I’ve been tired for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I just wanted to rest after school or do quiet, low-key activities. As I got older I just thought I was weird, and then attributed it to being an introvert. Then at some point in law school I realized something felt off, and that it just wasn’t normal to be so tired all the time. I had blood work done as soon as I was insured (following the wedding), and got the good news: blood work looks great, nothing is wrong.
I was thankful yet discouraged. Of course you want good blood work results, but I also wanted an answer. I would really like more in depth thyroid tests, but we haven’t met our deductible and I don’t want to juggle any more bills. Vitamin B12 shots are helping to an extent, but I need so much more. I’ve prayed, I’ve Googled, and I don’t really have any more answers. A few weeks ago I realized that I could use this as a learning experience, that God was showing me that I had an opportunity while I waited for a solution.
There are different types of tired. Sleepiness that drags your eyelids toward your toes. Mental exhaustion that requires just leaving the house for a walk so you can’t even attempt to read anything. A good physical tiredness following a long workout, or a satisfied type of drained after a long weekend of fun and socializing. All of those can be good in their own way, almost providing a sense of accomplishment because they come at the end of something.
When you feel like you need to sleep for a solid week for absolutely no reason, there is no satisfaction, only guilt. People say, “You should exercise! You’ll feel better and you’ll sleep well.” Oh, okay. I can barely get off the couch, but I’ll follow your advice and go sweat it out. Although people are trying to be helpful, comments like that only cause more self-doubt and frustration.
This, it seems, is my lesson. I realized that I have to give myself grace. I have a certain amount of energy, and it seems to be quite a bit less than most people have. This means that while I have a list of 75 things I want to accomplish, I might have the capacity for three. That might mean cleaning the house, or going to the gym after work, or skipping the gym and cleaning in order to go visit my grandparents. On a really bad day, it might mean alternately dozing off and reading a book for a while after work. Every so often, like today, I’ll have a spurt of energy and have an amazing day and think, Is this what everyone else feels like? I could rule the world! Or at least paint my dining room. Other times, like this past weekend, I’ll have some really bad hours or days and fear that I’ll never accomplish anything, I’ll never be worth anything, and the people who love me will be completely disappointed by me and give up on me.
I’ve always criticized myself incredibly harshly. I can’t let myself off the hook. It makes me try and strive and work extra hard and feel like I’m spinning in circles and accomplishing nothing with a whole lot of effort. I began to realize that this fatigue is part of my life and I sometimes have to make accommodations for it, but that I can be much smarter about it than I have in the past. I hope I won’t always deal with this, but while I am, I can start to understand my needs better and take better care of myself.
I’ve made a commitment to start to better analyze how I’m feeling and decide if I’m avoiding something because I’m legitimately too tired, or if I just don’t want to do something and I’m trying to cop out. I almost talked myself out of going to an auction this weekend, but Ernie was really sweet (and stubborn) and reminded me that I had really been looking forward to it. I was so glad we went, because we got a pair of matching curio cabinets that I’m going to upcycle and a full set of really pretty china, both amazing deals. It was a good reminder that sometimes I have to say no to how tired I am, let myself just be tired later, and deal with it. There has to be a balance between not letting life pass me by and allowing space for when I just can’t.
For the past couple of years, God has taught me a lot about grace. Sometimes those lessons haven’t made much sense, but maybe that’s because I haven’t learned how to extend grace to myself first. If I can’t treat myself well, how am I supposed to treat others well? If I can’t accept my own humanity, how can I adjust my expectations of others and let them know it’s okay when they mess up? I have to live a life of grace for myself as well as those around me. This is a goal worth my energy.