I found a gem of a post called 'Illness Etiquette', on the Abide Site, a blog focusing on CFIDS and Fibromyalgia. Some of you have been ill and will relate immediately, as I did. Some of you who haven't yet faced a health crisis that changed your life, well maybe this will be informative. Whatever your health background it, this post is worth a read.
One of the hardest concepts for me to explain to people is 'hitting the wall' with CFIDS in simple conversation or in cognitive chores. It's easy to understand being tired briefly after an intense physical activity, but not a mental task. I can start out a conversation feeling clear, 'normal', etc and, depending on how talkative the other person is, or how many different ideas they're throwing at me at one time, I start to fade slowly at first, then it hits. My mind is fuzzy. I can't follow what they're saying. I need to close my eyes and be quiet.
I've worked long hours until I dropped in the past, taken 26 mile bike rides, sailed all night with no sleep in rough seas. No fatigue, both mental and physical, has ever been his intense or this long lasting after a rest.
Most of my long time friends understand and respect this, but many still can't understand. If I say, on the phone, that I've reached my limit, I'm serious. I've reached it. I can't go through a ten minute, 'let me tell you one more thing' bit at the end. I've crashed. I need to go. Goodbye. Ta ta. Unfortunately, I've had to make the decision not to talk on the phone with some people for that reason. They've never gotten it and my explanation hits deaf ears. Fortunately, enough people DO get it. And it's much appreciated! Ditto for my working on things such as this blog, answering email, etc. I go to a point where not only does my mind no longer function clearly, but my fingers refuse to follow commands and I start typing gibberish. One reason I also rarely do IM. I hit the wall, then have to type repeatedly that I have to stop as the other person continues to type away, ignoring three 'I have to stop now' messages. When that happens, I have no choice but to simply type goodbye and sign off.
That blasted wall. I'm hitting it right now.