Thursday, April 16, 2015

Equal and Opposite is a Hard Law to Follow

Sir Isaac Newton image found here

Today,  I'm thinking about Newton's third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction


Good old Sir Isaac certainly did not have autoimmune fatigue in mind when apples were dropping on his head and he was busy discovering the laws of physics. But his third law applies equally well for my personal Julia energy equation as it does for any other object:  For every day in which I expend significant amounts of time being IN MOTION, I need equal amounts of time in which I need to provide a reaction which is the OPPOSITE OF MOTION.

Translation? One busy day needs another to recharge. If you're thinking that you've read multiple posts from me that address this same reality, you're right. And, if you're thinking that it's taking me forever to simply accept this absolute, irrefutable, and undeniable fact, you're also right.

Yesterday's shopping and lunch and pie outing with Bev left me spending a low key day at home today. And while I have grudgingly come to accept the need for rest, still I find myself grumping around feeling constrained by this reality. In order to replenish my energy stores, sometimes I need to just crawl in bed and sleep. But more often, I can recuperate by just hanging out at home with intermittent periods during which I put my feet up. When I'm sleeping, obviously I don't have an awareness of feeling frustrated, but when awake....ah. That's the time that even after an entire decade of life modifications to accommodate Sjogren's syndrome, I still more often than not find myself still resenting the need to rest.

But there's no way around Newton's 3rd. None at all. The only thing I can do to balance this law of physics equation is cave to my body's requirements which means to simply rest. But - rest is boring, let's admit it, and being bored is a very dangerous frame of mind for me since it easily can lead me down a rabbit hole of self-pity, thinking wistfully of pre-Sjogren's days, and just wallowing in generalized crankiness.

This is not an enjoyable experience.  Pitching a fit only digs a deeper hole into my energy deficit.


Yes, I'm a slow learner, really I am. But after ten years I've developed a weirdo strategy that with some frequency keeps me from teetering head first into the dreaded woe-is-me energy sapping black hole. It's a two part plan:

First: I STOP.

My initial necessary action to pull myself out of a gloomy void is to quickly bring an image to mind. I visualize anything that will indicate a need to STOP dwelling on negative emotions. I imagine various things, such as a giant vivid stop sign, or sharply reining in a horse, or hitting the brakes on Goldie. Sometimes I imagine myself grabbing my Bratty Inner Child Julia and forcibly restraining her. BICJ is a real persona, people. (I know. It's weird. But you guys already know what I'm like.) She's actually pretty entertaining on the occasions when I unleash her in a bakery during a chocolate cake craving. But more often than not, BICJ drives behaviors that I would be far better off avoiding. Throwing tantrums because I have Sjogren's syndrome is one of her favorite things, so imagining myself neutralizing her in a bear hug is strangely therapeutic. And weirdly comforting.

Second: I FOCUS

Once I have my inner child secured, I imagine dragging her physically back into the immediate now, even if she's kicking and screaming and dragging her heels.

How's that for an interesting mental picture?

I know all too well my inclinations to dwell on the past and better, healthier days which inevitably leads to feelings of loss. While I'm not always successful, willfully placing my consciousness squarely in the present moment is a valuable tool to lighten my mood. I look around and take stock:

Am I in a safe place? Yes.

Is there a watertight roof over my head? Yes.

Do I have food available to me? Yes. Far too much, as a matter of fact...

Is my pain moderately controlled at the moment? Yes.

You get the idea. I encourage myself to follow this line of reasoning as far as I can.

Do I have a cozy place to rest? Yes.

Do I have a snuggly schnauzer to nap with? Do I EVER. 

Did I notice that the flowers that I bought for Easter two weeks ago, are still unbelievably beautiful? Hey. They are!

Isn't it amazingly awesome that somehow I helped create a daughter that can do extraordinary things that I could not possibly have done even in good health? Amen, sistah!

She's knitting a honey bee blanket that's perfect on BOTH SIDES. Whoa. 

Do I have something to look forward to? Heck yeah. Terese and I have an outrageously fun day planned tomorrow.

Breathe, Julia. Just breathe. Do you realize that the past is gone and the present doesn't exist yet? And that all you have right now is this moment in time? And that all you have to do to deal with autoimmune fatigue is quit acting like your Bratty Inner Child Julia and rest? Life at this particular moment in time is good. That's all. Awww shucks. I guess so.

Whew. Glad I paid a moderate amount of attention in my physics classes.


Anonymous said...

I can only hope to get to where you are. After 2 years of Sjogrens, I still keep hoping it will all go away and I'll be normal & healthy again. Of course when that doesn't happen I get very depressed. It's mostly a constant state for me since I'm stuck home alone all the time. I really admire you for your strength and perseverance.

Anonymous said...

Wow Julia, this is exactly what I needed! After reading this something clicked. I do tend to be somewhat analytic so maybe I needed to approach my understanding of the fatigue from a more scientific perspective. Haha.
Fatigue is my most consistently debilitating symptom and something I have spent a great deal of time in therapy working to accept. My inner child isn't so much bratty as she is whiny and when she gets unhappy I now recognize that she riles my berating inner mother who insists if the WIC would just get up and do something she'd feel better, or another favorite when she's especially frustrated with the whining, "for the love of all that's holy, just snap out of it". The WIC nor the BIM are doing me any favors in learning how to live with and accept my physical limitations. If I can learn to embrace my WIC as you've learned to embrace ("bear hug") your BICJ I'm sure it will help me feel better in general, as well as quieten my BIM. And that will greatly increase my ability to figure out what exactly it is that I need in the present moment to nurture and care for myself.
For whatever reason, today after reading your post, I think I finally understand why this has been so difficult for me and what I need to do going forward. Thank you! I feel like I should send you a check for the therapy break through ;) You ROCK!

Amy Junod said...

Great post- such sage advice.
Your daughter has an amazing talent! Such beautiful work! I'm in awe.

LM said...

Ah yes...excellent advice. I find myself in this pity-party more than I should admit. It is very frustrating (and the thing I struggle with the most) that I cannot do what I used to, no matter how much I want to.
Sometimes I push it just a little further, and a little more, just a tad... until I am jarred back into reality and must rest for a few days and am reminded of what happens if I 'misbehave'.

I recently lost my gentle, sweet, golden-girl, my dog. My heart is so broken over my girl. She gave me 15 years of love and joy and I selfishly wanted so much more. Alas, she couldn't stay with me on this earth. I just know she'll be waiting for me one day. Snuggle on that sweet pup of yours and spoil her just a bit more. They add so much to our lives and they here for such a short time.

I have much to be thankful for and usually by stopping to count those blessings, I am reminded of what is important and what I should be grateful for. Thanks for a kindly reminder!

(Lovely blanket, quite a talent your daughter has.)