Tiredness is a funny thing, the way that one second I can feel fine, and the next I want to crawl into my bed and never get out again. I know for me that it isn’t just a need to sleep, this kind of tiredness comes from a fatigue. Fatigue used to just be that feeling that my limbs not only couldn’t do anything, they were quite simply dead and I needed, no, had to rest. Over the years, I discovered that sleep wasn’t the answer, it helps, but it isn’t the answer. I could sleep forever, but fatigue doesn’t go until it is ready, it just builds and builds. The longer you live with it, the more it grows, somewhat like an ever rolling snowball, it picks up just the little bit more every day. I know that I have written a post before about the difference between tired and fatigued, and if I say so myself, it was a great post. So why return so soon about something that was written well and describes it fully? Well, because, that post was about that dragging fatigue that holds onto not just our bodies but almost our souls as well. This is about muscle fatigue, something quite different, but without a doubt, rolls over into the more major form.
Recently, I have been finding myself floored but unable to sleep and I don’t remember that happening for years. I still sleep perfectly at night, but it is the afternoons when I now often find myself lying there in a half world. I am on the cusp of sleeping, completely relaxed, but I am totally aware of every inch of my body. I can feel each part of me, even those that appear to be missing and all of those that have their own individual sensation. My body is alive with areas that are numb, others tingling, some that are both and other that are causing me pain. There is nothing there though that is enough to stop me sleeping, but it just doesn’t arrive. It has nothing either to do with my thoughts or an overactive brain, mine is rarely that, but there I lie, with a completely exhausted body, that is craving to just be allowed to shut-down. In the past, I have tried using relaxation techniques against fatigue with little positive effect. Not surprising really, as fatigue, has nothing to do with anything one would call normal, it is far more than tired, far more than muscles that have just been used too much. Neither sleep nor relaxation seems to be a cure for fatigue, it is more a sticking plaster that lets you forget about it for a while.
A few years ago, if you had suggested that I should go to bed and just lie there for an hour or more. doing nothing, I would have refused point blank. My refusal would have been heartfelt, as there was nothing I would have found more difficult, or more horrific a thought, as wasting an hour, lying around being bored. Even if I had tried to, the boredom would have driven me mad in less than fifteen minutes, I would have been up again. So for me to be able to say, that I can now do this with ease and that I actually enjoy that hour of lying there doing nothing, something major has to have changed. It is the absolute truth, that nothing that has happened to me in the past year has surprised me more than this, but there it is, I can now do it. Clearly, I have made a discovery, something that has allowed me to change so dramatically, and yes it does have something to do with fatigue. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I have found a cure, but I would go as far as to say, I have found a real sticking plaster that soothes and doesn’t just distract. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t looking for something to help, I was just looking for sleep and I was working through my relaxation technique in the vain hope of finding sleep, but I found something else.
I have to admit that I have been holding back on writing this, because it does sound kind of silly, but it has helped so many times now, that I feel it’s only right to share it. I had gone to bed one afternoon and my hands were really bad, painful and heavy the typical fatigued muscle feeling. The second I was settled in bed, they started that intense tingling that is just one click away from painful. I had already earlier in the day been sat at my PC, stopping every now and then to massage them, as they felt so knotted and tight. For me, massage is something that rarely helps anything, other than spasms, but it is one of those instinctive actions that you find yourself doing, whether it works or not. When I couldn’t find sleep, and my relaxation system hadn’t worked, I found myself lying there cursing my hands. They were so alive with sensation, that I was sure they were what was blocking my sleep. I decided to work on them again, but this time, instead of just mentally relaxing my whole hand, I went finger by finger. When I reached the ones that hurt the most, I added in what I can only describe as mental massage. In my mind, I imagined gently massaging the muscle and adding rays of warmth. I could think of no reason why it would work, it was intended more as a way of keeping me from getting up, as I knew I really needed the rest, even if I wasn’t going to sleep. To my surprise, when I had completed my entire left hand, the level of complaint, honestly seemed lower, not gone, but a bit better. There was a marked difference between the two hands, that hadn’t been there before. I did the same exercise on my right hand with the same result. I had purposely done all this very slowly as I was time filling after all. When the alarm sounded, I got up and thought no more about it.
Usually in the evenings, I find my hands incredibly painful, especially since I have been in my wheelchair. That evening, yes, they were still painful, but there was an improvement, I didn’t link it at all, until a couple of days later, when the whole thing was repeated, as it has been multiple times since. I decided to test it out on not just painful muscles caused by use, but highly fatigued ones, it works with them too. I have analysed and worked through the whole thing and now, I don’t bother with the imagined heat anymore, that I think was just silly. What I have done, is to have come up with what I think the reason is, and the system that makes it work. I use my relaxations system frequently, so I can now use it with speed and efficiency, for going to sleep. By slowing it all down and really concentrating on making sure that every muscle, rather than just whole limbs, are as relaxed as they can be, not just enough, but totally, is what is reducing the pain. I am more than aware that the technique I use, is used widely, and I am sure that many who use it, like me, has become skilled at relaxing at speed. I suggest strongly, that you slow it down as like me, you might actually be missing a benefit that is there waiting. It is a long way from a cure for fatigued muscles, or that dragging fatigue that goes much deeper, but it is a help, a really good amount of help that makes it worth well. So much so, that I now go for my nap, not caring if I sleep or not, as that hour and a half, is of benefit either way.
I am so convinced of it’s benefits that if I find myself aware of aching muscles during the day, that is now my first stop, rather than just putting up with it. It isn’t a miracle cure, but it does make life just that bit more comfortable and that to me is worth the time I lose. In the past couple of months, all I seem to have done is to slow down everything that I do, to take more rest, relax more and generally, take life at a smoother slower pace. Every time I have tried this in the past, it just hasn’t worked, I guess that I just wasn’t ready for it to, well it does now. It appears, that no matter what it is, just because something hasn’t worked before, isn’t a reason to say it doesn’t work at all. I would strongly suggest that even if you have tried any relaxation techniques in the past and dismissed them, try them again and even again, you might be surprised by what you discover.
Please read my blog from 2 years ago today – 30/10/2013 – Avoiding depression
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