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Don't do something: just sit there! Thursday June 12, 2014

My doctor (understandingly): "You have to accept that rest is the best medicine."

My friends (caringly): "Mary, look after yourself: you've been doing too much; you need to rest."

My husband (annoyed): "Will you please just go and lie down! Just rest, for goodness sake!"

My eldest daughter (anxiously): "Mummy, get some rest today please; promise me?"

My youngest daughter (impatiently): "Mummy, when are you going to get better? You're really boring like this!" At least she's honest.

Oh I hate this. I absolutely hate it!

I hate that feeling of weakness and exhaustion that swamps me like a tsunami after every minor physical exertion (and even after every meal). I hate the fact that everyone else is out there, doing things, having fun and I can't (and even worse, absolutely don't want to). I hate the fact that the house is dirty, the ironing pile resembles the Matterhorn and that even a short trip into the garden requires a machete and compass to find a way back.

All that even without the terrible feeling of guilt over rescheduling and cancelling all my business commitments for the next – oh well, how long is a piece of string?

I love to read, but at the moment can only cope with old favourites; anything new or demanding requires too much energy to cope (Sorry, Sarah, I'm looking forward to reading Another Night Another Day just as soon as I'm better), and there's only so long even I can spend reading before my eyes start to jitter uncontrollably.

I love my crafting, but run out of energy after only one card, so it scarcely seems worth getting all the supplies out.

We all know that exercise is good for depression: ha! Someone tell me how to go for a brisk walk when I have to stop and sit down for a rest every fifty metres.

Last Saturday I managed to go out for dinner (with some very good and understanding friends). We left early (much to the children's disgust) but I was still wiped out for the next two days.

It's embarrassing; it's frustrating; it's humiliating.

So, of course, the moment I have even a little energy I'm up ironing, cleaning, gardening – and then collapsing exhausted again having only licked the very tip, the very tip of the iceberg.

Back to the sofa again. (Big sigh).

If I could honestly believe that I will get better faster if I just sit here it might be easier, but I'm really not sure. This thing seems to come and stay as long as it stays. Seventy two days so far and counting...

Yes, yes – I'll rest. Can't do much else really. Darn it.

A Moodscope member.

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Olaf Berli Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 7:08am

We've learned that if we have no energy, are exhausted or have fatigue, we should rest. But - does it always work?
If you rest, more and more and it doesn't work - maybe there is something else that should be sorted out? Seen it very often in my work as a therapist... Good luck!

Anonymous Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 8:21am

Embarrassing; frustrating; humiliating - absolutely. It's also a cause for further guilt and self-denigration. Those who tell you to get out, exercise - do something, don't understand what it's like. I'm with you on this one Mary: a short walk to town to buy essential food is an achievement and I'm currently re-reading the novels of my favourite writer - when I can be arsed to pick up the book. Socialising is exhausting, even for short periods. Agree with you totally. Hope you're feeling better soon Mary.

Anonymous Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 8:38am

Wow. I am sure I didn't write this but it I so very familiar. Good to know I am not alone. Fighting fatigue is just so frustrating!!!!!!

Vicky Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 8:40am

your blog resonated with me hugely Mary. I have autoimmune condition, varying energy levels, when some comes, wow, I want to grab it, make the most of it, but like you, pay for this. seem unable to sustain energy, and thereby sustain anything - everything gets affected: social life, work life (what work??), volunteering (which I'd dipped my toe into the water of recently only to have to take time out, arrgh), and the various courses I do. And of course physical exercise, which I need for my mental health - that sense of going for brisk walk always clears my head. What when I can't do this?? Mindfulness comes in here but I struggle with my raging feelings, mainly directed against myself (or the world in general). Then I feel ashamed for my "self pity", I end up in a self loathing space that only makes the whole thing worse. I feel like a hamster on a wheel. Except sometimes its curled in a ball and the wheel has long since stopped moving! So Mary, I'm with you, and its encouraging to read of someone else's similar frustrations. What to do with rage? all this time going by (used to be weeks, then months, now years, even decades) and I'm still treading that hamster wheel, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, sometimes not at all. I think rage, and regret can eat one up. I'm not an angry person as such - no friends would recognise that description - but inside I feel eaten up with it, and there's no channel for it - nobody to blame (but self?). And its followed by the bitterest pill of all - regret. For all those weeks, months, years gone by...

Anonymous Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 9:50am

Try buying one of those walking stick/stool gadgets. Then you can sit and rest as often as you need to. Take a small back-pack with a magazine and a bottle of water and you will look as though it's deliberate. It worked for me (I know how you feel btw).

Elizabeth Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 9:52am

Wow, Mary, it must have been so very hard to sit down and write this blog. A great achievement. I am with you.

Fiona Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 10:17am

I really related to your blog. The constant struggle with exhaustion and being surrounded by all the tasks left undone. The constant bargaining - if I do this then that will be it for the day. The feeling of isolation this brings and also the pressure to try and be 'normal'. Just know that you are not alone and that there are others out there that understand.

Anonymous Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 10:21am

I too totally understand where you are coming from on this. Hope you can get some strength soon from somewhere!

Anonymous Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 10:43am

Thanks so much for your blog - I completely understand your frustration - I have something similar with my energy levels. What I really hate is the complete cotton-wool, brain-death feeling that I get - that's what drive me mad the most. It just saps all concentration. It feels like a vacuum in my head. Of course, to the majority of people (especially at work) this is completely inexplicable. But I get the feeling you will understand and so, for that, thank you very much.
I hope you feel better soon and can enjoy the lovely summer weather.
All the best - Francis

Dande Lion Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 11:22am

Thank you thank you Mary, (and Vick and Frances). I am crying with relief and resonance. The biggest power tool in my kit which helps me is mindfulness and integrating the practical philosophy as well as the daily practice when i am well enough. Detaching from my thoughts with compassionate curiosity. even my thoughts and (overwhelming) feelings about the state of my life.I know also from research that gluten and certain essential nutritional deficiencies are part of it but i'm too overwhelmed to get my head fully round that yet, i'm mentioning it in case it helps remind someone else. Wishing you well, happy and peaceful. x

jules Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 12:52pm

My psychologist told me to move forwards towards the mountains of desire (and figure out what they actually are) and I said some days I cant even walk or stand up and im in so much pain! And he said well then shuffle your bum towards them and shuffle your bum every day towards your goals cause if you give up and jist sot there nothing will change. Yes I could have slapped him. But I shuffle my bum every day towards the things I want and my depression is slowly lifting. I had to lower my expectations from walking tall towards those mountains to a pathetic bum shuffle but im glad he annoyed me into doing it. Chronic fatigue is such a mental battle I hear you!! Shuffle your bum Mary! Im cheering you on!! :)

Anonymous Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 12:52pm

Hi Mary, so many people out there will empathise with and understand your thoughts and frustrations. Take comfort in the fact that it can and does get better and the Black Dog that is following you around and sapping your energy will eventually get bored and go away. Especially if you are lucky enough to respond to anti-depressant medicines. It isn't easy and it can take a long time, but being patient and kind to yourself will help you to get better. The ironing can wait!!

love hugs and peace to you and those you care about


Anonymous Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 1:56pm

Do you have bipolar symptoms along with the physical? Such as deep depression, suicidal, giving up, wanting to be left totally alone?
Not that i am wanting to minimize what you are going through. I go through these bipolar symptoms and less the chronic pain.

Regula Stucki Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 3:01pm

Dear Mary, you succeeded to write these wonderful lines and you wrote them straight into my heart.
Thank you!

Mary Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 4:21pm

Hello there. The short answer is "yes", the much more complicated answer is that, having lived with this for so many years and gone through an incredible amount of therapy, the "thought/emotional" side of the depression is, if not yet under complete control, at least severely weakened. And thank you: until you asked, I had not realised how far I have come in managing this condition. In fact, if all I have to grouse about is the physical exhaustion, then I should be counting my blessings really, shouldn't I? (and I do, daily: I really do)!

Anonymous Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 5:47pm

Only for day,
Only for this moment

Diana Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 6:29pm

Here here,.. re. least. Why - I'm not really sure, as usually people are FRIENDLY. I do feel the need to 'share ',though, and my Moodscope buddy is a boon...! ( sorry, but it is true.. )

Anonymous Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 7:37pm

Everyone else is giving you permission to lie down but not you. Whatever the reason if your body and brain need/want to do that then go with it. Don't let the family tell you what to do or they have your power, if they keep saying it remind them you are an adult and will do as you choose. If you need to be down and out then just tell them you will be with them when you are up to it, but don't dislike doing it or you undermine yourself and cannot learn to like what at present you need to do. It is a bit like wanting to be hot when you are cool, happy when you are sad, out when you are in, wet when you are dry. You spend your time wanting something else and not living in the moment that you do have. Thank you for telling us about yourself.

vanessa Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 8:31pm

I'm saying a prayer for you tonight Mary. love Vanessa xx

Mary Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 10:29pm

Thank you for those words of wisdom. You remind me of the definition of a cat: "a cat is always on the wrong side of the door; often on both sides simultaneously!" I do need to remember the lovely blog a few days ago about trees being cool. Regardless of the fact that this is Juner my tree is in the depths of Winter and I need to accept that. I hope you appreciate me sharing my frustration though: it was shared in the hope that others might identify with it and realise that they are not alone. Judging by other comments, I think it succeeded.

Mary Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 10:30pm

Thank you.

Mary Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 10:34pm

Thank you Phil. (I'm really boring, dog. Just sitting here, dog. Nothing to see here: just move along now...)

Can't tell you how much I appreciate your encouraging words. Just - thanks, you know?

Mary Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 10:41pm

OK Jules, sitting down on bum now, trying to remember if I had goals when I was well. surely I did..... um..... just give me a moment..... ah yes. OK: learn to sail so that I can sail with my husband and family. Hit star consultant level with my company. Finish that novel (because my hero and heroine are just so sweet and need to have their story told). So (last one first) Maybe I can just write 300 words of that novel at a time instead of 3,000. I can find out if the "Abandoned Women" sailing course is running again this summer. Not sure about star consultant - but at least I can try to fulfil my business commitments that are in the diary... Bless you Jules, you are a breath of fresh air and a tart slice of lemon when I was feeling sorry for myself: good stuff!

m Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 10:45pm

Great idea! Hadn't thought of that. Do they come in green with yellow and white daisies all over? I've seen a walking stick with that pattern and oooh, I was severely tempted.....

Mary Thu, Jun 12th 2014 @ 10:46pm

Oh, I can just see your hamster: I want to give it a gentle hug and cuddle it. So sorry that it has spent so long on its wheel. Every good wish for your eventual recovery.

Dynette Fri, Jun 13th 2014 @ 2:03am


Dynette Fri, Jun 13th 2014 @ 2:29am

Thank you for writing, Vicky.
Reading your honesty was so different from my day (week, year, decade/s,) that my whole soul took a deep breath. It really needed it, too.
Depression, to me, is so anti-survival in essence, that I feel disconnected more than just being a helps more than I ever think it will to hear other's thoughts.
I understand, at least I certainly think that I do.
I wish you great peace, sister.
And if I ever do find The Kure, O My Lord, you will hear me yelling.

Dynette Fri, Jun 13th 2014 @ 2:36am

Shuffle our bums.
Irritating, and I'm afraid helpful.
Thank you from us

Dynette Fri, Jun 13th 2014 @ 2:42am

Mary, dear,
Thank you (and bravo, you write so well and strongly.)
Reading what you wrote changed my world today.

Anonymous Fri, Jun 13th 2014 @ 10:36am

These days are the ones you feel you are swimming through treacle. I completely understand. And yes to the humiliation, frustration... I like the bum shuffle. Lets do that! "Everyday I'm shufflin" :-D

Anonymous Fri, Jun 13th 2014 @ 10:37am

^its above el garage

jules Sun, Jun 15th 2014 @ 8:14pm

Mary you are an inspiration with your writing! :)

Anonymous Sun, Jun 15th 2014 @ 9:07pm

Mary, you have just put into words with grace and depth the struggle that is also mine. God bless you!

Anonymous Wed, Jun 18th 2014 @ 8:36pm

Nail. Hit. On. The. Head. The tiredness accompanying a depression is ALL CONSUMING and it's excruciating. Remember the bible story of Elijah? He was depressed and just wanted to lie down and die. An angel administered to him and gave him something to eat and drink? Did Elijah feel refreshed now and ready to get going? No. He went back to sleep.
Thanks Mary, once again you have hit the spot.

Anonymous Mon, Jun 23rd 2014 @ 10:30am

Mary, thanks for sharing. Jules, - Goals. I have been told so often to set these and move towards them. The hardest thing is setting the goal when all you want is freedom from fatigue and pain. BUT I really do believe that SMART goals work. At xmas after several months of tough times (unable to walk, thinking I was going to die at times) I went to my beloved Scottish holiday home (doesn't belong to me). I wanted to limb up Ben Aan to show my new partner its beauty from the top. After 100 metres my pelvis ached. So I changed the goal. The goal was to try another 100 metres. The next goal was 10 minutes. Stop for rest and to take in the beauty. We made it to the top and back some 2.5 hours later. I didn't suffer. Contrast - last week in Spain, (myofascial ;pain had been terrible due to travel and sleep disturbances) I did a walk in terrain too steep and too long a day. Been suffering for a week. Neck spasms beyond measure. So, in mindfulness terms, I pushed the edge, I went over my edge. Learn from it, Lesley, I say to myself. Last summer I could only shuffle with help, at least I can now walk. Today, my goal is to empty the dishwasher, tidy up a bit and delete lots of emails and read all my Moodscope emails from the missing 2 weeks when on hols. This week I will set down a plan for the next 2 years - goals and rewards. I have spent 25 years with depression and fibromyalgia and not set goals. How can I live with these and make my life a meaningful and enjoyable one? I don't expect them to disappear so I had better reshape my expectations. Lesley, a Moodscoper who cant cope with all the logons and passwords so just posts as anonymous! (This, the girl who was an IT trainer before!!)

Anonymous Tue, Jun 24th 2014 @ 4:32am

This is so true. I suffered from 3 severe depressions 13 to 14 years ago. While giving up a stressful job & studying art helped my recovery, I still suffer from exhaustion and depressive thinking if I do too much, physically, socially or on my to do list. Thank you for the reminder that the frustration I feel is shared with others and that there really is nothing to do but rest. The book "Depression, curse of the strong" by Tim Cantopher is very good on the medical explanation for our exhaustion. He recommends daytime tv to occupy the mind gently while allowing the body to rest !

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