handling mentally challenging tasks


Senior Member
Yeah, I'm not an introvert at all - but hanging out with friends for a few hours or trying to do any mentally challenging task exhausts me in exactly the same way and if I push it too far, leaves me with PEM for the next day or two at least. And of course it's doubly frustrating because no one understands since I can seem fine for a few hours and they don't see me spending the next day in bed recovering.

My ME/CFS is probably currently around the severe end and has been for the last few years. Before this I fluctuated between mild and moderate, but pushing myself too hard along with exposing myself to allergens constantly generated a huge crash that I haven't recovered from.

Rufous McKinney

Senior Member
eg currently if I'm on a phone for 30mins.. if I don't want to risk a crash I need to get off of it at that point and I can't make calls like that every day. If I do not time it, I will often over do and regret it. Even the time being put on hold on a phone affects me as my brain then has to hold in mind what I'm going to say when it's answered

Thats generally what I find and I try to limit my rare phone calls so as not to over-do simply chatting. And 1/2 an hour is about it.

Something which is really tough is: being put on hold and the horrible loud music comes out of the phone and this can go on for a very long time.

Recently, I had a good day and spent several hours lying down with books etc...doing science work which I used to do with no problem for the last 48 years. BAsically- thinking, pondering, looking at line drawings and comparing them with plant specimens I'd collected, keys etc. Technical terms in latin...Well, 3 hours of that maybe.

I crashed big time- just as intensely as if I"d done some physical thing- I just did not have muscle aches that happen from doing something more physical. And I had no emotional- things going on ..so it was just this observing how much energy it takes to hold concepts in the brain, keep that network of concepts connected, and then work thru a mental issue.

So what to do about it (considering getting this B12 )....?

Well, I've not tried to even do it again- for several months (great, lousy plan).

If I do it again: (I will)....its: spend far less time ....its don't do more than one hour of that- not 3.

I've been doing a bit of: painting, again. Mostly this means the kitchen table is no longer available and is covered in the art mess. But ultimately- I can hardly do it for very long at all. Its another- WOW this takes energy to hold concepts- think- ponder-decide-do-think. I did one of these loose undemanding methods (just pour colors on the paper) and 45 minutes of that was just exhausting. It felt like I'd ran a relay race.
Introversion may be a factor, as introverts reach optimal brain stimulation more quickly and at low levels of stimuli arousal than extraverts.

However, prior to ME/CFS, I could party to the early hours of night without any repercussions the following day.

Hmm yes so maybe introverts are more "at risk" of getting burnout for this reason. Burnout obviously not the same as ME/CFS but there may be some overlap perhaps.


Senior Member
I’ve been fighting for a consistent answer to this for eight years. Unfortunately, from my experience, if you have a job where the core of the job is performing very mentally challenging tasks, then I found it impossible to not constantly overexert and crash, even if I cut out almost all physical exertion.

On top of that my ME broken brain, like someone poured concrete into my head, takes forever now to do any mental task (even writing emails) that per-illness I accomplished with much more ease, so another huge strike making job requirements impossible to keep up with even when I got to the point of doing part-time telework and only going between my bed and the desk.

If you have to do a single mentally challenging task infrequently and can spend the extra time away from work to deal with the resulting PEM and possible crash, then with the help of some supplements etc it can be done. But to have to do it all the time because that is the job then I don’t think it’s possible.
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