The Mighty Logo

The Difference Between 'Rest' and 'Bad' Days for My Chronic Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Living with an illness is hard. It means being ill. It means constant worry that you’re going to be ill. And it means your life is spent managing your illness to avoid being ill.

You can have days when you feel on top of the world and then the very next day you can struggle to even get out of bed. No one would look at me straight after a one hour exercise class and think that I’d spent the previous day in bed, or would spend the following two days barely able to leave the house. Sometimes, thought, that’s exactly how it is.

Now that’s not to say that an hour-long exercise class always results in two days in bed, because most of the time it doesn’t. But what it does mean is that I have to be really careful about what I do, what I plan, and what I worry about.

A lot of people may not fully understand the difference between a rest day and a bad day – and believe me, it took me a long time to realize there was a difference. When I was first ill, I always saw bad days as rest days and actually, that’s not the case.

So in this post, I am going to go over the differences between the two days and for anyone who, like me, didn’t realize there was a difference. Hopefully this post will help you to manage your illness just a little bit better. This post is also for any family and friends who struggle to understand why someone they know with a chronic illness misses things even when they aren’t ill, and why some days they can wake up and they are suddenly very ill.

On rest days these days, I’m not ill.

I have to have these periodically to make sure I’m not overdoing it and I don’t end up having a bad day. In other words, I take rest days to prevent the bad days.

Rest days are part of managing the illness. If I don’t have them, I risk relapsing.

I plan these into my week or month. They aren’t always a full day, but I try and have at least a one-third of every day to rest, and at least one rest day a week, but two or three if possible.

Although I’m not restricted, I tend to stay in the house for these but I don’t necessarily stay in bed.

I can still do small tasks, such as having a shower, getting dressed, and blogging – as long as it isn’t anything heavy-duty like intense exercise or going to work.

I can move about easily enough, there are no restrictions.

I’m usually in a pretty good mood and often feel quite productive on these days. I use them to catch up on TV, do some extra blogging or take time to read a book.

When I start to feel like my body is giving up on me, I can take a couple of rest days to help prevent a bad day. If I ignore these signs or triggers, it results in a bad day.

On bad days days, I am very ill.

These happen once I have overdone it.

Bad days are a result of not managing my illness properly and I wake up feeling drained and ill.

Bad days are part of the “crash.” They occur if I haven’t taken enough rest days. Usually on these days I am housebound, if not bed bound.

I can’t do much more than lie in bed, sleep, and watch TV. Although, I wouldn’t call staring blindly at the TV watching it.

I can usually make it to the bathroom. It may take a while but I do get there eventually.

Sometimes I can make it downstairs to the sofa and stay there for the day.

Bad days can vary. Sometimes I’m ill in the morning and by three or four in the afternoon, I start to pick up again. Other times I’m wiped out for three or four days at a time.

I can go a few weeks without having a bad day if I’ve managed my illness properly. If I haven’t, then I can easily have bad days every other day.

I don’t plan these into my week or month, but I can feel them coming on when I’ve been doing too much.

I really hope these points have helped you out. I know from experience, as soon as I realized the difference between the two, managing my illness became a whole lot easier. It is such an important factor to establish when you have a chronic illness, otherwise you can start to feel like your whole life is just one big relapse.

Follow this journey on Live With Me.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock Image By: CentralITAlliance


Originally published: April 18, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home