chronic fatigue / Living fully / mental health / Spoonie Challenges / Working

Do you have a fatigue budget?

The other day, a buddy of mine and I were discussing how the slightest medical procedures or even routine vaccinations can greatly impact our chronic fatigue symptoms. We can lose spoons just like POOF!

I told my friend that having more time alloted to their fatigue budget would really help. Then I explained how in my case, I always plan for days before and/or after an event or procedure, to allow my body recovery time. It’s the most effective way I can meet my commitments and duties to my health.

Now if I could only remember to practice what I preach. In fairness to myself, I do manage brain fog…

It’s important for me to keep in mind that my fatigue budget also applies to my writing and editing careers. This year I edited several works from amazing authors. I also did something I hadn’t expected—after completing my goal for Camp NaNoWriMo, I sent my second book, The Stealth Lovers, to beta readers. Then they got back to me quickly. So, instead of waiting until my planned deadline for November, I incorporated the comments and submitted the finished manuscript in July to my publisher, Renaissance. The book got accepted in October! In late summer, my BFF Talia Johnson and I started work on the call for submissions for the Nothing Without Us anthology. Since October, we’ve been evaluating short stories.

November arrived, and with it, NaNoWriMo. Because my second book was now in the hands of Editing, I decided to work on my third novel. November 1 came. I wrote nothing. November 2 came. I still wrote nothing. By the third day it hit me—I was totally out of writing spoons. When I realized I needed a respite from crafting words, it’s like I freed myself. I knew I had the spoons to continue reading short stories, but not to write fresh new content for myself. I also realized I needed to take a break from editing other works until January 2019. Giving myself the option of stopping was like an early Christmas present.

Sometimes we Spoonies are so used to “pushing through” things, because let’s face it, if we didn’t, then we’d do exactly nothing. But people like me can lose the instinct to know when to slow down or desist altogether, and we crash. Hard. This is why being conscious of a fatigue budget is so vital to our mental and physical health.

ID: Living space with window. Feet up in a relaxed position, clad in warm slippers. 
Text reads: Self-care is an accomplishment
ID: Living space with window. Feet up in a relaxed position, clad in warm slippers.
Text reads: Self-care is an accomplishment

I’m now going to try harder to look at everything in my life and make sure I have adequate rest periods. I can accomplish so much more if I take my self-care seriously. It’s just as important as my other accomplishments. I want to be a wise Spoonie, not a reckless one. I also love writing, so burning out that part of my brain is not a good option for me.

Sometimes it’s healthy not only to stop, but also to take time to review what we’ve done. Hey, I wrote another book, and it’ll be published! That’s kind of a big deal. I’m not a book-churning machine. I’m a disabled author who’s affected both in my body and my brain function. Writing 1000 words is a big deal for me, so why not celebrate an entire novel of about 100K words for a few months while I recoup?

Compare yourself only with yourself. And maybe even compare present you with present you, and not with distance-past you.

Love yourself. Create a fatigue budget that suits you, with help from trusted medical providers. Then follow it. 

If you’re anything like me, your brain and body will thank you for it.

Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm (Renaissance) and The Stealth Lovers (Renaissance, 2019). Her short story, A Night at the Rabbit Hole, appears in the Alice Unbound Beyond Wonderland anthology (Colleen Anderson, Exile Editions). Another short story, The Hilltop Gathering, will be included in the We Shall Be Monsters anthology (Derek Newman-Stille, Renaissance) in the late fall of 2018. 

Teaming up with sensitivity editor Talia C. Johnson, Cait is co-editing the Nothing Without Us anthology, a collection of short stories that feature protagonists who identify as disabled, Deaf, blind, neurodiverse, Spoonie, and/or who manage mental illness.

A bit of a social media junkie, Cait can be found on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. She also has an author website and is the creator/editor of the Spoonie Authors Network. If you need editing services, visit her biz, Dynamic Canvas Inc.

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