Non-Restorative Rest

One of the most challenging aspects of living with chronic illness has been adjusting to non-restorative rest. When healthy individuals feel tired, their bodies are rejuvenated by resting. This rarely happens for those who are living with chronic illness. Our bodies fatigue much more quickly compared to those who are generally healthy. When my MS fatigue hits especially hard, I absolutely must rest. Doing so is not optional. Unfortunately, resting doesn’t fully restore my sense of energy. It simply prevents a further cascade of symptoms from manifesting. It’s incredibly difficult, if not downright impossible, for those who enjoy good health to appreciate this aspect of living with chronic illness. Even after receiving a full night of sleep, I don’t awaken feeling fully recharged and ready to tackle the day. I struggle to get up and get going, for an extended period of time, each and every day. I’ve had to rearrange my entire schedule around this ongoing reality. After I finally feel awake, I typically enjoy a relatively narrow window of feeling more energetic. I always try to accomplish as much as possible during this time. Inevitably, such productivity is followed by the onset of intense, bone-crushing fatigue. If you’ve ever had a severe case of the flu, you are familiar with the severity of this type of exhaustion. However, just imagine living with the same type of fatigue relentlessly. There’s no endpoint in sight. Adjusting to debilitating exhaustion is even more challenging when, on any given day, you really don’t even look tired. It makes it incredibly difficult for others to fully understand your limitations. I’ve honestly looked at myself, multiple times, and thought that I look pretty healthy, after all. As a result, it’s been difficult for me to accurately assess when I have surpassed my illness-imposed limitations. My body, however, never fails to let me know.

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