Visitors

If your health tends to be better at a certain time of day you might find it easier if visitors can come at that time. One person with M.E. uses a signalling system where a specific curtain is left open if she is happy for a visitor to pop in, and closed if not. On the other hand, you might need to encourage friends to book visits in advance, in order to pace yourself better.

If you find it difficult to concentrate when there is more than one noise, describe the problem to your visitors so they can help. Explain that your brain has trouble filtering out excess stimuli, and if necessary ask friends to visit one at a time. If you want to spend time with a group of people, you might find this is very much easier when there is just one big conversation going on, rather than several people talking at once. Try arranging chairs in a circle to encourage this.

Make plans to minimize the chances of the conversation grinding to an awkward halt. Look out for interesting topics, facts or jokes. Sharing an experience together can take the pressure off conversation – maybe watch TV or order a take away.

If you can't talk for long, a friend might be able to see you for a short while, go and talk to another family member while you rest, then pop in to you again before they go. Some people like to share a time of silent meditation, or you might be up to having them sit quietly in the room reading or working.

It takes more energy to spend time with some people than others. You may not be able to work out why, but be assured that it is not your fault or in your imagination! It is OK to see some people for an hour and others for ten minutes, even though it may be hard to explain.

Some people with M.E. find the phone easier than a visitor – there is only one input to concentrate on, and it may be easier to keep the conversation short. Note that phone calls can be planned in advance to aid pacing. Other people find visits easier – there is no buzz from the phone, and the addition of non-verbal clues can help with concentration.

If you have long-distance visitors, but if feels too much to have them staying overnight – perhaps they could stay somewhere locally instead. Try 'Airbnb' www.airbnb.org or 'Couchsurfing' couchsurfing.org for options cheaper than standard Bed and Breakfasts.

It isn’t easy to ask a visitor to leave! One idea, which doesn’t interrupt the flow of the conversation, is to use coloured cards. When you are OK, have a green card on view. An orange card silently indicates to the visitor that you need to wind down the conversation, and a red card means you need a rest urgently. Rudyard Kipling had an ornamental fish, which he turned to point away from the room when he wanted the visitor to leave. Using a countdown timer can also help – you can decide beforehand how long the visitor should stay and it is the timer that tells the visitor when it is time to leave.

Cooking : Games : Meditation : Over-Stimulation : Pacing : People : Resting : Telephone : Writing