a white woman with very short blonde hair (me) sits resting her chin on her hand in a bored pose

Living with ME: Boredom

In which I am so bored I want to scream and break things. Content warning for suicidal thoughts.

It was a bad morning anyway because I’d had my hair cut the day before, which involves energy draining activities such as going downstairs (and, worse, coming back up them again!) and talking to people (it’s tiring even when the conversation just goes “you girls have such thick hair!”… “and doesn’t it grow fast!”… “it’s so blonde, too!” and me agreeing with each). My morning routine takes around two hours and I do exactly the same thing every day, so there’s already quite a potential for boredom there.

That morning, it was as I got up after my post-breakfast rest that the utter screaming tedium of my existence swept over me and knocked me off my metaphorical feet. I thought I would literally prefer to die right now than carry on doing these same things over and over and over again.

As you can see, I am still alive. But I’m still repeating the same few activities over and over and over, trying to make them feel fresh and new.

Honestly, this is something I’m usually pretty good at. The fact that I’ve always had a high tolerance for repetition is something that works in my favour. Despite this, I have so few activities available to me on a day-to-day basis that the boredom is always there, poking at me, waiting for a weak spot to appear in my defences.

I wrote a little thread about this on twitter and it occurred to me then that a lot of abled people could look at a typical day for me and think how great it sounds. I get up in a leisurely fashion, skip showering, have breakfast, then lie down again and read for an hour. Nice. I do the lying down thing several times a day, usually listening to something entertaining like a podcast or a radio drama. In between times, I sit in a lovely comfortable chair beside my bedroom window and watch telly, listen to podcasts, read and do a chunk or two of whichever FutureLearn course I’m on in a desultory sort of way.

The difference is the element of choice. If your days are busy and your energy normal then to take a day or three to laze around and do nothing can feel like the height of luxury. But you try filling your time when even getting your hair cut in your own home necessitates several days of recovery and when you can’t afford to buy much new stuff in the way of entertainment, and see how long it takes to stop being fun. Boredom is very, very common among people with chronic illnesses.

If you have to portion out your ‘spoons’ just to be able to get through the day, you can’t just decide to pop to the shop or take a nice stroll in the fresh air. When your body is constantly racked with pain, getting a coffee with a friend is a major undertaking rather than today’s whim. If information processing is something you suffer with worse than I do, you may not be able to just stick a DVD in or bring up a podcast to listen to.

The ones I’ve listed aren’t my only activities, of course. I have a nice chat with my mum perhaps once a week, and occasionally a friend will be coming in my direction and be able to make a detour to pay me a quick visit. Then, if I’m having a halfway decent day, I might do a little tidying in my room or put some clothes away. If I’m having a good day I might even be able to do a little cleaning in my bathroom, but that is a sadly rare event (and my bathroom is consequently pretty disgusting most of the time).

I write, too. It’s something I can often do when I can’t take in information from a MOOC or do a more physical activity. Being able to touch type helps: I can lean back in my chair, close my eyes, and just type. In fact, I’m often more accurate and cogent with my eyes closed than open! I need a bit more brain power to be able to rewrite and edit, which is why there is sometimes a long gap between posts on this blog, but I love to write. More than that, I need to.

Since I drafted this post, I’ve been wondering whether I’m in a rut. Perhaps there are other activities I could do that I just haven’t thought of that would vary my routine a bit. I haven’t been able to sew for months now because it makes my hands hurt. More recently, I’ve tried sketching, which is a little better, especially if I’m careful to hold my pencil loosely. I’m terrible at it but it can be fun. Even so, I can’t do it for very long at a time. Most of the other things I’ve thought of are difficult because of fatigue, pain, weakness or just cost.

So I continue to do the same things over and over and over, keeping the tidal wave of boredom at bay by a hair’s breadth. It’s not fun, but it is necessary.


  1. Hi. I’ve been thinking about you since I read this blog yesterday and thought I’d come back and say something. Just not sure what. I ache with you and hear you. Keep writing when you can. I’ve started meditating and it’s really helped find some peace and moments of joy. Peace out.


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