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Chronic Illness? How To Handle Fatigue When You’re Weak And Overwhelmed

“You think you’re tired?”

How many times have you heard this? Frustrating isn’t it?

One of the primary symptoms I experience is fatigue. I’ve managed to live a productive life using pacing and energy conservation strategies. However, sometimes I’m struck down by extended periods of fatigue. At these times I still need to deal with the responsibilities of a house, family and friends. And I have other commitments to fulfill.

This happened to me recently. Things were going well. Then I did too much and neglected to pace myself. Before I knew it I was dizzy, weak, in pain and flat on my back in bed. I was in this condition for 2 weeks!

This is how I got myself back on track.

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I spent as much time as possible resting. If I wasn’t in bed I was lounging on the sofa.


I ate small frequent meals like muffins, sandwiches, raw fruits and vegetables. These are easy to prepare and nutritious. I also made sure to drink plenty of water.


My neck was very sore and I had generalized muscle aching. I took analgesics on a regular basis. I used a neck collar the physiotherapist recommended. I also applied a cold pack. Together all of these strategies helped to alleviate the pain.


I stayed home when I felt lightheaded and dizzy. I didn’t drive or walk very far.

Medication compliance was especially important. If I missed one dose of SSRI’s for example, the dizziness would increase, so I took my meds on time.


All of the above strategies helped with feelings of depression.

Routine also helped to moderate mood swings. A bedtime routine was especially important because insomnia aggravates fatigue.


I cancelled all plans on my calendar that were not essential so that I could get as much rest as possible.

Because I have essentials on hand at all times such as basic food items and personal care items I didn’t have to make unnecessary outings. I was free to rest as much as possible.


It is important to socialize while you are experiencing a period of fatigue. I have a good friend that I talked to on the phone and texted regularly. And she visited just to check in on me. I also walked over to the park just to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.

I was able to do some volunteering when I had the energy. I went out on a couple of video shoots with the Cable TV station. I then came home and rested. I was tired but it felt good to get out.


After 2 weeks of fatigue I finally feel okay. Not great but okay.

And when people say “You think you’re tired?” I don’t answer them. There is no response. Unless you’ve experienced overwhelming fatigue you’ve no idea what it means to be fatigued to the point of exhaustion, nausea, pain, dizziness and depression.

As long as those people that are important to me understand and are supportive that’s all that matters.

And now I know how to manage fatigue without guilt. That’s an accomplishment!


How do you manage fatigue?

Chronic Illness? How To Handle Fatigue When You’re Weak And Overwhelmed

Sharen Skelly

Sharen Skelly is a retired Registered Nurse from Ontario, Canada. She has a diploma in Nursing from Algonquin College and a Certificate in Community Nursing from Sir Sandford Fleming College. Despite diagnoses of fibromyalgia, trigeminal neuralgia, rheumatoid arthritis and depression, Sharen lives a productive life. She is a host and community producer at Rogers TV, Grey County and a freelance writer. In addition, she is a peer leader/community health educator with the South West Ontario Local Health Integration Network, Self-Management Program for people with chronic conditions/chronic pain developed by Stanford University. A single mother of 2 grown children, what Sharen likes to do most is spend time with her family and friends. Follow Sharen on Psych Central at Chronic Illness Conversations.

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APA Reference
Skelly, S. (2018). Chronic Illness? How To Handle Fatigue When You’re Weak And Overwhelmed. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 24, 2019, from


Last updated: 28 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Aug 2018
Published on All rights reserved.