A Bout With Shingles Inspired Me To Start Putting Myself First

by Sharoda Dasgupta
Originally Published: 
A New Beginning: Mom posing with two children
Courtesy of Sharoda Dasgupta

Sometimes you need everything to completely fall apart to be able to put yourself back together again.

Six weeks ago, I experienced excruciating and inexplicable eye pain that resulted from viral keratitis. Several days after the pain began, my forehead and scalp was covered in itchy and painful blisters and scabs. After several encounters with medical providers, I was finally given a definitive diagnosis that explained this bizarre cocktail of symptoms—shingles.

Shingles typically affects immunocompromised or older people but can affect younger people under extreme levels of stress and sleep deprivation—both of which I had been experiencing for months, or perhaps, years. Getting shingles was a wake-up call for me.

Courtesy of Sharoda Dasgupta

2019 was one of the most rewarding and difficult years of my life. In January 2019, our baby girl was born and all of our lives were enriched. She is a lovely child—playful, sweet, generally happy. She completes our family of four. But she has had to overcome some challenges during her short life so far, through which I have been her primary support.

From her tongue and lip ties to dairy intolerance, reflux issues, weight gain issues, resistance to drinking from the bottle, need for optimal milk-drinking conditions, and low platelet count, baby girl has had to be monitored very closely by multiple healthcare providers over time. I’ve taken her to more medical appointments than I could count on both of our fingers and toes. And, of course, I wanted to continue my bond with my three-year-old son as I was dealing with all of this.

Having a supportive partner who shares the load and is always willing to pitch in has been essential. But, I’m tired. More tired than I’ve ever been. I feel like I have been in “survival mode” since 2016 when I gave birth to my first. None of this is really out of the ordinary and seems like a pretty normal experience as far as new parenting goes. Nevertheless, I am feeling like I’m getting to a breaking point where I’m just going through the motions, and each day, I’m feeling less and less like myself. I honestly don’t even remember who I am anymore. I’m feeling less spiritually connected with myself, generally disinterested in things, and extremely unhappy after the kids go to bed and I’m “left to my own devices” (i.e., left to think for myself).

I have felt very lonely and unable to connect with others, too. In fact, I don’t even know who I would talk to about these things. I don’t remember what my interests are, so I don’t know what I’d talk about with people.

Courtesy of Sharoda Dasgupta

The inability to address my own physical and emotional needs has crumbled me and made me weak inside. It has affected those around me without a doubt. As much as possible, I shelter my children from it, but I’m not sure how much longer I can hold out. That seems pretty scary.

I can’t really shelter that from my own husband, though, and he feels it. I’m sure he can identify with all of this and feels the same way in many respects. But perhaps for him, it hasn’t gotten to the point whether he can’t meet his own needs anymore and is reaching a breaking point. Or maybe he is and he’s faking it better than I can.

Regardless, let it be known that 2020 will be a year for personal growth and grounding. It must foster a reconnection to the things I love that make me feel grounded to this earth, so I can strengthen my roots and nurture them until I feel my inner strength and light shine again. Right now my light is dim, and it feels close to blowing out.

I’m also resolving to make 2020 a year for exploration. So instead of focusing on fulfilling a list of goals for the year, I’d like to let my heart guide me in my journey—I will go in the direction where my light glows brighter.

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