A few words on ‘fatigue’

Working for a safety critical company you hear it used in a different context, for people being over tired and not suitable for work. People also use it interchangeably with the word ‘tired’ and before my illness I probably wouldn’t have given that much thought. When I try to explain to people what my illness is, more often than not when they hear the word fatigue they immediately respond ‘oh I’m always tired too’. I try not to react defensively to comments like this because I get it. Before I got ill I was always tired. Two young kids, neither good sleepers, busy and challenging job, bouts of insomnia, meant I was always tired. Before that I had years of drinking and partying and working hard. Always tired. Everyone is tired. Modern life is tiring. But I would give anything to go back to being tired. To waking up exhausted but being able to pull myself together and get through the day with the help of caffeine, then spending the weekend catching up on sleep and managing to stave off the exhaustion for another week. To be tired but in a normal, everyone is tired kind of way. Fatigue, in the context i have got to know it, is beyond any level of tired I’ve ever felt. It’s more than tired, it’s the most draining exhaustion you can imagine. Its like having flu, tying lead weights to your limbs and attempting to do an Ironman. It’s like drowning in some kind of vicious fluid that won’t let you break free and no matter how much you sleep it doesn’t let up. You wake up on 5% battery and need to last a day on that. A day that might start with a 4 year old peeing on their pyjamas, a cat vomiting on the stairs, a 2 year old who wants to cuddle the entire time you’re getting dressed and attempting to eat breakfast and if you try to put them down a screaming banshee takes their place. A day that sees you at your desk by 7.30, leading meetings by 8am, trying to inspire a team to perform at a high level, deal with a business full of colleagues who all want and need different things from you and 9 hours later you get home and attempt to play with the kids after nursery and contribute to the bedtime routine in an effort to not be a shit parent. 5% doesn’t cut it. So yeah, I’d love to be tired again.

 

Even the utter exhaustion of a newborn was preferable to the symptoms of CFS/ME

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