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How Fatigue Really Feels

Fatigue isn’t just tiredness, I think that a lot of people who haven’t experienced it assume that it’s just feeling tired, but it’s so much more than that. Fatigue can come with so many illnesses, both physical and mental as well as with side effects from medications.

Fatigue is pure exhaustion

My fatigue comes from chronic illness, Bipolar disorder and the medication I take to treat my Bipolar disorder. It’s a lovely combination that makes my fatigue almost daily and it is one of the symptoms that I struggle with the most.

Fatigue is pure exhaustion, not just in your mind but in your entire body. It can be completely and totally debilitating. It makes it an effort to perform any function that your body would normally be able to do, even lifting your arms or looking around a room can feel like a huge effort. It can make it difficult to think straight, like a fuzzy feeling in your mind that makes it hard to focus. It’s a full body feeling and experience, and it can make it incredibly hard to function doing things that normally would not be a big deal.

It can be so frustrating

From this can come real frustration; I find it extremely frustrating when there are things I want to be getting on with and my body will not cooperate because I am too fatigued. It’s not something that gets better with rest like tiredness, taking a nap doesn’t help. Even a full night of restful sleep isn’t going to touch fatigue, you wake up feeling just as tired as you did when you went to sleep.

It can vary in severity

I feel lucky that mine isn’t constant and is something that comes and goes and varies in severity, giving me those times when I am able to get things done. When I do experience fatigue it’s often at a level with which I am able to plod along through and get things done but it makes everything so much more difficult. At times it can be so bad that I can barely keep my eyes open and I have to just go to bed because there’s nothing else I can do, but for me this happens rarely and for that, I count my blessings.

How I would describe it

When I try to explain what fatigue feels like to people who haven’t experienced it, I describe it as that feeling when you have had a really long shift at work or a really busy day, you are right at the end of your night after you have eaten and are now having some time to relax. You are exhausted in every bone of your body and you can barely keep your eyes open as you watch the TV, and you know you need to go to bed, you can’t stay up for much longer and you just need to shut your eyes. You are finding it hard to keep your eyes open and you are struggling to focus, you know you have to go to bed. Imagine that feeling, but it’s how you wake up in the morning. That’s the feeling you start off the day with, and will only get increasingly tired from there. Going to sleep won’t make it go away, that’s just how you have to function throughout your day.

I find that the most effective way to give people some idea of how fatigue really feels. How would you describe it?

How Fatigue Really Feels

Ann-Marie D'Arcy-Sharpe

I am 32 years old. I live in Glasgow, Scotland UK with my husband and lots of lovely pets. I battle with Bipolar Disorder, fibromyalgia and arthritis. You can find my YouTube Channel here and you can also follow me on Twitter, here.

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APA Reference
D'Arcy-Sharpe, A. (2019). How Fatigue Really Feels. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 6, 2020, from


Last updated: 25 Jan 2019
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