Home Alone: The Battle Against Boredom!

As I sit in my living room, flipping channels while my dog basks in the late morning sunlight, I’m struck with an all-too-familiar feeling. One that I never quite expected when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis way back in the year 2000. I figured there would be pain, anxiety, even some depression. However, I never expected this particular emotion to be so prevalent in my life. I’m speaking about boredom. Being a single, 40 year old man on disability, who’s not supposed to drive, leads to having a lot of solo time with nothing to do (or being able to do nothing). This leads to a significant amount of uninteresting downtime, which has some real consequences on my life.

Finding others who understand

Now, I’m not writing this article because I’m bored, well, not totally anyway. Like much of what I write about, I imagine I am not alone in this situation. Though it never solves my problems, I know I always feel a little better when I know someone else actually understands what I go through. Someone else who “gets it”. I have a feeling a lot of people will understand this all too well. There will still be many though, that will wonder how I’m bored, or even wish they were in my situation. That can be a bit maddening to hear, so I’ll explain some more.

Just being home doesn’t make problems disappear

Being home alone, well, ok, I do have my dog Ferdinand with me (and I shudder to think what my life would be like without him during the day) is not the cakewalk that you might think. You have a dog, why don’t you walk him? Well, I do, except there are times I can’t (the whole MS thing can make walking, even standing, difficult at times). You could read something! Well, yeah, I do sometimes read, except when MS stops me there too (and I should note that, the cognitive issues that affect my ability to read every bit have an effect on watching TV as well). As I’ve said before, I build a lot of LEGO sets, but again, various issues can stop me there too. That’s sort of the big point here: the issues that led to me being forced onto disability still affect me when I’m at home. Just being home doesn’t make those problems disappear.

Living in a rural area doesn’t help

In my current situation, living in a somewhat rural area and not being supposed to drive, I can really be hamstrung. I can even be having a good day or a good few hours and I’m still pretty much stuck. I can occasionally rely on Uber to get somewhere, but again, a semi-rural area means those aren’t as prevalent and can get expensive. So on those days when I can do any of the numerous things you might suggest to fill the time with at home, I can still get bored of just being in the same place for so long. One of my biggest issues with my state in life is that I can easily end up stuck in the house for almost a week at a time because I either feel bad physically, or don’t have transportation, or a mix of both.

It’s a hard cycle to break

Being stuck at home and bored sounds unpleasant but it’s also a hard cycle to break. I’ll tell you this: in my experience, the longer you stay stuck at home, the harder it is to leave. The longer I go without seeing and talking to others, the harder it is to do it when I have the chance. I do have a roommate, but she works full time and also spends time at her significant other’s place. So not only do I have stretches of not leaving the house, during some of those, I may not see another human being. That can be hard and lonely, but it can also be downright scary when it begins to feel normal. It makes going into the real world so much harder.

I try to drag myself out

I don’t have a ton of solutions to this. Again, there are many times where I can’t physically do things, and it’s hard to combat that. I do try to make an effort to get out of the house at least once a week (I have a standard meet up with friends with guaranteed transportation every Thursday), that’s extremely important to me and I try to drag myself out for that no matter how I’m feeling. For the most part, my coping hasn’t been about stopping the boredom as much as it’s been really savoring the times when I’m not bored. It’s focused on making the most of all of the moments where I feel decent enough to be active, and really appreciating each time I leave the house or go hang out with friends. That doesn’t make me less bored, but it does make life a lot more bearable.

Thanks for reading!

Devin

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.

Comments

View Comments (25)
  • LuvMyDog
    10 months ago

    I guess I’m an oddball, I really like staying home. I love my privacy, my space, and doing whatever I want to do, whenever I feel like doing it. And that includes getting up when I feel like it, taking a nap, reading, being on my computer, doing crafts, going outside and taking pictures of nature and my dog. I’m never really bored. Being an introvert helps because I have never enjoyed being around a lot of people. I hate excessive noise. We’re all different.

  • mary
    10 months ago

    I know as others have said how you feel. I have many acquaintances but only a handful of true friends. I say that because my friends still want to meet up with me and are very patient with me and my abilities. My acquaintances don’t even bother. My world has gotten smaller and smaller which has made me less interested in many things. I have my buddy, my partner in crime, my dog Remi.. I love to go and do things but I end up talking myself out of it for any reason I can think of. Yikes

  • hlb9
    11 months ago

    After 40 plus yrs. of MS, it all sounds so familiar. I spend my days in front of the TV, doing 1000 pc. jigsaw puzzles, or search-a-word books. Either of them makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something, plus keeps my fingers & brain working!!!

  • Nancy W
    11 months ago

    for Me, another thing about being alone is the guilt of not trying hard enough to get out. You are right, Once you get used to it, it is hard to break the cycle. It snowed last night so my weekly book discussion was cancelled. I find if I have a scheduled activity, I will push myself to get there. I can drive and am mobile. I have “invisible symptoms” Fatigue and cognitive are the most disabling. So, I read your post and it encourages me to get up and get out, just to the bank but it is good to try..

  • ell364
    11 months ago

    I can relate to this Devin .
    I have been dealing with this for 37 years . I was living living in the country for years , people would visit and then there was the once a week night out to play cards with friends.Every winter I found myself worried about what I was bringing in on my walker wheels , so I wouldn’t go. Then there was aways the question is their house excess able and so forth.
    I moved to a building where everything is excess able , some people are handicapped and some are not . Everybody is friendly , everything is close to building . I was here for 1 week and was sitting by laundry room waiting for the laundry and someone stopped with their dog to talk . He asked why I was waiting , I replied it would where me out to walk back and forth. He had an extra Hoveround , an older model , now I have it . I only use it to check mail and do laundry . I feel it is freedom for me.

  • CarrieT
    11 months ago

    Thank you for this. I was diagnosed a year ago, and have optic neuritis in both eyes. They said it could take up to a year to resolve, over a year later and I cannot drive or work. I also live in a rural area. My husband is a truck driver. I feel totally alone. Lucky to have my dog, Shelby. I wish you the best and hope I didn’t make any spelling errors, it’s hard to see anything!

  • dminva
    11 months ago

    I know exactly how Diana feels. It almost mirrors my situation. (Ironically my name is Dianna). I a married but my husband travels for days at a time. I do not feel motivated or encouraged to do anything when I am here alone. I keep the TV on just for noise and spend a lot of time “planning” things to do but for whatever reason don’t get things done. Usually the only things I get done are if I do something for a family member and that’s it. At least I still care about making myself help them but it is hard. I go to bed thinking tomorrow I will get xyz done but end up repeating the same cycle. No idea how to break out of that.

  • CarrieT
    11 months ago

    I’m shoo relieved to read your post, I feel your pain. Still trying to figure out how I fit into this new world that I’m in. Don’t feel like I fit anywhere eight now. I wish you the best!

  • potter
    11 months ago

    My husband just went to a convention and was only gone for three days, I got bored. No humane contact, I could have done all of things I usually do but they seemed boring. I did manage to come down with the flu when he got home and I am just getting over a relapse. He doesn’t want to catch the flu so he is sleeping on the couch and when he talks to me it’s by telephone. I can’t blame him but I am still bored. Potter

  • RobertRafferty
    11 months ago

    I am “Alone” … well Frida sits close by my side as we wade through our life.
    I am never lonely, I have found over the past 15 years of disability that I am only as isolated as i allow myself to be. My home has been reborn into the meanings and memories of my life. I use my residence as a social spot for those in the building i live. part, for my selfish guilty pleasure, but also to shine a light on people with chronic illness. I walked the path of depression and isolation for years. falling deeper and deeper away from life. what i have found is that once you have hit bottoms that chronic illness presents, you tend to rebound as if you are on a trampoline. the resistence lessens as we perfect the bounce as we fall into the deeps of hell, they pass like a thunderstorm,a bit worse form the wear and tearbut better having passed through.

  • Erin Rush moderator
    11 months ago

    Thanks so much for sharing, Robert! You shared a lot of great insight in your comment. I am so glad you have turned your home into a social place and are also shedding light on those living with chronic conditions. Without putting to much of a “Pollyanna” spin on things, I want to say that you really define the phrase, “when life gives you lemons . . . “. I know that doesn’t mean it’s easy or perfect, but I am glad you have stood your ground with MS and have found a way to be social. Thank you again for sharing! Best, Erin, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member.

  • Carol
    11 months ago

    Hi Devin,

    Wow, it sounds just like my life except that I don’t have the dog. I wish I had my cat though. It’s hard to do anything and it is very boring. You can watch tv, or read, or try to reply to e-mails, but it’s just not the same. I want to be able to work, go to the gym, do yoga with friends, go hiking, swimming, go to school, so many things that I used to do that I can’t do now. I just had another spinal surgery so that makes me feel more isolated, especially around the holidays. Along with the MS, I also have chronic back pain so I’m pretty much in pain all the time, to go along with my depression. I’m married, but sometimes that doesn’t help much. He gets to go to work and stop off at bar to talk with friends and I’m still stuck here. I’ve being pushing the walker around, but will have to try to practice taking a few steps outside with my cane, if I feel like it or have the courage to try. Thanks for the great article. You cheered me up.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thanks so much Carol! I think this battle against boredom, this loneliness is such a big problem for people in our situation. It’s important to remember that that there are many people just like us out there, and that we are never truly alone!

  • Elaine Quinones
    11 months ago

    What a great article, Devin, and I applaud your bravery in writing about being bored and lonely at home. I can totally relate to having MS & and living alone and how the issues that have led us to be home on disability do not magically go away just because we are not working.

    I cannot say that I can totally relate to being bored, however, I do relate to being lonely.
    Unfortunately, what you said is very true – once you get used to being home so much, it is very difficult to break the cycle. Although I have incredibly wonderful friends who always check up on me and offer to help me, my ego won’t let me accept their help. O feel that they only understand that I have an illness, not what the symptoms of the illness make me feel, even though I have tried to express to them all my symptoms and my feelings, I feel as though they just look at it as depression that I have let myself succumb to, which makes me feel like a loser! They are constantly telling me that I must “push through” the pain, fatigue & depression; they want to know what I do all day; don’t I go crazy being home all day? One of my friends actually told me that she would go crazy being home all day doing nothing! I told her that then she should be grateful that she doesn’t have to.

    i was diagnosed with RRMS 9 years ago. I am 58 years old. My home is in total disarray due to depression & not having the energy to do anything. The physical pain in my body also keeps me from cleaning & organizing and I totally lost my hearing in my right ear several years ago, also due to MS.. I stay busy by watching TV, surfing the net, listening to audiobooks, crocheting, talking on the phone. I, too, try to get out at least once a week to see my friends and/or run errands. I am so grateful that I can still drive, but it causes me pain, so for every day that I get out, it takes me 2 days to recuperate! Lets not even discuss what it takes and how long it takes me to get ready to go out!

    Having MS is a tricky business. Everyone’s symptoms and experiences are different and not so recognizable to “healthy” people in our lives. Although I am so grateful that MS has not affected me cognitively or visually, I still find myself struggling with how to cope today, how can I feel useful in society without being gainfully employed and what the future holds for me?

    I wish you much strength and health in your daily battles and I thank you for writing your article, which so resonated with me and gave me the opportunity to vent my feelings. Hey, I just killed an entire hour!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thank you so much Elaine! I think one of the worst problems we face with MS, is people not really knowing enough about it. Not understanding what the symptoms are, not being able to relate. That really drives the loneliness factor up, for me anyway. Thanks for sharing your experiences here, I look at everything I write as the beginning of a conversation, and I’m so happy when other folks talk about their lives. I think it really helps drive home the point that we aren’t alone, we aren’t the only ones dealing with all this.

  • Diana
    11 months ago

    Hi Devin,
    When I read your story I have to admit I was kind of awestruck because I could have written most of that myself. So this is my first attempt at reaching out to others with MS in the 10 years since I was diagnosed in February 2008. I do live alone with my three year old Chihuahua, Kip, as my companion. The only difference is I live alone, also in a rural area. I see where one person commented that maybe a library would bring you books but if you’re as rural as I am, nobody will deliver anything! I envy my sister who lives only 13 miles away that has all the conveniences and is apt to tell me about them now and then. Like, ” I just ran over to Starbucks for a sec to try out their new “Double Bubble Gobble Wobble (or something). You should try it!” or “I gotta go. Panda Express is at the door with my lunch.” It’s almost hard to feign my excitement for her. There’s nothing more I want to do than to drive 14 miles for a coffee. Yes, I can still drive but when everything is so far away going shopping loses its luster real fast. So maybe once every couple of weeks or so the ‘local’ Walmart is graced with my presence for 2 hours as I go up and down the aisles…twice…thrice… as I continue to not find what I’m looking for. Yay me! Now anyone who I speak to on the phone for the rest of the day will tell me how wonderful it was that I got out and “did something for myself”. And I have to tell them in my most monotone voice…”I went FOOD shopping.”

    TTFN,
    Diana

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thanks you Diana! I am pretty sure I have had that exact exchange with a friend about food shopping!!

  • Diana
    11 months ago

    Hi Devin,
    When I read your story I have to admit I was kind of awestruck because I could have written most of that myself. So this is my first attempt at reaching out two others with MS in the 10 years since I was diagnosed in February 2008. I do live alone with my three year old Chihuahua, Kip, as my companion. The only difference is I live alone, also in a rural area. I see where one person commented that maybe a library would bring you books but if you’re as rural as I am, nobody will deliver anything! I envy my sister who lives only 13 miles away that has all the conveniences and is apt to tell me about them now and then. Like, ” I just ran over to Starbucks for a sec to try out their new “Double Bubble Gobble Wobble (or something). You should try it!” or “I gotta go. Panda Express is at the door with my lunch.” It’s almost hired to feign my excitement for her. There’s nothing more I want to do than to drive 14 miles for a coffee. Yes, I can still drive but when everything is so far away going shopping loses its luster real fast. So maybe once every couple of weeks or so the ‘local’ Walmart graced with my presence for 2 hours as I go up and down the aisles…twice…thrice… as I continue to not find what I’m looking for. Yay me! Know anyone who I speak to on the phone for the rest of the day will tell me how wonderful it was that I got out and did something with myself. And I have to tell them in my most monotone voice I went food shopping

  • Abby2014
    11 months ago

    Here are some things I wonder if you have any interest in trying. Audio books are great. If you fall asleep or your mind wanders, rewind and relisten. Sometimes I find that I feel the person narrating is in the same room as I am! ?I know you stated a rural area….might there be a library that does home delivery? Generally libraries are an excellent source. Do you or would you want someone to call on a daily basis to converse with? A variety of hobbies? I know that some days none of the above fill my frustrations, but generally they help. Some days you just have to be patient. I always ask my neurologist if there is prescription for PATIENCE. Your writings are wonderful and eye opening for all MSers!

  • Megan
    11 months ago

    Great article Devin! Being a stay at home mom with kids that are rarely home my days are almost always spent home alone – thanks to the chronic pain I went through a long
    stretch of going days without leaving the house. Which I have learned is NOT a good thing for me. One of the things I am loving most about returning to my daily walks is literally just getting OUT and moving a bit!

    Cheers!
    Meg

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thank you Meg! Getting out, even for a short walk, can be so crucial to happiness. I still go long stretches without getting out though, and as you said, that’s not good and has a very negative effect on my life.

  • Carol
    11 months ago

    I used to enjoy long walks. It was great just to get out. Don’t have to go anywhere in particular, just get out of the house for awhile. But then I lost my walking ability again. Recently, it has driven me crazy not being able to do or see anybody. I have been fortunate to line up some volunteer drivers, who will take me to medical appointments or to grocery stores. It is really nice to have somebody to talk to, I feel alive again, I really do.

  • tfs
    11 months ago

    Devin, my all time favourite writer and contributor. Everyone who comments on your posts starts off, “You took the words out of my mouth.” It is such an interesting challenge – being present to the reality of our ms induced states. I also live in a semi-rural area and I still drive so I’m lucky. I am dead certain I will move when I lose that independence – but who knows? You are more inventive than I am so I’m proud of you. We are finally getting the snowstorm that has plagued the easten seaboard. It’s an excuse to deal with this reality – I want to get out, but it’s not happening today. Thank You for writing, Devin. I feel like we’re friends.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    11 months ago

    Thanks so much tfs! I very much appreciate that! I think I get that a lot because I’m just like everyone else, just trying to vocalize what life is like for us. I’m not saying I know it all or trying to fix everyone, because I know I can’t. But, I hope I can help people feel a little less alone or give them something to show their friends to demonstrate what life is like for them. Those with chronic illness all have so many things in common, things that those who don’t suffer just can’t understand. I think because of that, many of us are friends that simply have met yet!

  • tfs
    11 months ago

    Thanks, Devin. Keep writing; you have strength and a gift.

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