You're Not Lazy, You're Actively Resting
For many people with multiple sclerosis, having your body force you to rest is a common part of life. Severe fatigue can be an ever-present problem, forcing us into a state of rest before we even get moving. Even when we do get moving, we often have to pay dearly for that activity. Being forced to rest is never fun, fear of missing out and not living your life creates some extreme forms of frustration and depression. One way I try to get past these feelings is by trying to convince myself that I am “actively resting”.
Resting isn’t easy
It feels absolutely soul-crushing to me when I have to lay around a lot, all because my body just won’t move. Unless you’ve experienced it, I don’t think you can really grasp just how awful it feels to lay around and do nothing when it isn’t your own choice. I fight with myself to not look at social media during this time, despite it being a connection to the outside; seeing what everyone else is doing can be absolutely maddening. Though, I admit, when I don’t look, I find myself just assuming everyone is out having an amazing time anyway. Not only do I feel like I am missing out on fun times, I feel like I’m not living my life. I begin to wonder what the point of living really is when I am stuck laying my couch and my bed all the time. Despite living with some really awful and burning nerve pain, the torment I feel from being forced to do nothing always seems worse. My body not allowing me to be as active as I want has a profound effect on my happiness.
That’s why I try to tell myself that I’m not just resting, I’m actively resting. It’s a mind game I play with myself, I admit it. I’ve tacked on the word “actively” in front of resting, which doesn’t seem to fit at all. After all, isn’t “active” the opposite of “rest”? It is, but, let me try to explain what I mean here. Even though I may not really have a say in the matter, when my body forces me to rest, I try to look at it as preparing myself for the time when my body will allow me to do what I want. Whether it’s true or not, I look at every moment I’m forced to sleep or lay around on the couch as a way of fighting the disease. It may not seem it, but I’m actively doing what I need to in order to live with this disease. It’s OK to let your body rest, to recover from the constant effort you have to put forth because of your illness. It’s also OK to see that as a way of fighting the disease. I’m not laying around being lazy, I’m actively resting so I can do something later, whether that be the same day or several from now.
Making it count
Yeah, I get it, it sounds like I’m just tricking myself with words. Perhaps I am, but you have to do whatever you can to get through these tough periods of time when your body isn’t cooperating. I honestly think that the hardest struggle with chronic illness is with ourselves, in our heads. It’s hard not to feel bad, it’s hard not to beat yourself up. You have to find whatever method works for you, in order to survive. I try to convince myself that I’m actively resting so that I am ready when my body is ready. To go along with that though, when I am able to be more active, I make every second count and I also make sure that I’m appreciating it. Our active times are limited, but if we make them count than that’s OK. I try to make the most out of the times when I’m feeling well enough, and I know I appreciate them more than most. That’s a huge key to getting through a life that may see you down and out for significant stretches at a time.
Does anyone else in your family have MS?