A rapid descent

My usual posts talk about the struggle I face with my mental health. Generally, I post when I am struggling to verbalise what I am feeling inside. There is something about writing it out that makes it so much easier to understand myself, and therefore, I suppose for others to know what I am feeling.

This time though, my mental health is no worse, no harder, no different to any other time I write, and yet I find that I am feeling overwhelmingly sad.

I was at a wedding at the weekend, and as I stood there talking to strangers I realised that the woman who used to exist, the one who loved social anything, who loved to chat to people, always wanted to know peoples stories doesn’t exist anymore. Not because I have drastically changed, but just because I no longer have the energy to find the words to ask questions. Small talk, never a strong suit with me – I prefer to just dive into the deep and meaningful – has become a near impossibility. I meet strangers and either become a loud and over the top character to compensate for the mist in my brain, or I just smile and feel increasingly frustrated that the words that used to be my norm seem entirely lost somewhere in my head.

I have often talked about being exhausted, but these past two months I have experienced what can only be described as a rapid descent into the kind of exhaustion that takes away my words, makes me ache, makes me dizzy all the time, means that my diary has to look like I am verging on lazy and still I cannot keep up.

I am fortunate in an enormous way to have a husband who is willing to take so much more of the load around the house, to carry me to bed when my legs stop working, to give me emotional energy when all I feel is heavy. But I worry about what this state will do to him, to our marriage, to my life.

I can’t say this exhaustion has come on quickly, in fact I would say it started after I had glandular fever aged 16, but I would say the past 2 months have descended so quickly and so suddenly that what was possible even 4 weeks ago is now a no go.

My dr’s are exploring CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) and other related possibilities, and an answer would be great. But really, what I want is for all this to stop. I am TIRED. I don’t want a new battle, a new fight. I don’t want to have to deal with another heavy load. I don’t want to be a victim of anything anymore. I am TIRED. I just want it all to end. For something to change. Exhaustion makes it harder to fight off depression, it makes it easier to become anxious. Exhaustion just makes life slower and harder and longer.

Honestly, I don’t know what my next step is. I don’t believe this is the way it will be, there is some hope in me that expects that in a year I will be fine again, but that niggling voice keeps pointing to the past decade which has only seen my health deteriorate, even as my happiness increases, and leaves me wondering… Will it ever actually end?

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  • Oh Katharine I’m so sorry, I did wonder if cfs (or ME as I tend to call it, fewer letters to get muddled over for a start) was coming into the picture, or rather I was hoping it wouldn’t be. It’s a stinky diagnosis to have &it does make managing mental health so much harder. But, having said that, it is not impossible, I’m so much better mentally than I was &it is possible to improve, albeit slowly, with the cfs. Look up pacing &cfs &try not to do more in a day than you can recover from by next day, if that statement makes sense? If you’re forever doing too much, collapsing in a heap, recovering and repeating the cycle you risk not getting better. Also don’t try to push yourself through it, btdt it ended so badly. Of course there will be times when there is something you either have to do or really want to do, but overdoing it needs to be the exception not the rule. Sorry to sound preachy &downright bossy but getting it wrong has cost me dearly. I hope it turns out to be something simple & easily fixable. If it isn’t the ME Association is by far the sanest of the charities. Praying for you, if you had any questions contact me via @foggyknitter sorry for the essay!

  • I can’t read what you’ve written and not want to give you something to lift you – give you hope. That’s the power of the God we share, that he connects complete strangers with a desire to help one another and share their burdens. I know the place you are writing of and have come through it. Perhaps I will go there again, but I know it can be passed through, that there is live and hope! You’ve a way with words that has encouraged me more than you could know; so I’ve confidence for you that this will pass and you will breath again. For me I learned not so much to fight the tiredness as to nourish my spirit when I could. But that’s a longer story. Just want to say you aren’t on your own. Crazy strangers are praying for grace for you!

  • Amen to the other messages and thanks for sharing. It’s so insightful to have your thoughts and a blessing to be able to read them and offer support to people who feel like you but don’t have the words to explain. Be kind to yourself and remember to know you’re loved. You are NOT lazy. It’s right to rest and pace yourself. May the love of God fill you and give you the energy you need on a minute by minute basis. May you know that you are a precious child of the most high God and made in His image. Thank you for your blog, which despite being sad sometimes to read, is so beautifully written and helps promote the compassion that comes from heaven to make earth a richer place to be. Xxx

  • Katharine, thank you for sharing your struggles in such an honest and open way, I’m deepely touched by your words and by your suffering…
    Thinking of you, xx

  • Hi Katharine, you dont know me but I just read your piece & wanted to give some small encouragement. I was diagnosed with cfs 5 years ago now & have recovered significantly enough to be working & studying now. I do have to watch my energy levels but I’m way beyond where I thought I’d be.
    I just offer that because although the reality is different for each of us & recovery isn’t the same for everyone, there is still hope. When I was diagnosed it felt like a death sentence if I’m honest. I did not want to have to fight, I didn’t have the energy emotionally, to fight it. I just wanted to curl up in a ball and stay there, I used to joke about having a love affair with my bed (although that got taken the wrong way!) Because I spent so much time there.
    I think the point I’ve come to (& currently I’m uncapacitated post op on my back) is that health diagnosis, of any sort, very simply means a shift of perspective. A shift in our life’s focus. When I was diagnosed with cfs it was very difficult not to let that perspective become one that was riddled with anger & frustration, but eventually (& through prayer) my perspective became one where I just saw my expectations of each day simplify. Like I needed to give myself permission to do that. I find the same now with my back, I’ve been off work for 5 weeks with a few more to go but this time I think I was prepared for the necessary shift of perspective & have been far more peaceful in it all. For this period my perspective is focused solely on rest & being able to spend time with the family, when usually I am running round like a headless chicken!
    I think we can so easily define ourselves by illness, or by a diagnosis when, even in pain & exhaustion, we are still precious people, still wonderful individuals, & I think it’s helpful to focus on who we *still* are, even amidst pain & suffering.
    I don’t know if this reply is any help at all, I fear it’s becoming a bit rambly! But do keep hoping, and do keep being you, whatever that looks like in this season. Hebrews 6.19 talks about hope being an anchor for the soul, not in this context of course, but I find that a comfort all the same.
    I’ll be praying for you,

  • I am so sorry Katherine it does sound like CFS/ME as that is something I suffer from as well as depression and you sound just like I feel totally exhausted and you need to rest as pushing yourself will not help it just makes things worse. I will pray for you and please know that God is with you and will carry you even if it doesn’t feel like it.

  • I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts as I dip in to them from time time, always interesting and insightful. I don’t blog and I don’t think I’ve ever replied to one, but I’m moved to do so!

    I share some of your experience, glandular fever at 17 and then diagnosed CFS early twenties and my descent was quick, just a few weeks.

    ME and CFS are both poorly understood but my experience of growing up with a friend who had ME and then later having CFS, is that they are not the same.

    I found it to be a tough experience at time, I spent weeks in bed but I got back out.
    What I’ve found is that I recovered and felt much better but not quite the same level as before. I found that it reoccurred in me every year, but each time it was less and less severe and over time it’s mostly gone.
    When you have CFS you know you have it because you feel broken, but you also don’t know you have it because there are no symptoms as such … You just feel so so tired!
    There is a walk around sherwood Forrest that I did with my wife from time to time. I was coming back up from an attack of it and feeling better we did the walk, and it brought home to me just how real it was because I could measure it and see it. The 4 mile walk that was usually a bit tiring but fun about wiped me out, my wife had to drive home and I went to bed!

    When I first had it I though I would never work again or be normal but I’m at work full time and cycle 60-80 miles a week and even do things in the evening!
    I still suffer from time where my small talk is dead, just too draining to do even though I’m fine, it may be a lasting consequence!

    This crazy stranger will pray for you.

  • Such a tough call and I hope you get a diagnosis soon, it does help. I won’t bore you with my health problems but I have found it useful to develop a tool kit of helpful things to do in bad times to get me through. I have found that it is important to achieve something each day, no matter how small it gives a much better sleep at night! It’s also helpful to tailor what you can do to what ails you. Find a new ‘normal’. At the worst of times I listen to audible books and at better times write, either my blog or books – 2 published so far!

  • Thank you for your words; your last post (MHAW15, May 12th) helped me greatly. Praying for you. Keep on keeping on – when you can.

  • Dear Katharine,

    There’s a lot of crazy strangers out here rooting for you.
    God bless you and all who sail with you,


  • Katharine, I’ve just stumbled across your blog for the first time and was struck and humbled by your openness and honesty. I have had my own experiences with depression & exhaustion, but by the grace of God am doing well now.
    One of the absolute hugest things for me has been finding the Whole30, which is (to briefly sum up) an elimination diet, the point of which is to learn about what possible factors in your particular diet/body are triggering physical and mental illnesses or unwellness. I ended up making some rather radical changes and have been stable ever since.
    I hate being one of those “quick-fix try-what-I-did” people, but honestly my results were so
    overwhelmingly positive (with similar symptoms to what you wrote about) that I felt I simply had to share this with you. You could look up whole30 or their book, It Starts With Food; that might be the next step you said you were looking for.
    Sorry if I’ve butted in with unwanted help! I’m praying as I write this for hope and healing for you.
    -M xx

  • Hello. I’ve just dropped by. I hope you might be feeling a little better weeks on. I’m sorry and I understand the struggle of wanting to be in a different, better place. Keep the hope! x

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