fatigue

I Ignored My Fatigue, and Here’s Why You Shouldn’t

Author: Maria Pappas, Real Life Stories

My summer was, in a word, hectic. I moved, traveled to five states, and worked at three different summer camps, all while I maintained my full-time job. Naturally, when I started becoming really tired, I wasn’t too surprised or concerned. I thought that it was normal to be tired from doing all of these things. And, usually, it is. I was run down, and it just made sense. 

Fatigue, however, is not normal. And unfortunately, I learned that the hard way, by letting it get really bad before I did anything about it.

I first noticed that something was weird when I was not able to sleep through the night for a few weeks straight. Usually, I’m a pretty heavy sleeper. But even though I was so tired, my body would not shut off. It took a toll on me in every imaginable way.

 

Physically
In the past, I could run five miles a couple times a week. However, this past summer, I could barely walk half a mile to the train without my legs feeling sore for hours. My muscles always ached like I had just lifted 100-pound weights. I rarely felt “good” for more than a few hours at a time.

Socially
I’m usually a very empathetic person, and all of a sudden I felt nothing, even after hearing startling or upsetting news. I found it difficult to focus on anyone or anything except how tired I was. I didn’t remember the things that people told me, which was frustrating to both me and them when we tried to have conversations. I was often frustrated and impatient with myself and with others, and it made me think that no one wanted to hang out with me (even though I was never told or shown that outright, thankfully).

Mentally
Work was extremely difficult. Simple tasks that I would easily do daily became difficult. I craved mundane and repetitive work, when usually I do a million things at the same time. Why? Because I felt like that was all I could do.

My memory took a toll
At summer camps, I couldn’t remember my campers’ names after having spent days with them. Yes, there are lots of kids at camp, but I’ve worked at camp for years, and this was never a problem before. Even more concerning? When I looked back at the end of most days, I couldn’t remember anything that I had done that day.

Anxiety, and depressive symptoms
These were also at an all time high, and besides minor anxiety here and there, I had never felt these types of symptoms before in my life. I never wanted to get out of bed, and I constantly had anxiety about whether this would go away, or if I would ever feel okay again.

 

As you can imagine, I tried everything I could think of to fix it. I drank endless cups of coffee to make me feel less foggy, I took naps whenever I could with the vain hope of revitalization, and I spent my weekends, days off, and nights doing as little as possible. 

When I’d tried everything I could think of to no avail, I became very concerned. This wasn’t a normal tired, I eventually admitted to myself. I was sure that something was wrong. I started calling it “fatigue” instead of just “tired,” hoping that someone could give me an answer.

Well, people gave me answers all right.

“You’re not eating well. “You’re not exercising enough.” “You need to sleep more.” “Well, you’ve been doing a lot. This is totally normal.” All of these were things I heard way too often. Or, more annoyed answers: “I’m tired too, you’re not the only one working hard,” and “you’re overreacting, it’s all in your head.” I found myself Googling “symptoms of [insert malady here]” way too often. So I stopped telling people, for fear of sounding crazy or dramatic.

And I decided to do something about it: I had blood work done, and it came back positive for Lyme disease. How I felt when I got the results back was the most scared and relieved I’ve probably ever felt in my life. The diagnosis explained all of the things that I was feeling, and I’ve since started antibiotics and feel a thousand times better.

I didn’t have the tell-tale signs of Lyme disease: the bulls-eye rash or the fever. If I did have a fever, it was low-grade enough for me to work through. So really, the fatigue was the only sign that I could go on. I wish that I hadn’t ignored that sign for so long, because this problem could have been resolved much sooner.

The thing about fatigue is that it looks normal to an outsider. You walk and talk like you always have. No one really notices anything except that you’re tired, and maybe moodier than usual. But in your head, you know that something is different. It’s not dramatic. It’s necessary for your health to address fatigue.

 


For more information on Lyme disease, visit www.lymedisease.org

service

I Chaperoned a Service Trip, and it Changed My Life

Author: Maria Pappas, Real Life Stories

In 2013, when I was a sophomore in college, I participated in a life-changing trip to Tupelo, Mississippi, through a program called Global Outreach.

For a Global Outreach trip, you’re placed on a team of ten students, a leader (who is also a student), and a chaperone. These 12 team members get to know each other throughout the semester via weekly meetings, and this culminates in the service project. 

The trip I went on allowed me to serve as a counselor at a summer camp for Catholic children, called Camp Friendship. The experience was, in a word, transformative.

Participating in Global Outreach Mississippi changed the way I viewed the country I’ve lived in my entire life, my faith, summer camp, and my relationships, just to name a few. The campers were the sweetest, and my team members were amazing individuals who I still look up to long after our trip ended.

So, naturally, when I got the chance to chaperone the same trip, for a new group of students, I jumped at the chance (actual jumping may or may not have been involved).

As a chaperone instead of a participant, though, the team-building process leading up to the trip was much more difficult than I expected. It involved trekking to the Bronx once a week on a Sunday night and arriving home after midnight (like, way after) before work on Monday. It was a huge time commitment and a test of patience as well. Like, “how many times can I hear the same question about what to pack for Mississippi without rolling my eyes” test of my patience.

It of course was all worth it when we got to Camp Friendship. I was ecstatic to find that the magic that had made me fall in love with the camp the first time was still there. Yes, the beds were still glorified pieces of foam, and the bugs were way larger than I remember (or could ever imagine).

But, being a counselor at the camp was also just as fun as I remembered, if not more so. The campers were just as sweet and hysterical, and each one of them took a small piece of my heart when they went home at the end of the week. I’d have to say that watching my team members be transformed in their faiths, relationships, and world views- the same ways in which I was transformed four years ago — was probably the most rewarding part. I learned a lot from my team, and was able to grow from working with them. 

I think it’s important to give back to what shaped you.

Global Outreach Mississippi 2013 made me into the person that I am today, and I wanted to give some students that experience by chaperoning the 2017 trip. It made me love summer camp and working with kids. As I continue on in my life, it’s nice to know that I can have these experiences any time I’d like, by doing some kind of service. I can continue to serve without wanting to change anything, and without expecting anything back. 

As a chaperone, my goal was to give students that same opportunity that I had to experience something new with an open heart, to fall in love with something, and to change their lives. 

So, instead of a glamorous beach vacation, or traipsing around Europe, my memories consist of tie-dying shirts and making up songs about fried chicken with nine year olds. And I absolutely think that I made the right decision — and returned with a slightly fuller heart.

The “But we just started talking…” Dating App Struggle

Author: Maria Pappas, The Dating Game

A couple of months ago, I was exchanging messages with a guy on Bumble. To make things easy, let’s just call him Mike. Maybe two or three days after I started the conversation, Mike and I were messaging when all of a sudden he started giving me one word answers. I wasn’t sure what was going on, but finally he apologized and told me that his family had to put their dog down that night and so he was upset.

Rightfully so, right? Yet for some reason all I could think about was how I felt about the situation. And by that, I mean that I was sincerely confused about how to feel.

I mean, I was sorry that he had to go through that. But I also thought, “I know you from Bumble.” Like, are we allowed to hit these not-so-easy topics before we’ve even met up in person? When exactly are we allowed to show that we are upset? What’s the right medium to do so? With all of the different ways that millennials communicate, it’s hard to be sure about any of this.

Fast forward a bit later, and I’m talking to another guy on Bumble. Let’s call this one Nick. Nick tells me a few short hours after beginning the conversation that his cousin was shot and is in critical condition at the hospital.

Of course I offered words of consolation for this terrible situation that he was dealing with, but what could I do? All I could offer were words of comfort via a dating app… not the most meaningful thing, ya know?

My conversations with both Mike and Nick, for the record, have fizzled out. And, although this might sound bad, I don’t think that this is in any small part due to the fact that they revealed so much so soon.

If it were a close friend going through a situation like this, I would want to help them handle it if I could, and make sure that they were okay. But I also know so much more about close friends: how they deal with tragedy, how supportive their families are, and that they’ve helped me over the years, to name a few.

The fact was, I barely knew Mike or Nick, so even my deepest words of comfort and sympathy could not mean much. They were just words. I didn’t know them well enough for the words to be any more than that because there isn’t a relationship behind them. I couldn’t provide them with the proof, the actions, or… anything really… to let them know that I meant what I said.

I also felt bad for the fact that I didn’t feel I could truly or fully sympathize with them or understand what they were going through.

Of course, we can’t control life’s circumstances, and we have to be honest with one another about what is going on — that things aren’t perfect, that we struggle, that things are happening below the surface that no one knows about. But it’s more difficult for others to deal with those situations when they don’t know you.

There is something to be said about online datingdating apps, and dating in general through these stories, though. Our conversations with one another can range from the most general small talk conversations, to these deep, meaningful ones about what you want out of life and what’s going on in yours.

There has to be discernment in what we share, though, and how we respond. Remember the medium that you are using, and think about what you choose to share.

Cut Toxic People Out of Your Life, and Off Social Media

Author: Maria Pappas, The Dating Game

As millennials, we know that it’s the biggest blessing and the biggest curse to be as connected as we are.

Especially when it comes to dating.

When we need information about someone, we have it at our fingertips. But, when we don’t want to know what someone is up to at all hours of the day, well… that information is still right there for the taking. So, when you freely take it… that’s when things can get dangerous.

Though it is not easy, I advocate for disconnecting when you need to, and not feeling badly about it, either. It’s also important to understand and accept that disconnecting isn’t easy.

Take, for example, getting to know someone. Most of us, when we are first getting to know someone who we think we might be interested in dating, try to get as much information on that person as we can. But then you find yourself on your crush’s roommate’s dad’s Facebook at 3 a.m. (hey, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it… JUST KIDDING! DON’T TRY IT!) At that point, you should consider reevaluating your need to know everything. There is such thing as knowing too much. My advice: Get yourself off there. A good, old-fashioned date can do the trick.

Or, on the complete opposite side, take breaking up with someone. You might feel like the weaker person when you unfriend someone who you are upset with. You might consider it petty to delete all of the pictures of you and your ex from your Instagram page. Or you might be worried about someone saying you are pathetic for constantly checking if someone watched your Instagram or Snapchat story.

Sometimes, it’s just really difficult to constantly be seeing what someone else is up to.

Or having people constantly question what you’re up to. My advice: delete, delete, DELETE exes after a breakup if things did not end on okay terms. Or, if you just find yourself checking their social media pages a few too many times a week. No excuses needed other than your own well-being.

I find that because I am so connected, there is evidence of people I’ve had in my life everywhere, even if they’re no longer in my life. 

So, delete the picture of your ex that you keep sneaking a glance at to decide if maybe you were taller than him in those heels.

And the stupid selfie video that you listen to just to remember how cute her voice was.

Get rid of it, and don’t look back. Don’t pretend that your habits are healthy when they’re not, because you’re not doing yourself or anyone else a favor.

It’s hard to know when to delete someone from your life, and when you decide to do so, it’s hard to feel comfortable with it. There are so many places that you can find one person: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, your message logs, even your email (old school, I know). So if you do decide that someone needs to be gone, or that you need to stop looking at something, there is one hard and fast rule: you must commit.

Don’t leave one Instagram, don’t leave that Snapchat in your memories where you know it’s hidden but no one else does (because you know it’s there… you know).

To reiterate: it’s okay to delete. In most cases, it’s better. Not when you’re deleting things out of spite, but when you’re deleting things or people who bring out the worst in you.

Because some things are unhealthy for us to keep, or to keep looking at.

Your unhealthy habits need to die. You need to treat yourself better than that.

Things I Learned From My Worst Date Ever

Author: Maria Pappas, The Dating Game

Three years later, I still remember the worst date that I ever went on. I know, what a way to start a blog post about dating, right?

At this point, I don’t remember all of the nitty gritty details. But I do remember the generally awkward conversation, and being upset after it was over.

(I also remember that I ate a really great burger… still think about it sometimes).

But instead of letting myself wallow, I tried to learn some lessons from it so that I could look back with laughter instead of regret. I think it worked, so now I’ll share what I learned in the hopes that you can avoid making the same mistakes.

It’s harder than you think when one’s in college and one’s not
My date and I were in totally different places in life: I was in undergrad and he was in his first year of working postgrad. My schedule was varied, but it usually consisted of waking up at 10 for my 10:30 class, with lots of socializing time during the day. His consisted of waking up at 6 to get on a train from a different state to get to work in the city by 9. So no, I didn’t fully understand when he told me that he had a long day.

Sometimes, being in different places in life isn’t a big deal. But this time, it drew a divide between us. I should have thought about that before I sat down across a table from someone that I had almost nothing in common with.

If you’re not a drinker, don’t go to a bar. If you have to wake up at 5a.m. the next day, don’t go to a movie that starts at 11p.m. It sounds simple, but sometimes we will ignore ourselves or our intuition in the hopes of making a love connection.

Don’t settle for vagueness. Make solid plans
Our plan consisted of “I’ll meet you in *this area* when I get off of work.” AKA, I walked around semi aimlessly waiting for him, and then we walked around semi aimlessly together, looking for a place that wasn’t too crowded. And, if you’ve never done it, just know that roaming around an area you don’t know well with someone you don’t know well is usually awkward. If it’s not, maybe consider putting a ring on it?

If we’d had a plan, it would have started the date off on a better note. Not a frustrated “fine, let’s eat here.”

Now, I’m a generally old-fashioned girl who would appreciate if a guy planned the date, but if someone’s not committing, either: a) make the plans yourself or b) drop it. Anyone above the age of, I don’t know, 16, should be able to choose a time and a place to meet.

Don’t take things too personally
THIS IS THE BIGGIE. Like I said earlier, totally different places in life. So, yes, I thought that the work that I was doing as an RA was ~*groundbreaking*~ and I got upset when he poked fun at that. I was taking myself way too seriously.

Don’t set high expectations
For me, taking things too personally was a result of expectations I had made. But when you’re going on a first date, especially when you barely know each other, your expectations shouldn’t be too high. Obviously, have expectations, and don’t stand for being walked all over, but maybe don’t expect someone who will take care of your cat when you’re out of town. Or whatever people in relationships do.

But as my friends reminded me after the date, the whole thing just… wasn’t that serious.

They were there to remind me that there are worse things in life than a bad date. So I’m sharing that reminder with all of you.