpkin Patch party at church. I'll stay to help out in the preschool classroom for the 11:00 service on November 4th. BUT THAT'S IT. In an effort to keep myself healthy and sane and keep this baby in me til he's full term, for the next 2 1/2 months I will NOT be a babysitter. I will IGNORE all Care Calendar requests to make food for sick families or those with newborns. I will NOT travel any FURTHER than College Station and no LATER than Thanksgiving. I do not want to be forced onto bed rest, so I'm forcing myself to just rest.

It's going to be quite a challenge for me, and I don't think I'm going to enjoy it. Prayers are always welcomed. Who knows? Maybe the combination of prayer and a more simplistic lifestyle is the prescription I need to heal my muscles and my Overachiever Syndrome.


  1. Very proud of you for taking a step back and saying no! So hard to do but God gives us full permission to take care of ourselves too!

  2. Oh my word, I can so relate to this. Praying for you and good for you for doing what you need to to take care of yourself and little Peyton.