Nature Restores the Energy That Myasthenia Gravis Depletes
Birds twitter. Tall grasses dance in the wind. Alligators stare intently from the far bank of the creek.
I’m in a corner of the earth that helps me escape from all the worries on my mind. My phone stays silent and out of sight, and I carry with me only a book, or a journal and a pen. Except for children passing me on the trail, or an occasional biker, I’m all alone.
When I’m immersed in nature, I can forget how difficult it is to get up in the morning, still not feeling rested. My legs cramp all night, and my body aches constantly, except for the few times I’m able to fall asleep. I never know whether my symptoms are side effects of myasthenia gravis (MG) or the medications I take.
It’s a feat to talk myself out of bed each morning and start boiling the water for my coffee. An even bigger feat is managing to get out of the house to devote time to myself in the unbuilt landscape, where I don’t feel like I’m being judged because of the limitations my disease puts on me.
I have felt recently that I don’t have enough spoons — or energy — to fulfill even the minimum tasks needed for subsistence. The spoon theory was developed as a way of thinking about how to meet goals when you live with chronic pain that saps your energy. For me, one duty completed on my to-do list means most other responsibilities likely remain unfinished.
I have been dedicating all my energy to meeting my goals. I do this out of a sense of guilt that I’m not being as productive as I should be. I also tend to think that the only way I will ever be able to accomplish my goals is to throw all my spoons at them at once. But then I end up with no energy for anything else — even enjoying myself or walking in nature.
I’m realizing that my strength and energy levels are less important than striking a balance between meeting my goals and enjoying myself. I know I can find the strength — it’s really just a matter of prioritizing my time.
Noticing how much energy MG grants me each day, and being intentional about how I use it, can prevent me from feeling burned out. I have underestimated the benefit of escaping into nature. It doesn’t deplete my energy, but restores it, leaving me feeling renewed. And it’s good for my personal improvement and intellectual enrichment.
Leave the dishes, work, laundry, and grocery shopping for later — without feeling guilty. With MG, working until we are burned out only means it will take longer to recover, leaving us with no energy for anything else. I am learning to set some spoons aside to get outside for a walk, stick my nose in a book, or watch the sunset. We all should.
Doing these things will help me reach my goals in better shape than working myself to exhaustion would. And I hope to enjoy myself along the way.
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