The truth is that I am not very good at relaxing. In fact, it makes me very “un-relaxed” to simply think about relaxing. I know most people see this as a problem, but given my current state of affairs and my life with gastroparesis, I think maybe it is not such a predicament. After all, when I am working, planning, and organizing, my mind is not on my illness, and it makes me feel good to complete tasks and goals I have set.
There are moments where I genuinely try to relax. I take pleasure in reading, listening to music, and spending time doing pretty much anything with my family. These activities are enjoyable, but for the most part, I am not content spending enormous amounts of time engaging in them. After a time, my mind begins to drift to my pain, and I begin to be disturbed by the disorder that surrounds me. For me, rest is impossible when things are out of place and in any sort of disarray. Yes, I am a neat freak and I hate clutter and disorganization. If my space isn’t clean and orderly, there can be no relaxation for me.
But there is more to it than that. First of all, the process of cleaning, organizing, and working toward completion of a task or goal itself does take my mind off my pain and discomfort. When I am busy, I am distracted from my symptoms. When I begin to rest and relax, my mind inevitably finds a way to focus on these issues. I do not like the physical pain that accompanies rest. Also, when I successfully complete a task or reach a goal, especially when it involves helping others in some way, I feel a strong sense of accomplishment and worth. This sense of achievement eases my mind and actually helps me to feel more relaxed and at peace. I guess what I am saying is that for me: Order + Accomplishment = Relaxation. And as long as I can manage to avoid feeling guilty over tasks and goals that are not met, this works for me.
I realize I must get adequate physical rest for my body to function, and I know the damage stress can do to one. I do my best to get sufficient rest and avoid unnecessary stress. But work gives me purpose and serves as a diversion from the effects of my illness, and I find deep satisfaction in maintaining order where I can and in meeting even small goals. So, for now, I am content with the unrest, and I find pleasure in the things I am still able to accomplish. For me, being “un-relaxed” is my form of relaxation.