As you may or may not have guessed, I’m a stereotypical introvert. I prefer books over happy hour, and large groups of people, for the most part, leave me longing for solitude. For all you extroverts out there who may be curious of why this happens, first of all, I’m sometimes jealous of you 😊, and second, social situations are draining because I’m paying attention to each and every person in the room and often investing energy in analyzing them. I don’t know why I do that, I just know that I always have. As a child I was labeled ‘shy’, but really, I think I was introverted. I used to hide between my mom’s bell bottom pant legs (hey, it was the 70s), peeking out to determine if these were people I wanted to invest my time in (yep really). The ironic part of it all is that one-on-one I’m often very chatty. At least I used to be. Now my brain doesn’t populate words, thoughts, sentences, information, or sometimes much of anything, like it used to. Recently I was watching the Bill Gates special on Netflix and he was asked something like what’s your biggest fear, to which he replied something like losing my mind/or brain power. And in that moment, I thought, yes, me too, me too. Except his introverted mind is still going strongly, meanwhile I’m over here trying to keep up with conversations.
Why I am even writing about this? Well, last week, I had the pleasure of visiting with two (in one week!) ladies my heart holds dear. Have you ever noticed it takes a break in routine to reassess how you’re doing? My first visitor was my aunt, and our visit was truly lovely. Mentally though I could feel myself struggling to keep up, especially as fatigue set in, I was losing thoughts left and right. Over the past few years, I’ve learned in those moments, to just enjoy the time and not get so wrapped up in the inner frustration of knowing my mind is slipping. It was such a delight to see her and I tried to just focus on those precious moments, plus I did apologize for my forgetfulness so hopefully she understood. I don’t think healthy people always notice us struggling, but those of us with a chronic illness, we know where we were cognitively and where we are now. We know when our brains are giving us nothing, so instead of conversing we simply nod and say thoughtfully ‘mm hmm’. It’s hard not to get mad at my brain, but how can I truly be mad, after all it still reminds me I like chocolate about 30 times a day, I guess maybe it has different priorities. 😉 My second visitor was a quick, but lovely visit with a childhood friend I haven’t seen since the mid-80s. Social media has kept us connected for years, and we do chit chat here and there via IM, so it was so awesome to give her a hug and see her beautiful smile. I’ve mentioned here that my childhood was rather tumultuous, and she too was a part of that so there’s a kinship or sisterhood there, an unbreakable bond, as survivors. It was wonderful to see her. As predicted though, between the two visits, they took me straight to Flaresville, hard, and fast.
I’m not sure about other illnesses, but with MECFS we are always assessing the output vs. repercussion. Will it be worth it? We can’t always determine how bad the flare will be, but we often know one will come. We push, we pay. It’s that simple. I would argue that when it comes to social interactions, introverts pay a little more than extroverts because social interactions were already draining. On the flip side of that, my heart absolutely aches for extroverts with MECFS. Why? Introverts don’t mind curling up, and enjoying the quiet, it’s how we rejuvenate. Extroverts need social interaction to rejuvenate, and with this illness that’s not something that’s as easy to tolerate. Although I can’t pretend to know, it would seem social media is a blessing for extroverts with chronic illness, allowing them to fill their cup as much as possible.
MECFS is a cruel illness, there are just no two ways about it. Humans thrive in communities, where they are not lonely and isolated, and where they are active. Unfortunately, this illness keeps the human body from normally rejuvenating energy, emotional or physical output often comes with a hefty price tag. The night after visiting with my friend I woke up in the night internally trembling, gasping for air, feeling like I was going to faint (if you’re thinking anxiety, nope not anxiety). Why? That’s just something that happens when I overdo it. But why? I don’t know. Someday I hope to, at the very least, know the cause. In this moment, all I do know is that for the last 72 hours I’ve been neck deep in symptoms that have kept me primarily quietly resting in bed. And that’s what needs to be understood about this illness. I had two quick visits, days ago, and I’m still wiped out. I can’t just shake it off and keep going because it makes it worse. My legs feel like I’m barely able to pick them up or move them, my head aches with pressure, and I generally feel pretty awful. I share this not for your sympathy, but to share the reality. In reflection though, I would NOT trade anything for those two treasured visits. This flare will pass, thankfully the cherished memories will stay.
Thank you for stopping in today! Hoping today is treating you kindly, and whether it’s Autumn or Spring where you are, also hoping you are comfortable. A few more doodles this week as I follow along with World Watercolor Group’s daily prompts (seaside.spoonie is my IG acct). And now… I must find some chocolate. 😉