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I have fatigue. You may have fatigue or know someone who has fatigue. Or you may read the word “fatigue” and think “oh that person just needs to take a nap or have a cup of coffee and they will be fine.” There are lots of different ways to experience fatigue and, like most invisible illnesses, there are lots of different ways to perceive fatigue.

Fatigue is a symptom of over one hundred chronic illnesses, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a nasty chronic disease in itself. I feel like it is often overlooked and associated with the word “lazy” which provides it with that ever so lovely social stigma that lots of misunderstood diseases get tacked on to their names and which makes life with one of those diseases hell for the sufferer. I get an absolute kick out of it when people spend their time and energy denouncing things like chronic fatigue as “bogus.” It does nothing for them but give them a momentary “holier than thou” feeling and makes the person who has to live with that “bogus” disease question their sanity, their strength and their pain. Basically, it’s a really shitty thing to do.

So let’s talk about fatigue. Let’s make it more approachable so it isn’t this scary thing that people don’t understand. Let’s take away the stigma so some people won’t feel so determined to undermine what other people are going through. Let’s explain how chronic fatigue isn’t just an excuse to stay in bed.

I do not have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but if I did I could contribute the following symptoms to my CFS: extreme malaise, difficulty sleeping, problems with memory and concentration, persistent muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, sore throats, brain fog, dizziness, irritable bowel, visual disturbances, mood problems and other serious symptoms. Sounds like a walk in the park, doesn’t it? I could have relatively few symptoms and lead a rather normal, active life, or I could be absolutely debilitated by these symptoms and be as disabled as someone with MS, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or heart disease. I could go into remission and feel great for awhile or I could remain sick for a long time with no relief. To top all of that off there is no cure and there are no prescription drugs developed specifically for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It’s a very complicated illness.

Then there are people like me who have other chronic illnesses with fatigue as a symptom, not the underlying cause. I am lucky, in a sense, because I only get short bouts of fatigue occasionally. But when I do get it, it hits me hard. I have trouble waking in the morning and starting my day even though I had ample sleep the night before. I am groggy and could literally fall asleep while sitting up at the dinner table eating supper. I have no energy and have trouble even thinking about doing something active because all my body wants to do is curl up in bed and sleep. But the last thing I want to do is give in to that sleep. I’m in my mid-twenties and I have a rather exciting social life. I have a boyfriend and lots of friends who want to hang out and do fun and exciting things with me. I have a full time job and I enjoy writing and reading in my spare time. I want to go for walks and bowling and get up early to clean my house. I’m happy and I want to do fun, happy things. I don’t want to spend every moment I am not at work sleeping. I don’t want to nap on my breaks at work. I want to get through at least one chapter of a book in the evening without falling asleep on top of it and getting makeup all over the pages.

A few weeks ago when I was feeling pretty down from all of this fatigue I was talking to a friend of mine who also suffers from it and I told her that I want to write a self-help book about coping with fatigue in the workplace. I want to title it “How to Ask Your Boss for Nap Time” because I seriously start nodding off half-way through the work day every day. I can be running around the office completing tasks and if I close my eyes for a second I bet I could fall fast asleep crouching at the filing cabinet or walking down the stairs to get the mail.

Fatigue is not easy to have, it is not easy to manage, and although there are things you can do to decrease the symptoms a bit (such as exercise and eating a well balanced diet) you have little control over how your body will react.

I think fatigue is one of my hardest symptoms to manage. It is one that upsets me the most because I just cannot stand those days when fun activities pass me by because I can’t keep my eyes open long enough to enjoy them. I’ve slept about 30 hours this weekend. Think of all the activities I could have been doing in 30 hours!

Sure, sometimes I am lazy and I just want to sit on the couch and watch Netflix and take afternoon naps for no reason, but there is a world of difference between being lazy and suffering from fatigue.

So think twice before you tell someone they are lazy, or you shrug off their symptoms by telling them they just need a coffee. This is a lifelong, debilitating problem for some people, a problem that is very hard for most people to talk about publicly because of social stigma surrounding it, so why not try to make things a little easier on us by simply not being a jerk and not saying something rude about fatigue? I’m tired. I’m not only tired from fatigue but from all the negativity I hear about fatigue. So why not just give it a rest?

And fellow fatigue sufferers, please tell me all of the tricks up your sleeve to get through a busy day when you can barely stay awake!

12 Comments on Let’s Talk About Fatigue

  1. fibrogeek
    November 30, 2014 at 11:09 pm (5 years ago)

    I feel for you. Having fibromyalgia, fatigue is something I have battled for many years. These past few months have been terrible for me with fatigue and I have been off work for a number of weeks. At a few points I struggled to get out of bed. It’s so frustrating as there is literally nothing doctors can do to help you. I am trying some herbs to see if they helped after reading a book called suffered long enough by Dr William Rawls. Fingers crossed they help as I am utterly fed up!!!

    Reply
    • lisermarie2013
      December 1, 2014 at 6:43 pm (5 years ago)

      I`m sorry you have to go through that! Fingers crossed that the herbs work! And if they do please let me know 🙂

      Reply
  2. someonesideaofluxury
    December 1, 2014 at 3:46 am (5 years ago)

    A good diet (and that is something that is different for everyone) and a good occupational therapist helped me get through work days with fatigue. And don’t be too hard on yourself!

    Reply
    • lisermarie2013
      December 1, 2014 at 6:48 pm (5 years ago)

      Having an occupational therapist on your side must be a big help! Thanks for the advice 🙂

      Reply
  3. escharae
    December 1, 2014 at 9:53 am (5 years ago)

    If you and your friend write that book, I’ll buy it.

    Reply
  4. jilrose
    December 1, 2014 at 1:14 pm (5 years ago)

    While I don’t have fatigue, I do have a B12 deficiency and if it gets low, I get different complications, one of which can be fatigue. It is really difficult to deal with. I dealt with it all last winter during my work term/internship for teaching and it took all my effort not to call in sick every day. I could barely drag myself out of bed. I could sleep all night and wake up feeling like I hadn’t slept at all. There were days when I cried because my body was so tired. So, what I’m trying to say is yea, I’d buy that book.

    Reply
    • lisermarie2013
      December 1, 2014 at 6:50 pm (5 years ago)

      I used to have a b12 deficiency and anaemia from it along with the other health issues and it certainly can be a drag! Hopefully you get a handle on it. I know the needles are very helpful.

      Reply
  5. MindfulEm
    December 1, 2014 at 4:10 pm (5 years ago)

    Hi there,
    Thanks for the reassurance that fatigue is no laughing matter, and is very real. I have fibromyalgia and low thyroid levels so can relate. I’m off work at the moment which I’m finding very difficult. It’s the cognitive impairment that is the most frustrating, where halfway through the day (or even a conversation), my thoughts turn to mush and I forget how to speak. Perhaps you know that feeling, too!
    I’m currently working through a book called “Overcoming Chronic Fatigue by Trudie Chandler” (link is on my most recent blog post) and I find that helps with pacing my activities.
    Take care 🙂

    Reply
    • lisermarie2013
      December 1, 2014 at 6:53 pm (5 years ago)

      Maybe I will check out that book and see if it can help me! Like I said in my post, fatigue doesn`t affect me all of the time, but there are certainly times when I find it overwhelming. I definitely get the cognitive impairment from it sometimes. I feel like my brain just stops working for a few seconds here and there­.

      All the best to you!

      Reply
  6. vgfoster
    December 2, 2014 at 1:22 am (5 years ago)

    I feel your pain. I have CFS and a few years ago, after a serious bout of poison ivy and double doses of steroids, I found myself unable to get out of bed. Turns out my cortisol level (energy hormone) had dropped to zero. My doctor recommended the book Adrenal Fatigue, the 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr. James Wilson. It helped in many ways, not the least of which was forcing my husband to see that what I was going through was real, and I wasn’t just being lazy. Take care.

    Reply
  7. suesuzzz
    December 3, 2014 at 9:21 pm (5 years ago)

    Thank you for sharing your story… I have both forms of lupus and bunch of other health issues with cfs….IT SUCK…so I can relate and so understand what you are going through..please hang in there the best you can (i know you do) I know its so frustrating all I can say is for me it’s best to take it day by day…I hope and pray for you for better days to come my dear…keep the faith… Suzette.. I really did enjoy reading what you had to say and look forward to your blogs…

    Reply

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