20 Things Your Chronically Ill Friend Might Really Mean When They Tell You, 'I'm Tired'


“I’m tired”: a phrase used so many times by chronically ill people. At times it’s our own automatic response. To us, it explains why we aren’t on top form without boring you with the ins and outs. 

What does “I’m tired” really mean, though?

1. I’m tired, today is not a good day. Please don’t rely on me, question me, push me or expect too much. I am struggling just to get through the day. 

2. I’m tired, I am just about dealing with the pain without collapsing in front of you or bursting into tears. 

3. I’m tired, I can’t fake a smile and my brave face is slipping. Time to retreat. 

4. I’m tired, sadness and depression are riding high today. My mood may be unpredictable. 

5. I’m tired, I am not sleepy but truly physically and mentally exhausted. I couldn’t just do with a 12-hour sleep. I could do with a new body and a year’s worth of sleep.

6. I’m tired, simple tasks are zapping me today (talking, walking, lifting, etc.).

7. I’m tired, I want to help you with your tasks but physically and mentally I am unable.

8. I’m tired, I need some alone time. I am zapped from too much socializing or my pain has zapped me so much that a quiet day is what is needed so I don’t burn out. 

9. I’m tired, too many things are going on that I can’t explain or want to get into. 

10. I’m tired, I don’t even know what or how I feel.

11. I’m tired, I have hit my wall. I am zoning out. 

12. I’m tired, tired from fighting my own body. We don’t ever get a day off or respite. 

13. I’m tired, I am mentally exhausted from trying to keep it “together” on the surface.

14. I’m tired, mentally, physically and emotionally under a lot of strain.

15. I’m tired, the go-to response when you can’t explain how you feel.

16. I’m tired, I am drained but don’t want to seem negative or weak so I don’t want to express the details. 

17. I’m tired, all my spoons are in the dishwasher.

18. I’m tired, I don’t want to admit to you or myself how I am truly feeling.

19. I’m tired, just sitting here is causing me pain and is zapping me. If I named all my symptoms I would send you to sleep. The list is longer than your weekly shopping list.

20. I’m tired, it’s the truth. I am. In so many ways. 

Such a simple response we use for so many hidden reasons.

I hope the above gives you an idea of some of the possibilities that someone who answers you with, “I’m just tired” may really be going through, dealing with or fighting. 

It is best to accept their response, but let them know you understand and know it runs deeper. This allows them to relax a bit more, possibly be more open and know you are understanding and supportive. Which means the world. We can’t ask for more.

If we give you simple answers like,

“I’m tired.”

“I’m having an off day.”

“I am fine.”

“I’m OK.”

“I am a little under the weather.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t trust you with a more detailed answer. We often don’t understand ourselves how we feel or why. We also may not want to dampen the mood. 

That’s why you showing your support and understanding means so much, because we may be trying to protect you, too. We then know the bond we share is a two-way road and we are on the same page. 

Comforting to us chronically ill. Who fight to be heard and understood.

So today,

Ladies and gentleman — I’m tired.

I have used all my spoons, wisely I hope, focusing on my passions and work, but also taking “me” time. 

If there is one thing that comes from having chronic illness it is boy, you are forced to accept situations you never would have wanted to, forced to take a step back when you want to power through and you are forced to recognize you limitations and stare them right in the face.

This blog was originally published on Sophantastic Sophie Ward.

Lead photo by Pexels


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