By Donald W. Prichard
Many of my
friends have chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS). We all rejoice when we
have a good day - a day when we're not confined to
bed and can actually accomplish a great deal.
Unfortunately, I almost always overdo it during these high-energy periods.
And then I pay big time. During the next few days, sometimes even a week, I can
accomplish very little at all. I actually come out behind in the long run.
Doesn't make sense, does it?
This has happened to me on far too many occasions, going all the way back to
my childhood. Finally, I've discovered that the key to coping with CFIDS is to
Pick your activities well
This past year I have greatly changed my
thinking about how I use my time. I know what I can do and what I can't do - and
I have found that there are many things I really don't need to do. Before I take
on any task now, I ask myself three questions: Do I absolutely have to do this?
How long is it going to take? And is there a shortcut?
Although I am active in my community, one thing I will not do is sit on
committees. They take too much time and are too stressful. I also do not watch
television when I'm home alone. That time can be spent in bed resting both my
body and my mind. I plan my social life carefully, so it will not tax me.
Really, I only do what I feel I must do, and no longer feel guilty about not
doing something I know will wear me out. I have found there are two things in my
life I absolutely cannot cope with: rushing and stress. So I go to great length
to avoid these enemies.
Adjust your outlook
For most of my life, CFS ruled my every action
and thought and pretty much dominated my conversation. But I don't dwell on it
anymore. I still have some challenging/difficult days (I no longer use the word
"bad"), during which I must spend most of the day in bed. But these times no
longer make me angry; I view them as periods of restoration.
I also have found that volunteer work can help my lift my spirits and boost
my energy. I sometimes volunteer in a convalescent center and extended day care
facility. I am never there for longer than an hour and a half. In reaching out
to others, I help myself. I can't dwell on myself when I'm ministering or
singing with my older friends.
As a child, young person and working adult, I was an unreasonable
perfectionist. I no longer allow myself to fall into that category; it takes too
much energy and time. I do things well, but I am not going to do anything that's
going to wear me out and make me a nervous wreck.
Conserve your strength
I'm always looking for a more efficient way
of doing things. And I never hesitate to ask for help. The maximum time I can be
involved in anything is three hours, and then I begin to wane. In fading out I
become foggy, forgetful, irritable and quiet. My only desire is for bed. I try
to avoid these times by recognizing my limits and conserving my strength.
One key is to restrict the amount of driving I do. I find this to be
absolutely exhausting. So when someone will pick me up, I let them. When I date,
she does the driving. I am a telephonaholic, but when I'm talking on the phone,
I lie down. I have always been a morning person, so I get up very early. I do my
best mental work then. I find the first two or three hours of the morning my
most productive. But then I lie down for an hour.
Because I am a bachelor, no one is making demands on my time around the
house. I don't spend much time in the kitchen or on housework. My place
usually looks like a cyclone hit it.
Exercise your body
know this may sound strange, but I find I must exercise to keep up my strength.
I vary my routine between water aerobics, bicycling and walking. It was a chore
when I first started, but now it's one of the most enjoyable parts of the day.
It's also a great social outlet, helps ward off depression and keeps my weight
Even though I feel better now, I still can't allow myself to get carried away
with activities. I must pace myself every day to maintain my well being. Try it.
It will help.
Donald W. Prichard lives in Union City,