One thing that I often forget after having ME for so long is how some of the things that take me so much energy are actually time and energy saving things for other people. One example of this is eating out. My family has never been one of those to go out and eat all that often, I guess living in a village without a pub probably helped with that as it’s a bigger thing to drive somewhere than just walk down the road. I sort of only really realised how often some people eat out since being ill, it’s like it’s sometimes a case of ‘I don’t feel like cooking, let’s eat out’ as a last minute thing.
To me, and I think this is something that is similar for a lot of people with ME, there are so many steps for this small thing that affect us that it becomes this ‘big event’ whether it is or not. When getting dressed and ready takes energy then things like sitting in the car, walking to the restaurant and waiting of finding a table are all energy draining to some extent too. Then things in the restaurant; too much light, or too little, conversations going on around that can be distracting and draining and having to sit up in chairs that often don’t have that much support, they all take energy. I know they do to people without invisible illnesses too but it’s a lower percentage of the overall energy taken in the day so this small thing of sitting and eating lunch or catching up with friends that is part of a shopping trip or something that is surrounded by other activities for most people is the only thing we can do in the day sometimes. And then there’s the knock on effect afterwards of having to pay for this for a day, maybe three or four or even a week for some people.
All of this does vary person to person, I know some of the things that don’t take me much energy take a lot for other people and some people can do things I can’t without it having too much of an effect. Part of it is learning what we can do but events like going out will always have some kind of knock on effect.