Each time I think I’ve got this ME thing sussed, it bites me on the bottom and I realise it really is a journey of discovery.
My latest revelation may seem, at face value, to be bleeding obvious. But it’s only obvious to me now I’ve realised it, so I thought it worth sharing as a dose as it may ring some bells with you.
When you’re bone-crushingly zonked, when you’ve overdone it and your brain’s gone foggy and your body is in pain, you probably know it’s time to stop and rest. You also likely know that you’re about to get the joy that is payback.
For me that can mean overdoing it is followed by a day or two in bed.
I’ve written previously about how I mentally categorise activities into low, medium and high energy, to help me plan my day. And these activities don’t all have to be physical things. Even a coffee with a friend is taking up valuable and finite brain space. I know I need to be very careful.
But I learned something last week. I’d slept all day so I’d have energy to see some friends in the evening for a few drinks and a catch up. So far, so good. It was a tiring night, but I knew it would be. That I’d suffer over the following days was something I knew upfront, and it was a calculated risk so I could go enjoy myself.
What I didn’t expect was that my body would be fine the next morning.
So I went for a stroll, and to a cafe for breakfast, and started reading my paper, with little more than aching pains down my arms, sore wrists and ankles, and a general lethargy through my body. Considering I’d had a great night, that was good.
Then, bang, my brain seemed to stop. I couldn’t read the words in my newspaper. I couldn’t form sentences. I couldn’t think straight. My eye sight was blurry and blotchy. And I knew it was time to be home and in bed.
But strangely, I wasn’t tired. So my attempt at sleep failed and I got back up and started doing more stuff. Bang, again. Suddenly the sound of the TV was a deafening noise, the daylight through the window was blinding, and when my fiancé tried to make conversation I nearly bit his head off, as his polite question arrived in my head like I was being shouted at.
Complete sensory overload!
The lesson I took from this was that fatigue, which for me had always been either physical, or both physical and cognitive, can sometimes be just cognitive. Despite feeling relatively ‘fine’, I clearly wasn’t. And instead of resting my body, I was soldiering on with devastating consequences.
This was the moment I realised that twin track of symptoms affecting both body and brain/cognition don’t necessarily go together.
It highlights to me the importance of giving your brain a rest.
I’ve found myself this week, though not tired, really benefiting from sitting in absolute silence, just glancing out of the window, or glancing nowhere and getting lost in the moment. No sounds, no interruptions, no shocks.
It’s new territory for me and, as I said earlier in this dose, it seems really obvious when you say it. But I suspect I won’t be the only one to not be looking after my mind as much as I do my body.
Don’t lose your head. After all, when your body’s not playing ball, you need your head to keep yourself company!