How do you cope with fatigue?

littlemimmy
littlemimmy Member Posts: 111
edited 9. Apr 2017, 18:53 in Living with Arthritis archive
Hello everyone,

I'm very new here, so have been reading through lots of posts and am finding it very comforting to hear from others in the same boat.

I know there have been lots of posts about tiredness, but I wondered how others manage when they're fatigued?

It's probably the thing I'm struggling with the most at the moment, which is especially difficult because my work is exceptionally busy for the next few months, and on top of that I have some funded research to complete. I have a giant list of things to do, and just can't get anything done!

I'm not sleeping well either, so I'm mostly just wandering through my life like a zombie! Does anyone have any practical tips that might help me? I know I should pace myself, and I do my best, but my work and research often makes this difficult! I'd appreciate any advice or support at this point!

Thank you,
Kay

Comments

  • dibdab
    dibdab Member Posts: 1,498
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hi there, the fatigue is indeed a major factor. I'm retired now (took early retirement at 55) but when I was still working I used to take a short nap as soon as I got home, before making tea, then try to get to bed soon after 10 in the hope of nodding off before 11.

    Waking at night is often a problem if pain wakes you, so do you have efficient pain relief on board before sleep? It's worth a chat with your GP because lacking sleep gets to be a vicious circle....we worry about not sleeping so we don't and on it goes, and poor sleep lowers our immune system so we catch more infections etc.

    Pacing yourself is important but hard to do when you have a busy life....is it possible to take one day at the weekend to really relax and recuperate from the busy working week?

    When I was working we used to eat out once a week and have a ready meal one night a week to take the pressure off, and resorted to online shopping to save walking round the supermarket and humping heavy bags in and out of the car......they're all little things but help to make life a bit easier when you live with fatigue.

    Deb x
  • daffy2
    daffy2 Member Posts: 1,636
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Short answer is by prioritising, and accepting that it can be one of the most difficult bits of the arthritis malarkey to deal with. Like clinical depression it is impossible for those who have not experienced it to understand how all-consuming it can be and how you may be completely unable to function for no outwardly apparent reason.
    It's difficult but when fatigue strikes you have to decide what is actually essential and what can be let go. Domestic duties tend to fall in the latter category, unless something makes you so desperately unhappy if it is not done that stressing makes the fatigue worse. As you have a partner discuss what can be delegated or done without - food, laundry, cleaning, shopping need to be done in some form, but not necessarily by you when the going gets tough and not necessarily in the way you would ideally do it. Ready meals, prepped ingredients, takeaways(eating out can be problematic if you do a dormouse and fall asleep at the table!), batch cooking and freezing in the 'good' times.
    It sounds as if work is going to take most of your energy for now, but are there things there that can be done differently/by someone else if you are really struggling?
    Sleep is a bit of a vicious circle - worrying about it(or the lack of it) can make it difficult to get quality rest. If pain is an issue look into types and timings of pain relief, and ways of dealing with pain that wakes you. Look into sleep hygiene - things like: is your bedroom dark, and are you warm enough. Do you have mobiles, computers in the room, are they switched on, do you have enough of a gap between watching TV/using the computer and going to bed. Have a notepad beside the bed, write down things that are niggling you before turning out the light, or if you wake in a fret during the night.
    Keep posting - sometimes just putting down how you are feeling to an audience which understands can be surprisingly helpful.
  • MissKat
    MissKat Member Posts: 124
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Definitely pacing and prioritising as previous posts suggest, some things have to go by the wayside when things get tough - cleaning is the first thing to get overlooked here!

    Can you delegate at work to help share the workload? You shouldn't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

    Diet can also help - keeping energy levels at a constant pace through your day rather than sugary peaks and troughs making it even more of a rollercoaster kind of day than it already is!

    X


    Hello everyone,

    I'm very new here, so have been reading through lots of posts and am finding it very comforting to hear from others in the same boat.

    I know there have been lots of posts about tiredness, but I wondered how others manage when they're fatigued?

    It's probably the thing I'm struggling with the most at the moment, which is especially difficult because my work is exceptionally busy for the next few months, and on top of that I have some funded research to complete. I have a giant list of things to do, and just can't get anything done!

    I'm not sleeping well either, so I'm mostly just wandering through my life like a zombie! Does anyone have any practical tips that might help me? I know I should pace myself, and I do my best, but my work and research often makes this difficult! I'd appreciate any advice or support at this point!

    Thank you,
    Kay



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,552
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    As best I can, I think that applies to all of us. I'm going through a bad patch at the moment (thanks to a lifestyle change) and fatigue is dominating everything but I am fortunate in that I no longer work: stopping that (and being able to stop it) reduced a major pressure.

    Have you read 'The Spoon Theory' ? It's an article on the web which clearly describes the challenges of living with a long-term chronic condition. We have to allocate our limited energies as best we can to the various challenges we face on a daily (or more long-term) basis. We will be entertaining friends here on March 25th, friends who have not yet seen the new house although we've been here for just over three years (shame on us). My preparation for that begins this coming weekend whereas for The Spouse it starts around 9.30 on the day and I need to remember that for him it can.

    I have been able to reduce the load of household nonsense thanks to buying cordless vacuums and a steam generating iron. I'm a basic but pretty good cook and have altered recipes to suit my abilities. I've bought lighter pans, I swear by OXO good grips peelers etc. as they are so much easier to hold, when we moved I inherited a basic dishwasher and it's a boon (as long as I save up for a full load). I break tasks down into units that are manageable, on a bad day it can take me all day to change the bed but the main thing is I get it done.

    I am the working week shopping-for-basics fairy, cooking fairy, washing fairy, ironing fairy, bin fairy, housework fairy and bed-making fairy. Arthritis? What arthritis? :wink: I am, however, very fortunate in that The Spouse has witnessed my gentle decline and has become the weekend Super-Fairy (apart from the washing and bed making but you can't have everything). DD
  • littlemimmy
    littlemimmy Member Posts: 111
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you so much for the replies everyone; I really appreciate it. I did write a reply the other day but it disappeared and I didn't have the energy to rewrite it!

    I have been trying to prioritise, although work is taking priority so as you all say, housework is going by the wayside! My partner did the washing today, which is great, and I've done half the dishwasher this evening so I've not got as much to do in the morning.

    Unfortunately, I cannot delegate at work as I work independently out in the community, but I got all my making done this evening, so I've just got planning and my research to do. Work is definitely my biggest stress and energy-sapping activity, but there's no way I'll be able to reduce it.

    I have heard of the Spoon Theory and really like it. It helps me to visualise my energy, so I can share it between my tasks. I just need more practise!

    My sleep hygiene is pretty good; the room is dark and all devices are switched off. I like the idea of having a notepad by the bed, as I often remember things I need to do and can't get back to sleep.

    The link is great, Sharon, thank you. I've saved it on my tablet for regular reference.

    DD, we have an OXO Good Grips pizza cutter and it's great, so I'll look into investing in more of their stuff. I rarely do any of the cooking, but I think lighter saucepans, etc., would really help when I'm clearing and washing up.

    I do have an appointment with the GP on Monday - she's new at our surgery and apparently really nice, but I'm not sure she'll be prepared for this emotional wreck in her office!

    Thank you again for all your responses, advice and support everyone. I really do appreciate it so much.
  • ruthvictoria71
    ruthvictoria71 Member Posts: 13
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I really struggle with tiredness too! I find meditation help and there are some really helpful apps to guide. I try and do at least 10 mins at lunchtime plus a short 'power nap' helps.
    On REALLY bad days I must admit turning to sleeping tablets but I try not to rely on these.
    My old doctor was useless in helping but I'm seeing my new one on Tuesday so fingers crossed he helps!

    Sent from my SM-G935F using Tapatalk
  • littlemimmy
    littlemimmy Member Posts: 111
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for your replies.

    My biggest problem is work, because it just has to get done. I seem to spend 90% of my waking time working at the moment, and it's just exhausting. Things will hopefully improve after Easter, maybe in May, but it's hard to say at the moment.

    I've neglected the housework this week because my partner said she'd do it, but hasn't (as usual!), so I'll have to do some washing and cleaning tomorrow.

    I'm getting so fed up. Between work and housework, my lists of things to do are never-ending, and it feels like no-one understands or cares. Except you guys, of course.
  • daffy2
    daffy2 Member Posts: 1,636
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I've neglected the housework this week because my partner said she'd do it, but hasn't (as usual!), so I'll have to do some washing and cleaning tomorrow.
    Is this how things often work out -you end up doing the job because the offer doesn't translate into action? If so can I respectfully suggest that it's an issue which needs sorting? It's not an uncommon situation that one in a relationship will deal with what has been left undone, and under normal circumstances that won't be too much of an issue. These are not normal circumstances, resentment can be as draining as the fatigue itself, and you need to conserve your energies in those periods when you have control over how your time is spent - ie not at work.
    If this is going to be a sticking point perhaps look at paying for help with the housework?
  • littlemimmy
    littlemimmy Member Posts: 111
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    You're exactly right daffy, and normally I'd resort to some snarky or passive-aggressive remark to get jobs done, but instead today my partner commented that she hadn't forgotten about the kitchen and would get around to it today, which threw me completely!

    So I've said that I'll do the washing, but might need to ask for help hanging it to dry. We'll see how that goes at the time!

    I would absolutely love to pay for help with the housework, but that's not an option since we earn next to nothing.

    I know that I have a tendency to get emotionally selfish, and I'm trying to remind myself that it's not just me that's affected by my RS, but it's so difficult when I'm tired and in pain and it seems like she doesn't care and expects me to just get on with it while she does absolutely nothing. I'm certain that that isn't actually the case; it just feels that way sometimes.
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,552
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Arthritis affects not only us but those around us. It's also becoming an increasingly hidden disease with joint deformities becoming something of the past but fatigue remains harder to spot.

    It's more than just feeling tired at the end of a long day, isn't it? Our fatigue renders us nauseous and, although I might sleep for England, I never feel refreshed let alone rejuvenated. The last time I felt energised and well was October 2001, ever since I have swum against a constant wave machine which varies in strength from milk to rapidly setting concrete. You get used to it, in some ways we have to because the demands of life have the temerity to carry on regardless of the arthritis. I have made many changes to make my domestic life easier but I am fortunate in being an old bat who had an inheritance to help. I am also fortunate in that I am twenty years in (so I know what's what) and retired. Work-wise I was self-employed (so had a very understanding boss) but I flogged on for fifteen arthritic years before enough became enough.

    My husband has witnessed my physical decline and we have a code-phrase so he knows when to up his contribution. He has cooked and cleared every weekend for years but will also do laundry, ironing, vacuuming (especially since we went cordless - a must), shopping and will wash up during the week if things are rough. Today he is helping me change the bed, I've done the bulk of it but I cannot face wrestling with the duvet cover. He may not do things as I would but the most important thing is he does them without fuss or complaint. As he should because I do my bit likewise. DD

    PS He's a rubbish nurse though, always has been and always will.
  • daffy2
    daffy2 Member Posts: 1,636
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I know that I have a tendency to get emotionally selfish, and I'm trying to remind myself that it's not just me that's affected by my RS, but it's so difficult when I'm tired and in pain and it seems like she doesn't care and expects me to just get on with it while she does absolutely nothing. I'm certain that that isn't actually the case; it just feels that way sometimes.
    An excellent summary - not least because it highlights the fact that it's often not the illness itself that causes the big problems, but all the emotional/relationship stuff that hangs on the coat-tails and is so much more difficult to deal as it's so intangible - perceptions, interpretations, feelings - all as individual as we are and all interconnected. It's very hard for those on the outside - family, friends, partners - to know how and when to help, except with the straightforward physical things(and even those have their difficulties to do with the implications of needing to accept help). It's hard to watch someone you care about suffering and being unable to do anything to take it away; the impotence can translate into apparent indifference as a coping mechanism, and so it goes round and round.
    For what it's worth I think you seem to have a pretty good handle on the situation so there's a good chance that you will be able to work through this with your partner, to the benefit of both of you.
  • littlemimmy
    littlemimmy Member Posts: 111
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    dreamdaisy wrote:
    I have swum against a constant wave machine which varies in strength from milk to rapidly setting concrete.
    I love this metaphor - it really explains the feeling perfectly!

    Thank you both for your replies and support. I'm definitely having one of those angry, frustrated days!

    I love the idea of having a code-phrase for when things are really bad, although I think I'll suggest it when my partner is feeling more sympathetic and receptive!

    Thank you everyone - I'm not sure how I'd get through today without your support!
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,552
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    As usual Daffy hits the nail on the head with pin-point accuracy - she is one wise lady so take heed.

    Some time ago, in a rare heart-to-heart, Mr DD told me that he felt completely helpless which upset me. Yes, he's a bloke (hence the rare heart-to-heart :wink: ) and blokes traditionally like to fix things but he battled with the fact I cannot be fixed. I think he still battles with it but I take the view that I am as fixed as I can be for today and that's what counts.

    It can be very easy to become self-absorbed as arthritis encroaches, affecting our physical lives, ambitions, plans and wishes - is it any wonder we may feel angry, hurt, resentful? Of course we do but it is not the fault of those around us - neither is it ours. Anger is a valid emotion but it's the hardest to express, we either hurt ourselves or those around us but to what end? When arthritis is the cause of the anger that anger changes nothing. DD
  • littlemimmy
    littlemimmy Member Posts: 111
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you so much DD. It's so nice to know that this struggle isn't unique to me!
    dreamdaisy wrote:
    Anger is a valid emotion but it's the hardest to express, we either hurt ourselves or those around us but to what end? When arthritis is the cause of the anger that anger changes nothing. DD
    Thank you for expressing this so well - I'm just too tired to be angry. I need to use my energy for useful, important things. Like eating! :lol:

    I've got my doctor's appointment in a little while, which I'm actually quite nervous about because I've never actually spoken to a doctor about my mental health before!
  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,552
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I hope it goes well and you are able to be open and honest with the GP, they can help but only if they have the full picture. I remember going to see my GP in May 2011 after the OA had been diagnosed, to request a short course of anti-depressants: her response was 'At last!' . I'm still taking a low daily dose to help me cope and I am thankful for them. DD
  • littlemimmy
    littlemimmy Member Posts: 111
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you DD. The appointment went really well. After looking at my records, the Dr realised that my thyroid hasn't been checked for over a year (I have hyperthyroidism), which could very well be causing the tiredness and low mood. So I've got a blood test booked to check it.

    She gave me the depression questionnaire they use and said I scored really high, so she's quite concerned.

    I've got a follow-up appointment with her in two weeks to see how I'm doing and establish what we should do. In the meantime she's given me a couple of self-help type websites to look at.

    It was so lovely to have a doctor actually listen, and she's suggested CBT, psychotherapy or antidepressants, depending on how I feel in two weeks. I feel so lucky, and I'm so grateful that she's joined our practice.
  • littlemimmy
    littlemimmy Member Posts: 111
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    [quote=littlemimmy post_id=627977 time=1490034917 user_id=108154
    I have hyperthyroidism[/quote] Oops, hypothyroidism, not hyperthyroidism!
  • dalek
    dalek Member Posts: 32
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Hello everyone,

    I'm very new here, so have been reading through lots of posts and am finding it very comforting to hear from others in the same boat.

    I know there have been lots of posts about tiredness, but I wondered how others manage when they're fatigued?

    It's probably the thing I'm struggling with the most at the moment, which is especially difficult because my work is exceptionally busy for the next few months, and on top of that I have some funded research to complete. I have a giant list of things to do, and just can't get anything done!

    I'm not sleeping well either, so I'm mostly just wandering through my life like a zombie! Does anyone have any practical tips that might help me? I know I should pace myself, and I do my best, but my work and research often makes this difficult! I'd appreciate any advice or support at this point!

    Thank you,
    Kay

    I must confess I gave up on career many years ago, just prefer 9 to 5 now (or 8 to 4) in my case.
    Unfortunately healthy people don't understand the tired thing...and look confused or surprised when you try and explain
    it is very frustrating and soul destroying going in on a Monday and hearing someones typical Saturday was walking the dog, doing all the housework, mowing the lawn, painting the spare room etc. And you can only manage one of those things
    My top tips:-
    Don't lay in weekends, I set the alarm for 8.30. sometimes hit snooze a few times but try and get up by 9
    Give housework the lowest priority - I live on my own so this is fine, just run the hoover round if anyone comes round
    Get to bed by 10 on a school night - get Mark Williams Body Scan on youtube to relax you when you go to bed
  • littlemimmy
    littlemimmy Member Posts: 111
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you dalek, I really appreciate your response.

    It is so soul destroying when you see and hear other people doing lots of fun things that just aren't possible - my partner and I had an argument last night because I was too tired by 8pm after a full day out to go anywhere else. It's horrible when even the person closest to you doesn't understand.

    Thanks for the tips! Unfortunately, I'm awake by 5am every day at the moment, weekends included, so that's not a problem, although if I ever get my sleep sorted out I will indeed avoid long lie ins as you suggest.

    I try to be in bed by 10pm most nights, and read a little before trying to sleep. I used to have a sound simulation app but I lost it when my old tablet broke, so I'll try the Mark Williams Body Scan. However, I don't like leaving my wifi on overnight as I think it can interfere with our sleep, so might have to find something similar on an app or that I can download.

    Thank you so much - it helps so much to hear from understanding people.
  • WyleECoyote
    WyleECoyote Member Posts: 38
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thanks for posting these. It's really helpful to be reminded that we are not alone. I suffer symptoms of lack of sleep - coordination issues (they come and go) and memory issues. Most of the time I don't feel particularly tired and when I complain I don't find it as easy to focus on intellectually demanding stuff my husband reminds me 'it's because you don't get refreshing sleep. Don't be so hard on yourself'.

    It's spring and I did quite a long walk (for me) this week from the City to home (past the Tower of London and across Tower Bridge). It was beautiful but my god, I'm REALLY feeling it this past two days. Trying to swim through 'rapidly setting concrete' is such a great way to describe it.

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