A candle shaped like a distressed, worried, stressed person burns at both ends.

How I Manage Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Chronic Migraine

One of the worst feelings is being so exhausted that my eyes hurt. Most of the time, when I feel this exhausted, I end up being unable to fall asleep. My chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine have unimaginable ways of playing into one another.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition in which a person suffers from extreme fatigue for 6 months or more. Chronic migraine is a condition in which a person suffers from 15 or more migraine days a month – or more days than not.1,2

Does rest help chronic fatigue and migraine?

Both physical and mental activity can be draining to somebody with chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine, much less both conditions. For some people, this is hard to understand. I am sitting down working on my laptop. But my body does not consider this rest because my brain is still busy. I have learned that I need real rest. The type of rest that is restorative for both my mind and body.

What is the 1-to-2 rule?

Before these chronic conditions, I used to burn both ends of the candle at the same time. I have learned that I am not able to live like that anymore. I had a doctor explain a 1-to-2 rule. This means that for every hour of activity, my body needs 2 hours of real rest.

How do I rest?

The 1-to-2 rule helps prevent me from going until I collapse. There are many times that I choose to rest with some hot herbal tea. There is something about a cup of hot tea that I find relaxing. I tend toward herbal teas because they do not have caffeine in them. I try to limit my caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evenings, to not feed my insomnia. Caffeine can also create issues with my chronic migraines.

How do I say "no" to loved ones?

One of the most beneficial things I have ever learned is that it is okay to say no. My family lives close to me. While many people would see this as a benefit, it can be a negative in my case. My family has a way of being demanding.

I vividly remember the first time I got the courage to tell somebody in my family no. I was sitting on my kitchen floor, crying because I was so exhausted and in so much pain. My family has no understanding or appreciation for what I live with every day. They assume I should be able to drop everything and handle any little thing they do not feel like dealing with themselves.

Can it wait?

A key component to saying no is understanding that some things can wait. For example, when grandma decides she wants a sun hat, I do not need to go get it immediately. It is acceptable to say, “I will get it tomorrow,” even if she gets mad. I need to know my limitations, and I need to honor them.

How do I practice self-care?

Some basic self-care items are everyday things. These items include taking a bath or a shower, putting on clean clothes, eating some food, and drinking plenty of water. While this may not seem like self-care to a healthy person, it is for those of us with chronic conditions.

Do you live with chronic fatigue syndrome and chronic migraine? What do you do to get through the day? Have these conditions taught you any lessons?

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