Superwoman Syndrome Strikes Back – No Exaggeration

"Spine" by Jolie Guillebeau (you can buy it on her website-click on image)

Last October, I wrote a post about suffering from Superwoman syndrome.  Acknowledgement is the first step toward treatment, I know, but I didn’t do or change much. Yes, I started say “no” more, but it wasn’t enough.

See, a Superwoman never admits that her body is rundown and tired. No a Superwoman, keeps going and going and going, doing what she can to make things happen while half-assed taking care of herself.  This is not true. It never is. Especially as we get older. I am not saying anything about the aging process, I’m just saying that those long nights or all-nighters and junk food eating with no exercise just doesn’t cut it for me anymore. If I want to be productive I need to stop believing I’m superwoman. Again, acknowledgement only goes so far; there comes time when action is needed!

This year, as part of my stick to small goals plan, I decided that I needed to tackle small projects and work on them until they come to fruition or completion. Which ever I prefer. I also decided that I needed to take stock of all aspects of my life and make little changes that would fit into my schedule and not disrupt too much. I’m pleased to say that I have stuck to the plan for 19 days and can see areas where I can make more small changes for larger results.  Great things yes, but in all of getting more sleeping, waking up earlier, walking to-and-from work more, reading more books, spending less money, eating at home 2-if-not-3 meals a day, and carving out time for me to do what I like, I realized that my body was still not feeling better. It was still reminding me on a daily basis that it needed more care and love.

Asking for help is not my strong point. It never has been.

See, what has been bothering me is my back. Yep, the good ol’ friend that keeps me straight and functional, Ms. Spine herself, was knocking on my legs reminding me that I was going to not only have to ask for help, but do more than tackle small changes.

Part of those changes is to stop carrying my endlessly heavy bags. Ever since starting S2 Stationery and Design, I’ve carried two bags – a purse and a shoulder bag with paper, tons and tons of paper.  The second bag with my books and samples and such were my way of carrying my business and passion around with me. Business cards are not enough! I need the rolls of paper sticking out of my bag showing the world that I am an artist and a designer.  I know I’ve discussed this before, too, where my heavy bag full of paper was my way of reminding myself of my REAL calling and not my hated day job.

Job crisis, much? Yes!

I will also have you know that between carrying a heavy bag and rolling a back pack, I will carry a heavy bag. I hate roller everything, luggage aside.  I’m paying for it now, but even still, no roller back packs for this gal!

In the 19 days since the new year, I haven’t been as successful with this change, as I have with the others. But I have started removing things from the bag that I know I am not going to touch during the day.  After all, why carry something just to carry it?  Not only has the bag been bad for Ms. Spine, it’s been bad for Ms. Brain. The stress of knowing that I did not touch the contents of my bag has made me miserable most days.

See, I have always hoped that eventually my second bag will shrinking (the contents of my purse have been steadily getting less) to either one or two folders or non-existent at all. Ideally, I’d like to get to the point where I’m not carrying my second bag because I have a studio where I spend most of my time working and it is consuming the eight hours of my day that are normal working hours for the employed.

But until that happens, I am being forced to adopt a one-bag lifestyle as dictated by Ms. Spine-PURSE ONLY.

In other words, I finally asked for help…I went to the doctor last week, after a little over a year of not feeling any relief for my back aches, tingly legs, and left hip tightness.   Prior to last week, I did yoga, stretched more than I normally do, did acupuncture, and had a few massages, with the hope of finding relief, but ending with nothing helping. I did my best to ignore it, but then I noticed my body would not immediately straighten when I  stood up from sitting for a period of time and I realized I needed an x-ray or MRI. This was no longer just something I could either put off, or attempt to fix without assistance.

I understand why nothing was working yesterday night. My doctor left me a message telling me that my x-ray results show what appears to be a stress fracture on Ms. Spine. She also told me that I need an MRI, but she wants me to start treatment immediately so gave me info for specialists to contact. My first appointment is scheduled for next Tuesday morning.

When I told my roommate, who is not only one of the smartest people I know, but works in medicine, she told me that a stress fracture can be caused by any sort of pounding done to the body. Running could have been part of this, but weighing down my shoulders, arms, and torso is more than likely the main culprit.

Needless to say, I am glad I am getting this fixed now. Can you imagine if I had started on my journey with a stress fractured spine AND no health insurance?! I can’t either.

As much as it sucks that I’m being restricted, I am finally taking the lesson of not being Superwoman to heart. I’m of course going to have to find a way to make up for not carrying my second bag. I’m going to have to definitely wake up early in the morning to get work done and do more work at night without staying up past my bed time, finding time to cook dinner, watch movies (on occasion), and read before bed.  It is going to take me saying “no” even more often than before and utilizing my weekends to full capacity, but I’m going to find the silver lining of this.  After all, Ms. Spine, Ms. Brain, and Ms. Body are all saying STOP and I must finally listen.

I’ll keep you posted on future developments.  As for why I’m sharing such personal information… I don’t want anyone else to get to this point. Of course, everyone does their own thing anyway, but maybe, just maybe, another heavy bag carrying woman in another city somewhere will read this and notice the tingling in her leg, or consider trimming down her own baggage.  You never know.

Stay healthy; carry less baggage.



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S2 Stationery & Design

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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