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When My Pain and Exhaustion Became Uncontrollable

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I was tired.

And not in the usual “every part of me aches and burns but I’m going to keep on living” sort of way. Unfortunately, that’s my regular. Chronic fatigue tends to become the norm when you live with chronic pain. Even on the good days your body sometimes has this way of reminding you of its ever-looming presence.

But I was tired.

Tired from lack of sleep, tired from hours spent trying to study but barely able to see through the pain, tired from make up homework and exams. According to a Harvard study, your mind and body function begin to change at just 16 hours of being awake. It felt like I had been awake for days, occasionally finding an hour of two of medicated sleep to hold me over. Rest is important and I wasn’t getting anywhere near enough of it.

The lack of sleep made my anxiety skyrocket to the point where I felt like I was in constant fight or flight mode. I started to not trust myself to lay down and close my eyes, fearing I would end up oversleeping and missing (yet another) class taught by already frustrated professors. I remember that annoying voice scratching at the back of my head, “If you have time to sleep, you can work on all the schoolwork you’re behind on.”

My eyes were tired. My mind was tired. Everywhere I walked felt like some hazy sort of dream where my body ran on autopilot. I stopped hearing my name on the first call as all sounds started to run together until they were a constant muffled static in my ears. I was tired of listening to it and of not being able to find silence.

I didn’t know how tired I was. In my mind, I was doing everything right. I was finally making it to my classes again and I was working on assignments. I didn’t know that in class I was like a zombie with only superficial conversation, if I even spoke at all. I didn’t know that the hours I spent working was a mess of jumbled thoughts and ideas that I would never be able to understand the next day.

Pain I can live with. What I wasn’t prepared for was the cocktail of symptoms that made its own vicious circle around me. My anxiety stressed my body, my body in pain made my thoughts run wild. My inability to move from pain made my depression show its ugly face, and my depression made getting moving again almost impossible.

So yes, I was tired. Too tired to realize I was so dug into this rabbit hole. Too tired to ask for the the help I needed. I started to shut down in a class I shouldn’t have gone to. Unable to do anything for myself, I heard myself asking quietly through the pain for help. Then suddenly there were people were there. Through the muffled voices I heard an ambulance being called and I could practically hear my mother guiding them through the process through the phone.

As I sat there in agony, finally begging for the help I needed, I looked around and finally managed to see what was in front of me. People who care. People who hate to see the suffering. People who would’ve been there for me far earlier had I just let them in.

Suddenly it was quiet again, despite my own sounds of pain. But I could hear everyone around me. And for the briefest of moments all I could think was, “I’m so tired.”

I learned so much that day, even if it took some time to process. All I had to do was speak up. All I had to do was reach out to any one person who had shown time and time before that they were trying. I’m not suggesting the pain would have stopped or that I wouldn’t have still been in a downward spiral. But I wouldn’t have been alone. I would have had someone to look at me and be able to say, “You’re not OK,” without me shooing them away.

This was my wake up call. It’s a day I reference a lot because of how much that would change following it. I don’t want your wake up call to come too late. I don’t want you to struggle in silence. You are not alone. Please recognize the “tired” that you feel today and make sure that it isn’t becoming the “tired” you can’t control.

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Thinkstock Image By: aywan88

Originally published: September 13, 2017
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