Sunday, 14 August 2016

Lazy - or necessary recharging?

Humans have a finite amount of energy, and if we push beyond our limits we need to recharge.

In reality it's not easy. Especially when you have a condition that means you have less energy to start with than average (for example many hidden disabilities and invisible illnesses), or that your energy is used up more quickly (such as through pain, sensory overload or stress).

It has taken me years to get a decent grip on recharging - and I still often don't get it right.

Part of my brain knows that I have limited energy, that some things use it up very quickly and that certain symptoms mean I need to recharge (like increased difficulty concentrating, loss of word-finding abilities or speech, reduced coordination, feeling overwhelmed by situations I am normally fine with.)

But another part of my brain looks at what I have done and says "You really shouldn't be this tired! You are probably imagining it" or "Stop being lazy and get up and do something constructive" and feels guilty for not doing what it feels I should.

If I listen to that I end up pushing on until I crash (i.e. reach the point I can barely open my eyes and even eating is a struggle). And by continuously trying to push further I never quite recover - feeding a downward spiral in my health. It takes a lot of courage to go against the belief that "I am a failure if I recharge when I need to".

I've been learning recognise my 'early warning' fatigue symptoms and getting better at consciously taking time out to recharge - and as I recharge earlier, it's doesn't take me as long and gives me more time and energy for living. It's really rewarding - not least because when I get it right I actually spend a lot less time recharging.

But it's still tough.

And sometimes usually supportive people make it tougher. People I care about and who I know care about me can try to encourage me with things like "You just need to push through the tiredness" and "Don't be lazy." - which means I try to push through when I should recharge, with the effect that I become less and less able to do things. It's counter productive even though it is meant well.

There may be situations those comments are appropriate (I am very capable of being lazy :D) but when I'm in a downward spiral of exhaustion, then they are damaging.

It is much more encouraging if someone asks me whether I can arrange extra recharge time afterwards in case I need it, or whether I  have the next days' meals all ready so I don't have to cook, or finding somewhere quite so I can have a rest partway through an event or outing - or at least recognises that these techniques might be needed.

Over time I have been able to surprise myself with how quickly I can recharge when I take breaks at the right time - enabling me to try more, and actually helping me build stamina and strength - which feels counter intuitive, how can taking breaks improve stamina? -but it honestly did for me!.

Recharging isn't about hiding from life - it is about temporarily stepping back in order to get the most out of living in the long term.

My need to recharge is real, and when I recharge it isn't a failure, but a beautiful success from which I can emerge in a better state than before.

(Random side note: For me a recharging day is rarely staying in bed all day. I recharge better by doing small gentle movements between rest breaks, and getting up to do simple, short tasks before resting again. If I don't keep moving within my recharging I tend to get worse instead of recharging. I guess the human body was designed for movement. Another key part of my recharging is being REALLY strict with things that take concentration - including avoiding social media and interesting movies! )


1 comment:

  1. Excellent post! Gonna link my parents to this. (Also, psst, there's a typo on the recharging card - it says "I am looking after myself and be ready to face the world," and I think it's supposed to read "...myself and WILL be ready."

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