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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.

Mind games

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.

Thanks so much for reading!

Devin

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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

  • michael honeycutt
    7 months ago

    Devin, you nailed it man! The feeling of being as useless as teats on a big boar hog is probably the worst part of MS for me. Early on after my diagnosis I had absolutely no idea of what MS was doing to my body, so I assaulted it just like every other health problem. That is to say that I thought that I could just muscle my way through it. It’s how I had handled 35 years of Reactive Arthritis and chronic pain. But I turned myself into an incomplete quadriplegic when I tried it with MS in the heat of a New Mexico desert summer. I’m walking better now than 5 years ago but I feel things declining. I’m severely heat sensitive and suffer extreme fatigue. I’m now forced to take daily rest periods that last 1-4 hours, without choice. I fight severe depression. I can’t allow myself to sleep during that time because it’ll wreck my sleep hygiene at night. So, to avoid insanity from the absolute boredom of just laying there, and to help combat the depression, I’ve decided to look into anything and everything that has ever made me wonder or pause to say, “Hmmmm…”. I’m a devout nerd and neuropsychological testing says that I’m extremely intelligent. I don’t put a lot of stock in that intelligence estimation because I know the dumb-ass stunts I’ve pulled in my life. Let’s just say that I believe that life is for living and I’ve made it a point to live life with gusto. I used to work with Naval Intelligence and SEALs, though I was NOT a SEAL myself. I was a man of action, but certainly not a hero of any sort. Laying around thinking about who I used to be led me down the crazy path for quite a while. But now I focus on my garden when my body allows it, eating and preserving the far healthier food that I grow, and feeding my brain, usually via reading or YouTube, when my body lays me out. It’s probably always gonna be a battle but fight is what I do.
    I’m really appreciating your articles because you’re willing to drop the machó and be a real human male that’s fighting a crappy disease. The days are NOT always good and we might not feel like we even exist anymore. But every morning that I wake up sucking atmosphere, I must still be alive, so the fight continues. Your articles and attitude have really been helpful in my daily battle!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks @michael-honeycutt, love your attitude!

  • ok42day
    7 months ago

    I really appreciate this article!! I still push myself to try and accomplish things besides just surviving, it is such a boost to hear that I’m not alone.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thank you @ok42day , you most certainly are not alone!

  • Toddlius
    7 months ago

    That’s good thinking. I’ll be giving that a try. Good article!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much @Toddlius , very much appreciated!

  • Bkboo
    7 months ago

    Oh yea laying on the couch is something I do all the time! I hate it but cant mooooove when I get home and need to just actively rest….

  • messeeone
    7 months ago

    “Actively resting” is so accurate! I don’t see it as a trick, but a very real necessity to keep us going. I just wish I had realized this a long time ago. It would have saved me a lot of guilt and helped ease depression! Thanks for another great one, Devin.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much @messeeone!

  • THobbs
    7 months ago

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words!! You have expressed so clearly how I feel! And it is definitely a battle of the mind and that battle is challenging to fight when you have brain “issues.” It’s encouraging to know I’m not alone in my experience and you’ve given me a wonderful new perspective “actively resting”!

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thank you @THobbs, you certainly aren’t alone!

  • Lily
    7 months ago

    Devin, you nailed it again! Thank you for validating the desperate need to rest.

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thank you @Lily!

  • Mike H
    7 months ago

    Dev, I’m so with you on the “awful & burning nerve pain”.
    Jesus I just want it to stop. Even cut back some. I can’t even think straight because it is so intense. I don’t know what has kept me from going insane. Maybe it’s because I have a beautiful wife & 3 kids the same. I just am having a tough time dealing with this awfulness. It does not stop…after my pain doctor ran out of ideas to try he’s referred me to a “ doctor” I’m seeing next week. I don’t like the idea of smoking it so I’m hoping maybe an edible form might help me? All’s I want & need is some relief. I can’t take it anymore. Can anyone help with any suggestions?

  • Devin Garlit moderator author
    7 months ago

    Thanks @Mike H, believe me, I understand that burning pain all too well! As for that other “doctor”, I’ve never been a fan of smoking anything, and while edibles are nice, I normally rely on a tincture and place drops under my tongue. Much easier and more discrete!

  • Lily
    7 months ago

    Mike, you may find mj helps you. For me it helped to relax my muscles. Not so good for nerve pain. For nerve pain I found gabapentin works best. Good luck. I hope you find what you’re looking for.

  • Mike H
    7 months ago

    A weed doctor is the doctor I’m talking about above.

  • Shelby Comito moderator
    7 months ago

    Thanks so much for reaching out @mikeh. I hate hearing how much pain you’re in and commend you for reaching out here. While we can’t offer medical advice, I’m glad you spoke with your doctor about this and he referred you to someone to help you with medical marijuana options. I also wanted to share these articles on this topic that may help: https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/medical-marijuanacannabis-the-taboo/ ; https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/my-experience-medical-marijuana/ ; and https://multiplesclerosis.net/living-with-ms/cbd-hemp-how-helped/

    Thinking of you and hope you get some relief soon. Please keep us posted on how you’re doing.
    Best, Shelby, MultipleSclerosis.net Team Member

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