It has taken me several years and a lot of setbacks to learn how to live with Chronic Fatigue, but I am finally getting the hang of it! Being a Type A personality, if I was not always busy working, making money, helping others, then I did not feel that I was worth anything. WE HAVE TO LEARN THAT OUR SELF WORTH IS NOT BASED ON HOW MUCH WE DO IN A DAY, OR HOW MUCH MONEY WE EARN. Yes, money is nice and necessary, but your health has to come first. You have to learn how to prioritize around your illness and decide what is more important – an immaculate home? Your career? Time and energy spent with your children?
If you continue to push yourself while suffering with Chronic Fatigue, your body will eventually give out completely. You have to give your body a chance to rest and you have to learn to accept that you are not the same person you once were, that even though “Susie Q” can work twice as many hours as you and she is 20 years older, then so be it. WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT. WE ARE ALL UNIQUE IN WHAT WE CAN AND CAN’T DO. I am not trying to sound negative, or trying to bring anyone down here. These are just the facts that have to be accepted. I have been down this road, and still occasionally start to get caught up in the fast pace of things and my body lets me know very quickly that I can’t do this.
So I am hoping through my experiences and life struggle, I can help you learn so that you hopefully won’t have to struggle as long, or make the same mistakes that I have made!
If you have young children as I do, it is even more difficult to try and function with everything going on in your life, but it can be done.
- For one month, journal everything you do, from the time you wake up until you go to bed. Journal how you feel physically through the day as well.
Make sure these things are captured in your journal:
- How you felt when you got up.
- What was eaten throughout the day – EVERYTHING that goes in your mouth, either food or drink, write it down!
- Work activities, exercise, household duties, etc.
- When you start feeling worn out throughout the day.
- Any stressors affecting you throughout the day.
- What vitamins/supplements/prescriptions taken during the day.
- When you notice certain physical and/or mental activities beginning to take a toll on you, make sure you write them down.
- How many hours did you work today?
RECAP OF YOUR JOURNALING EXPERIENCE
- Once a week, sit down and look over your journal. Recap and make a list of what activities triggered your CFS symptoms.
- What stressors seem to aggravate or cause your symptoms to flare?
- What foods did you eat that seemed to make you feel worse later?
You will start to see a pattern form, especially after keeping your journal for at least a month, and you can start to put a workable plan into place for yourself.
SHARE JOURNAL WITH YOUR PHYSICIAN
- I recommend sharing your journal with your physican and letting him/her see how activities, food, just daily living affects your illness.
- Once your journal is complete, now you can start to plan out a new schedule to work on getting more rest and to feeling better.
MAKING THE CHANGES
If you want to feel better, want a healthier life, then you have to make the necessary changes. It is hard, but it needs to be done.
- Sit down with your spouse, significant other, whoever lives with you, and go over with them all of your responsibilities and what your day entails as far as activity, mental and physical both. If you live alone, then you will likely need to hire someone to do the chores that you are no longer able to do. You have a choice – either spend a little money or keep making yourself sicker. Common sense tells you what the logical solution is.
- If you are currently doing everything now, then you need to get your family involved in taking care of some household chores, errands, etc.
- Even small children can be given tasks that they are able to complete: they can pick up their toys, make sure their dirty clothes are put in the clothes hamper, putting trash in the trashcan, etc. I do have to say my 4-year-old son is pretty well trained in these areas and tends to pick up after other kids!
- On the top of your list start with what you have to personally do yourself, meaning things that no one else can do. If you are a Type A personality, I know you think that no one can do anything that you do and do it right. Been there, done that. You have to let go of some of the control issues you have. It’s okay to not be Superman or Superwoman.
DELEGATE TO OTHERS
- Dishwashing – or, if you have an automatic dishwasher, make sure everyone is putting their own dishes in the dishwasher.
- Laundry – is everyone putting their dirty clothes in the hampers? Can someone else wash, dry and fold the clothes? Or at least do part of the laundry?
- Cleaning the house – I hired someone to clean my house, and sometimes it’s my mother I’m paying to do it! If you can’t afford to have someone clean your house, then have your spouse/kids help. Give them each one room to do. If you are trying to do the whole house by yourself, then try just cleaning one room a day, or two rooms a day.
- Grocery shopping – Make a list for hubby or if you are shopping on your own, make sure you purchase everything you will need for the week so that you don’t have to make any additional trips to the store throughout the week. This will help save time and energy.
- Postal errands – Have one day a week set for just making trips to the post office for stamps, to mail packages, etc.
- Cooking meals – I use the heck out of my crock pot and it requires very little energy from me! If your spouse likes to cook, let them do it! Just make sure they know that with cooking they are also in charge of cleaning up, too!
- LEARN TO SAY NO AND DELEGATE!Of course, the best method is to learn to say no and to know that it is okay to let others help. Your body will thank you trememdously!