Being tired is all part of life. Every single one of us gets tired. This is particularly true in modern life.
Think about the time you were extremely tired at work. It is more difficult to function and difficult to focus, right? However, you can still push through the day.
Now, think about the time you were extremely sick with something such as the flu or strep. You are very sick to function and very sick to work. Can you remember how tired you were at that time? It’s extremely hard to even get out of bed and take a shower, right?
It is like your body simply shuts down and demands that you take a break whenever you are sick like that.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue, is sometimes misunderstood by individuals who do not live with it. A lot of people are used to getting responses whenever they try to talk about their symptoms. These responses include “I get tired too” or “you should just take a rest.”
However, the truth is that chronic fatigue is so much more than “simply tired.” It is an illness that influences several areas of the body and causes overtiredness so devastating that a lot of people with this condition are fully bedbound for unpredictable periods of time.
In addition to that, chronic fatigue also causes joint and muscle pain, makes you sensitive to external stimulation, such as touch, sound, and light, and it causes cognitive issues. Post-exertional malaise is the hallmark of this illness. It is whenever a person crashes physically for months, days, or hours after overexerting their body.
Here are 3 ways to explain chronic fatigue to your friends and family.
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It Feels like You’re Looking at a 3D Book without 3D Glasses
Do you remember those 3D books that came with 3D glasses when you were a kid? If your answer is yes, you were likely charmed by looking at the books without the glasses.
You can see how the red and blue inks overlapped partially but not fully. Whenever a person is experiencing severe fatigue, this is often the way they envision their body. It feels like the parts are overlapping and are not quite meeting.
This causes their experience to be a little blurry. Their mind and their own body are out of sync.
One useful method to explain chronic fatigue is using day-to-day or more universal experiences an individual might have encountered in their life.
You will find out that a person will more likely understand your symptoms a bit if he/she has had the same experience.
It Feels like You’re Seeing All of The Things from Underwater
Using nature-based metaphors is another helpful thing in describing your symptoms to other individuals. For instance, you can tell someone that the pain in your nerve feels like a wildfire jumping from one branch to another branch.
Or, you might describe that the issues you are experiencing feel like you are seeing things from underwater. It means that these things are slowly moving and simply out of reach.
Even without having the same experience, these metaphors enable individuals to imagine what you might be going through, just like a descriptive part in a book.
It Feels Like a Scene in a Movie
One best example of this is the classic 1987 film “The Princess Bride.” Count Rugen, one of the villains in the movie created a torture device to suck out the life of a human every year. This device is called “The Machine.”
You’ll certainly feel like you are strapped to that torture machine whenever your chronic fatigue is bad.
Wesley, the main character of the movie, can barely function or move upon being removed from the torture device. Just like the movie, it also takes everything they’ve got in order for a person to do anything beyond laying still completely.
Pop-culture analogies and references have proven to be an extremely successful method to explain your symptoms to your friends and family.
They provide a frame of reference to your symptoms. This makes it less foreign and more relatable.
Also, the aspect of humor in references like that helps lessen some of the tension that is sometimes present whenever you talk about disability and illness with those who do not experience it themselves.
The Significance of Feeling Understood
Coming up with these methods to convey your experiences to your friends and family will help you to feel less alone. Also, it is best that those you care about know that your fatigue is much more than simply being tired.
You can support a person by trying to understand, believing them, and listening to them if you’ve got someone in your life with a hard-to-comprehend chronic illness.
We will be able to relate more to one another, establish connections, and fight isolation and loneliness as we open our hearts and minds to things we do not understand.
Despite the fact that these people are used to hearing basic responses such as “every person gets tired”, it still hurts whenever they hear them.
Dealing with chronic disability and illness is already an isolating and lonely experience. It will only increase those feelings if they are misunderstood.
In addition to that, it can influence the quality of care they receive whenever medical professionals or others who’ve got primary roles in their wellness and health do not understand them. It is often difficult for people with the illness to convince other people that they are extremely sick since we do not yet have a great diagnostic test for chronic fatigue.
It can make work conditions very stressful, drive friends apart, and strain marriages. This leaves people feeling isolated. This will often result in depression that could go along with any draining conditions.
It is extremely crucial for a person suffering from chronic fatigue to look for creative ways to explain their struggles with the condition in order for other individuals to better understand what they were going through.