8 Things I Want People Who Think I'm 'Exaggerating' My Fatigue to Know
Many people encounter fatigue from time to time. However, some of us endure fatigue daily that is so powerful and impossible to describe. Fatigue is something that I have grappled with my entire life, due to likely having a case of congenital Lyme disease.
As a child, I remember being too tired to go outside to play and I would complain about having to participate in sports. I preferred to watch television, play video games, and doing other stationary activities. The fatigue that I experienced was such a problem that I became overweight at a young age. I lost the weight over the years and have found ways to power through activities, but the fatigue has become more intense as my battle with Lyme disease has become more intense. People that know me are unaware of the overwhelming fatigue that I face on a daily basis because I have become a master at masking my illness. I am such a phenomenal pretender that people think that I exaggerate my illness while explaining it to them.
I wish that the people who think I am misrepresenting my health were aware of the following:
1. When I woke up this morning, I laid in bed and stared at the ceiling for 20 minutes, unsure if I had enough strength to move.
2. Today, I made myself some lunch and then sat down at the kitchen counter. I then spaced out and realized that I had not eaten my sandwich yet. I don’t know how long I was unknowingly staring at the countertop.
3. I decided I wanted to watch some television. When I became comfortable in my chair, someone asked me a question from the other side of the room. I felt like I could not move my lips to talk or turn my head in their direction. There was a pause before anyone heard my response. When I did respond, all anyone could hear was soft, slurred speech.
4. I needed to go outside to the mailbox to get the mail. During the walk outside, I felt like I could not lift up my legs to walk, as if I had 20 pound weights tied around my ankles. I shuffled my feet to the mailbox instead.
5. I started to dry my hair with the hair dryer. It only took five minutes, but I felt like I could no longer hold my arms above my head by the end.
6. I knocked a cup off the table and tried to bend over to pick it up. When I bent over, I struggled to bring myself up from the ground.
7. As I am writing this article, my arms ache from typing on the computer because my muscles are weaker than what they should be.
8. Lastly, fatigue makes me question what I am capable of. Lyme fatigue should not determine my worth, but sometimes I allow it to.
As I previously explained, Lyme fatigue is intense and I would not wish it on anyone. Nobody should doubt their ability to function every day of their lives. Too many times I can count, I have almost let my fatigue make decisions for me. If a group of friends invites me to go to dinner, my fatigue tells me that I should stay home so I don’t hold the rest of the group back from doing what they want to do. If I want to go on a hike, my fatigue tells me that I shouldn’t because I do not have much strength in my legs. However, I have decided that if it is possible, I should not let my fatigue control my decisions.
If I allow fatigue to dictate my life, I will miss out on amazing opportunities. I would like the people who think I exaggerate my illness to know that. People who are not chronically ill are going to judge those that are despite how they live their lives. I would still be judged if I was too sick to get out of bed. Nobody deserves to have their condition questioned by others. People who struggle from Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses already have enough to cope with. We are worthy of acceptance and understanding.
For those who struggle with fatigue, whether it’s a result of Lyme disease or not, keep fighting and know that there are others out there engaged in a similar battle.
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