Monday, June 3, 2013

Chronic Illness And Decision Fatigue

I am a notoriously terrible decision maker.  Just ask my boyfriend.

But the reality is, I am good at making the big decisions, but when it comes to things like what to make for dinner or where to go, I just don’t care.

I mean, I do care, but I don’t.  Because to me, those little things don’t matter so much.

As chronically ill people, we make so many decisions.  All the time.  And most of the time, they are big important things that can really impact our lives.  Like medications, procedures, you name it. 

And the thing is, by the time I’ve made all of the important decisions, I don’t feel like having to make more decisions.  

It’s decision fatigue. 

And I have a feeling that a lot of us with chronic illnesses experience this. 

Decision fatigue can happen to anyone, but seems particularly apt in the case of chronically ill people.

Being the Type-A-er that I am, I have always had a hard time saying “no”.  In the past, this has caused me to overcommit, to the point of being extreme.

Over the past year, however, I think I have done a better job of saying “no” to things or skipping things that would be an energy suck that are not worth it. 

Mainly, though, I have had a significant amount of time where I’ve been unable to function, which has necessitated clearing my schedule of everything but the most necessary things that I have had to do. 

This, of course, ebbs and flows, but there are times when my body says “no” for me.  When I don’t have any other choice but to say “no”. 

And it is still hard for me to say “no” or to admit that I can’t do everything and have to pick my tasks wisely. 

And sometimes, even when you want to do something and you do it, you have to be okay with the consequences.  

I have to accept the fact that when I fly to New York on Thursday evening, have an event there on Friday, and fly back to Michigan on Saturday morning (necessitating getting up at 6 a.m.), I am going to pay for it.  But it was totally worth it.

There are other times, though, when doing something just isn’t worth the price you pay. 

And that’s why we have to pick our battles and commitments wisely.
There are certain things I won’t give up on, no matter what.

But there are other things that just aren’t worth the cost.  

This is a really hard fact to accept.  And I’m totally sure I’m there yet.  But every time I overdue it, my body rebels.  And reminds me that I’m sick and don’t have unlimited energy stores. 

So many of us suffer from regular fatigue, and I guess decision fatigue is just another part of being chronically ill.


  1. Your words are exactly how I feel today. Decision fatigue us a great way to put it. Something as dumb as picking a movie on makes me crazy! Can I share this on facebook? It's a great post.

  2. I'm getting a lot better at saying no to things that aren't worth it. I have a really big problem saying no to things that are interesting and fun, though. Currently completely overcommitted with really interesting things. Looking forward to learning the lesson much better. ;)