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What I Learned From Trying to Combat the Exhaustion of My Illness

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Exhaustion: the state of physical or mental fatigue. Exhaustion is one of the worst symptoms to deal with while living with a chronic illness. Aches and pain can often be dealt with by taking anti-inflammatory medicine or mild painkillers, depending on your doctor’s recommendations. Many other symptoms can be treated with medicine or physical therapy, and that can help immensely.


However, exhaustion is next to impossible to treat. How can you treat a symptom that basically requires an obscene amount of sleep and mental rest, and even then doesn’t seem to ever go away? I can sleep for 12 hours in one day, never leave my bed and still feel mentally and physically dead. Living with exhaustion can become very taxing, so I decided to try to find a treatment of some kind that would help relieve some of my extreme fatigue and exhaustion.

Attempt one was to try to boost my vitamin B12 and my vitamin D along with my iron. All three of those supplements can lead to exhaustion if the levels in your body are too low. So off to get blood work I went. To my dismay, the blood work levels were normal. So on to my second theory. I had switched my depression medication a few weeks prior to when this onset of exhaustion started to happen. So I thought, well, maybe it’s the change of medicine that caused the fatigue! That must be it! I thought to myself. I emailed my doctor to ask if perhaps that might be the reason, but again that theory was shot down!

With no other theories I could think of, I resigned myself to the fact that exhaustion was just something I was going to encounter and I just needed to come up with a healthy way to manage it. Back to the drawing research board! After a few weeks of surfing the web, I came up with a plan. For starters, I conceded that I needed a healthier diet. Pizza and donuts weren’t going to cut it. Next on my research list, I needed to start to maintain a workout schedule. Now I’m not talking “boot camp” or “marathon running” – obviously living with a chronic autoimmune disease will not allow me to obtain that kind of exercises plan. But I can commit physically to a 10-minute walk every other day and some yoga stretching. With this plan of working out and eating a healthy diet in my pocket, I started my exhaustion booster plan.

several women standing in front of a mirror and flexing their biceps

After about two weeks of sticking to my exhaustion plan, I did notice I was less tired. Do not get me wrong – I was still very tired and had to force myself to get up each day. But I was probably 45 percent less exhausted then my original state. That I would take happily!

So with all of my research and trial and error and finally seeing only a small amount of success, I came to the realization that exhaustion is something that is not going to go away. It’s not just a temporary symptom that will fade over time. I’m stuck with it and I have to live my life around the fatigue and grogginess.

But with the help of my makeshift healthy life plan and a positive mindset, I can push through the day and still have a regular quality of life! Having a chronic illness takes so much from my life and affects the way I am able to live it. However, in working with my disease and my symptoms and not fighting against them, I realized I can have a great, sustainable, meaningful life, and that to me is well worth it!

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Originally published: June 19, 2017
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