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If Tiredness Is a Part of Your Life Right Now

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“I’m tired.”

You hear it all the time. You ask how someone is doing, with a small sigh, they reply, “I’m tired.”

There are all kinds of tired.

There is the kind of tired that comes from a lack of sleep; perhaps due to a new baby or small children. It could be insomnia. It could be medication side effects.

There is the kind of tired where you have an emotional hangover. Something so emotional happened to you — a long drawn-out fight with a loved one, giving energy to too many people and not saving enough for yourself. Fighting, yelling, crying — all of that leads to an “emotional hangover” and results in being tired.

There is the kind of tired where you work too much, and never have time for relaxing.

There is the kind of tired where you are anxious and worrying about everything, which causes fatigue.

Then there’s the chronically and mentally ill person’s kind of tired.

It’s a tired so deep, no amount of sleep or caffeine can cure it. It’s a tired so strong that we can’t sleep because we are so exhausted (or in so much pain). It’s the kind of pervasive tiredness that causes us to drain every resource we have — emotionally, physically, mentally — just to function.

It is utter and pure exhaustion.

It is “sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

We all get tired. Every one of us. Most Americans don’t get the recommended amount of hours of sleep every night. Some people get through their days with coffee after coffee, while they sometimes might throw an energy drink in there just to mix it up.

That was I when I was working. There was never enough caffeine to keep me functioning.

And now, I know why. Now I know about depression and fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue and everything else that comes from being chronically and mentally ill.

Just pure, unadulterated exhaustion. All the time. Every day.

And each day, I struggle not to give into it.

I give myself a pep talk before I walk up the stairs.

I should be paying Nike royalties for how much I tell myself “just do it.”

I try to get out of bed, even if it’s just three feet away to a desk where I can at least be sitting.

Some days I give in. Some days it’s not worth the effort to fight the exhaustion. When the pain and the fatigue and the symptoms are just too much, I accept it as a bad day. I understand that my energy levels will be better on some days and worse on most, and let myself be.

Just be.

I don’t force myself to do anything. If I get an inkling or a feeling of doing something, I check in with my body and see if that’s a realistic goal for me to accomplish.

But mostly, I just lay there. Trying to not beat myself up for doing nothing. Trying to not let the depressive thoughts invade my psyche and tell me how worthless I am. Trying to control my pain.

We all get tired. Everyone, everywhere. It’s on a spectrum, just like everything else.

However, my tiredness does not invalidate your tiredness. Just because my exhaustion seems like the worst to me, your exhaustion is the worst to you.

We each live in our own realities, meaning that my tiredness is just as real and debilitating to me as your tiredness is to you. They don’t cancel each other out; they can’t be compared.

We have each had as much as we can handle. In order to combat the extreme fatigue, we must learn to take of ourselves. We must replenish our energy stores. Give your energy to things that revitalize you, that make you feel just a little lighter and freer and happier. Don’t waste it on people who are sucking the life out of you.

Your energy is precious. Guard it.

Set up good sleep hygiene. Get on a good sleeping regimen. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Don’t eat in bed; beds are for sleeping. Per my sleep technician, try filters on your electronics, like f.lux. The blue light that emits from our electronics can affect our sleep cycles. Filters like f.lux change with the time of day, helping our bodies know when to sleep. Check in with a doctor if you are experiencing insomnia and get a physical.

But also, realize that tiredness is a part a life. We all work really, really hard. No matter what we do, who we are, we are all doing the best we can do that day, that hour, that moment.

It’s OK to be tired. It’s OK to be exhausted.

It’s OK to take a day to just veg.

And like I always say, be kind to yourself.

Follow this journey on Change Your Season.

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Originally published: October 31, 2016
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