Review: 'Through the Shadowlands’ describes Julie Rehmeyer's ME/CFS Odyssey
I should note at the outset that this review is based on an audio version of the galleys and the epilogue from the finished work. Julie Rehmeyer sent me the final version as a PDF, but for some reason my text to voice software (Kurzweil) had issues with it. I understand that it is...
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crash due to mental exertion

Discussion in 'Post-Exertional Malaise, Fatigue, and Crashes' started by hmnr asg, May 29, 2018.

  1. hmnr asg

    hmnr asg Senior Member

    hi there,
    So I know that a CFS patient can crash after certain types of exertion, obvious ones being physical exertion, stress, emotional upheaval, over-stimulation or eating the wrong food. The question i have is about crashing after *mental exertion*, the kind of exertion you would do when reading a textbook or solving math problems.

    Recently i have been going through the worst crash since my CFS started and im trying to understand what happened by tracing my steps. It all started when i was doing much better and decided to go back to try to study some textbooks from my university years. I was studying only on the weekends but it was about 6 hours a day of pretty intense mental work. Gradually i got worse and even after i stopped i have been continuously declining to the point that now i am finding it hard to go to the bathroom.

    Of course, it could have been something else, but do you guys think this type of mental work could cause such a severe crash? have you ever crashed from studying/reading? I have a hard time believing mental exertion could cause such a massive crash!

    Thank you!

    SueJohnPat, L'engle, alkt and 5 others like this.
  2. Bansaw

    Bansaw Senior Member

    Yes, definitely, I took an intense course a few years ago and crashed mentally.
    I think that my CFS (& Lyme) affected my neurotransmitters and my HPA axis.
    For mental energy help I took Aceytl-L-Carnitine for while.
    You have to be very intentional about mental rest , sleep etc... when on such a course.
    L'engle, alkt, Mary and 3 others like this.
  3. geraldt52

    geraldt52 Senior Member

    Mental exertion can absolutely cause a relapse, just as easily as physical exertion. I don't think that it is at all uncommon. And it doesn't take much "exertion", be it physical or mental. For myself, I could more easily walk for probably a mile than I could carry on an active conversation for 15 minutes without getting myself in trouble. I also no longer read any significant amount, listening to audio books to avoid the mental exertion of reading.
    soxfan, SueJohnPat, L'engle and 5 others like this.
  4. hmnr asg

    hmnr asg Senior Member

    You are right. If i survive this hopefully and can go back to being near my baseline, I will be sure to always take breaks when studying. Like 30 minutes work, 30 minutes rest.

    The weird thing is that i can spend countless hours doing idiotic things on my phone, like watching funny cat and dog clips on youtube and it never causes me any problems, but when i start reading or exerting mental effort to focus and process complex information, then my brain feels the crash.

    SueJohnPat, alkt and Mary like this.
  5. overtheedge

    overtheedge Senior Member

    yeah mental exertion is bad
    some days I get bummed out and play videogames all day or go to my friends house or some other reckless use of energy and I'll wake up the next day feeling, well, not good by CFS standards but decent, but if I spend a few hours on one of my good days reading something that takes focus and concentration I'll be dead tired the next day

    It's bad cause I really feel like I need to get something done but I just can't without burning out my energy or I'll try to recoup my energy on a day where I'm dead tired but feeling so bad in bed all the time my patience will burn out, I'll go mad from only being able to listen to audiobooks or watch shows which would be entertaining if I just had energy but are painful to have as my only escape when nothing feels good, I'd probably be more productive if I was doing drugs and was able to just lie there sedated the whole day to get my energy back, being sick like this is bizarre
    alkt, Mary and hmnr asg like this.
  6. lafarfelue

    lafarfelue Senior Member

    Mental exertion seems to drain me more than standard physical exertion. It's also always the first thing I need to cut back on when going through a crash or relapse.

    Hope you can manage to rest and recuperate enough to continue with your studies!
    soxfan, alkt, hmnr asg and 1 other person like this.
  7. Murph

    Murph :)

    Yes. I have often crashed from reading too long or working too hard - especially at night.
    alkt, hmnr asg and Mary like this.
  8. Bansaw

    Bansaw Senior Member

    This is passive entertainment. Studying is active.
    manasi12, MEMum, alkt and 2 others like this.
  9. jpcv

    jpcv Senior Member

    SE coast, Brazil
    I got completely wasted after a 90 minute first appointment with my ME doctor, too much focus required for speaking in a foreign language and discussing medical issues.
  10. Mary

    Mary Moderator

    Southern California
    I watched a fascinating talk by Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez on DVD re cancer one night - it took about 3 hours of intense concentration, and I was crashed the next day. Generally I stick to reading murder mysteries, light TV --
    soxfan, SueJohnPat, Mel9 and 4 others like this.
  11. Wishful

    Wishful Senior Member

    Different mental activities require different amounts of neurochemical resources, and produce different amounts of hormones and other neurochemicals, any of which can affect ME/CFS. For me, socializing can cause a crash, and driving can too; I think it has to do with the sustained alertness level. I haven't noticed reading being a trigger, but maybe that's because reading is a major part of my life. I've always been a walker and reader, so those 'muscles' are fit for their tasks, and don't trigger ME symptoms. I haven't specifically tested intellectually challenging reading, such as studying a textbook for an exam, but normal textbook level reading isn't a problem for me. However, if my ME symptoms are high, I lack the mental energy for reading.

    So no, you're not crazy. Mental exertion definitely can cause an ME/CFS crash. It most likely hasn't caused any long-term changes, so you should get back to baseline once you've stopped triggering the crashes. You do have to learn your limits though. That takes time, and suffering from more crashes.
    soxfan, SueJohnPat, L'engle and 4 others like this.
  12. Mel9

    Mel9 Senior Member

    NSW Australia
    Yes, you are right about mental exertion causing PEM.

    I have learnt that I need to pace both my physical and mental exertion. If I need to do something mentally taxing, I will need to take it very easy next day. I think the resulting PEM is not usually as severe as for physical activity and I will not have the leg pain . If I do have PEM from mental exertion I need to stay in bed all day until I start to recover and am usually ok by the following Day. Note that ‘ mental exertion’ icludes things like trying to sort out my tax , writing and social chatting outside my ‘comfort zone’.

    As with @Wishful, reading has been my life so , unless it is really difficult and technical stuff, book reading is generally fine for me.

    although, I need to avoid a lot of the highly technical biochemistry found in some of the PR posts. No way am I going to have the energy to try to understand all the arguments relating to this disease, so I am pleased to leave that to the experts.

    But I am fine with complicated genetics and microbiology in plant diseases and soil microbes. It’s just what you are used to I guess.
    SueJohnPat, Mary, manasi12 and 3 others like this.
  13. sufferingwithme


    Yeah, it does happen to me, esp from reading too much, and even if I have a particularly “happy”, thoughtful or eventful day, I will be sick the next one...
    overtheedge and hmnr asg like this.
  14. Bmrw64


    This has just happened to me. I was doing study and pushing myself and all the problems started like memory loss and cognitive dysfunction which takes some time to come back from.
    SueJohnPat and lafarfelue like this.
  15. SueJohnPat

    SueJohnPat Sue

    Medford NJ
    I had this happen this week. I am going to attempt to work again part time. I had a 2 hour appointment which involved a Weschler IQ test. I also had to do long hand math problems . I had to concentrate very hard .
    I also had an evaluation of my mental health and job skills evaluation. I am a pharmacist but I do not think I can go back to this yet so I am being evaluated to see what else I could do.

    I also went out to lunch afterwards and had a stressful episode with my one son, He forgot to pick his brother up .
    That night I crashed while trying to make dinner. I sliced my finger open. My crashes now are not the bedridden kind but I just start to get clumsy. Then I have to sit down. I can now hike about 3 miles without crashing but the mental concentration did me in.

    I have improved but still must pace myself. Too much mental exertion is definitely a crash inducer. I never noticed it that much before because I guess I have not strained my brain for years.
    Mel9 and lafarfelue like this.
  16. soxfan

    soxfan Senior Member

    North Carolina
    Mental exertion is the cause of my PEM and all out crashes. I have always been able to do physical things. I am able to walk daily (unless in a crash) ...snorkel....hike within reason etc. I am unable to run like I did pre illness.

    The mental exertion can be anything from get togethers or emotional stress. The PEM mostly happens when I don’t rest in the afternoon. The rest period for me is crucial in keeping it at bay.

    I have not had PEM from anything physical and I feel very Lucky for that.
    My PEM consists of increased fatigue and energy less in which I can function somewhat.
    My crashes leave me totally bedridden in a dark room. I am unable to even get up to eat eyes burn...I feel dead inside like there is no life.

    I never know what I will end up with once I have could be either of them but leaves me quite debilitated and feeling just plain horrible.
    SueJohnPat likes this.

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