“Go to Fatigue”

Living with an invisible disease of which fatigue is one of the most common and challenging symptoms is not easy. It’s a giant thorn in the side of almost everyone here in this community. How do we get family, friends, coworkers, and the world to understand that being fatigued is not the same as being tired?

A nap won't fix this

This isn’t remedied by a nap or a Netflix binge.

Fatigue can be invisible, it’s unpredictable, and is misunderstood by the average person who assumes that it’s simply our way of saying that we’re tired… that we need a nap… or that we just don’t feel like doing something.

It can easily be misinterpreted as being lazy or something that we make up, because, really, “you were just fine, how are you that tired now when you haven’t done anything?”

Trying to explain MS fatigue to others

It’s hard enough to wrap our heads around this concept and we’re living it out in real time. So to now get those around us to understand the concept when they can’t see it or feel it, it’s understandable, but nonetheless frustrating.

Well, as I was trying to explain it to a friend the other day, a new analogy hit me that I wanted to share with you all because it seemed to resonate. This may be helpful for anyone in your world who is a gym-goer or big into weightlifting.

An analogy for fatigue

When I worked at a health club, many of the trainers would instruct their clients to “go to fatigue” when they were completing a set of repetitions. What did this mean? It means that you go to the point of basically muscle failure, where you cannot pick up that weight anymore, even if you desperately want to.

As I walked across the fitness floor, I could easily spot the members who were in the middle of this style of training. There was a certain look on their face when they were trying to psych themselves up for just one more set or even one more rep, but ultimately their physical body just didn’t have the strength in them.

They wanted their body to do something, but their body was tapped out. They didn’t have reserves, and, in that moment, there was nothing that they could do to change it.

Now the big and obvious difference here is that they just performed an activity that matched their body’s physical response of failure. With MS fatigue, we don’t always get that same feeling of satisfaction or validation. Sometimes – most often – fatigue appears out of nowhere without reason or explanation.

I have found this analogy can be helpful

However, this weightlifting analogy, I have found can help to better explain the physical feeling of fatigue. This can give our family and friends – at least those who lift weights – a sense of the physical feeling of fatigue.

It’s not just being tired. It can, and most often is, a physical fatigue. Personally, I feel that we need as many analogies tucked in our back pockets as possible to explain MS fatigue. We need analogies that will be personally relatable to the person that we’re speaking with.

What do you think? Do you feel this analogy is helpful? What analogies do you use to explain MS fatigue that have worked well for you? Please share in the comments below, so we can collectively boost our tools for describing this invisible disease.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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