Tuesday, February 3, 2015

You think you're nearer your destination when in fact you're slip-sliding away

So. You may or may not have noticed, but I failed to blog yesterday. I try to keep a M-W-F schedule, but yesterday... yesterday was one of those days.

In the course of my disease, there are some things I’ve learned that are going to happen. These things happen with the best, most effective medication. There is no real way to predict when it’s going to happen, but it’s most frequently on days after days that I’ve spent a lot of energy, either mentally or physically.

These “things” of which I speak are mostly days on which I can’t—or don’t—do anything. I mean anything. I laid on the couch from 8:30 am till 5:50 pm, only getting up to go to the bathroom or, at about 3:30, pour myself a bowl of cereal (technically my breakfast). I had a cut on my thumb, and the neosporin was about two inches out of my reach, and I just couldn’t be bothered to reach over and get it. I’m slightly amazed that I got up the motivation required to turn on Netflix. I didn’t open my laptop to read my comics or Tumblr.

That level of apathy is, I feel, incomprehensible to a normal, healthy person. I think that that kind of behavior is associated with depression, but for me, it’s not. I’m not depressed. There were moments, yesterday, that I was like, “Elly, you really should eat something. Elly, you could be doing something more fun,” but the fact that I wasn’t eating or having any fun didn’t really bother me.

I spent months and months, possibly years, getting really angry at myself, frustrated, and pretty freaked out when this sort of thing would happen. Then I got therapy, coincidentally with a therapist whose mom has MS, and she helped me understand a few things. These things have been key to not descending into misery and guilt.

  1. Blaming and punishing myself doesn’t help anything. If anything, it makes it more likely to happen.
  2. Sometimes days like that are going to happen, and the most healthy thing to do is acknowledge it and deal with it as it comes, like you would a headache. One doesn’t blame oneself for a headache, or feel guilty for not powering through it, so why should I do that with my fatigue?
  3. It’s a real biochemical thing, not a choice I’m making. Not being able to force myself to get up and be productive isn’t a failing any more than not being able to grow wings and fly.

So I deal with it, and I am kind to myself when it happens, but I won’t pretend it’s a blessing or something to have an unannounced “relaxation” day.

Because it’s not relaxation. There’s a large difference between fatigue and relaxation, which is a thing that a lot of people really fail to understand. It’s a day completely lost. It’s like going to sleep on Sunday night and waking up Tuesday morning. I’m not more rested, really (metaphor aside), and that’s a day of my life that’s gone. The chili I was going to make, the shopping trip I was going to do, those things are still not done. And now there are more things that need doing. (For example, today I’m going to write 4,000 words.) And thinking about that makes things seem overwhelming. I don’t know if this is normal, but a lot of days, the only way I get anything done is to approach it with baby steps, or I don’t get off the couch.

And to me, that’s scary.

Anyway, I don’t want to focus on that, because today is another day.

I am writing as soon as I post this blog. I made a lot of progress over the week, and I’m super excited about that. My current word count is 11,180. I feel like the pacing of my story is good and that I’m going to have more than enough content to reach and surpass 50k, hopefully 75k. Of course, that’s hard to see from here, but I’m getting better at gauging stuff like that. NaNo and the revision have really helped me get a handle on pacing and how much content is actually in a thousand words.

Somehow, this story is very writable. Before I started it, I was writing a different story (which I find I can’t really describe in a sentence), and I would struggle for every word. When last I wrote, my word count was 38,640, and it felt like at least three times that, based solely on how long I spent writing it and how much mental anguish went into it. Despite the fact that my writers’ group was enjoying it and giving me kudos, I hated it more and more every time I wrote. This story isn’t like that; for all my insecurities, I still write like a house afire when I can focus long enough to do it.

And that is exciting, and encouraging. We’ve got writers’ group this weekend and I’m very excited for it, even though, as I’ve said in other posts, feedback on a work in progress is only so helpful.

So, do you have hard days? Are you making progress on your stories or revisions? Let me know in the comments!


Karen said...

I take that as a yes, so recreating:

Firstly, you write SO MANY words. Wow. I am happy for you!

Secondly, on the hard day things. I am familiar with the feeling of cannot DO anything. For me it always comes after I have had an unusually hard or social day, when I have exhausted all the spoons I have and gone negative into my spoon account. I physically/mentally cannot do anything until spoons regenerate - and if I try to force myself too, it makes regenerating take longer. And it's frustrating because it doesn't even feel like productive rest. I just lay there, maybe managing to turn on the tv.

I did not know it happened to other people. Thank you for sharing that it does.

Elly said...

*hugs to Karen* Yet another way in which we are weirdly alike.