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15 Side Effects of Chronic Fatigue We Don't Talk About

If you have a chronic illness, chances are you also regularly battle the heavy, frustrating exhaustion of chronic fatigue. Fatigue tags along for the ride for so many chronic health conditions, like fibromyalgia, autoimmune diseases and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome is a separate condition with its own particular symptoms). And while fatigue is usually understood to be a symptom of your illness, fatigue itself can cause additional symptoms and challenges that don’t get talked about as much. Being chronically fatigued is so much more than being “just tired,” and many people don’t realize how it can permeate your body and mental health, in ways that aren’t cured by just getting more sleep.

We wanted to bring to light some of the side effects that can be caused by chronic fatigue, so we asked our Mighty community to share what they’ve experienced. Share to spread the word that when a chronically ill person says they’re tired, it’s probably not the same as a healthy person’s tired, so compassion for the challenges they’re dealing with will help more than you know.

Here’s what our Mighty community shared:

  1. “When my fatigue is high I get really bad vertigo. It feels like my head is full of sloshing water.” — Traci T.
  2. “The emotions. I’m a highly sensitive person. And when you literally can’t sleep and are also in high amounts of pain, you tend to be a little more sensitive and emotional.” — Rai S.
  3. “Waiting too long to go to bed and ending up being too tired to even think about doing your nightly routine, and so you just sit there getting more and more exhausted…” — Teri D.
  4. “I miss out on my kids’ lives. They’re energetic and lively, and mom just can’t hang. A nap is a daily necessity, or I lose the ability to do simple tasks. Even a nap doesn’t guarantee I will be functional, but it gives me a chance. To have your kids ask you if you need a nap every day is hard, and not being able to play like they do is heartbreaking.” — Jessi E.
  5. “Lack of a sex drive. I’m so tired and hurt so much all the time that I just don’t have a desire. As understanding as my husband is, it still has put a wedge between us at times in our marriage.” — Kathryn T.
  6. “The brain fog… when things get really bad. I hate it when I can’t seem to think straight… everything seems fuzzy in my head.” — Melissa M.
  7. “The fatigue doesn’t just make me tired… It seems to affect every fiber of my being, even things like my bladder… I permanently wear pads now due to bladder weakness and it’s worse when the fatigue sets it. It’s so much more than just being tired.” — Tara C.
  8. “Unable to think straight or put sentences together. Or even remember what someone has said less than 30 seconds ago.” — Laura A.
  9. “Losing out on opportunities or moments when dealing with fatigue. I thought I just closed my eyes to rest them but ended up sleeping through a schedule, an invitation, a phone call, even my lunch.” — Vee Vee Y.
  10. “The inability to make decisions. It is frustrating to me and many people I am close to, that when fatigue sets in I literally just don’t have the mental capacity to decide what I want to eat, what I want to watch on TV, etc.” — Shelby C.
  11. “Boredom. You’re beyond exhausted and can do nothing but lay there and rest… but fatigue is not tiredness, so you can’t sleep. I get so depressed when resting; when my mind is wishing it could run free, but both my brain and body are too exhausted.” — Alexandria P.
  12. “I work at a pharmacy and for me, most days, I feel like I have been there months. I recently did six hours and felt like I had been there forever. Almost like a trance.” — Eloise T.
  13. “The pain can really affect your mental health a lot. Sometimes you can say things to your loved ones that you really don’t mean. Pain makes you feel angry, sad and helpless. You are not yourself anymore. And not many people in your life understand this.” — Bhawanjot B.
  14. “Nausea. The more fatigued I am, the worse the nausea is.” — Sandy K.
  15. “Friends and family not understanding. Like, I get asked ‘How are you today?’ and I say ‘I’m tired.’ Only to get, ‘Well what are you going to do about it?!’ But I’ve tried to sleep. I can’t help waking up after a small amount of sleep. I can’t help being in so much pain because my body is fighting itself. I can’t help any of that stuff. So I have to reply, ‘Yeah, I tried taking something to keep me asleep but it’s not working well enough right now.'” — Paige W.

Here are the products our community swears by to help them manage chronic fatigue. And these chronic fatigue hacks can also help make life a little bit easier.