Gardening with ME: weather and energy

You could say I’ve been missing presumed tired in the garden this month. I’m aware that End of Month View is coming up and I feel I have little to report.

As mentioned in a previous post, I was travelling for much of September and this has meant I’ve had to spend much of October resting. Whilst I’ve started to recover mental energies, physically I still am exhausted. For example, after having a shower I need a hour of rest just to get back from complete exhaustion to general exhaustion.

In the last few days I have felt like I could do a little bit in the garden. I did manage to pick some of the beans I spoke about in the French Beans post, picking for 10 minutes, resting for 20 minutes, picking for another 10 minutes and so forth, over the space of 1.5 hours. They aren’t all picked, and I know I need, and want to pick them, but I’ve been holding off. I’ve finally worked out why. It’s the weather.

I wouldn’t consider myself a fair weather gardener. In the past (pre ME) I’ve definitely been out there in freezing weather and downpours. Gardening in colder weather uses more energy, and this is the case for people who are well, let alone people who have ME/a chronic illness. Battling the elements and the temperature slows you down, and you have to put more physical, and mental, energy, into getting any task done in these conditions. When you have a chronic illness you only have so much energy, and using some of your energy to deal with the weather means a lot less remains for gardening.

The cold wind and grey skies have been putting me off. Part of me has hoped that the next day might at least be sunny, even if cool. Sunshine always makes it easier to garden! But the next day arrives and it’s the same as the day before.

So tomorrow, as long as I feel I have a bit of energy, I’m going to bite the trowel and get myself out in the garden, regardless of the sky being blue or grey. I might only be out there for two 10-minute sessions with 20 minute breaks inbetween, but at least I will have got out there and gardened. Because I’ve remembered that even if it is cold and grey, and this sucks up quite a bit of the little energy I have, I will enjoy having been in the garden. And I’ll feel good about it after when I’m back in bed having a recovery nap.

UPDATE Monday 27th October: Despite another grey cloudy day, I encouraged myself to get out there and in a short time I got the beans picked. It was worth it. Happiness. Now for a rest 🙂

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I welcome your comments and thoughts. And if you blog about gardening with ME/a chronic illness, link to this post in your blog, and leave a comment below with a link to your post, so we can all find each other.

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6 thoughts on “Gardening with ME: weather and energy”

  1. I also have problems with my muscles, nowhere near as bad as you, but it certainly cuts down on how much gardening I can do. I don't think the doctors are sure of what is wrong with me, at the moment I am being treated for Fybro myalgia. I can manage half an hour of gardening followed by at least half an hours rest, I try to get 3 sessions done in a day, but don't always manage a third session. The undergardener was such a help until he was suddenly diagnosed with prostate cancer and told no physical work while they are sorting him out. Until 4 years ago I could manage 4 or 5 hours in the garden each day which it needed when we had the garden open for the NGS, but now it is looking a bit neglected, I must simplify it!

  2. My friend with ME in Bath is affected very much by the weather, but she's also aware how much light and being outside helps with her energy recovery. Her solution is to ensure there is somewhere very close to the house where she can sit outside and look at the garden even if it means wrapping up in several blankets and a duvet on a sunny day in the winter. She also takes a cup of hot chocolate with her so it becomes a real treat!

  3. Hi Pauline, there are so many similarities between ME and Fibro. They are both very debilitating and we do have to take it very carefully whilst continuing to garden. It is worth it, but yes, simplifying things certainly helps. Re the muscle pain – I get that too but the doc has put me on medication that has reduced it considerably. If you would like the names of the medication, email me on and I'll send the info to you.

  4. It's a difficult one, juggling the exhaustion of ME with wanting to be outside as that also helps energy recovery. Rugging up with a hot chocolate is a good idea – I think I'll have to take that on 🙂

  5. I find the biggest problem with gardening with ME is that I tend to lose myself in the process, so that despite knowing I only really have energy for 20 minutes, I can suddenly turn round and find over an hour has gone by and I am completely cream crackered! There is no denying the boost that even a short stint outside can give me though, so I am glad you got to spend some time outside too, and feel that you achieved something. I get very tired of continually telling myself that I just have to leave something until I have more energy. At least the mild autumn makes it a tad easier.

  6. It is easy to lose yourself in the gardening, and I also sometimes do that, as I call it, 'just jobs' thing where I think "I'll just get x done" and then an hour later after several x's have been done…. I'm trying to remember to set my mobile alarm, which is quite awful and forces me to stop what I'm doing just to shut it up, and then reminds me that it's time for a break.

    It can be hard having to wait until you have energy, when you just want to be out there. I guess we just have to remember that the long-term goal of getting better will mean one day we can be in the garden more often and for longer.


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