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To Those Who Are Exhuasted From Living With a Mental Illness

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One aspect of living with a mental illness very few people talk about is the exhaustion you feel after completing simple day-to-day activities. Just getting out of bed is sometimes the hardest thing to overcome. Then, you have to complete simple tasks like brushing your teeth, changing your clothes and putting on makeup to look presentable to the people you may run into that day. All the while, you are fighting your gut instinct to simply crawl back into bed and be done with the whole process.

Once you actually get into the car and drive to where you’re going, there is an overwhelming feeling of trepidation. Even if you are someone who normally enjoys being around other people, when you have a mental illness, there is a certain dread of having to put on a fake smile and be nice to others, when all you want to do is run away and hide.

Sometimes you can make it through the day with little to no repercussions. Usually for me, those are the days I can sit at my desk, keep my head down and nobody notices I’m not my usual “bubbly” self. However, there are other days when every interaction, no matter if it’s with a co-worker, your supervisor, a family member, friend or even the bank teller, leaves you feeling emotionally and mentally drained.

It gets to the point where your eyes start to cross, you feel like your head is full of pillow stuffing and you can’t seem to keep your thoughts in order. It’s like that feeling when you’ve been awake for more than 24 hours. All you want is to be in a safe place, where you can close your eyes undisturbed.

That’s how it feels when you are constantly fighting your mental illness. You are beyond exhaustion. Your brain begins to shut down. You can’t think straight or focus on any one thing. Add to this the stigma that comes along with any type of mental illness, and you feel like a failure. You can’t seem to do the things other people accomplish every day because it saps so much energy from not just your brain, but your body as well.

Some days, simply getting out of bed and moving to the couch takes up so much energy you feel drained by the time you pull the blanket over your head. Forcing yourself to get out of bed, much less doing more necessary things like grocery shopping or paying bills, can be incapacitating. It affects every aspect of your life, from not having groceries on hand to the lights being cut off because you did not have the energy left to take care of mundane daily chores. Between the exhaustion and the stigma, this combination can easily make your mental illness worsen, turning it into a dark, downward spiral difficult to ascend.

I wish I could tell you the secret to staying away from this  state, or an easy way to get out of it once you’re there. I am still trying to discover this myself. I consider myself lucky to have a couple of close friends who also suffer from mental illnesses and whom I can talk to about the exhaustion and anxiety attacks. I also have a good psychiatrist, who truly listens to what I have to say and helps me figure out solutions to some of my symptoms. However, as with anything else, dealing with the exhaustion of living with mental illnesses is still unbelievably difficult, and some days I still spend all day lying in bed, simply waiting for the day to be over, despising myself for my inability to function.

If I could say one thing to those who are feeling the excruciating exhaustion of living with a mental illness: it’s OK to feel exhausted, and it’s OK to rest. There are a number of us out there who understand some days you need to give time to yourself to recuperate, and to restore your positive mindset, even if you feel like you haven’t done anything to deserve it.

Stop beating yourself up and start taking every day as it comes. If you have a day when you feel the exhaustion hanging over your head, then ignore that annoying voice in your mind that tells you you’re not justified in feeling this way. Take a nap, binge-watch Netflix while eating your favorite snacks or read your favorite book. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are getting the rest you need to face the day when you are ready again.

Originally published: July 29, 2016
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