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22
Jan

The Importance of Pacing Yourself in Chronic Illness

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  As someone who has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), adrenal fatigue (AF) and a host of related concerns for almost 19 years now, since the age of 12, I am acutely aware of the need to pace myself. I know I should not take on too much at once and allow myself time to relax and recuperate, at least to some small degree, yet after all these years I still find this extremely difficult.

ME/CFS patients have often been reported to be disproportionately Type A personalities as a group. This study refers to the "action-proneness" of patients i.e. our need to always be on the go and engaged in activity of some kind, whether physical or mental. I can certainly relate to that. Here I am so many years after becoming ill and I am singlehandedly running this website (which is now a BIG job!) and also trying to complete my studies for a bachelor's degree in nutritional health. I also find it very hard to say no to social invitations. I'm sure you can imagine I am not feeling too great at the moment  as a result!

The following study talks about acceptance of the chronic nature of ME/CFS being associated with increased well-being:

Well-being in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: The role of acceptance

I thought I had accepted this fact but looking at my life currently I think perhaps I have just directed my Type A action-proneness in a different direction. Not that this is all bad as my actions are hopefully helping others who are also ill. I have also discovered ways to help myself during work on The Environmental Illness Resource and my degree studies - I used to suffer terrible S.A.D. for example but am now able to get through the winters without feeling suicidal.

I concede however that once I complete my degree I do need to take a step back and look at how I can pace myself but still live a life that brings me a sense of well-being and fulfillment. It's a big ask as it is not in my nature to compromise and accept limitations but to enable myself to heal and be truly happy I know that some way, somehow, I must take this path.

Meditation and Eastern practices have helped me a lot in this area already but I have a long way to go. In any case....it's the journey and not the destination that are important...

 

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you find it difficult to pace yourself? Do you accept the limitations imposed by your illness or try to ignore them and push back harder? Do you find it hard to say "no"? Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment below!

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