I don’t get it, I don’t do anything and still I’m tired. When I try to do things I used to do, I get extra tired. Through my expercience with burnout and depression I developped a whole chart of differences in ‘feeling tired’. 50 shades of tired.
Apperently fatigue goes hand in hand with depression. Fatigue can have an effect on your body, your emotions and your thinking. Everything goes very slow, not to be confused with relaxed! That’s a whole different shade!
Fatigue is one of the symptoms of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) as defined in the DSM V. Fatigue can result in apathy or emotional disturbance; diminished focus, trouble finding your words and memory problems in people with MDD.
What are the physical symptoms of fatigue?
Reduced activity. This can be very reduced; doing dishes can be a chore, taking a shower can be a chore, everything you normally are able to do within a certain ‘flow’ can feel like a chore. Smart as we are, we adapt as humans. No energy to wash your hair? Dry shampoo is your best friend or wear a ponytail or a bun. A bun is always good. Since sneakers are in fashion for a long long time I have a pair. When wearing long trousers, there is no need to shave the whole leg.
Other symptoms are heaviness, slowness or sluggishness, general weakness, low energy and decreased physical endurance. In the good ol’ days I could walk really far. I used my bicycle a lot and all I could do by foot, I would do. At work, I was always on my feet. Now I can clearly feel when the ‘stop’ sign comes in sight. I can’t walk the whole day without taking a rest. To be honest walking the whole day: I can’t imagine that anymore.
Increased effort to do physical tasks. How to explain this one? When I know that I’ll need to go to do groceries, I know I can’t buy all that I want because I can’t carry it all. I could do it but when I cross the limits, the price (in tiredness) is exponential to the effort.
Nonrestorative sleep and sleepiness. I wrote before on depression and insomnia, you can read the posts Why can’t I ‘just’ sleep? Depression and insomnia and On sleep and what nature has to do with it if you are intereseted.
What are the emotional symptoms of fatigue?
Decreased motivation or initiative. Last week I had a good morning and through this week there were some good moments. Due to this experience I felt a very distinctive difference between my depressed brain and a more ‘normal-to-me’ brain. When depressed you can think about what you are supposed to do but there is no ‘spark’ to actually do it. This week I could take initiative to do something. Althoug it concerns little things, nontheless they make me happy. A small example would happen on Monday. Monday evening we are supposed to take the garbage out. I used to think when would be the best time and it felt like a chore because the garbage can needed to be emptied out. This week, I wanted to take the garbage out because it was the evening to do so. It is the same act, everything is the same but the starting point of that small act came from me. And that makes a world of difference.
Decreased interest, you just don’t have the energy to be on top of everything. My laptop is struggling to survive due to aging, but I can’t be bothered looking for a new one. Sometimes I feel like my laptop is just friendly to my condition and he also needs time to ‘start up’.
Feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes when talking to Pierre I need to cut the conversation of. I can talk about one topic for a while but when the conversations goes from one topic to the other, it can feel very overwelming because I’m still processing what has been said and I can’t jump forward to the next topic. I’m like a cassette: you can rewind, play or forward, but not everything at the same time.
What are the cognitive symptoms of fatigue?
Feeling bored, aversion to effort and feeling low. Decreased concentration, decreased attention, decreased mental endurance and slow thinking. This one hits me hard. I remember times I when I started to do research for my blog. I needed to focus really hard to read through one article. Then there was a time I felt better and I just could read it. It made such a big difference. I never realized how your daily life can change due to your working memory running out of space. Maybe an academic article can be too difficult but concentrating on a book becomes hard, even knitting demands some kind of concentration. I have so many scarves with ‘faults’ in them and I know how I felt then. It feels like you ‘zone out’ for a very long zone.
Why is fatigue such good friends with depression?
Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep till morning poses a problem. When asleep the sleepingpattern itself are thrown of their normal schedule. Even when you manage to sleep between 7 or 9 hours, it is quite possible you’ll still be feeling tired.
The second issue is that your body is constantly battling against itself. It’s fighting to stabilise your moods, it’s pushing you to do things that should come easily (getting out of bed, eating, relaxing) but often become a chore when you’re depressed. And for me it is this very battle against yourself that really makes me tired.
The depressed brain tend to think around certain topics, the same topics that relate to your state and another part wants to resolve the problem. Those two go around and around at the same time and really nothing gets solved.
Depression is an energy thief. I feel that it starts in the brain, overthinking everything and being tense all the time. Sad about the past but scared for the future because you feel so helpless. You know you need to be ‘hands on’ but there is no energy nor motivation. Your emotions are dull, you don’t care for things you used to enjoy. You don’t remember who you used to be, there is no connection between the fun and normal me and sick me. You know there is a connection but the bridge seems to be burnt. You feel dull, it creeps up on you to the point you want to sleep to recharge and take a break. The surprise is that you can’t sleep.
“Imagine a time, where you were so busy, so overwhelmed with work, errands, friends, and family that you wanted to walk away or scream or hide. Imagine a time where you were so overworked, so busy, so tired of everything you wanted to go home and sleep. Imagine this is your life every day for a decade [sic],” explains Neil L Wilson.
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