How Lack of Sleep, Extreme Stress & Some Good Ol’ Fashioned Guilt Affected My Life | Austin Boudoir Photography


Last month, my whole family took a trip up to my birthplace — Saginaw, Michigan — for a whopping 12 days!!  We had been planning this trip for months & months!  To prepare for it, my hubby and I even brought our 3 year old, Utah, to a hotel for a “dry run” a few weeks before we left.  We read books about flying on a plane and prepped him as much as we possibly could.

Two weeks before we left, I hosted my FIRST event — a Model Call!  It was a big deal for me!  I shot 6 sessions in 4 hours!  Crazy stuff!

I stupidly decided to stay up all week before we left until 5am to edit and wrap up some of the galleries so that they’d be taken care of before leaving town.  Utah woke up at 8am every day.  So, about 2.5-3 hours of sleep for 5 days THEN a flight with a connection in Georgia to Michigan, with a 3 year old, sassy little boy!  Ha!

Family Trip Photos Torrid Boudoir

On top of all of this I scheduled 6 (yes six!) photo sessions while I was up there…  Why did I do that?  Well, honestly because I really, really mean it when I say I want every woman in my life to experience a boudoir session!  The only problem was —– I was supposed to be relaxing and not working…I was supposed to be vacationing.

Now!!!!!  —>  I am NOT saying any of this with regret or anything!  Not at all!  I was able to shoot 2 of my beautiful cousins as well as my precious 1 year old nephew!  I will be forever thankful for the time I had with them!

The thing is, though, because of my lack of sleep, my lack of taking care of my body and then the stress of vacationing with a 3 year old, as well as booking so many photo sessions —— well, my body gave out!  I was given an insanely scary wake-up call.

It all started with a really bad headache on Monday morning.  And I mean it was reallllly bad.  I was taking Tylenol every 2 hours and it was still sooooo unbearably awful.  Just intense pain directly behind my eyeballs.  As well as a super tense neck — it hurt when I bent down, turned my neck to see Utah in the back seat of the car, etc…  Then, (…and this is where it gets a bit graphic) Wednesday night I woke up violently, projectile vomiting at 11pm.  I then continued to throw up almost twice an hour until 3am.  Finally, I gave up and decided to go to the ER.  They immediately said they thought it was meningitis.  What they didn’t know was if it was viral (treatable with very strong medicine) or bacterial (very dangerous, common to lose limbs & also can be fatal).

The ER attempted to do a spinal tap for a very painful 25 minutes.  They were unsuccessful so they transferred me by ambulance to a bigger hospital.  Once we were there, they were able to start the very strong medicine and pain meds.  It took them a while to get me in for an ultrasound spinal tap, but they eventually did.  Then it was still another grueling 48 hour wait to find out if it was viral or bacterial.


Thank God For FaceTime Torrid BoudoirI call this photo “Thank God For FaceTime!”

In the meantime, I was interviewed at least once an hour by doctors and students — it was a teaching hospital we soon found out and I was apparently the interesting, quarantined patient on the 3rd floor.  One of the most disturbing parts of it all was that everyone that entered my room wore a face mask and some a full body protection suit — the doctors, the nurses, even my parents.  They asked Neil to and he did for about an hour then he took it off.  I’m sure he doesn’t know this, but when he removed it, it gave me hope.  I was scared shitless but was trying to be strong and was desperately trying my best to be in denial that it could be anything serious…or fatal.

At one point, a young student (a resident I guess) came in and started with the typical questions that doctors ask: height, weight, my diet/exercise…  But then he started asking more emotional questions.  He asked if I had been under any stress lately.  I immediately broke down.  And, of course, the crying made my headache so.much.worse.  Between quiet sobs and gasps for air, I slowly whimpered “I just lost a baby about 2 months ago…”  He was so tender and caring.  He got quiet, handed me a tissue and placed his hand in mine.  My husband already had my other hand.  It was intense and beautiful, and so insanely sad.

He waited patiently for me to regroup myself.  He asked a couple of other questions.


Then he asked, “Do you have any guilt that you’re dealing with?”

That’s when the flood gates REALLY burst open.


He hit the nail on the head.  I have felt such incredible guilt since starting this beautiful photography business of mine.  For a small example, when I am editing/emailing clients/designing marketing materials, etc… I feel a huge amount of guilt because I am not with my now 3.5 year old baby.  I am at my desk while my (AMAZING) husband is out there, in our living room, playing/teaching/learning with our Utah.  I should be doing that.  But my clients NEED me.


And, on the other hand, when I AM out in the living room playing/teaching/learning with my Utah I feel such guilt because I should be editing/emailing clients/designing marketing materials, etc… but my Utah NEEDS me.

I went through all of this with that young man.  (I don’t even remember his name, dammit.  I was on a lot of Dilaudid – LOL)  But I will never, ever forget him.  He brought so much to light for me.

I need to slow down.
I need to set, and keep, office hours.
I need to keep my guilt in check, as much as possible.
I need to really & truly relax when I am lucky enough to go on vacation with my beautiful family.


And, most importantly, I cannot feel guilty if I stray a little from my to do list right here ^ every once in a while!

The MRI was a nightmare.  Because I had to leave my room, I had to wear the face mask.  And I had to wear it in the MRI machine too.  Talk about suffocating claustrophobia!  I had no idea it was going to be an hour long test, too.  I figured I’d be in and out of that thing quickly.  Immediately after getting out and sitting up I ripped off my mask & the projectile vomiting came!  I apologized between heaves, “Oh my god, I’m so sorry.  Oh god.”  Those poor nurses…

On Saturday night, the disease control specialist came into my room without her mask on.  I took a deep breath and realized that I was going to be okay.

We really did have a lot of fun before the shit hit the fan up there.  We were able to attend the “Delgado Family Reunion”, as well as my nephew Easton’s 1 year old birthday party.  Sadly, I missed my cousin Louie’s wedding.  And I was only able to do 3 of those 6 booked photo shoots.  I was in the hospital when I was supposed to shoot my very good friend, who happens to also be a boudoir photographer, Trista, as well as her make-up artist and friend, Shawna.  Trista was supposed to shoot me as well.  That was the 6th session I booked.  I had been looking SO forward to it…  My plan was to try some nude stuff, per my hubby’s request.  😉 And, I mean, hey!  I’ve gotta walk the walk too, right?!  Haha!

On Sunday night I was feeling good enough to take Utah to get some photos taken by Trista.  They are just gorgeous!

Utah by Trista Jarrard Photography - Torrid Boudoir

Sooooo….I was kinda thinking I should be allowed to schedule a whole new family vacation, don’t’cha think?  Maybe somewhere closer to home this time…  I’m even fine with visiting that same hotel we took Utah to for “vacation practice”.  It’s only about 15 miles away.  And really, at this point, I’m easy!

  • Danea
    Posted at 11:53h, 17 September

    Wow, I think you just gave me my light bulb moment… I have talked about that guilt being at the comp, feeling guilty about not being with family… being with family and feeling guilty not working. Ugh! I did make a strict no work on weekends rule… unless I’m getting paid extra… and that REALLY helped! Glad to hear you are feeling better!!

  • Lisa Delgado
    Posted at 21:55h, 17 September

    Reading this blog made me realize how the events of our lives affect us all so differently. The whole time Elizabeth was sick all I kept thinking about was how scared I was. For 3 1/2 long days I didn’t know if my girl was going to be alright or not. All I could feel was panic and fear. And hope. It felt like my heart stopped beating and I held my breath. Only when we found out for sure that she had viral, not the deadly bacterial, type of meningitis did my heart beat again and I let out my breath.
    She didn’t tell me about the med student she broke down to. Or if she did, I don’t remember it.
    Something like this makes you realize that family is the most important thing there is. And then, focus on our job, career, hobby or craft. Get some rest, Elizabeth. You do deserve that second chance at a vacation. Leave Utah with Papa and I and go let yourself indulge in the simple things in life.

  • Elizabeth Zimmerman
    Posted at 09:54h, 18 September

    Thank you, mama! You would be so proud — I got into bed at 10PM last night!! Of course, I stayed up until 2AM watching trash TV, but still… it’s a start! 😉

  • Elizabeth Zimmerman
    Posted at 09:54h, 18 September

    No working on the weekends is a FABULOUS idea Danea!! I will definitely consider that! <3

  • Kat
    Posted at 11:05h, 21 October

    Wow girl! You have got to take care of yourself first. I’m so glad out of the tons and tons of people who saw you, you were blessed with the one that really saw you and asked about how you were really doing emotionally. We forget that our emotions will effect our health. From stress causing cancer to worry causing digestive distress. I’m sorry this happened, but hope it was a good wake up call to make sure you are keeping boundaries and putting your mental health first.


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