Like any good menace, it arrived in the middle of the night. A pins-and-needles sensation, like when your foot falls asleep, but angrier. It started in my shoulder, sparks shooting down my right arm, sending angry little currents to my fingertips. I wiggled my fingers. Made a fist and released. Waited for the feeling to pass. It didn’t.
For months, I’d felt like I needed to rest, the tension overtaking my brain, my back, my spirit. I’d ignored it because there were deadlines—and expectations—to meet. Now, my dominant hand was on strike. A break was not optional but mandatory. It was frightening and inconvenient.
It took a few weeks (and a whole-box-of-spaghetti-thrown-at-the-wall’s worth of various remedies), but the feeling gradually returned. What helped the most? Not sitting hunched like a prawn over my laptop for hours on end, breaking only to pee. Daily walks. Permission to inhabit my creaturehood. Remembering I am not a machine like the subject of some Daft Punk song, but a person, woven with fallibility and softness.
It’s been two years since then. Two years of being discerning. Two years of reduced income but greater well-being. Two years of employing that delicious syllable—no.