Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I'm going through a fatigue cycle again, so I thought I'd write about it for everyone who doesn't know jack about fatigue, which seems to be everyone I run into lately.

First of all, fatigue is different from tiredness. Tiredness is the need to sleep, caused by overexertion or lack of sleep. Tiredness is easy to fix, all you have to do is sleep. Fatigue is bigger, more widespread and unaffected by sleep. I've been sleeping 10-14 hours a day lately, and I wake up as exhausted as when I went to sleep. Judging by my dreams, I'm as exhausted asleep as I am awake. (I have literally been having dreams about trying to sleep and being interrupted. It's very surreal.) I'm not very clear headed, and I'm also not terribly interested in, well, anything.

The best way I can try to explain fatigue is imagine trying to get through your day while wearing a suit of armor made of lead.

Now imagine trying to work or do chores or care for children in this state. The exhaustion alone is exhausting.

Fatigue is frustrating in a variety of ways. Fatigue is a very common symptom. Virtually anything can cause it, so doctors are left looking in every direction for a cause. Diseases that case fatigue as a primary symptom, such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, are poorly understood, underdiagnosed, not very treatable, and most common in women. (And if you think that doesn't affect how doctors regard a disease, I'd like to know what alternate universe you inhabit and how to get there.)

Fatigue is also frustrating in that everyone totally understands it- "Wow! I know just how you feel, I only got 4 hours of sleep last night!"- everyone has a cure right at hand- "More B vitamins, try this tea, do this exercise!" - and nobody appreciates how you feel- "What do mean, watch the baby for me? You're so lazy!"

If you've never suffered from fatigue, you don't know how I feel. I have a doctor, I've tried your treatments. I would drink motor oil if I thought it would work. Shut up. I'm not lazy. The fact that I am currently upright is a testament to pure willpower. Shut up some more.

I'll get better. These things pass, eventually, I just thought I'd share and maybe promote a little understanding.


  1. Oh yes, boy do I know this. Especially right now. I have stood at the bottom of the stairs at my house and realized I did not have the energy to go up them. In fact the idea of going up them was exhausting and it made me want to cry that I was that exhausted.
    Your description of it being lead armor is fantastic. And I have had those dreams when I am having problems with fatigue. They are so weird. Maybe it's common?
    Anyway, thank you. I wish people understood how hard it can be to function like this.

  2. "Fatigue is also frustrating in that everyone totally understands it."

    I think I know how you feel.

    I am severly hearing-impaired, and everybody uunderstand that too.

    "Just turn up your volume, "You have to listen harder: blah blah blah.

  3. Oh, John. I may be randomly crying from sheer exhaustion, but at least I'm not trying to watch TV with captions, aka "confusing spews of random letters that make me think TV executives actively despise the hearing impaired."

    (For those that have no idea what I'm talking about, try watching TV with the sound turned off and captions turned on. You'll see what I mean.)

  4. PF, have you been following ERV (http://scienceblogs.com/erv/)? She has been talking a lot about Chronic Fatigue lately and the search for a cure. It is interesting, to me as a lay person in epigenetics and ERVs. There is no aha or that is all I have to do, but it is a discussion on why certain things won't work.

  5. Hey, I was doing some research on binaural beats, I thought you might be interested in this web link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQK_uZEPRaM

    Binaural beats are some pretty cool scientific discoveries. You can listen to whatever frequency you need to hear.

    I don't struggle with fatigue, so I can't understand, but just wanted to help a bit.

  6. I am glad at least one other person knows that captions can really suck,

  7. John, I watch the captions quite often. I notice it is worse during live broadcasts.

  8. PF, you just described my life during particularly pronounced depression. Particularly the walking through your day with a metal suit of armor on. And, yeah. When I'm like that, it is definitely not helpful to hear what kind of tea or vitamin I should be imbibing. In fact, when I hear that kind of thing, I tend to consider how heavy the armor on my arm is going to feel if I try to smack that person in the face. Trufax.

  9. Oh yes, and like Leigh, I also have those dreams when I'm feeling the depression fatigue. The dream will usually involve walking through sand or water... only there is no sand or water. It just takes that much effort to move.

  10. I can't imagine what the hearing impaired think is going on in the world if they're watching captioned news instead of going online.

    The best is how the captions will cut out large portions of dialogue, but spend a carefully worded paragraph describing a random noise, thusly.

    What was actually said:

    "John! It's so nice to see you! When was the last time we met- Aunt Frieda's funeral?" *a car accident occurs nearby*


    Jhon?$%! Hai!!!1!

    [the sound of breaking glass and crunching metal, as heard from approximately 1.3 meters distance, downwind]

    Trufax: the first time I saw lolcat, I thought they were making fun of captioning.

  11. I know exactly how you feel! ha ha ;p

    well maybe, twins and a caesarian, after that was fatigue, now just tired sometimes which as you say is different. No advice, oh go on vitamins, they did help with me but that's specific to the cause.

    Your post made me laugh, gotta love a good rant.)

  12. "Jhon?$%! Hai!!!1!

    [the sound of breaking glass and crunching metal, as heard from approximately 1.3 meters distance, downwind]

    Trufax: the first time I saw lolcat, I thought they were making fun of captioning."

    Oh Godess, that is funny!

  13. I'm glad you're hanging in there, PersFail.

  14. i only have to add:
    being in full plate made of lead while the very air has the consistency of molasses and everyone around seems to be moving is Zero G...


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