To the People Who Say ‘I’m Tired’ When Someone Asks How You Are

“I’m just tired.”

When people ask you what’s wrong, that’s what you say.

You say I’m tired.

Like you just didn’t get enough sleep last night. Like maybe if you get a couple extra hours tonight, or rest up this weekend, you’ll be better on Monday.

But deep down, deep beneath all the fake smiles and the jokes you make to lighten the mood, you know that’s not it.

You might be tired, yes, but you know sleep won’t fix it.

Because it’s life you’re tired of. You’re tired of people treating you like you don’t matter. You’re tired of feeling like you have no future. You’re tired of getting lost in your own head, of drowning in the thoughts and self doubts that pester you every second of every day, while you fight to keep your head above the tides.

Those same tides that threaten to wash away the makeup you carefully paint on every day so you look more like a person and less like a hollow shell of who you used to be.

Can’t they see that what you’re really tired of is pretending? How do they not notice that your porcelain smile is chipping more every day, your body armor has dents in it, your face paint is running, and the rivers in your eyes are bursting the dams you so carefully construct so as not to drown everyone around you.

So when they ask you, “Are you OK?” you just say “I’m tired.” Because you believe it’s the only way to keep them safe as you self-destruct on the inside, the only way to protect them from the disaster that is you. You believe you have to lie so the ones you love don’t look too close.

But you’re so, so tired.

And that’s OK. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that it’s OK to be tired sometimes. “Normal,” even. And you don’t always have to have a reason. Because sometimes just keeping it together is exhausting.

When you feel like this, it’s important to know you’re not alone. You are not the only one who feels this way. In fact, I think most people would be surprised at the number of people around them who feel the same way. I was. I started reaching out to those around me who often answered with, “I’m tired” and found out they feel a lot like I do.

And the funny part is, knowing that others felt this way helped me start to feel more awake. It’s like we all share this secret code now — when we say “tired,” we really know it means “I’m not OK.” And then we talk, and maybe cry, and sometimes we laugh. And we feel better.

So to all of you out there who feel like being tired is just the way you have to live now, I tell you this: You are all members of a club, and yes, the key to membership is kind of awful. But the plus side is you now have hundreds of allies who fight the same battle you do. You know the code word. Reach out to them. Talk to them. Accept their support. And maybe tomorrow, you won’t feel as tired.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Mental Health

Woman and dog touch faces

How My Dog Saves Me Every Day in My Life With Mental Illness

There are so many days I wake up and spend at least an hour talking myself into getting out of bed. There are also days, which could easily stretch into weeks, of not leaving my home at all. I’m not even sure I would get dressed most days. Showering? Ha, maybe but probably not. To [...]
Someone playing Pokemon Go, who found Pikachu

What You Should Know Before You Roll Your Eyes at Pokemon Go

It’s easy to look at new technology, especially extremely popular technology, and be judgmental. Video games in particular have taken a lot of flak for being a waste of time, for keeping people buried in their computer or phone and for getting in the way of socializing. What many people don’t realize is that as someone [...]

To My Husband, and Countless Others Fighting Mental Illness: I See You

To my dear husband, I was thinking back to when we began talking six years ago about psychology, mental illness and our various struggles with what we’ve both been through. We connected back then through our shared enthusiasm for the mind and how far the medical profession has come in the advances within the mental health [...]
Woman raises hands as birds fly away

Mental Illness, My Life Is Not Yours

I notice you most when I am alone Like most, I find you have been masquerading around my cheerful days. Just when I think you’ve disappeared completely, You’ve already climbed your way back in. Look what you’ve done to me. Do you like what you see? This shell of a person I never thought I [...]