Man with psoriatic arthritis and chronic fatigue taking a nap

The Fatigue Factor

Whether you have psoriatic arthritis or any other chronic illness, I am sure you have heard your fair share of bad advice. If you haven’t, hold tight, because it will happen.

One piece of very bad advice that I hear all the time is related to fatigue. Well-meaning friends and family often urge their chronically ill family member to push through their fatigue. Now, I am not talking about feeling tired from doing something or from staying up late or getting up early. No, fatigue that is produced from a chronic illness is nothing like that. This type of fatigue takes over our minds and our bodies. There is NO fighting it. There is NO avoiding it. There is NO cure for it.

Trouble in tired town

I get that giving into fatigue by taking the nap that your body desires isn’t ideal or something that everyone wants to do, but what people need to understand is that we don’t have a choice. We are not giving in. Instead, what's actually happening is that every ounce of energy is being sucked out of us and there is no way to stop it. When hit with extreme fatigue, I can go turn from being fully alert and active to a forgetful slug within minutes.

I wish those who have never experienced it or are annoyed when it happens to me would understand that I don’t like it either. Unwarranted fatigue isn’t something I like, want, or welcome. It’s not an excuse to lie on the couch watching Netflix all day. The only thing I am capable of doing when extreme fatigue strikes is to sleep. Conversations or performing even the simplest of tasks are impossible.

Fighting chronic fatigue

Knowing that fighting fatigue after it hits is not possible, I had to find ways to limit how often it occurred. This entailed making changes to my everyday life, because the minute it even begins to creep up, it has become too late. I fight and reduce fatigue by following a schedule. Of course, that is not always easy with one or more painful chronic illnesses, but I try to follow one that my body has chosen rather than one I would prefer. This calls for going to bed and waking up when my body prefers, not when I would like to do so. It means that if my body asks for a nap, I give it one. Sometimes it only wants a few minute lie-down and other times it needs one or two hours.

Limiting stress to help with chronic fatigue

Another way I fight fatigue is to limit stress in my life. I know it sounds impossible. In fact, I even laughed when one of my doctors suggested I reduce the stress in my life. But after making some changes to how I lived, I began to see other areas of my life that could also be improved. Instead of getting caught up in the web of, 'this is how my life should be' or 'that’s what everybody else does', I had to start living the life I had and stop giving a hoot what everybody else was doing.

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