“I hate pacing!”
It didn’t take long after we had begun the discussion part of the San Francisco Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Self Help group meeting until a woman started railing passionately against pacing:
“I know I should use pacing, but if I just lived my life in the confinements and limits of my illness, my life would no longer be worth living anyways. Sure, it hurts me not to take breaks, but I believe that this life force in me, that just wants me to be active, is a good thing, and I shouldn’t repress it by pacing myself too much.”
All of us in the room could sympathize. Pacing is hard! It is frustrating when—despite our fatigue—we got ourselves into cooking a healthy meal, cleaning our house, or making a shopping list and we have to stop again after only a few moments of flow, because otherwise we’d over-exhaust ourselves and exacerbate our symptoms.
Personally, although I consider myself functionally fully recovered, the one part of my life that I still notice myself complain about is that I have to pace myself by taking intermittent breaks throughout my day (or the Thanksgiving dinner).
Do the following thoughts, which go through my head when I coax myself into a twenty-minute rest, sound familiar?
“When I rest I have to face all of the unpleasant sensations in my body, I’d rather drown them out by eating some more turkey.“
“It’s so much fun with my family. I won’t be able to stand the loneliness in my room when I leave the thanksgiving dinner table.”
Or on days that are not holidays:
“When I rest it’s going to be terrible, I’ll lose all the great ideas that I just had and wanted to act on.”
“I can’t rest because I’m so into what I’m currently doing that if I stop now, it will take me forever to get back into the flow of doing it. “
The above thoughts hint at why pacing is so hard. So how do you make it easy?
Although I haven’t completely “solved” the problem of pacing, over the last five years I have discovered several ways to make it a lot easier. I have to admit that, even when I use these techniques, I don’t always enjoy the process of stopping. However my techniques are good and enjoyable enough, so that at least, I no longer avoid pacing. This is a BIG DEAL: I mentioned in my previous article how important pacing is for healing in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. I believe it is important to make pacing fun enough, so that we no longer avoid it, but make a rock-solid commitment to actually doing it.
Here is a simple, three-step process that helped me in overcoming my aversion to pacing: [Read more…]