The Weariness of Fatigue Is More Than Feeling Tired

Editor's note: This article discusses physical and mental exhaustion. If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, there are resources available for support including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and online chat.

Today I want to sleep.

I want to go to sleep and never wake up. To luxuriate in the endless bliss of nothingness as my relentlessly restless body sinks into a sensuous, soft stillness. I want to be free from the physical pain that comes with a body that never stays still – not even for a moment. I want to be free from the exhaustion of endless nights filled with wide-eyed wakefulness. I don’t want to feel worried or anxious or guilty or afraid anymore. I don’t want to feel fat and old and lost and weary. I just want to rest. To experience the mysteries of an elusive, blissful rest.

My body is tired. I am fit and well. But I am physically exhausted. There is no reason. It just is.

My soul is tired. There is no reason. It just is.

Physical and mental exhaustion

I don’t feel particularly depressed or anxious today. I don’t feel sad or teary or stressed or worried – no more than any other day. I just don’t want to be anything. My psychiatrist would say, “That’s pretty f*ing depressed!” because he’s a straight talker and there’s no confusing what he means. So, I guess I must be pretty f*ing depressed but I don’t feel it. I don’t feel anything much today. I’m just terribly, terribly weary.

This is what restless legs syndrome (RLS) and chronic insomnia have done to me. They have worn out my mind and body. I have succumbed to a mental exhaustion I never even imagined existed. I have discovered a physical lethargy I never even thought possible. It’s not tiredness, it’s fatigue. There’s a difference. A big difference.

The heaviness of fatigue

Fatigue is the lead weights clinging to my bones that create a heaviness in my body completely unrelated to the donuts that insomnia craves. Fatigue is stooped shoulders that look to the floor with longing and an addled brain now filled with cotton wool and cotton candy. There’s nothing left to mentally cling to. Walking and talking are major accomplishments. Fatigue brings the overwhelming bodily urge to feed a hunger that is never satiated with a few fast carbs. My only wish is to go to sleep and dream of endless dreams.

What I need, what I want

Today I need to write and read and do the modicum of work that keeps our financial security just struggling to bob its head in floundering waters. Today I need to clean and tidy our family home that is brimming with unfinished projects and memories of my grown children.

Today I need to maintain the social contacts that have kept me (vaguely) sane and alive over the years. The angelic souls who have gently loved and supported me in any capacity they can as my restless body wriggles its way to exhaustion. I don’t have the will or energy to do anything at all.

Instead, I want to luxuriate in the endless bliss of nothingness as my relentlessly restless body sinks into a sensuous, soft stillness. Today I want to go to sleep and never wake up.

Today I want to sleep.

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