Why I'm Planning an Outdoor Excursion Despite My Fibromyalgia

Today, I am making plans. There is no guarantee I will actually follow through with them, but I persist. Because sometimes having something to look forward to helps me see past the pain and exhaustion, and remember I have a life outside of my condition.

I have loved being outside. Not necessarily doing “outdoorsy” things, although I loved those too, but being outside was a kind of freedom, and I made the most of every second I could get. Summertime, I would often take out a towel, and maybe an umbrella if the sun was particularly hot and bright, and lie out in the yard reading. When I was very small, sometimes the mother would fill a paddling pool for me to splash around in, or a washing-up bowl full of soapy water for me to bathe my toys and wash doll clothes… she would even allow me to hang them out on the washing line to dry, which I loved. There were camping trips where I fell in love with the sound of rain on canvas, and the stirring of the world beyond the tent, and the absolute joy of losing myself in the woods. Later, after I moved away, I would find the nearest park and take walks or find a quiet corner to read, write or draw.

Now, because of my condition and my increasingly poor mobility, I seldom go anywhere. I haven’t walked in the woods since I was a teenager; I haven’t been on a proper camping trip in decades. I haven’t even spent a day at the beach, which was something I used to do when I was overstressed and needed to recharge: just get on a train and head for the coast. I always came back refreshed, even if I was exhausted. I can’t even really remember when I stopped – just that I started to feel that I couldn’t and shouldn’t take the chance that I would end up hurting, exhausted and sick, so I stopped.

But I recently came to a conclusion, and it started me thinking again – very carefully – about the choices I have been making. I understand now that it doesn’t matter where the effort is made, I will always end up exhausted and in pain. Some days, just getting up and putting on clothes can wipe me out for the rest of the day; doing any more than that can leave me suffering for a week. Knowing how that is, and knowing that a day in town running errands and shopping will leave me unable to function for a week, why not take a day and go to the woods? A park? The beach? The end result will physically be the same, but mentally? To have the memory of a day spent in a place I love, and where I was able to let go of some of the weight I carry every day could not only help to push back a little of the depression and lethargy that has begun to creep into every aspect of my day to day, but might actually, as it used to, help soothe some of the chaos in my head, and ease my mental health issues. To feel just a little “normal,” to have the option to do what other people do without even a thought, could actually be a good thing for me

So: I’m making plans. Nothing complicated – there is a bus not so far from my flat that runs every day to the coast. I’m thinking… I can do that. I can get to that bus, I can take that journey, spend even a couple of hours with my toes in the sand, and take the same bus home again. And when I fall into an exhausted sleep that night, likely dosed up on the strongest painkillers I have, it will be with the tang of salt on my skin, the memory of wavelets over my toe, and the scent of the sea still in my nose – and the sense that I did it. I actually managed to give myself a reason to look forward to the next time, however far away it might be.

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