Exhaustion. It overpowers you as you wake up in the morning. Ironic right, that you are exhausted from sleep. The reality of the situation is that thousands of people wake up feeling this way every morning. Whether mentally or physically ill, we do not wake up feeling refreshed, but rather we wake up feeling like zombies.
Don’t get me wrong, some days the fatigue is better than others, but the overwhelming feeling of tiredness can be hopeless sometimes. It is knowing that no matter what hour you go to sleep you will feel the same in the morning, yet you cannot seem to keep your eyelids from drooping after 5 p.m. People say all the time, “Everyone is always tired” or “Just push through it,” but the truth is that those people do not understand. I still remember the good days before I got sick when I could go for hours and hours without feeling fatigued. Now, do not expect me to stand more than a few minutes, and especially do not expect me to be coherent after 8 p.m.
The thing is that after a while we begin to hide this exhaustion. Girls learn the beauty of makeup, and boys learn to smile through the pain, but faking does not make it OK. When we say we are tired we do not mean “I’m tired, I need to get to bed, and I will be great in the morning,” we mean “I am so tired of life. But if I sleep it will not get better. It never goes away.” This feeling haunts you. I dream of eating and not hurting, I dream of waking up feeling refreshed. I dream of being like my classmates. The truth is that I go to bed at 9 p.m. not because I am lazy, but because if I don’t I will suffer the consequences. I will suffer from post exertion malaise: sore throat, massive head ache, drooping eyelids and incredible exhaustion. My classmates never see this, though, because I coat on makeup, drink some tea, and put a smile on my face.
One of the things my classmates will never understand is my water bottle. Every day I bring this Contigo water bottle with a slice of lemon with me. It has become a part of me; no one ever sees me without the water bottle. They see the me that wants to stay healthy and hydrated, but what they don’t see is that it is my method of keeping myself awake. A few times a class period I will grab for it and take a sip because the cold water wakes up my mind until I take the next sip.
I am honestly that tired at all times, and I bet some of you are, too, but no one ever talks about it. Instead, beauty standards teach us to cover up our bags and acne and put on a smile (along with a face full of foundation and eyeliner). I am not saying to ditch the makeup at all (I would never do that personally), but I am saying that there are those of us out there who understand. You may feel weak for not being able to stay up all night like your friends, or for having to leave a party early because it is “past your bed time,” but honestly you are not alone. Almost every time I go out I am home by 10 p.m. because I have to weigh the pros and cons of staying up even a minute after that period of time.
So for those of you fellow spoonies, people with mental illnesses, and people with physical illnesses, please do not blame yourself. It is not your fault that you are tired after sleeping 14 hours. It is not your fault that you have to leave the dance early to make sure you don’t fall asleep at the table. It is not your fault that you are tired beyond imagination because in life there are some things you just cannot control.