Accepting that Sometimes, We Need Rest

Accepting that Sometimes, We Need Rest

Jennifer Silver Linings
By the grace of God, I am a naturally positive individual who lends optimism and hope to even the bleakest of situations. Because of this, it is difficult to find me in a situation when my auspicious nature tires; after all, we find out the most about ourselves when facing adversity.

I am there.

Last week’s exacerbation of my MS has persisted, if not heightened, and I find myself on the precipice of some serious sadness. I hesitate to say depression, as I do not feel this as anything but situational. Having said that, this situation tries my most hopeful nerve.

My secondary progressive MS exacerbations look differently than my relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) exacerbations were prior to my progression. Whereas I used to have one worsening symptom, I now find my entire body affected. Solu-Medrol did wonders for my RRMS flares as the steroids were akin to little soldiers kicking back the inflammation. But we all know this reprieve is not without a price. While steroids reduce inflammation, they also wreak havoc on our bodies and come with a myriad of insane side effects. Immediately following an infusion, I would find myself red-faced, irritated, and sweaty with bursts of frenetic energy despite my underlying exhaustion.

Nevertheless, it helped, and when you are living with a progressive and incurable disease, you do whatever it takes. However, as I progress and experience stronger, more diffuse exacerbations, there are fewer options to either calm my flares or help slow the progression. My personality thrives on correlation — cause and effect. The conundrum of MS often goes to war with my logic as, at times, there simply is not any.

Hence, I feel sad.

Let me be quick to add that feeling sad is just that — a feeling. It does not define nor confine me, and while sad, I am still able to tap into that inner well of hope and wellness reflective of my core. It is just so much harder.

However, hard is not impossible.

I have learned to let these exacerbations guide me and not force my frenetic will on a body that needs to be still. Understanding and honoring our bodies and psyche is integral to living successfully with multiple sclerosis. For so long, my forward momentum propelled me through times I should have been still. Perhaps it is a blessing that when my body is done it is done, and no amount of impetus can shift that. There are lessons to be learned along with any journey, and it is up to us to heed them.

It is inevitable that this disease beguiles and confounds you. You will sometimes have to shift your life to fit your disease. This can feel extremely defeating, but remember as with everything, this too shall pass. I remind myself of this adage, as I had to cancel a long-ago scheduled trip to visit my grandkids. I would be lying if I said I am not disappointed, sad, and a little miffed. But going forward would only fuel my already virulent exacerbation.

It is easy to feel shame for feeling sad for the struggle we make look easy; I do from time to time. Be kind to yourself and remember that sometimes courage is quiet. Sometimes strength is gentle. Sometimes warriors need rest.  

***

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.

Jennifer Powell is a health writer and weekly columnist on Multiple Sclerosis. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.
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Jennifer Powell is a health writer and weekly columnist on Multiple Sclerosis. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.
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15 comments

  1. Cyndi says:

    Wow — this really hit home with me — thanks! I too am the “don’t stop, power through this” type and become angry when my body simply says “no – that’s it for today”. I want to do more, exercise more, go more, try more — but in truth, taking it to exhaustion is counterproductive. The quality of what I’m trying to do declines — yet when forced to take a 30 minute (let alone an hour or so) break, I am revitalized and ready to try again. In short, I need to listen more to my body — not my brain. Your article reminded me of this. Now let’s hope I can put it in practice. Thanks again!

  2. SLH says:

    This brought tears to my eyes – I feel like I’ve been living with MS as long as I can remember… My Dad was dx with MS at the age of 27, not much was know about MS and there certainly were no disease modifying therapies. I was dx with MS at 50, which next month will be 20 years of my own personal challenge. I feel like I’m doing pretty well – still fairly mobile and trying hard to continue to exercise and eat healthy. The phrase that reminded me most of myself was “when I’m done, I’m done”. I struggle with admitting I’m tired and need help. I have a wonderful supportive family but even watching me progress over the last 20 years, sometimes I think they must wonder “why is she tired so often?” Those of us with MS, have heard many times from family & friends – “I’m tired too!” I felt like I was reading something I had written with some of your comments – it’s really true, people with MS are frequently very different but at the same time so much alike. Thanks for telling your story!

    • Jenn Powell says:

      You’ve certain been on an MS journey for quite some time, first with your father and then yourself.

      I often remind myself that others cannot possibly relate to and empathize with the intensity of MS-related fatigue. When I hit a wall I’m done!

      Be kind to yourself, you certainly deserve it.

  3. Meredith says:

    Sometimes I pretend that my body is healthy. It is great when I surround myself with positive people and beautiful music. When the nc weather is clear and warm, and a little walk always makes me smile🙂

  4. Scott Copeland says:

    thank you Jennifer, this is an encouraging and truthful piece of literature of which is helpful to me personally because I can fully relate.

  5. Denise says:

    Thank you. You have summed up how I have been feeling lately…..exhausated without wanting to slow down. What you have really accomplished is making me realize that it is okay to let my body take a break without feeling like I am giving up.

  6. Lacey says:

    I’m new to the diagnosis. I’ve been living in denial. I’ve put seeing a neurologist on the back burner feeling like this is all in my mind and I can just push through.
    I’ve been stubborn and refusing to rest because I want to be a present and awesome mom for my kids.
    I’ve been struggling with symptoms the last few months but continued to refuse to let it affect me.
    Well now I’ve over done it, I’ve been in bed going on three days now.
    I hate this 😭 I hate this disease😭 and I hate that no matter how strong I am mentally I can’t power through it 😭
    Thank you for sharing your story it resonates with me ❤️

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Lacey,

      Thank you for writing to me.

      A new diagnosis can be overwhelming so be kind to yourself. It takes time to navigate our path and I promise you will find yours.

      I’m keeping you in my prayers Lacey.
      Jenn

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