The Chronic Fatigue Hacks That Work For Me
I’ve had several surgeries and, after a lot of trial and error, found the hormonal-based medication that has improved my quality of life, tenfold. Additionally, my pain levels are manageable most of the time. Yet my chronic fatigue is like an annoying house guest that never wants to leave. Whenever the subject comes up at my support group, it is probably the symptom that fellow patients complain about the most, because not only it is very life-disrupting, it’s hard to get rid of or avoid altogether, Plus, it is one symptom doctors seem to discuss very little. So, after years of living with endometriosis I came up with some "hacks" to deal with my chronic fatigue.
I must add that these are not "fixes". They don't get rid of my fatigue, but make it more manageable. They may not work for everyone, but if they can help anyone else, they are worth sharing...
Sunglasses and bright lipstick
I know it sounds like I am doling out fashion advice, but it's not the case. Whenever I suffer from a fatigue flare-up, I develop a very low tolerance for light. Sometimes this develops into a migraine, others I just end up squinting my eyes for hours.
I have had my eyes tested, and have seen my doctor, but they fond zero physical reasons for my discomfort, other than just link it to a massive dip in energy and a need to lie down. Yet because one can’t stay horizontal whenever a flare-up strikes, I regularly wear sunglasses. Not only do they help me tolerate light, they allow me to get away with my sleepy - dare I say zombie - face. I can carry on with my day, eyes half-open, and nobody will tell me how tired I look.
Wearing bright lipstick simply does woes wonders for my emotional health. It adds a pop of color to my otherwise tired complexion, helping me feel better, even if my energy levels are a no show.
Drinking a little bit of coffee
As a good follower of the endo-diet, I banished coffee from my diet for over a year. Caffeine is considered an inflammatory agent and can worsen flare-ups. Since the lack of caffeine seemed to make no difference to my physical troubles, I toyed with decaffeinated for a while. That’s when I realized that what I missed the most was the boost it gave me when I had depleted energy levels.
I now drink a cup of good quality, low-caffeine coffee once a day, every other day. I make adjustments and will have one out of my regular schedule if a flare-up of fatigue strikes. I sometimes substitute coffee for matcha, since it has lower caffeine levels, and the boost it provides is not as dramatic as coffee, lasting longer and with a less pronounced after-dip.
Never powering-through exercise
Exercising aids my mental health, helping me manage my anxiety. So, whenever my body says no to any form of physical activity, it hits me hard. With other symptoms - such as mild pain- I can force myself to exercise, but with fatigue, my limbs feel heavy and painful. Moving energetically can cause me more distress. I now agree to any limits my body sets, and give-up on any exercise. I know that as soon as my energy levels are back, I will get my dose of exercise.
Ordering that cab, jumping on that bus
Most times, a fatigue flare-up feels like a weakening of all of my limbs, paired with brain fog. Sometimes I'm lucky and it happens at home, where I can lie down and take it easy. But if I am out, I will call a cab, or ask a friend for a ride home. Chronic fatigue is physically debilitating. Choosing whatever form of public transport is available is a form of self-care.
Chronic fatigue is not in our heads, it is real. It comes with measurable and tangible symptoms. We are not just tired, and sleeping more won’t cut it. Until there is more research done to determine why endometriosis patients suffer from chronic fatigue, we will be developing our own ways of coping. We won’t be successful every time, but when those little victories do happen, it's us-one, chronic fatigue-zero.
Do you know someone that has made a difference with endometriosis advocacy?