For those of us with chronic pain, “I’m tired,” is a loaded statement. It means much more than simply, “I want to go to bed.” Tiredness for people with chronic pain is something that never goes away, no matter how hard we try.
It means pure, total exhaustion. An overwhelming tiredness constantly. People with chronic pain don’t get a break from feeling tired. We just have to keep going and hope the exhaustion doesn’t affect what we do in our day to day lives – which, inevitably, it does.
It means feeling the weight of the whole world on my shoulders. Everything hurts. I describe the pain like it’s as if I’ve been trapped inside of a very small box for days and I feel squished. No matter how much I stretch, I can never feel like I’m out of the box. Constantly feeling this way is the reason why I’m so tired all the time. The pain can be so intense that it just exhausts me physically and mentally.
It means I could sometimes stay awake all night because I’m in too much pain. I’ll stay up all night staring at the ceiling, in too much pain to do much else, which means I’ll get up in the morning in a lot of pain and without having had any sleep.
And on the other hand, it means I could sometimes sleep for hours and hours without feeling refreshed. Most people, when they get a full night’s sleep, will wake up feeling ready to take on the day. For people with chronic pain, it means I’ll wake up feeling just as exhausted as I did the night before. I can sometimes sleep for 12 hours, get up for 30 minutes, and then feel like I need to fall back asleep.
It means my brain takes longer to process certain things, such as answers to questions. It means I work a bit slower than everybody else. It means I need a little bit more time and patience from people.
Lastly, it means having to listen to my friends claim that they can relate to how tired I feel. I appreciate the thought, but it leaves me wondering if they’ll ever truly know how it feels to be in a constant state of tiredness.