Sometimes I'm Motivated, Sometimes I'm Not...

Living with multiple sclerosis (MS) can require a lot of motivation and will power. There may be times when less is needed and times when more is needed. Some people may find it more challenging to muster up motivation than others, and the amount of motivation different people can achieve is not the same. However, a healthy supply of motivation is definitely needed to do well in this life and keep moving forward. Unfortunately, motivation can sometimes be a scarce commodity for those living with a chronic illness like MS.

What is motivation?

OK, I really don’t think I need to explain what motivation is to anyone, but let me tell you how I see it because it will help me illustrate my problem in a bit. To me, motivation is simply the will to overcome some kind of obstacle because whatever’s on the other side of it is worth the effort of overcoming said obstacle. Let me be more precise.

Getting over the hump

If someone drove you to the bottom of a huge steep hill, would you feel motivated to climb it if you were told there is nothing on the other side but flat earth for miles? Probably not, because what’s there to gain? But what if you were told there was a check for one million dollars waiting for you on the other side? Well, I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say climbing the hill is definitely worth it now! A million bucks is probably all the motivation one needs!

The range of needed motivation

Back in reality, it’s safe to say that most tasks in life don’t reward you with large sums of cash for completing them. I mean, the only real reward you get for doing the dishes is having more dishes to dirty up so you can once again clean them. But that’s a simple example on the easier side of the spectrum. What about things like work, school, or calling the pharmacy for the hundredth time about a medication you’ve been trying to get for two months? Sometimes, that can just feel unreasonably impossible, because - even if the reward is well worth it – the hump just seems too steep.

Why can't I find the motivation?

I’ve asked myself this question so many times. Even before MS came into my life, I sometimes struggled to get motivated about anything. I think a general lack of motivation is commonly due to one of two - or both - things. The first is that, for whatever reason, the “hump” simply appears to us as too large. The hump, in our eyes, looks to be much steeper than it really is. The second possibility is that we just don’t think the reward on the other side of the hump is worth the effort required to obtain it. This is especially true when MS causes that hump to be way more challenging to overcome than it should be.

Fluctuating motivation

One thing I find frustrating about this is that my level of motivation (and how much it takes to even get me motivated) fluctuates so much! I can usually explain this as being due to the symptoms of my MS and how I’m feeling. MS is very unpredictable; sometimes, there are long stretches of time where I feel pretty good, but more often, there are long stretches of time where I feel like utter crap. So, it makes sense that finding the motivation to do something would be more difficult when you feel like garbage, right?

Frustrated by my changes in motivation

But sometimes, even when I’m experiencing periods of “clear weather” in the storm that is MS, I still can’t find the motivation I need to do anything. I’ll feel great but have absolutely no desire to do anything. Even more frustrating are the times I’m lying in bed feeling like my battery is at 1%, and I’m randomly struck by a sudden sense of motivation and urge to do something. So that tells me something else is to blame for my erratic motivational issues. Or at least that there are other factors involved.

Is lack of motivation a symptom of MS?

I highly doubt it, but I have really considered this question on more than one occasion. Can MS do something to the pathways in the brain that makes it harder to actually feel motivated? Or to feel motivated at the right or wrong times? Obviously, it’s possible to feel different emotions at inappropriate times - think about Pseudobulbar Affect (PBA) - so could something like this be possible when it comes to feeling motivated? I’m really not educated on the subject well enough to have any kind of opinion, but as I said, it’s something that has crossed my mind.

Perhaps it’s just me?

But maybe it has nothing to do with MS? Not directly at least. Perhaps it’s just me? Maybe it’s only a product of life with MS and the different circumstances in my own life? Either way, I’ve always found this to be a massive hurdle in the way of me moving forward in my life with MS. I can usually find my way past this obstacle, but sometimes, like an especially tough level on Super Mario Brothers, I find myself stuck and unable to progress for what feels like forever.

What about you?

Do you find it difficult to become motivated? Do you ever find yourself becoming randomly motivated to do something at the worst of times? And do you attribute this to MS? Or is this not really an issue for you? Share your thoughts, experience, and any advice you may have in the comments below!

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