COVID Fatigue….Yes It’s Real!
Fatigue is a bitch! My mother once said to me that I always seem tired and its true….I am always tired. I could close my eyes right now and fall asleep without an issue. And when I am triggered or hit an episode of depression, my whole body feels like lead and moving one foot in front of the other is a struggle. I’d love to get my hands on the dude who keeps throwing that boulder on my back! Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with taking a nap now and then and resting when you genuinely need a recharge. But the type of fatigue I am talking about cannot be cured with a nap or even 18 hours of sleep. Trauma, depression, and anxiety can sap every ounce of energy out of you. Right now, I know that many people who don’t normally feel this way are experiencing the fatigue which comes with the stress of this pandemic. It is real and I hope you know that you are not alone.
On the other end of the spectrum are some who go into overdrive, don’t sleep, cannot stop even if you put a brick wall in front of them. Believe me, I’ve had those moments too and when you finally stop and everything crashes, the only solace seems to be sleep. Now imagine trying to deal with that while raising kids or working a full-time job or having to be a caregiver to an elderly parent? And not to mention during a pandemic! So you pull yourself along as best you can and try every day to at least do the minimum because any more than that is just too much.
Mental health advocate, Micheal Landsberg, talks about being ‘proud of the shower’ and that has always resonated with me. When I’m having an episode, just thinking of personal hygiene is exhausting, never mind actually pulling my naked ass in to the shower. That’s what this type of fatigue is like…when you don’t even care what you smell or look like. Yet when I do get in the shower, I feel better, more energized, lighter, and stronger. And I do feel proud in those moments, because no matter how much fatigue this illness throws at me, I will fight it tooth and nail.
I don’t want to sound like it’s okay to just lay around and do nothing because that’s not what a person needs. Even at my most fatigued, I push myself to do a short walk or get on my exercise bike, or even just to do a load of laundry or wash some dishes. Making some daily goals is an amazing tool that I have found works well for me. There is a checklist of things I was given by a therapist once and had to check off each time I did something. Was it a struggle at first? Hell ya! Then it became routine and that is the ultimate goal! Routine tasks allow you to feel that you have accomplished something on a daily basis and be proud of doing so. Eventually, like me, you may not need the checklist anymore and just do those routine things as soon as you feel you need that tool again. That’s what your toolbox is for. And in the current context of COVID-19, routine and the use of tools is so very important for our mental health. Give it a try and remember that baby steps are okay....we eat an apple one bite at a time not as a whole!
I live in nearly chronic fatigue so if you are experiencing this, from illness or from the pandemic, please know I feel your pain. I know that it’s hard to even think of achieving any kind of goal when you are so very tired, both physically and mentally. If you try and fail, be forgiving and kind to yourself. Try again the next day and the next and the day after that. It isn’t easy but I promise you it is worth it. I know you have it in you to take that first step. No matter how fatigued you are right now, that spark of energy is in there somewhere. Finding it may be hard but it’s not impossible. We will make it through this COVID fatigue….I promise.