I have been battling something new (to me) for the last several months. I have had Fibro since 1993 when Michael was born. Fibro has about a zillion symptoms. Not everyone is affected by every symptom in the same way. Until the last 6 months or so fatigue has never really been a big problem for me. I’ve been struggling to try to understand it. I thought I would write about it here in case someone out there doesn’t really get it.
The first thing to understand is that fatigue is NOT the same thing as being tired. That is a difficult fact for most people to understand. The word exhaustion doesn’t really even describe it properly. Imagine yourself trying to walk through and function in quicksand. That seems to be the best way to describe it to me. Now I’m assuming that noone reading this has ever actually attempted to walk through quicksand – at least I hope not. But each thought and each movement seems to take every ounce of strength you have. Now imagine the crevices in your brain also filled with quicksand. Not only are you trying to move through it but you are also trying to think through it. No matter how hard you concentrate or how hard you try to function logically every thought and attempt is met with resistance that must be maneuvered through to complete the thought or function. If your body is telling you to get up and put in a load of laundry for example your mind is trying desperately to get the message to your legs to move you but the force it takes to move the message from one part of your brain to another is clouded. When/If you finally do get the message to your legs moving them is nearly impossible – again – like walking through quicksand. Sometimes just rolling over in bed is too much. Talking is too much. Going to the bathroom is too much. It just takes too much energy to get the message from your brain to your body.
Secondly, as you can sense from that description, fatigue is more than just being tired. Fatigue is more than just being exhausted. Fatigue is more than just being weak. Fatigue is more than just saying you have no energy. Fatigue is all of those things mixed with fibro fog – stirred together in quicksand. If you ever wonder why your loved one or friend cannot function and they say they are so exhausted, believe them. They would love nothing more than to function at the level of your tiredness. Tiredness can be resolved with rest. Fatigue is there to stay. Have you seen in movies people who get stuck in quicksand? You don’t just step out of it. It swallows you and you have no choice but to succumb to it. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to accept it. But you can’t just shake it off and walk away from it.
The best you can do is learn to function in the quicksand the best you can. That means your house is gonna be dusty, there are gonna be dirty dishes in the sink, there are gonna be piles of clean AND dirty laundry everywhere, the bathrooms are gonna be about 3 weeks behind needing to be cleaned, you may not get a shower every day. The most you can hope for is a support system who can help you by picking up the slack and by helping you learn to live in the quicksand without guilt. And that guilt is a whole other blog entry waiting to be written…..