A meme floating around Facebook says something like: “I’m not a night owl or an early bird, I’m more like a permanently exhausted pigeon.” Each time I read it, I laugh out loud. Not necessarily because I find it funny, but more so that I relate to it so much that if I don’t laugh, I’ll probably cry.
You would think that napping would be a regular and easily justifiable part of my routine as a permanently exhausted pigeon. But in reality, it’s the source of my most regular internal conflict.
Napping is necessary with lupus, and yet in my head, it’s still nothing more than a necessary evil that I’m reluctant to indulge in. But taking the time to rest my body is far from being indulgent, and no one would begrudge me for taking care of my health. It’s all in my head, all these negative feelings about napping, and they stem from the months after my diagnosis.
I remember what it was like to be bound to a horizontal bodily state from sheer lack of energy. It’s crushing. Although my mind is still functioning at the speed of light, the mere transition to sitting upright is too much effort for my weary body to muster. And I can’t forget that there are still chores to do, food to cook, and an endless list of things I could be doing instead of resting, but which aren’t possible. There is nothing left in the tank, not even fumes.
Each time I find myself thinking about taking a nap, I have a flashback of lying on the couch in my living room in 2016, watching TV. On the way home from work, I had planned a short list of things I wanted to accomplish in the evening, but I took a moment to sit on the couch. I soon found myself stuck lying there for hours. A “Law & Order” marathon was on, and I remember thinking about just how sick I was of watching pictures flash across a screen, how sick I was of being stuck in a state that was almost like conscious sedation.
Though that memory may not seem overtly traumatic to anyone else, it was a truly difficult and defining moment in my life. I sat back to imagine the rest of my life like that: my mind turning to mush in front of one TV screen after another, living in a constant cloud of lethargy as the life I dreamed of ran into the sunset, with no way for me to catch it.
Each time I need a nap, the sinking feeling of that particular moment in my life haunts me. I can’t help but think about all the naps lupus has forced me to take, and what could be done with the thousands of extra hours I’ll lose in my lifetime.
At the end of the day, the only person who loses is me, and I’m only defying the inevitable. I know I need naps. The thing is that I know how important naps are for someone with lupus, and I know that, ironically, they’re the key to being productive. Yet, I still struggle to justify them to myself nearly every day.
I can accept that I’m not like everyone else. I can accept my role as one of life’s permanently exhausted pigeons. But I don’t know how to look at all the time I’m losing to lupus fatigue and be 100 percent OK with it. I don’t know how to remember that moment in my life and come to terms with the fact that it likely will be a constant my entire life.
Do you struggle with taking naps or with a particularly unorthodox aspect of your fatigue? Let me know in the comments section below.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.