A snowman shown in three different phases of melting.

Fatigue Mistakes I Made So You Don’t Have To

In my opinion, fatigue is the worst arthritis symptom. My fatigue is unsurpassed in deactivation powers. Arthritis is always there, ticking away in the background, sometimes so quietly that I forget my self-care responsibilities. Over the years, I’ve struggled with budgeting my energy for holiday participation and more mundane activities.

The holiday apocalypse

Aren't the winter holidays wild? The decorations have fantasy themes ranging from glorious palace, ski lodge, and indoor blizzard. What is with all that indoor snow? Movies and songs remind us that Christmas is an enchanted time for magical moments and taking stock of our lives. In between making dreams come true, we’re meant to find true love, make up for falling out of touch, and impress everybody? Or something? Stores are conveniently stocked with the perfect things to make all this magic happen.

I used to go all-in on holiday magic nonsense, making a mountain of handmade personalized gifts and cooking up a storm. I put a Small is Beautiful policy into place in 2018. This means a maximum of 4 things are coming out of my kitchen, and one of those things might be meatballs! With these limits, I have time to rest and enjoy the season.

Doing over being

Sometimes life is reduced to a series of tasks. We’ve got to secure an income and retirement, do something about healthcare, food, shelter, transportation, and clothing. Maybe we’ll have family, pets, community participation, and vacations along the way.

Fatigue excels at grinding us down. Day by day, it narrows our focus from the big picture, toward the immediate and sometimes urgent small tasks of life. These urgent small tasks are likely repetitive exhausting distractions from reflection on the big ticket items of what we want and need.

Not centering my needs

From 2016-2019 another relative and I managed an elder’s dementia care. Progressed dementia patients can’t do much for themselves, so we had to step in. This left us tired, broke, and short on problem solving skills.

The pressures of eldercare and making my life work on a limited energy budget put me in the hellish position of spending at least two days each week on cooking, cleaning, and managing errands for the household. A huge chunk of the rest of the week was spent recovering or muddling through. The Dude died in 2019, but it took the near total incapacitation of a life threatening anemia (2021) to fully disrupt this terrible habit.

How did this happen?

It's easy to forget that stress and illness shape how we see the world, especially when it goes on for a long time. Struggling to get through the day felt normal and I got used to pushing myself too far. The doing of life surpassed the being. The good news is that I figured this out in time to make some changes. What about you?


  • Where does your time and energy go?
  • Are you happy with how my life is going?
  • What makes you feel energized and refreshed?
  • Have some activities or relationships turned draining or sour?
  • What could you change today, next week, and next month?

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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