A woman lies curled up, exhausted, with a starry sky scene behind her.

An Ode To Chronic Fatigue

You know about that soul-crushing, relentless, haunting fatigue — the kind of fatigue that makes the walk to the kitchen feel like a marathon?

It's the kind of fatigue that makes you feel as though you’ve been living in a dream state, swimming through fog, always on the verge of falling asleep, but never quite closing your eyes. It’s a strange, feverish limbo state, where you are caught between sleep and wakefulness.

During these times, I feel useless, like I am never going to be someone with desires or capabilities ever again.

The hardest thing

In these moments, the hardest thing for me to do isn't physical. The hardest thing is finding the belief that I will ever be normal again. It is so hard to believe that this fatigue can be temporary, that I can feel such epic lethargy one day and feel totally human the next.

How can I go from walking 5 miles through the park to feeling like I am sinking into the numb hellscape that is the couch?

I am often caught unawares when the lethargy sets in, like a storm that sneaks up after a sunny day. It's as though I hadn’t remembered it from the time before, as though my mind deleted it from its memory banks. Maybe it’s protecting me. Maybe it’s just so all-consuming that there’s no way that I can remember how bad it was.

Knock-you-down fatigue

When this sort of knock-you-down fatigue hits, I’m annoyed at every little thing. I’m annoyed that I have to answer the doorbell. I’m annoyed that I have to make dinner. I’m annoyed that I have to do work. I’m annoyed that I need to shower but can’t even remotely conceive of how I’ll do so. But mostly, I’m annoyed because I do actually remember a time before this fatigue — when I had boundless energy and the kind of endless, hungry devotion to my projects and life. The fatigue makes caring hard, or at least it puts caring behind a hazy scrim.

Although I know that the chronic illness community understands this fatigue, I wish more people understood that fatigue is like any other symptom. It’s brutal. It’s uncomfortable. And no one wants it.

I don’t want to feel lazy or disconnected or like it’s a slog just to move from room to room. I’m not using it as an excuse. I’m not using it to get out of work or pleasure. It’s just an all-consuming fog that sits like a cloak around my body — popping in and out of my life whenever it wants.

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