It’s morning. You wake up and for a moment you hope. What exactly? It’s not always clear. That the illness is over. That the pain is gone. That you are no longer tired. In any case, there is always some kind of disappointment when you realise that what you hoped for has not happened.
This disappointment is even worse at times when you are constantly tired. Every morning you hope that it’s all over, that you finally feel a little rested. And every morning you’re disappointed because that overwhelming, sneaky tiredness is still there… It’s as if it sticks to your skin. It never stops. It’s always there. At any rate, that’s the feeling you have. You have this feeling that you’ll always be tired, that it’s endless. And it’s true that sometimes when you’re tired, it seems endless. It’s as if you were in a thick, dense fog. As if you were paralysed by it.
Pain is one thing, fatigue is another. It’s like a screed that covers you all over. You can’t seem to get rid of it. Up to a certain point pain is bearable, controllable. But fatigue has always seemed much more elusive to me. So there are really days when you are tired of being tired. Tired of this tiredness that seems to dominate everything.
And then comes the frustration of hearing others say they are tired. Everybody feels tired, don’t they? You feel like telling them: “No, but shut up, you don’t know what it is to be tired, what real fatigue is”. And then you reason with yourself, because in the end, you used to do the same thing before.
In the end, what is frustrating is not that others say they are tired, but that there is only one word to describe a reality that seems so different. As a matter of fact, what does this occasional fatigue at the end of the day have in common with that nagging, stubborn, permanent fatigue that never goes away, even with sleep? It has nothing to do with that tiredness that I would almost describe as pleasant, that one can feel after a great physical effort or at the end of a busy day. No, it’s quite the opposite. The hardest part is that it lasts and leaves a bitter impression of an endless tunnel.
These moments of tiredness are often accompanied by discouragement. You wonder why you should go on, when you could just stay in bed and do nothing… Over the years I have learned to cope better with these moments of exhaustion, even if it is still difficult at times. Here is how I do it:
1. Taking time for yourself
Even though I would like to be more available for others, I have learned to accept that in these moments I absolutely must take a break. Even if those breaks are often forced ones. In these moments, settling down, resting, alone, is important to do things that do me good like reading, watching films, etc. Seeing others can also help, but might generate more fatigue than necessary. It is therefore important to find activities that do you good, while allowing you to recover your strength.
2. Being indulgent with oneself
It’s a struggle, but I try to be not too demanding with myself in those moments. Accepting that every activity will cost more energy and therefore I will do less. Accepting also that I will spend a day in bed if necessary. Acknowledge that it’s understandable to be angry. Understand that getting angry takes strength and energy, available only in small amounts, and that it will not change the situation. Be patient and wait for it to pass. Remember that it will get better in the end.
3. Accepting to get help
It is especially important in times of great fatigue to know how to let yourself be helped and to accept to receive the help you need. This obviously brings you back once again to that state of great fatigue. But at the same time it allows you to do a little more than you could do on your own.
4. Not paying too much attention to what other people are saying
It can happen that others don’t fully understand what it means to go through such a tiring period and how exhausting it is. I think it’s important to try to explain and make them understand how it feels. To this end, using metaphors is always very useful, I think. However, if they don’t understand, I think it’s essential not to pay too much attention to what others may say in those moments, whether it’s reproaches or hurtful words, intentionally or not. When you are very tired, taking a step back can be very beneficial to regain strength.
Once the episode of prolonged fatigue is over, you will be able to look outwards and towards others again, full of new energy.
Picture by David Clode on Unsplash