How I Really Feel About Getting Sick - Erin's Inside Job

How I Really Feel About Getting Sick

How being sick reminded me I was an addict and brought much more mentally and emotionally.

Alright guys, real talk today. Thinking out loud time.

As I’ve mentioned (over and over and over) in the past few posts, I came down with strep throat last week and am juuuuuust about through it. What I haven’t mentioned is exactly how big of a deal it turned out to be.

Being sick for the past week took me through a whirlwind of emotions, many of which were completely unexpected.

If you had talked to me at this time last year, I would have told you that I LOVED staying inside and never having to interact with anyone. At that time my marriage was just starting to show its first signs of wear and I was scared of anything and everything outside the comfort of my home.

This year, however, is another story. I am LOVING and ROCKING my life if I do say so myself. #humblebrag

Being stuck inside by myself for days left me feeling really unsettled and scared, but I couldn’t figure out why until I really sat down to process what was going on.

I have rarely been sick in the time I’ve been in recovery. Only one time comes to mind, when I was first released from jail, but I had no health insurance so I didn’t go to the doctor and just rode it out. I also decided to add onto my pain by continuing to smoke cigarettes the entire time my throat was completely raw. #priorities

Because I haven’t had much experience being sick while not also using drugs, I haven’t had time to replace those memories with healthier ones. The time I spent on the couch napping and catching up on movies these past few days brought me back to when I was living by myself watching TV the entire day instead of doing work for pharmacy school — when I would “relax” with a glass of wine, then lose all track of time as that one glass turned into as many as I could squeeze in before I stumbled to bed.

It was important for me to rest, but my mind had a hard time differentiating between productive rest and the kind of “rest” I would do when avoiding all responsibilities. I felt pulled to do some kind of work in an effort not to replicate the days I spent immobilized on the couch (hence yesterday’s post).

In short, I felt really uncomfortable.


Taking a hot shower brought back images of not being able to sleep because of withdrawals. I would drag myself to my shower and sit under the scalding water until I felt completely drained and somehow managed to get out and fall asleep again for a couple hours.

Then there’s the medicine. Normally, I try not to take much of anything in the way of medicine, but this illness really knocked me down. I bought both daytime and nighttime Theraflu teas and soon became uncomfortable taking either one. Both left my head and body feeling fuzzy and warm, which immediately made me feel the way I did when I took certain drugs or drank a certain amount. It was just enough of a physical change to make me feel out of control.

Neil has been out of town for work through most of my sickness, so I’ve been alone in the house. One night in particular was hot (our building hasn’t turned on the AC yet) and I continued to wake up throughout the night. This immediately brought me back to sleepless nights when I was unable to find drugs and I would spend hours searching my apartment for any that I may have hidden or left somewhere in a stupor. I was reminded of the times when I would lie in bed and cry because my muscles were cramping up and I couldn’t get comfortable.

I absolutely hate not being able to sleep; it’s one of my least favorite feelings.

Alone in the house in the middle of the night and unable to sleep, I thought about how easy it would be to take double the dose of Theraflu (because why only take one?) and hopefully find some peace in sleep. I thought about how it would be nice to sink into my bed and sleep away all my worries and coughs and sore throats. Then I remembered how insidious the disease of addiction is and how most regular people don’t think about things like this. I laid in bed for awhile and eventually fell back asleep.

All of this from strep throat.


I hadn’t forgotten any of these memories, but being sick seemed to heighten my recollection of them and bring them back to the forefront. Even though it was only a couple days, it was enough to remind me why I continue to choose this way of life over the one that took me down a much darker path.

Since you know how much I love being open and honest with you guys, I wanted to share how being sick not only messed me up physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. I’ve barely been hungry either, which is sacrilege!

If you ever experience any negative or self-deprecating thoughts, make sure you find someone to talk to. Chances are someone else can understand where you’re coming from and even share some of his or her own similar experiences. Know that you are never alone if you don’t want to be.

Stay safe my friends. Let someone else into your world today.


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42 comments on “How I Really Feel About Getting Sick

  1. Oh, girl, I wish you had told me while we were at lunch! I know we were catching up, but still. I so understand this. I get a bit nervous when I see returns to patterns of previous behaviors as well–when I start eating uncontrollably, or when I start to let my physical activity (just general, not exercise) decline (reminds me a bit of being sick). This was really hard for me to reason against while I was injured. Addiction is traumatic. It doesn’t surprise me that you had some PTSD type experiences.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…#Goals and #LifeGoalsMy Profile

    1. I hadn’t really figured out what was going on yet otherwise I would have. Good thing is now im feeling better and being able to get back into my routine has helped a lot!

  2. Brilliant and revealing! Being sick, injured, or otherwise, is no picnic for sure! The universe has a clever way of reminding us to be present. Reminding us to never forget how we feel today or how we came to be. Your insight is incredible. I enjoy reading your posts. Thank you for sharing! Here’s to a healthy weekend!!

  3. This is really beautiful and interesting, Erin. As always I appreciate your willingness to be open and honest. I’m a nurse working towards becoming a family nurse practitioner so I’m sure in my future practice as a PCP I could see someone in a similar position. It’s helpful to hear what this experience was like for someone who has struggled with addiction. I always value your thoughts and words! So glad you’re on the upswing and feeling back to normal :o)

    1. Thank you Rachel! Oh I’m glad it may have given you some insights that could help you in your practice. I’m glad I’m feeling better too!

  4. I despise being sick, too, but for different reasons. I hate not being able to be productive and having to rely on others to take care of me. I’m also really critical when my husband gets sick (he’s sick more often than I am, probably due to a more stressful job and exposure to his numerous clients) and almost “blame” him for not feeling well when I want to get out and do stuff.
    I’m an awful person. 😉
    I’m glad you shared this. I’ve honestly never thought about how regular OTC meds might be a slippery slope for a recovering addict (but it makes perfect sense), and I can imagine how the feelings you had would bring you to that dark place.
    Virtual hugs…and I’m glad you’re on the mend!
    Catherine @ foodiecology recently posted…An Ode to My “Mom Bod”My Profile

    1. Haha you’re not an awful person! I think those are totally normal feelings in those situations. Yeah, things like ibuprofen and Tylenol are fine but if it’s something that has such a big impact on me like that I usually try not to take it!

  5. :'( I’m so sorry Erin, that being sick has brought back so many bad memories, but you aren’t that person anymore, and you are healing. <3 Don't be too down on yourself, and I know that God heals. Thank you for sharing the honest, open thoughts. We all struggle, and it's good to be able to encourage one another.
    Emily recently posted…WIAW: Why I Can’t Do Diets Any MoreMy Profile

    1. Absolutely. It’s great to have such a supportive community that allows me to share all of this as well. Thanks for reading!

  6. Beautifully written. Thank you. It’s amazing how we can be thrown back into the painful memories of times past, by seemingly unrelated events. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Right? Glad I’ve been able to get back to work yesterday and today even if there’s still a little congestion going on!

  7. While I can’t relate to recovering from an addiction, I had to deal with the same sort of thing after recovering from my ED – where something I associated with my eating disorder would trigger really bad memories for me. The first time is always so, so uncomfortable… but those past memories become a lot less salient the more often you experience something and replace those memories. That being said, I hope you don’t get sick too often and I hope that you’re feeling better <3
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…obsessions, exercise lately, and the BEST cereal add-in (ToL#179)My Profile

    1. Yeah I can totally understand that. There are obvious things that bring me back like the fact that so many people openly smoke marijuana here in the city, but I was caught off guard at how powerful a simple illness was! Fingers crossed I don’t get sick too often too )

  8. Major self-reflection points to you for sorting out the root of your discomfort and for being mindful of behaviors that, while totally fine for other sick people, might not work for you. Sorry you had to go it alone — that makes it so much harder! Hoping you wipe the rest of the strep out and can get back to normal life a little stronger than before, and that this makes the next time you get sick a little easier.

    1. I did have some people I could text and communicate with about it so that was really helpful. Thanks for reading Paula 🙂

  9. I totally get it. Being sick makes us feel vulnerable, which can be hard to own up to. I went through 10 months of chemotherpay last year and felt kind of yucky or at least not quite myself the whole time…I am feeling much more like myself these days, but recently I was over tired and not feeling well and went right back to that time of ” I am not feeling well. Therefore it must mean something is really wrong…OMG I am going to die!” Certainly not a approriate reaction to feeling a little blah…Crazy but true. I think feeling ” not our usual self” can be disorienting and frustrating so it is no surprise our mind takes us to less than optimal places. But we get through it…and we go on…..

    1. Haha yes I can totally relate to that. Definitely working through it and finally starting to feel better!

  10. I have to comment because I have felt the EXACT same way.

    I have been sober nearly 3 years now and any time I get sick and am stuck in bed/my room…. I get that weird guilty feeling. Because any others days I’d be “off” or “sick” I would be spending the day getting wasted.. alone. And since I have gotten sober, I never WANTED to do that while sick.. but those memories just jump back into real life. Even feeling weak.. feels like I hangover… getting in that shower.. trying to wash away the shakes. It’s that guilt that remains and lingers, and haunts.

    I get very uneasy any time I take a medicine that’ll affect me strongly.. like a nighttime PM medicine. I feel out of control suddenly and that is terrifying. But I suppose that we’re stronger because we’re aware of that now. At least we can recognize these symptoms and dark thoughts.. and overcome them.

    thank you for sharing. No one talks about this part.

    1. I’m SO glad you were able to relate. It’s definitely a tough situation and one that I didn’t even expect! So many congrats on your recovery and if you ever need someone to talk to just let me know!

    1. Thanks blair! I try and make it a point to write about the good AND the bad since I had such a hard time even acknowledging it in the past

  11. It’s insane how our brain connects things to memories. You are clearly such a strong person, though, since I’m sure some would have reverted to old habits if that happened. Thank you so much for sharing experiences like this with us all. I’ve never experienced something like this, but it makes me see different points of view and understand people who may have struggled with various addictions in the past.
    Morgan @ Morgan Manages Mommyhood recently posted…Seeking Advice: Kids, Bad Language, and Potty TalkMy Profile

    1. Thanks so much for reading Morgan and I’m glad that it shed some light on a different part of being sick (for me at least)!

  12. Girl, I have to say how inspiring and raw your posts are – I love this.

    Now, being sick does stink and it can be very boring and yea I could imagine how tied all old patterns and emotions can be into what you’re going through, but I honor you! You are fully showing up and sharing this all with us – which I think must be really healing!

    Gawd being sick does suck and the Universe sure knows how to guide us to slow the F down, huh?!

    Sending love

    Kris | recently posted…What you resist, persists! I know first hand.My Profile

    1. Thanks so much Kris! Thankfully I’m over that sickness hump and craziness that accompanied it. Thanks for reading!!

    1. Totally. It can be tough but the more we go through it the easier it seems to become. Still no fun though!

  13. Wow, this is so insightful. And it shows that being sick really sucks for a LOT of reasons, and that those reasons are different for everyone. For “normal” me, it’s because I have a fear of not being productive. For anxiety-ridden me, it’s because I have a chronic illness and I start thinking about what it looks like if my whole life turns into me being sick in one way or another. Not fun times at all, but thanks for sharing and I’m hoping you feel 100% soon!
    Ellen @ My Uncommon Everyday recently posted…Day in the Life #12My Profile

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