Why I Struggle With Guilt Due to My Chronic Fatigue Sleep Cycle


It’s 5:30 in the morning, and I still have not slept. I am thinking too much even though both my brain and my body are telling me to sleep, or I will regret it. I am trying with all my might, but no matter how much I urge myself to fall into the sweet embrace of sleep, I simply cannot. It is out of my control.

I force myself to crawl to the edge of my bed to grab my laptop from my backpack. I know that if I don’t write this now then I never will. Everything I want to say so badly at this moment will have escaped my mind by the morning.

I fear to sleep now. It is the only thing in this world that seems to ease my fibromyalgia pain and intense chronic fatigue syndrome, yet it is also my worst enemy as it causes me so many difficulties. If I ever manage to sleep, then it is for hours on end, especially after nights like this. I have been awake for so long that the chances of me sleeping less than 12 hours at this point are quite slim.

This experience happens all too often. My body sabotages me. It wears me down and then takes all that is left into a deep yet unrestful slumber. I then will miss everything for the day, spending the remaining hours of the night attempting to do damage control on the situations I have no control over.

Then, I am stuck in a vicious cycle of having more thoughts on my mind: heightened anxiety over what needs to be done, greater depression because I feel like a failure at life, and even more fatigue from the extreme stress and ultimate overwhelmingness.

I am so fortunate to have one friend here at Denison who gets it as much as one can without being in my exact situation. In fact, she helped me do my laundry so I would have an opportunity to rest and take care of myself. I have never experienced that kind of empathy and kindness before. We have taken it upon ourselves to hold each other accountable in life and with schoolwork. I am extremely grateful to have her in my life, and it is moments like these when I know we will be lifelong friends.

But the guilt. The guilt is ever present. Even in this act of kindness, I felt as though I was taking advantage of our friendship. I know that my friend has so much on her plate as it is, and I feel as though I am adding to the workload.

I feel guilty for missing class, even though I try my best to explain my situation to my professors. The guilt intensifies when I can manage to show up to class, but I am completely unprepared with the readings and whatnot because it took all my energy to just make it through the day and attempt to be productive.

I feel shame when I don’t show up to any scheduled commitment because I know that it makes me seem flaky. The reality though is that if I don’t show up, regardless of time of day, I was sleeping. I then feel judged as I walk around my small campus and see people I know were in the classes I could not attend. I worry what they think of me. I am so sorry for my roommate who is forced to cohabitate with me and yet even though I doubt she does, I feel incredibly self-conscious when she comes back from being productive at three in the afternoon, but have not left my bed.

This is where I am right now. The world was not created in a way in which I am meant to succeed. However, I know that I hold the potential, and I cannot give up no matter how many curveballs are thrown my way.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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