Home / Blog Posts / Fatigue and the Black Dog / Diary of a Chronically Exhausted Vicar. Episode 20

It’s been a while between diary entries. I had another infusion of iron at Christmas – the 12 month supply injected into my blood stream last June only lasted six. I had a couple of weeks home at Christmas, enfolded in the embrace of my family. This combination seems to have restored some energy and a sense of well being. There is still a way to go.

Diary of a chronically exhausted vicar image

I am learning to embrace the life I have, to see in this illness an invitation more than a burden. The invitation I see is to a contemplative life, to a counter-cultural life, to a life perhaps of prophetic witness.

A slower pace is necessary for my health. I want, however, to make use of the stillness, to take from my rest some nourishment. So, while on occasion I need a day of clocking out entirely and binge-watching a whole season of Call the Midwife (this past Monday), most days I can pay more attention as I rest, can listen and learn while I am still.

As I move into this new year, I am seeking to adjust my habits and my daily rhythms.

Mornings are busy with worship planning and administration and team-related conversations. Mornings are spent at the church, in my office there. I get human connection, I am generally quite productive in this space, and we are adapting office furniture to provide more support for my fragile body.

I go home for lunch, sometimes a fairly late lunch, so a reasonably sized lunch. And I give myself an hour to ‘clock out’ with an episode of a tv show.

Now here’s where the change comes in. While I was so debilitated by fatigue last year, that was me for the afternoon – binge watching tv shows, or sleeping for hours.

This year, I want to do more with the afternoons. They still need to be still, slower, restful.
So now I must find discipline, to turn off the tv and pick up a book. I will build a list of books that will nourish my soul, challenge my mind, equip me for my work.
I still have not the energy for visiting people, to spend an hour or more in their company. But I can write cards and I can make phone calls, and I will compile lists of people with whom to connect each week.
Podcasts abound, so if my eyes need to rest, I will immerse myself in the thoughts of others, their voices washing over me with stories and wisdom.

Evenings, too, need some adjustment, and I have begun to show greater discipline in turning the tv off earlier so as to tidy the kitchen and move towards sleep more intentionally than the far too common dazed stumbling from tv to bed.
I tried some yoga stretches last year, stretches then meditation on a cushion I bought for the purpose. That lasted a couple of days. I hope to return to that practice, still my self completely, connect myself to the Sacred, so as to enter sleep and deep peace-filled rest.

Perhaps writing this down in my diary I will invite some accountability to myself and my community. Perhaps naming the practices will help to build the habits.