A woman's profile is featured, while a smaller version of herself desperately reaches up to keep her eyelid open.

Eyelids Close Involuntarily? Mine Too!

At one o’clock in the morning, I wake in my recliner. I struggle to open my eyes. Only my right eyelid cooperates. The left one stays right where it is, as though fused to the bottom lid to make one continuous membrane.

So I use my right eye to scan the room for how many lights I have to turn off before stumbling to the bathroom for a wee, then taking those 12 steps to the bed. I count five lights: three in the kitchen and two in the living room. I'm bummed about the expenditure of energy, wakefulness, and strength it will take.

From one-eyed monster back to binocular human

I tense all my muscles and try to get up, only to discover that I am so relaxed that gravity has glued my butt to the chair. I would rather just stay put and doze off again — and I do.

At two o’clock I wake, and once again, only my right eyelid will open. I heave myself out of the chair, shut off all five lights, head to the john, then climb into bed. When I wake the next morning, both eyelids open without effort. Overnight, I have morphed from one-eyed monster back to binocular human.

Is it really that strange of a symptom?

This symptom isn’t a complete mystery. So often I have looked at photos of myself and noticed that my left eyelid droops. Years ago, MS only affected my left side from face to toe. To this day, the fat and muscle in the left hemisphere of my face are slightly wasted compared to the right, allowing the skin to sag from the eyelid to jowl to such a noticeable degree that one side looks ten years older than the other.

Now MS affects both sides, but not in my face. At least, not in terms of eyelid droop.

Studying the inside of my eyelids

Both eyelids close whenever I read or listen to someone talk at me for more than five minutes. It’s embarrassing, but I can’t help it. I don’t want my guest to think they are boring me into a coma. That is a major social faux pas, and so very rude. Besides, I pride myself on being an engaged and active listener.

So when my eyes close before I fall into semi-wakefulness, I betray a quality that is a big part of my value. When someone shares their thoughts and feelings with me, I consider it a gift they are giving me. I feel honored to receive it and show them my gratitude by listening carefully.

What is your experience?

Maybe I should cut myself some slack and chalk it up to MS fatigue. I don’t mind it so much when I’m alone and can simply close my eyes when I need to and doze off for ten minutes. But when someone else is in the room, I must spend some energy using tactics to keep my attention focused on my guest.

Things such as purposeful blinking to re-focus myself on the conversation thread, or letting my hands get fidgety, either under the table or discreetly in my lap while maintaining eye contact. I only let down after they leave, and I am alone to sink back in my recliner and close my eyes.

I would love to hear about your experiences and how you manage them. Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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