On the Days I Just Can’t

Everyone knows that feeling when you wake up in the morning and you just don’t want to deal with the day. Maybe you have been working too hard, been too busy or are feeling a little down or unwell. Life can be exhausting; we all feel overwhelmed at times and need a well-deserved day to down tools and just be. It is certainly not an issue exclusive to people with MS or indeed any chronic illness. I do know however that it is becoming a far more regular feature in my life at the moment and I’m not sure how to feel about that. What happens when that well deserved ‘day’ of rest becomes every day? Is that a bad thing?

In my case there are things in my life that cause these feelings. Firstly, my mobility, strength and fatigue have worsened this year, making everything much more difficult. Getting out of bed, showered and dressed takes a lot of energy and will-power and sometimes it is much easier to roll over, hide under the covers and go back to sleep. I leave the house a lot less now so it doesn’t matter if I wash my hair or not and my bed doesn’t judge me.

Not having a reason or motivation to get up and be active everyday can be a double-edged sword. It is awesome to be able to lie in and rest when you need to but it is very difficult to make yourself be active when there is no real need. I find this can lead to a lack of engagement in the world around me. Again, is this a bad thing? In moderation I would say no, sometimes shutting off can be really beneficial, but I’m not great at moderation.

Secondly, my psychological health and state of mind can be a big factor in how I feel about approaching a day. Does it matter if I engage in the day or not? Am I feeling positive or a bit ground down? Do I have the energy to deal with the inevitable difficulties of the day? What am I going to do that is worth the effort it will cost me? The constant chatter in my head as I analyze all the permutations of the day can be exhausting and prohibitive. Sometimes life can feel too difficult or too dark to deal with and if I am honest, my default reaction to this at the moment, is to go to bed and sleep.

It is generally not a good idea to over indulge in thoughts about MS or my physical abilities. I have no answers and am struggling to come up with more coping mechanisms at the moment. I feel guilty that I’m not controlling or improving my situation so when I feel there are no answers, relinquishing responsibility can be very refreshing. The key thing is remembering to pick things up again when you are ready.

I try to combat the siren call of my bed by signing up to online groups and classes. Thanks to MS Ireland I have exercise classes that get me up in the morning. Granted I mostly go back to bed to rest afterwards but at least I engage for an hour or two.

I also employ a large number of distraction techniques just to quiet down all the activity and contemplation in my brain. I read books (thank you book club), play games on my phone, binge Netflix and listen to audiobooks. I have just finished an online course and am looking for other courses to keep my mind active and to make me feel like I am achieving something. I have a lot of contact with friends and family and MS groups, so I don’t feel socially isolated.

There has been a lot of change and stress in my life recently with the changes in my MS and moving house. At the moment I am feeling the struggle a bit too intensely but I think the key words here are ‘at the moment’. This is not how it will always be. Maybe it is ok for me to have more days where I can’t than can right now.