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Why My Fatigue Feels Like an 'Invisible Monster'

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Dear Fatigue,

I hate you.

I hate the way you make me feel. I hate the way you make me look. I hate the way you hold me down.

I hate that when a friend invites me out I always have to worry if you’ll tag along. You’re the annoying third wheel I wish I could shake off, but no one even knows you’re there. You’re the invisible monster that constantly stalks me, waiting until I put my guard down.

You’re there when I have to pull over during a drive to take a nap. You’re there when I walk and my legs feel like they’re moving through Jell-O every time they move. You’re there when I’m watching TV. As the lights flicker from the screen across my face I comprehend nothing. I can’t — because you’re in my mind too. You infect every part of my body, making my limbs feel like lead, leaving my chest burning, and my brain feeling stuffed with cotton.

The worst thing about you? No one understands until they’ve been “infected” by you. They cry, “Well, I feel tired too!” But, they don’t know you.

They don’t understand what it’s like to have someone talking to you, expecting a reply, but you can’t give them one. Your lips are so heavy they can’t move. It’s as if someone has stitched your lips together. And, if you’re able to get any sound out, it’s flat with no emotion or personality. Your voice is robbed of any traces of you.

“You’re just depressed,” they proclaim. “You just need to get out and exercise!”

But, he’s right there with me. His teeth are bared, eyes glinting because he knows. No one will ever see. If my fatigue is an imaginary monster, like the boogeyman or a ghost, then he can’t get them because he’s only make-believe. They will continue on with their lives, with my fatigue neatly packed inside their minds.

I will continue to be haunted. A heavy weight on my chest. Something is stealing my breath. Turning my blood into sludge. Making my words slip and my feet trip.

Fatigue, I hate you.

But, I’m not you. I’m me. I’ll fight you every day and in every way.

I’ll resist you as I walk down my street, feeling the warmth on my skin.

I’ll battle you as I do my work, important work that I love. I will conquer you as I do whatever I want, whenever I want.

Soon, I’ll be writing to you again.

But, this time I’ll say: “Dear Fatigue, I beat you.”

Originally published: June 6, 2019
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