“I’m tired, too” is the usual response when I tell someone I’m fatigued. That would make my blood boil, but anger takes too much energy when you’re fatigued, so I’ve settled for an exhausted sigh. Here are some examples from my last two days that show how different fatigue is from being tired.
Not being able to do the most basic tasks
Fatigue is daydreaming about cleaning the house, but not even being able to sweep the floor or clean the sink.
Fatigue is wanting to take a walk around the block, but knowing you won’t be able to complete the circuit.
Fatigue is squinting to see around the smudges and streaks on your glasses, but not being able to put forth the effort to clean them.
Having to ignore your body’s needs
Fatigue is letting your stomach grumble for two hours because you don’t have the energy to get up to even grab an energy bar. Then it’s eating a bowl of cereal despite the salad you’re craving because you can’t muster the effort required to make a salad.
Fatigue is waiting to go to the bathroom until you feel like your bladder is going to explode because you don’t have the strength to make the trip to the bathroom unless it is urgent.
Fatigue is knowing you need to get ready for bed, but not having the energy to get up off the couch. So you sit in the living room for an hour or two, getting sleepier and sleepier, but being too exhausted to stand up to go brush your teeth.
Fatigue is desperately wanting a shower, but knowing you won’t be able to stand for the five minutes to wash yourself, let alone manage to dry off, put on deodorant, and hang up your wet towel. And going through this same thought day after day, wishing ever more each day that you could just manage a shower. And when you finally do manage to shower, having someone sit outside the bathroom door in case you need to yell for help.
Almost physical pain
Fatigue is grunting from the exertion of loading the washing machine.
Fatigue is standing hunched over the kitchen sink, washing a cast iron pain, nearly in tears as every cell in your body screams with fatigue. But you keep washing because you know if you don’t finish and dry the pan, it will rust and cause more work later. As soon as you finish, you collapse into a chair and don’t move for three hours.
Barely being able to work
Fatigue is wanting to record a video for Migraine.com showing what fatigue looks like, but not being able to change out of your too-revealing pajama top, so you dictate a list into your phone instead.
Fatigue is doing video meetings with your camera off so no one can see that you can’t hold yourself upright. (Added bonus, they also can’t see that you haven’t showered in days.)
Utter, almost incomprehensible exhaustion
Fatigue is not feeling rested despite resting for hours and hours.
Fatigue is getting so worn out walking across your house that you plop down in the middle of the floor to rest.
Fatigue is a day where emptying the dishwasher feels like a huge accomplishment.
Fatigue is not putting on your fitness tracker so you can avoid being distressed by how little you move each day.
Fatigue is having muscles that are sore from disuse.
A bone-deep weariness
Fatigue feels like you’re wearing a lead blanket all the time. It’s a bone-deep weariness that makes you feel completely unproductive.
What does fatigue mean to you?
How much has your migraine disease changed or evolved over time?