Many of us with multiple sclerosis have heard the saying, “I go to bed wired and wake up tired.” This is quite accurate, as fatigue is one of the most prevalent aspects of living with MS. So often I hear from well-meaning individuals who, in an effort to empathize, say they are tired. I give an imaginary eye-roll, not because I am upset with them; rather it’s because I find the disparity difficult to quantify.
We’ve all been tired, weary, or exhausted as a direct result of a long workday or weekend activity, but this is different. This is not a tiredness remedied by restorative sleep, as MS-related fatigue lacks logical cause and effect. Fatigue from multiple sclerosis afflicts the entire body and can be low-level or downright paralyzing. I often say it’s akin to walking through quicksand with your entire body — each move slow and deliberate.
For a while after my diagnosis and subsequent progression, this unique fatigue beguiled and frustrated me. I craved the energy I once took for granted and found it extremely difficult to reconcile with this new norm. I felt like a voyeur, watching life go on without me. The world continued to spin, but I was motionless. It wasn’t until my sadness morphed into a low-level depression that I made a conscious decision to move.
Ironically enough, I migrated toward the fatigue instead of running from it. Knowledge is power, and I not only educated myself about the realities of living with MS-related fatigue, I also learned how to co-exist with its presence. I am still learning; it’s a continuum as the progression has heightened the fatigue. For me, heat exposure, infection, and overexertion all exacerbate fatigue, sometimes so extreme I am relegated to lying down days at a time. It’s imperative to find both what helps and worsens your symptoms, as we are alike only in our diagnosis, each case of MS autonomous from the next.
As I sit here and write, I am powering through my second day of extreme fatigue. Knowing my limitations, I chose to push them aside as my need for human connection trumped the inevitable fallout. You’d think I went skydiving or surfing, but alas I ventured out in excessive heat and enjoyed a long lunch with a good friend.
And here I am. It took me a long time to let go of my resentment toward MS, along with people who could enjoy even the simplest of pleasures without repercussions. It took a change in cognition, as well as continued prayer and meditation. Energy is powerful. Positive or negative, our intent becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy — the Law of Attraction. I am not suggesting we can change the course of our disease (although that is definitely debatable). Rather, we can change our reaction to what it hands us.
Fatigue is an inevitable part of living with multiple sclerosis and there will be days when it becomes overwhelming. Succumb and accept. Work within your limitations, keeping in mind the infinite possibilities that lie there. Be good to yourself and, if possible, adjust your day so you can rest comfortably with a good movie or enjoyable music. Ask for help from friends or family and remember that this, too, shall pass.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.