chronic illness · mental health · writings

on the bad days when i struggle to function

Today is a bad day.

I have already been awake for 4 hours and have only managed to drag myself out of bed once, to the bathroom and back which is 2m away. Apart from that, my body simply feels too weak and my heart too low to gather together the energy to move.

It is the exhaustion of 100 hours of labour after simply sleeping. The intensity of intrusive thoughts keeping your mind awake when your body is aching for rest, pulsing and piercing through your slumber. You never truly reach the deepest part of sleep. It is the relentless fatigue that comes from simply breathing. It is the rest with no respite, it is the knowledge that no amount of hours will refresh your aching body and restless mind. This is my reality upon waking every single day, and has been for years.

My joints pound and throb with inflammation of yesterday’s activities, my eyelids feel as though they weigh ten tonnes each and refuse to open more than half wide, the small amount of day light being let in through the shuttered window on the far side of the room pierces like hot needles into my over sensitive pupils. The room is mostly dark, the screen of my laptop tinted all the way down to its lowest setting so I can actually cope to look at it while I attempt to write down my thoughts.

My muscles weep as the weakness takes over, my very bones feel weary, it is as though every cell in my body is malnourished and empty, as if there is no connection between them to transfer even a tiny glimpse of cellulose energy needed to move my limbs or to function normally at all.

Pain shoots up my arms, sporadic lightning strikes shock through the tissues and leave my heart palpitating as my bruised nervous system heightens and cracks at the slightest movement. My mouth dry, my throat hoarse; I desperately need water.

My back and stomach itch like mad, so sore from the night sweats baked onto my skin, yet I’m so frozen inside I’m sitting here cuddling into an electric blanket beneath my thick winter duvet to try to take the edge off, knowing full well that in a few hours my unpredictable temperature control will rise to the point of unbearable, stripped off and sweating yet unable to cool down.

Yet all at once, I feel nothing.

This numbness that infiltrates everything, my mind blank as the brain fog leaches into my synapses, clouding my memory and impairing any sense of cognitive ability. But then I guess it is still the morning. The fog may begin to clear in a few hours or so if I am lucky today. Depression leaks in, dripping like an overflowing tap, never ceasing to leave my side even for an instant; its like he is my constant companion, an obsessive ex-lover than never quite learned to let go and will remain forever there in the back of my memories.

It is the not knowing that is the hardest part. The uncertainty of not knowing when this will end, how long will this battle have to be fought, and will I even win in the end? The unpredictability of this illness completely absorbs all sense of reality, relinquishes control over your own body and leaves you cold and alone in the wake of its destruction. You feel utterly trapped, suffocating in your own skin. This is what illness does to you, what it takes from you, what very little it leaves you with as you fight this incessant, endless, invisible battle with your own body. It makes you turn on yourself, undermines your trust, shakes your beliefs and perceptions about who you thought you were, and the hope of who you might yet still be able to become.

I lay in bed staring up at the ceiling and wondering how long this will last, for how many more years will I have to fight this? Overwhelm is a frequent visitor, along with his twin sister Anxiety, both getting high off your own insecurities, and love taunting you as though it were a game of hide and seek that they keep changing the rules for without letting you on in their secrets. And then laughing at you stumbling around blindly trying to catch them.

Today is a bad day.


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