The Mighty Logo

I'm Tired of Chronic Pain Making Me So Tired

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

When you live with a chronic pain condition and autoimmune disorders, there is a certain fatigue that sets up shop in your life. It’s a weird thing: suddenly you are fine, then you feel like breathing might take too much energy. Honestly, you know in your heart all the energy you have is being used to blink.

I wasn’t a person that stayed still — I always wanted to have plans. From baseball games to planetariums, my family was always on the go. I now understand that I believed being busy would keep the pain away, but when it became too much, all of the planning stopped. No one else heard the piercing scream in my head. I didn’t want my life to change; though it already had in so many positive ways, when you live with chronic illness, you live in a space waiting for the other shoe to drop. This only adds to the exhaustion of everyday life.

From my experience, most people say the fatigue is the hardest part of the disease. It is something that most people can’t get ahead of, even if they eat the best foods and do the most exercise. When your body feels like it’s working extra hard just to get a little bit of a head start, I guess it’s understandable. There is an exhaustion with finding a cure, and an even bigger helping of anxiety with trying to win once you do.

It can be hard to understand how this fatigue operates because it’s a different experience for everyone. Most describe it as “debilitating,” but some other words I’ve heard are “nauseating,” “oppressive,” and “bordering on incapacitating.” Knowing that, and still attempting to push through it when you know exhaustion is the only suitable response your body will give you.

And it is by far the saddest.

My exhaustion stands in the way of a lot of things. It has stopped me from making and keeping plans. It has stopped me from pursuing my art. It has stopped me from interacting with the people around me. It has forced me into a very solitary and lonely place, where sleep — no matter how fitful — feels like it is the only thing that will make it better. It has forced me to become a person I hardly recognize.

I hope things change, and I become one of those success stories, a person that kicks the shit out of everything that even remotely slows my progress. Sometimes I think it is possible, other times it seems like the brass ring I am grasping for, passing it over and over again and having it be just out of reach. Maybe it takes something I don’t have within me, something I have run out of, like patience or acceptance. I can’t be patient when I feel this way, and it is certainly something I don’t want to accept as my day to day life. I am tired of being tired, and a lot of other people are, too.

So maybe there are things and people that make me feel better, ideas that make me smile, memories that heal this frustration. It is hard to hold on to that sometimes, even when it would seem like the most natural thing to do. Loneliness settles deep in, with the fears of being left behind, inadequate — “sick” — poisoning every interaction. It is hard to understand and even harder to accept, and I am too tired to do anything about it either way.

Getty image via cyano66.

Originally published: March 12, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home