I’m not sure if physical energy is the right word for this but I just wanted to make a post about the different kinds of energy we use up every day that you don’t actually notice if you don’t have a chronic illness. Physical energy is the obvious stuff like exercise and going shopping, the surprise for me when I was first ill was how much energy is used when you don’t actually feel like you’re using any.
Cognitive energy can be used up in different ways, like different levels of activity use up different amount of physical energy. Smaller things can be having a conversation with someone or listening to a book, larger activities that are more obvious can be things like watching a new TV show or movie, having a conversation when there are a lot of people around with other conversations going on. It tends to be that the more focus you need for an activity the more cognitive energy you use.
Cognitive energy is very hard to judge until you know your limits, it took me a long time to figure out that watching new TV shows took up more energy than I thought it did and I still don’t have the energy to combine the physical and cognitive energy needed to watch a movie and it’s a struggle to sit and have a meal with family when there are conversations going on around me.
This background sound is something you don’t really notice when you’re not ill, things that make you share your concentration or distract you from whatever it is you’re actually doing at the time can make a big difference to how much energy you use in everyday situations.
I guess I’m mainly writing this post as people don’t seem to understand how much energy simple things take and I think that talking about these things that seem obvious when you’ve lived with ME for a while can help others who don’t know what it feels like to understand. I don’t know if that’s right or not but as it’s ME Awareness Week I thought I’d post it anyway.
At the moment I find that cognitively I’m higher up the ability scale than I am physically (not that I’m sure how much use those things are as they’re pretty general but they work in this context and that’s another post). I also have to choose between spending a couple of hours working on my assignments and degree course work or going shopping for half an hour in a town ten minutes away. Also physical activity at the moment takes a lot more out of me and I have to rest before and after for a day or two to recover. This is something that’s different for everyone, some people can do more physically than they can cognitively or they may be pretty equal.
I know this is a pretty short post and it got a bit rambly but I wanted to post something about it as it’s something that I’ve found a lot of people I know, even those I’ve known a long time, don’t seem to realise about energy levels when it isn’t doing something physical.