Tired. And Cranky.

December 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm (Uncategorized)

I am writing this today even though I am so tired and feel so lousy that tapping the keys hurts. I am not exaggerating. And then I am going to force myself to post this, even though it’s too short, too trite, too tired, too imperfect. I’m trying to get past my Inner Tyrant, who doesn’t tolerate anything short of her idea of perfect. I’m also realizing that if I truly want to write about what it’s like in Chronic Town, I’ve got to get a few words down on the bad days, when turning over in bed is too much work.

There is no tired like the kind you get in Chronic Town. The exhaustion that chronic or serious illness brings with it is a distant, barely-related and much more overbearing cousin to the fatigue of the healthy. The tiredness of illness is your body’s way of saying, “I am sick. I am broken. I am hurting. And I will not let you pretend everything is fine.” It is a tiredness that sleep does not sate, that caffeine cannot counteract, that willpower cannot overcome.

I’ve lost months—maybe years—of my recent life to this tiredness. I’ve tried to fight it. I’ve tried to appease it. I’ve been sad at it. I’ve been mad at it. Today, I’m too tired for full level rage, so I’m simmering along, cranky at it.

It doesn’t matter what I feel about this tiredness. It remains—above and below my frustration and fury—like some cold, immutable god. There is nothing to do but crawl back into bed, hope it passes, and sleep.


  1. Wendy Barron said,

    Have you read “The Spoon Theory”? (I searched the term on your blog, but came up blank.) The author has lupus, not sarcoidosis, but chronic is chronic, and the principles apply. I’ve referred a couple of friends who were struggling with how to describe how chronic illness affects them, to their able-bodied friends.

    Not that I think you have a THING to learn about how to share what you’re going through. I just thought you’d appreciate knowing you’re not alone in Chronic Town.


    • Wendy Barron said,

      “Able-bodied” is not really the right term to use there, I realize. I hit post before I could consider what might be a better term. And I’m not sure what would be a better term. Maybe “non-residents of Chronic Town”?

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      Thanks, Wendy, for finding this link. I am going to include it on my blogroll, so that readers can find it easily.

      I love the Spoon Theory. It is a wonderful way to explain to healthy/able-bodied people the limited energy that chronic illness causes. The spoon theory is such a concrete illustration. I’ve emailed it to people, but I haven’t written about it or provided a link on this blog. So, thank you.

      No worries on terminology. Able-bodied, healthy, non-residents of Chronic Town, normal people…it’s all good by me. I just so appreciate you keeping up with my blog and finding that link for me and taking the time to post a comment.

      take care,

  2. Wendy Barron said,

  3. Marianne said,

    I remember tired. It almost aches. And you wake up tired. It becomes your middle name.

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      I know you get this Marianne. I remember some of our conversations when you were not doing well. I hated that a friend was feeling terrible. But, as I wrote to Randy in the previous comment, it was also such a relief to be able to know that a friend understood what the hell I was talking about when I’d say, “My tiredness is shutting down my life.” I’m glad that your days of tiredness as your middle name are behind you. It gives me hope.


  4. Randy Bekkedahl said,

    Sorry to read about your day. I wish there were a way to make it better, even if for just a few minutes, just to remind us it will eventually get better. When I’m exhausted, I also feel blue and depressed–it’s like they go hand in glove. And it makes it hard to see the end of the road, and the load we carry seems so damned heavy we can’t go another step. Yet we do. Somehow, someway we get through the day. I hope tomorrow brings a better day. For all of us in Chronic Town.

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      I know you understand how debilitating and overwhelming the exhaustion that comes chronic illness can be. I was hoping you’d read this post (though I like your idea of calling them stories better) and that it would ring true. It helps me feel less alone and less overwhelmed to know that other people have similar experiences…not that I would wish this on anyone.

      You perfectly encapsulate the connection between physical exhaustion and depression. Yes! I find it nearly impossible not to fall into a funk when I feel so crappy–and apparently for no reason. Sometimes I find it downright confusing. Am I depressed first or am I exhausted first? Long before I got sick, I struggled with depression. The way my depression manifested was that I didn’t want to get out of bed and all I wanted to do was sleep. I’ve mostly dealt with the depression (getting sick and getting a kid at the same time provided some much-needed perspective; plus I discovered the wonders of SSRIs), but sometimes when I’m feeling as punky as I am now, I start convincing myself that if I just get up and at ’em, I’ll feel better. So I force myself out of bed and launch myself into tasks…only to feel worse and really fall apart physically.

      I’m hope you’re feeling not too bad today. I can’t properly convey how much I love getting your comments and your perspective.


  5. Allyson said,

    Maybe this is a short, imperfect post, but it goes a long way to helping us understand your time in Chronic Town.

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      Thanks, Allyson.

      I’m glad it was illuminating.

      So often I end up not posting, not writing, not trying because I assume it’s just not up to the standards of the Inner Tyrant. But when I do take that risk, I end up with something that (while it might not be perfect) has some role–and is sometimes pretty good.

      This kind of relates with Martha’s post on “The Walking Dead.” My overly perfectionist high expectations of myself are often my worst enemy. I’m aiming for good enough these days–good enough parent, good enough writer, good enough blog post.

      I love getting comments from you. Thanks for reading and posting comments.


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