MS Fatigue - When I just can't

Teresa McShane talks about MS Fatigue, the debilitating effects it can have on life and tips on how to manage it.

Those days... those days...  We've all had them.

The alarm goes off; you turn over in the bed, groan and wonder how the hell you are going to face the day.

You know you have to get the kids up for school, sort breakfast and prepare their lunches.  You know you have to drag a brush through your hair and make yourself presentable before crawling out of your cave to face the world.

Your body feels like lead, like an intravenous transfusion of mercury has been stemmed into your bloodstream, weighing you down like a tonne weight.  You are a character in a Patrick Kavanagh poem, trudging through the mud and mire of the 'Stony Grey Soil...'.   Every step is a slog and the day's long journey is yet young.

I'm not very good at admitting when I'm beaten. If someone tells me to go to bed and 'have a lie down', I usually shrug and make some grumble of objection and set myself down on the sofa, just long enough to down a cup of tea! Then I'm off again, pottering. Shuffling from one room to another but not achieving much in the process.


In reality, there's plenty to do but you know wielding a hoover around the house is out of the question. And the thought... the very thought of trudging upstairs is like penance for some sin or other, committed in a past life. 

Or that overwhelming feeling when you realise the kitchen cupboards are bordering on vacuumous. You were supposed to shop today. But even if you muster up enough energy to get into town, by the time you have ticked off the first few items on your list, you know you can’t take another step and head home, half empty handed and full of frustration.

People who don’t have MS just don’t understand what we mean when we say we are tired.  Because when we say we are tired, what we really mean is we 'just can’t’!

But WE know that MS fatigue exists so it is up to us to manage ourselves as best we can. We need to listen to our bodies and take time out. We know the triggers:

Stress; overwork; overplay!

There is always a pay-back and more often than not, fatigue will be the first sign that you need to slow down.

How I manage my MS fatigue

The bottom line is, the world won’t fall in if the house is a mess. If the kids have to have pizza and chips for tea... again, no one (else) will judge you. But we are our own worst enemies.   

I imagine I am like many people with MS and just try and drive on. Time waits for no man and life’s demands have a lot to answer for. But pushing the river doesn't work - we just have to go with the flow and say 'No' sometimes.

Try and schedule a daily rest in the afternoon if you can.  If you are working then take a quiet twenty minutes at lunchtime for Mindfulness/Meditation in your car.  Or just close your eyes and breathe.  This isn't an indulgence - it's a vital part of your own self-care.

Never be afraid of asking for help.  You know you would be delighted to help someone else if the tables were turned.

There will always be days when you 'just can't' and that's ok. 

Acknowledging this and allowing yourself to take the time you need, without feeling guilty, is the first step in managing MS Fatigue. 

Thankfully, not every day is like this. 

Thankfully, today is a day when 'I just CAN'.


Do you have any tips for managing fatigue?