I'm not anti-social, I'm just tired. Honest.
We skimmed across the water in our 9’ inflatable dinghy after spending the morning onshore helping another cruiser launch his sailboat. And we worked for a bit while using the Wi-Fi at the marina coffee shop. The sky a brilliant blue, a light wind rippling the waves and sending salty droplets onto my face. It was just past noon.
Between us and Ingenium, our sailboat and full-time home, was another sailing vessel that had recently anchored. We’d been meaning to say hello since they arrived yesterday.
“Shall we stop in and say hi to Juniper?” my husband John asked, pulling the steering arm of the outboard motor and taking us on a new course toward the dark-hulled sailboat.
I wanted to. I really did. I wanted to be the welcoming, open person I used to be, making new friends and being a good neighbour. And it is Friday, which, back when I was corporately-employed, used to be a regular day for socializing, gathering at a local pub or lounge with co-workers after a good week’s work. But I just couldn’t.
Or rather, I chose not to. I did what I’m getting better at, which is reading my body and the state of my fibromyalgia. And I knew that the cost of making that little stop, on top of everything else jockeying for a piece of my energy, would mean I wouldn’t have enough oomph left over for other priorities. I'm not anti-social, I'm just tired. This sounds all woe-is-me, but I’m actually celebrating.
My Energy Assessment Process
I realized I’ve learned to regularly employ a process that helps me decide when I can spend energy and when I need to conserve. Thereby mitigating, or avoiding altogether, horrible fibro-flares. I call them crashes. And they are not fun.
Here’s what I do:
- Run a quick scan of how my body feels, head to toe and back up again. I assess the level of energy stored there, project forward a few hours and try to estimate whether I’ve got enough left for what needs to be done.
- Pay attention to any heaviness in my muscles. It’s one of the elements of my fatigue. When they feel really heavy I know I’m down to the bottom of my vitality rations.
- Take a deep breath and feel how much effort it takes, and whether it eases any of the heaviness in my muscles. That tells me whether I can breathe through it, or if I need more than a burst of oxygen to pursue the choice in front of me.
- Check in with my brain and look for brain fog, and feel how much it would take to summon up the smile, the hello, and engage in the small talk.
- Weigh the importance of the social event: if it had something to do with my son, or my dad, or my sister, or John or his girls, I’d suffer a lot more energy loss before saying no. If it’s something of less import, I can more easily pass.
I’m Responsible for Managing My Illness
No one ever knows I pull out this little checklist before I decide whether it’s the right time to engage in social activity. Frankly, that’s not the point. Some may judge me as being anti-social, and I suppose in some ways it’s true. I may be behaving in an anti-social way, but it is what I have to do to take care of myself. I’m not anti-social, I’m just tired.
John gets our dinghy back on course for Ingenium across the bay. We ease up to the port side of the boat, and I summon up the strength to haul myself out of the dinghy, onto the step and up onto the deck. John tells me, as he always does, not to worry about bringing any of the heavy items on board, that he’ll take care of them. And then, I head to the forward cabin for a nap.