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Phoenix Rising

Save Time to Enjoy the Day

Save Time to Enjoy the Day


I'm writing on a beautiful, sunny afternoon in Chicago. It's one of those days we've awaited since October, when suddenly and magically everything comes alive. A friend originally from Texas commented, 'Something is horribly wrong when there are six months between 70-degree days.' No one could agree more. And everyone, as you can imagine, was out and about Rollerblading, bicycling, running. Everyone except me. I had collapsed on my bed shortly after rising because of fatigue that I can only describe as crushing. Each time I wanted to get moving it pushed back. The fatigue, though, was not HIV-related; it wasn't even from depression. The simple explanation was that I'd worked 65 hours the previous week. I say this not to brag, trust me, but to highlight the incredible silliness of the decision to work so much that I had driven myself into the ground. So on this completely magnificent day, I found myself pasted to my sheets, unable to rouse myself even though every other man, woman, and child was out enjoying the day. When I finally awoke, I spoke with my close friend'the one I spoke of in my previous article'who is slowly and painfully recovering from a zoster infection that has left him disabled. We spoke about how he's applying for disability, trying to navigate the labyrinthine process of the Social Security Administration, and my heart swelled with sadness. He spoke of how he felt some bitterness in seeing people bicycling as he was forced to shuffle along the sidewalk. He spoke of the need to watch TV after shuffling through mounds of paperwork from his recent hospitalization. He spoke of his frustration at not being able to be as social as he would like. But he also spoke of serenity'the type of serenity experienced only when one realizes there are no other options. When he asked me how I was doing and I described my workweek and fatigue, he said, 'Why not just sleep today?' I had run myself into the ground, and what I needed desperately was rest. Regardless of how beautiful the weather or the number of things I wanted to accomplish, he was right. I needed to sleep. This isn't the first time I have worked so hard that I have collapsed. In fact, it seems to be the way I operate. I work obscene hours, pound myself into the ground, and somehow feel surprised when I can't get up on a Sunday. In fact, I judge myself for it. What's wrong with me for being tired! Why am I writing this? I guess I find it interesting that as someone who lives with HIV, I experience bouts of fatigue of my own making only. Sixty-five hours of work do not a happy person make. Sixty-five hours of work do not a healthy HIVer make. So while the fatigue wasn't HIV-related, I began to wonder if my lack of self-care was. It reminds me of some advice that a good friend recently received: 'You need to stop atoning for who you are.' How many of us are still doing this? Regardless of potential reasons, we need to see that such behavior'atoning for who we are'affects our health, if for no other reason than we can't enjoy a beautiful day.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Thomas Fransen