“Why are you always so tired?”
Most of the time, people ask me this question after I tell them “I’m tired.” If I had a nickel for every time someone’s asked me this question, I would be a millionaire.
I’ve always been at a loss for how to respond to this question. How do you explain an aspect of a disorder that many people don’t understand to begin with? How do you explain your fatigue to someone who’s unaware that you have an anxiety disorder? Let’s face it: unless you have an anxiety disorder, it’s hard to understand why you’re constantly tired.
My primary focus today is to help people understand the fatigue that comes with anxiety disorders.
Imagine you have to carry a large sack of bricks everywhere you go. You can never put this sack down, no matter how exhausted you are. In fact, you may even get some extra bricks when you’re tired, making your load that much heavier. You can never set this sack down and take a break, not even for important holidays or vacations. In fact, during any stressful time, you may get more bricks, just for the heck of it.
Does this sound exhausting?
This is what it’s like to have an anxiety disorder. All those bricks you’re carrying around are worries. The only difference between this metaphor and an anxiety disorder is that you can see the bricks. You can’t see someone’s worries.
Just because you can’t see someone’s worries doesn’t mean they don’t impact that person. Many times, without help, it’s impossible to let go of these worries. Not being able to let go of these worries results in exhaustion, especially during times of busyness or stress.
If you have an anxiety disorder, you may catch yourself saying “I’m tired” a lot. You may even wonder if your fatigue is just an overreaction, especially if people point out that you’re exhausted all the time. Remember that being stressed all the time is exhausting! As hard as it is to remember, you have the right to be tired. You have the right to take a break. I know the exhaustion just makes everything even worse. You won’t always be this tired, this anxious, this stressed, etc. It will get better.
For the loved ones of someone with an anxiety disorder, make note: you’re going to hear “I’m tired” a lot. Pointing out how they’re “always” tired isn’t going to improve their fatigue. When you point out how they’re “always” tired, it can make your loved one feel like they can’t tell you what’s really going on because you’re just going to point out their flaws. Their fatigue, like their anxiety and worries, are very real to them; it’s not just “in their head.” It’s not your loved one’s fault that they’re tired. Don’t treat them like it’s their fault.
Do people ask you “why are you so tired?” If so, how do you respond? Leave your answers in the comments below!