sad woman inside of a ball with spikes

It's Okay To Be Exhausted

Are you exhausted? I am. Civil unrest, natural disasters, the pandemic, and never knowing what will be on the store shelves is draining. Some days, it feels like rudimentary adulthood tasks like errands and emails is too much. Stress like this can easily have us calling ourselves "weak," "lazy," or any other ableist slur for those deemed lacking in the appropriate fortitude or strength, but that's nonsense.

Historians will talk about us

We are living through something that historians will haggle about for centuries. There will be books and papers, conferences, debates, and earnest calls to C-SPAN shows. The stark realization that we're living history makes me wish that I'd asked my great grandmother (1894-1996) what made it possible for her to live through two world wars and the great depression. What might she have said? We had to wait in lines. We were scared. We didn't know what was going to happen next. It's nothing like reading a book because we had no way of knowing when it was going to end.

Ruthlessly intentional self-care routines have helped a bit. I'm careful about my caffeine and sugar intake, so that it's technically possible to wind down. Limited exposure to upsetting nonsense, distractions, and fruitless internet-based arguments is better than nothing, but none of this is a substitute for a functioning body and thriving society. This careening carnival of lurching panic and doom is bigger than anything we can do at home, on our own.

What's bothering me?

Imagine trauma as a ball with a terrible coating on it. Some parts of the ball are sticky, and others are pointy. Sometimes the ball is just sitting there, but somebody could throw it at us or maybe we trip over it on the way to get the mail. The sticky parts grab pieces of our injuries to keep. They come out again when the pointy spikes make contact.

Single events and exposures can be difficult, but with enough time and support we might process them into manageable pieces, but the pandemic is an immersion experience. Things like foreign language immersion are good because surrounding students with a uniquely dedicated environment reduces distractions and speeds up learning. We're living through a trauma immersion. That's all kinds of bad because we're just getting hit with spikes and dredging up old stuff, nonstop.

My mother spent the last two weeks of her life in an induced coma on a ventilator. I had to sleep in her ICU room to help manage her care. This meant listening to the machines and watching the nurses run the floor all night long. She died choking and coughing on that ventilator, with me standing at the end of her bed. There are no words to describe my personal horror of the ICU environment. This pandemic is literally my worst nightmare times a million.

Don't forget:

It's okay to look away from disaster.

This will end. Do everything possible to be here when it does.

Investments in our health and safety are never wasted.

It's okay to be happy and enjoy yourself when others are suffering.

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