Energy slump: My energy levels seem to work in... - Couch to 5K

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Energy slump

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My energy levels seem to work in mysterious ways.

One day my body is full of beans, waking up ready to go, with energy in abundance. On other days – like today – I crawl out of bed feeling like someone hit me over the head with a hammer. I can literally feel it in my brain: there's a mist hanging over (or inside) my head and it just won't shift, no matter what I do.

Now that might be caused by my aforementioned anxiety breakdown a couple of years ago. It is mind-boggling how long it takes to recover from something like this. Or it could be some deficiency. A blood test about a year ago revealed I'm low on magnesium and vitamin B. Then again, I've been taking supplements for this, so I should be fine on that note. But sometimes I forget these pills and a few days later I'm taking a tumble. Same goes for my antidepressants. I've cut down to 25 mg Sertraline a couple of weeks ago – the smallest dose and maybe it's just too low for me – but I also forgot to take it on Tuesday evening (my reminder didn't go off).

Or it might just be the weather. Or still the jet lag. Or just the result of what I ate yesterday. Or all of this together. Who knows.

Fact is, I have these days and, to be honest, I haven't yet found an effective solution for them apart from going back to bed (which really doesn't help because it makes me even more sluggish when I wake up).

Now this is relatively new to me and only started to this extent after I had my anxiety breakdown. I might have had 'down days' before but they were nothing a strong coffee or some well-needed sleep couldn't sort out. The energy deficit I'm feeling nowadays is much more extreme. Apart from having a 'heavy head', my whole body doesn't want to move, I can't concentrate at all and I feel like some invisible structure is holding me captive. It certainly affects my life on these days (which have become rarer but still pop up on a regular basis) because I have to cancel appointments and I simply can't do much work – which in turn makes me anxious, which in turn eats my energy. Big Catch 22.

Of course I've seen doctors about this. And walked away with answers as varied as: 'You're currently fighting a cold' (though I didn't feel like it), 'It's a symptom of anxiety and you have to deal with it' and 'If you don't do exercise, you won't have energy.'

Yeah, about that last one. I was told I needed to do more exercise by a doctor that couldn't really care less. She wasn't my normal GP, didn't know (or care) much about the anxiety and just clearly wanted me to bugger off. I walked out of that practice even less inspired to move my arse. All I thought was: 'Well, what the f**k do you know, 'Doctor'? How dare you tell people who can barely crawl out of bed to do exercise?! F**k you!'

Fast forward to today and my newly found exercise regime (C25K, some swimming, some yoga) has really not made a difference to these energy dips. On the contrary, a couple of days ago I woke up fine but after my 8-minute morning run and a swim in the sea (which I both enjoyed), I experienced another day of depleted energy levels. I put it down to jet lag. I slept about 16 hours that day.

On a positive note, this is not gonna stop me from running today. I still have high hopes that, with time, the exercise will help me out of these energy slumps. So with that in mind, I'm now taking a break in writing this blog and be off for my beach run. Let's see what happens...

...aaand I'm back.

I can't say it was easy today. I got to three minutes and I felt like I was on my way out. All my little ailments – shifty bowels, dodgy knees, mysterious pains in my left arm (yep, gotta get that one checked out) – made an appearance. But the lovely cool breeze, Pearl Jam and Mudhoney made me push through and I made it to my eight minutes! Damn, how I love that feeling of achievement in the mornings!

My energy levels are not much better, though. I guess the adrenaline is currently making a slight improvement but let's see what happens when that has worked itself through my body. I better get another coffee on the go (I read somewhere that coffee is a runner's drink, although I take it quite milky, so that might defeat the object – whatever that is). And a shower. A shower is definitely welcome.

And on that note, fingers crossed the rest of the day is not a complete wash-out.

2 Replies
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I guess we are all different on different days and with some of your experiences you will be watching things closer than others. I have had a variety of energy depleting conditions and after different treatments am now on an even keel, but I still get days when my body just says no and there is no rhyme or reason to it, the best thing I can do is listen to it but have the knowledge it is not permanent. That feeling is the difference to me between being accepting of those days and feeling out of Control. I’m glad you are finding a balance between the running, swimming and exercise and the days you have to take it easy. I hope the days that are your down days get less as time goes by. Take care of yourself.

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Hidden in reply to Realfoodieclub

Yes, that's the approach I take now. I've also come to the conclusion that the current energy slumps are down to me cutting down on antidepressants. They're withdrawal symptoms and I know they'll disappear in time. But you're absolutely right, some days are just down days and the only way to deal with them is to accept them, be gentle with yourself and tell yourself that it's gonna get better soon.

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