Forget pain. Forget stiff joints and headaches. Never mind brain fog, bloated tummy, and blank stares… The worst part of being chronically ill is fatigue. Well, for me at least.
But wait- what is fatigue?
Hmm, the dictionary defines it as a
physical and/or mental exhaustion that can be triggered by stress, medication, overwork, or mental and physical illness or disease. (source)
Personally, I would describe it as a crippling feeling, like paralysis. It’s like my body shuts down, betrays me, and keeps me hostage. Even my mind is tired and sad, my legs feel like they weigh a tone and my eye bags hurt like hell.
It’s draining- both, physically and mentally.
So… isn’t fatigue just a fancy word for being tired then?
No. I believe those two are incomparable. I can take tired any time and deal with it but fatigue gets me. Not only can I barely move and function; there is also this huge mental struggle as no one believes you.
They see you as lazy, sensitive, someone who’s exaggerating and seeking attention. Hell, even you begin to question yourself and start having doubts. Like, could it really all be just in my head?
It took me long, too long to realise that it is not. It’s not just in my head. It’s not my mind making up something and looking for excuses to escape everyday life&errands. I’m not lazy as fuck. I’m fatigued.
It was extremely hard to except that even doing the simplest of daily, basic chores can be such a struggling challenge. I swear, fatigue is the meanest of them all. It’s the most destroying, nerve-racking, and unpleasant feeling ever.
It’s painful, lonely and it can easily turn you into a loner/weirdo. Which is probably why I prefer to spend time alone. There are two good reasons for that. Firstly, there’s no need to explain/apologise myself to anyone. There’s no need to pretend to be all smiley and heroic. Secondly, I have a feeling am an awful friend. I’m far from the trust worthy&reliable partner as I often have to cancel plan in the last minute- simply for being too beat to do anything.
Fatigue sucks you into its vicious whirl and it takes a whole lot of effort to swim out of it. But- it’s possible!
Like I said, sometimes even the most basic “jobs” seem to be mission impossible. And by basic, I mean getting out of bed and taking a shower.
It’s also tricky. Sometimes you can feel it coming, and sometimes it comes out of nowhere and knocks you down.
This’s why it’s such a mental war- that suspense of never knowing when it’s going to hit- that’s the worse. I can say for myself I’ve been through many battles. Some I lost. Some I won. Some I’m still fighting.
But I don’t believe in giving up, and even less in feeling sorry for myself. So I try my best at all times. It’s not always easy. But that’s life, right?
However, there were times when I truly hated and despised myself. I felt so much anger and frustration, even jealousy. I was jealous of others because they could go out and do stuff, and I couldn’t.
What truly drove me insane was hearing them bitching about the most petty things and constantly complaining over such silly matters as having a bad hair day. You ever had a fatigue day?
Of course, hatred and bitterness are never the answer.
Should I say or should I remain silent?
I was often torn between desire to “let it all out” and explain others how I feel, and lethal fear they would all think I’m a whiner.
When I still experienced prolonged periods of fatigue, I became much of a loner and control freak. So soon, the fatigue itself wasn’t such a big problem anymore. Now the problem was what I was becoming.
This was the turning point- the point where I knew I needed to do something. I needed to learn to relax and let it go. Let it all go and accept that fatigue is a part of my life now and that I don’t have to feel ashamed and guilty about it.
Like I mentioned in one of the previous blogs, accepting the disease doesn’t mean giving up. It just means you “welcome” the disease and take it as a part of your life- because well, it is. I can’t give any proper advice on how to accept it, because there’s no universal recipe. In fact, it’s a long and often painful process. Maybe I could best describe it as learning to love yourself all over again. Getting to know yourself again. Forgiving yourself.
No, I don’t mean whining and complaining. Talk to yourself and be honest. Admit yourself you’re tired and recognise that you just can’t do certain things. This is when the part of forgiving yourself begins.
Also telling others, those who you trust, won’t hurt. Let them know you’re not feeling all that well and that you might be a bit slow that day.
Just remember two things you should NEVER do: feeling sorry for yourself and letting others patronise you!
Finding your inner peace is hugely popular these days. We should all be enlightened, happy, smiley, spiritual, and BFF with the universe. Yeah. I’m not buying this. While I’m all for being and feeling confident and content, I also believe happiness is relative. Besides, how could we ever truly appreciate all the good things without a little pain and suffering, right? 😛
The minute you realise that, kick back, relax, and start trusting yourself (again) things change and improve.
Another thing I noticed is that moderate exercise definitely helps. I could go all big and claim that yoga is the best- but that was me last year. This year I’m more into walking. What can I say…I’m a bit fickle, ha-ha.
My yoga’s always been extremely basic, more like a bit clumsy stretching. This year it’s the long walks. Whatever floats your boat, just make sure you move your body. Yes, I know it’s sounds bizarre coming from the mouth of someone who knows how fatigue feels like, but moderate, easy and gentle moving helps. Maybe it doesn’t take the pain away but it clears your mind. And this brings me back to the importance of having your shit together.
Bottom line: fatigue is not in your head. It’s real. But overcoming it often starts and ends in our heads. When it hits, take time to rest and recover. When it goes away, enjoy every minute of life. ❤