The Reality Of Exhaustion & Fatigue

Reality Fatigue Cover

What exhaustion and fatigue are not

  1. Laziness – it’s not simply not “wanting” to do something or not being bothered.
  2. A temporary state that you can simply overcome with a little positive thinking or an energy drink.
  3. Cured by sleepย – being “sleep tired” and being exhausted are not mutually exclusive but they’re not the same thing. Getting some Zzzs does not equal a body that’s got energy.
  4. An excuse – It’s a reason, not an excuse, for why we don’t do certain things, why we may bail on a social occasion, why we don’t have “plans” for the weekend or evening.

You can be so incredibly exhausted, yet feel restless. It can be incredibly frustrating, feeling too shattered and your brain too much like cotton candy, where you want to do something useful/fun/productive but simply don’t seem to be able to manage it.

You can spend a whole day not exactly feeling bored, but finding small things to do or just being totally zoned out, without being able to tell people what it is you’ve been up to all day. Your day has been spent doing something, but you can’t put your finger on what and the question of “what have you been up to?” starts to feel almost accusatory and impossible to answer.

What exhaustion and fatigue really are …

  1. The opposite of glamorous – Sometimes getting out of bed, getting in the shower and taking care of yourself can be monumental mountains to climb. Some days will be greasy hair, pasty skin, negative moods, bad complexion, pajamas and bags under your eyes big enough to fit a baby panda.
  2. A vicious cycle – When you push yourself and ‘work through it’, you often pay for it afterwards. Before I left on sick leave for surgery, I spend years working full time and giving it 110%. My evenings were shot, my weekends non-existent; my body was always on catch-up, forever burnt out from using up what little was there for work.
  3. Frustrating – Wanting to do more, to be more, when sometimes it’s simply not manageable. Restless yet exhausted, motivated yet defeated.
  4. Isolating – Whether this is from your family, friends, from work or a social life, exhaustion and fatigue can get in the way of plans and even your desire to do the things you would have otherwise wanted to do. If you find others don’t understand or appreciate your reasons for sometimes saying no to going out or to the times you are ‘unsociable’ or need time alone, it can be hurtful and leave you feeling lonely.
  5. A spiral of feeling judged – Everyone gets tired, everyone gets exhausted from time to time. But to have it chronically, to deal on a daily basis with an invisible illness or fatigue, is something else, something you perhaps only really understand fully if you’ve experienced it. Suddenly, being unwell and utterly shattered is like a competition, and it can feel as though we are judged and looked upon with scepticism.

Those, like myself, who experience in-your-bones exhaustion, may be good at hiding it from the outside world. Putting on a brave face, saving up the energy they have to paint a picture of wellness when they’re outside their home or posting up statuses and photos on social media. What is portrayed is often not the reality. People create their own story to tell the world.

That said, there can be good times too, moments of enjoyment if we can seek them, minutes or hours or days of joy and appreciation when we are gentle with ourselves and are able to better manage the challenges we face. Choose your battles wisely and use the energy you do have on the meaningful things in life.



23 Comments

  1. Couldn’t agree with everything you’ve written here more! It is by far the most limiting factor of my illness currently and definitely the least understood. The best way I use to describe it to others is it’s like waking up with the flu or a really bad hangover every day! I often feel like my fatigue prevents me moving forward in life whilst everyone else is busy getting on with living. It’s hard not to feel forgotten and it’s made me realise how many people I once considered friends are actually inconsiderate, unsupportive and selfish, so yes, it’s completely frustrating but revealing at least!

    • It made me sad to read this, and it’s such a shame you’re dealing with it too. It can be very debilitating, even if you try to get on with your life and work around it, and the issue with feeling forgotten and unsupported is certainly very painful. But it can also reveal how strong you are, how fiercely independent you can be because you’re still here, you’re still fighting, you’re still awesome!

  2. Completely agree. Sometimes people just don’t ‘get it’ when I say I’m exhausted. You can’t just get a good nights sleep and be bouncing around like Tigger on energy drinks the next day. To me it’s like being stuck in quicksand that drains you of everything just to move or do the tiniest things and when you struggle to do them, you suddenly find you’re neck deep and incapable of doing anything, other than just ‘be’.

  3. Completely agree with what you’ve written here. Exhaustion completely wipes you out in a way you only understand if you’ve been there.

  4. A very moving but inspiring read. Thankfully much of it is outside my experience but I empathise with the bit about spending 110% of resources on work and having little left for other things! best wishesm hope to catch up more soon when my laptop/router issues are resolved!!

    • Thank you for the comment ๐Ÿ™‚ I wondered why I hadn’t seen any posts from you lately, I do hope you manage to resolve the laptop/router problems soon. Typical technology; can’t live with it, can’t live without it!

  5. Thanks for educating us on what it is like to live with such extreme exhaustion. I am tired most of the time but nothing like what those with severe exhaustion live with. Such a shame people have to live with something so life-interfering.

  6. Yes, it’s sad to know that there are a lot of chronically fatigued and exhausted people out there. It’s certainly life interfering, even when you try to work around it, but I think overcoming some of the stigma and ignorance can help with the emotional impact it can have on lives. Thanks for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Fatigue is the absolute worst! I agree that it is a vicious cycle! I also “pay” for being productive. I just cleaned my house, which is something many people take for granted. I know later today and tomorrow I will suffer from it. Even small tasks can leave me bed bound for days! I am sorry you also have to push through life with fatigue and exhaustion! Thanks for writing this and sharing your struggles. It helps to know we are not alone! I look forward to reading more of your posts ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I’m sorry to hear you understand this all too well. The usual things, like you say, that can be taken for granted are enough to wipe you out and leave you reeling afterwards as your body tries to catch up. Do try to get some rest and take it easy, though that’s easier said than done when you have things to do or feel restlessly exhausted. It can be hard knowing when to push through it and when to rest. Thank you for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Every time I come here, I get some very useful info. This one is the best post on blog comments….thanks for sharing this unique post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Hi Thank you for stopping by my blog and like my post about getting well. You’re a caring and kind individual. I really appreciate you. I like your posts. This one is very informative and is very real. I’m very interested in healthy eating and healthy living. So I follow to read more of your posts. Come back to visit soon!

  10. Chronic fatigue need long nap every day. I wonder how much it is result of psych meds and cardiac meds. Thanks for your recent visit to my blog.

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