Living life with the parking brake on
I often feel like I am living life with the parking brake on. If you drive a car and have ever started accelerating with the parking brake on, you will know the feeling! That dragging, almost backwards pull… That’s what this fatigue is like. (Or riding a bicycle with the brakes stuck on).
I am trying to move forward, but something is trying extremely hard to push me back, to keep me stuck in one place. Somedays it is like the parking brake is on ever so gently, and I can move fairly well, I can get things done. Other days it is as though the strongest person alive has pulled that brake on, and continues to hold onto it to ensure its grasp, its hold over me, and I can barely move forward at all. Most days, however, it is as though I only took the parking brake off halfway. It is still half on; I am still somewhat stopped; partly glued to the spot. It is slowing me down but not stopping me. It feels like it is dragging me back, but I can still move forward. And move forward is what I do. Fatigue may have a hold on me, but I have the wheel.
Walking through mud or honey are other examples I have previously used, along with The Spoon Theory but I like the parking brake analogy much more. It depicts the variable nature of the fatigue as well as its strength and its ability to all but paralyse us. I like the analogy. But I hate the feeling.
Fatigue is awful. Living life with the parking brake on is awful, and indescribably frustrating. It requires a lot of planning and forward thinking. It requires skills in analysis, time management, activity management and pacing. These are skills that not everyone will have to learn in life. Therefore, not everyone will fully understand the impact of our fatigue, as willing as they may be to try.
But to those of you who intimately know what I’m talking about, I just want to say: even rolling inches forward is better than staying stuck, right? Keep trying to move forward even if life (your fatigue) is doing its darnedest to stop you. Hang in there: maybe tomorrow will be a ‘light-parking-brake’ kind of day.
How have you successfully explained your fatigue to others?
Would you try the ‘living life with the parking brake on’ analogy? Let us know how you go!
Michelle is a Senior Occupational Therapist working solely with adults with hypermobility and related conditions. Michelle is the owner of Hypermobility Connect, an online platform for people with hypermobility to connect with resources, health professionals & each other. Michelle practices OT in her private practice and provides education to health professionals relating to hypermobility conditions.