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15 Signs You Have Fibromyalgia Fatigue and Aren't 'Just Tired'

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Most people know what it’s like to be really tired – maybe you’ve had a stressful week at work, pulled an all-nighter to study for an exam or even spent a fun-filled weekend with friends. The exhaustion and sleepiness can feel overwhelming, but for someone without chronic health challenges, it’s usually nothing a good night’s rest and strong cup of coffee (or two) can’t fix!

But when you live with a chronic illness like fibromyalgia, one of the most common symptoms is chronic fatigue – and this type of fatigue is a lot different than your average “tiredness.” We wanted to better understand what fibro fatigue feels like and how it differs than the tiredness or exhaustion a healthy person may experience, so we asked our Mighty community to share a sign they have chronic fatigue from fibromyalgia and aren’t “just tired.” If you can relate to the following experiences, know you’re not alone.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. Just tired is usually heavy eyelids, maybe need a nap… but you can push through and get things done. Fibro fog is my whole body filled with sand, words on the tip of your tongue (but still lost)… there is no sleeping it off or relaxing it away, you do what you can to try and function.” – Bay H.
  2. Tired can be refreshed with a nap most times, whereas I can wake up tired, nap and still wake up tired, try to nap again and wake up tired again, this time with a headache. By bedtime, I’m exhausted beyond words. Tired doesn’t begin to cover how I feel; I would love to just be tired!” – Jessi E.
  3. Fatigue feels like your whole body is weighted down with lead and you don’t have the energy to move. You have to rest before you take a shower and you have to rest after your shower before you can even dry yourself properly. And then you have to rest some more.” – Tricia S.D.
  4. It’s fibro tired when it takes effort just to breathe. Getting up, holding your body and thinking are not an option. No sleep will fix this.” – Jillian L.
  5. Tired people go to sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. Fibro fatigue is being tired all the time. You can sleep eight hours or 14 hours (and anywhere between) and still feel like you are walking around with cement slippers. It’s like fighting a current all day every day and never having the rest needed to rejuvenate.” – Michelle R.
  6. When I’m dealing with fibro fatigue, my legs are really sore/hurt and my whole body slows down. It’s impossible to move at a normal speed. That doesn’t happen when I’m just tired.” – Miranda J.
  7. Fibro fatigue is not tiredness at all, it’s a total depletion of energy. It’s when you have to rest your arm several times while you brush your teeth or wash your hair because the ‘tiredness’ very quickly becomes pain. Fibro fatigue never gets better with rest or sleep. Being tired usually means you can still manage to live your life fully whereas fibro fatigue steals all your energy to exist.” – Kaia H.
  8. For me fatigue starts as just feeling tired. But soon after the tiredness hits I will start feeling nauseous and see stars. Then comes trouble breathing and I can’t really comprehend or remember anything that is said to me. It almost feels like I got way too drunk without drinking anything other than water.” – Linda C.
  9. My knees give out underneath me and I can’t get my eyes to focus. It’s when I know I have pushed myself too far.” – Eve D.
  10. Fibro fatigue is where my body feels like I’m moving through jelly. Fibro fog at the same time makes my head feel as if it’s twice its usual size, stuffed full of cotton wool and then wedged inside one of those old-fashioned diving helmets. ‘Tired’? Oh I wish I was only ‘tired.’” – Bernie L.
  11. I don’t necessarily have to sleep, but I just can’t be upright any longer. Also, no matter how long I do sleep, I never feel refreshed.” – Amy R.
  12. When I’m tired, I either sleep or kick back and do something easy, yet enjoyable. When I am fatigued, sleep doesn’t come and I am so exhausted that I can’t concentrate on something fun, even if it’s easy. It’s so far beyond tired; it takes immense effort just to move, think or speak, and there is no relief.” – Alexandria P.
  13. Tiredness is smiling when you go to bed. Fibro fatigue is crying and having a panic attack before you go to bed because you know you’re going to start the same thing all over again the next day when you wake up.” – Lori C.
  14. When I am beyond tired, I can’t think and concentrate clearly. Or listen to someone talking. I can barely stay on my feet. I need to go to sleep.” – Bhawanjot B.
  15. Fibro fatigue is being tired in every possible sense, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. When I get fatigue I can’t think straight, as in I have trouble doing mental tasks that are easy, things I teach second graders every day, like counting coins or telling time. When I have fibro fatigue, I don’t even have the mental capacity to communicate what I need/want or make small decisions like what I want to eat or watch on TV. Fibro fatigue is literally going days without showering or months without shaving my legs because it literally just takes energy I don’t have. So when I say ‘I’m really tired’ and someone without fibro says ‘me too,’ I know they don’t actually understand what I mean by saying ‘I’m tired.’” – Shelby C.

Struggling to cope with fibro fatigue? Check out these articles from our community:

12 Products People With Chronic Fatigue Swear By

How I Combat Fibromyalgia Fatigue

What to Remember When You’re Experiencing Fibromyalgia Fatigue

Photo by Oscar Blair on Unsplash

Originally published: August 16, 2018
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