Every attempt to blog so far today has produced a false start.
I have managed to get a sentence or two in and then paused. What was I going to write here? Is there any point I desire to make? Am I just rambling? What is going on with me today?
Though I have been striving to meditate daily I am not doing so on a set schedule. While I’m practicing 16 minutes of meditation (aiming to increase to 20 minutes total by next month) I do so at random times during the day.
Because I was having issues getting any clarity on a topic to write about today, I decided to meditate early. It helped, except that I was distracted by my rumbling belly.
That irked me. One of the less-pleasant side-effects of this pandemic has been weight gain. I am presently the heaviest I have EVER been in my life. It is very difficult not to be annoyed with myself for letting this happen.
When I feel depressed, I tend to eat. Food has always been a source of comfort. Further, because of COVID-19 and self-quarantine, I am not fencing regularly.
Fencing, for me, is not just physical. It’s mental. Few things in life bring me the kind of joy going out there and fighting with swords brings me. I work up a hell of a sweat, and nearly always feel better emotionally, spiritually, and physically after a good practice. Before lockdown, I was practicing from 1 to 3 days a week.
Take that away, add comfort eating — and it should come as no surprise that I have gained weight. Logically, I get this. Emotionally — this irks me.
Looking at my annoyance, a more deeply rooted issue occurred to me. I determined that I am feeling fatigued.
What IS fatigue?
The straight-forward, technical definition of fatigue is weariness due to mental or physical exertion. Clinically, it’s a feeling of low-energy, distraction, and a lack of desire to do much of anything.
Fatigue can impact you mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Mentally, there is a struggle to get things done and to focus on your thoughts. Emotionally, you feel blue, down, and find yourself struggling with how you are feeling overall. Spiritually, you probably feel beaten-down and uninspired. Physically, a nap or a soak in a hot tub might be ideal — if you had any energy to do anything.
Fatigue impacts discipline. As I sat in front of my screens pondering the words to share with you I just couldn’t. I wasn’t feeling it. Nothing was coming to me.
Even having chosen to write about fatigue, I am still struggling to share this.
This has been coming on for a while. I felt it a couple of weeks ago, and though I can’t say I neglected it, per se, I shunted it to the back of my mind. Now, as it stands in front of me like an immovable structural column, I can’t ignore it.
Why am I feeling fatigued?
Physically, I am not exercising as I was before. Ironically, the act of getting exercise, though tiring at the time, helps to alleviate future fatigue. Because I am not doing the thing that gets my heart going and I am putting on weight, I feel like a lump.
Yup, I totally am channeling my inner Jabba the Hutt. At least, that’s how my body is feeling. And in the wonderful world of vicious circles, it feels like too much effort to bother to do anything about it. So, I am not disciplining myself to get another form of exercise — which makes me feel even more sluggish — which then adds to my fatigue. It’s fun, right?
Then there is the mental aspect. I have been working a LOT for my freelance gig, which is awesome. There remains a struggle with imposter syndrome with this gig, but for the most part, it goes well.
However, I continue to struggle with how to promote and market my novels and other writing for profit. I’m weary from working to figure out a way but am still pushing. But wow, does this make me weary.
And then there is the emotional/spiritual. We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, yet I am bombarded by stories of idiots out there in indoor public spaces without masks and not social distancing. Science denial is exhausting to watch. Don’t even get my started on Trump’s surreal arrogance and stupidity, let alone lack or recognition for his part in making the pandemic worse.
Protests against police brutality and systemic racism, idiotic immigration executive orders, hatred and exclusion towards LGBTQA people, and all the rest of the ongoing, necessary battles are exhausting. It really is all super-overwhelming. Especially if you are an empath.
I know I am not alone in this
For the sake of clarity, allow me to state for the record that I am not complaining. This is me expressing how I am feeling and sharing the way fatigue is impacting me. It does not lessen my desire to be an ally to those fighting the good fight, as well as being a voice of reason standing in the wake of unreason.
I know that I am not the only one feeling this way. All those who are striving to be beacons of hope and good in a world of uncertainty and madness are feeling this. It’s like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and you just have no energy in any form to keep up the work.
It is disheartening, and it goes beyond feeling. It’s a bone-weariness to your core, like your deepest-rooted energetic being is depleted. The battery is low and the means to recharge it seems elusive.
Sound familiar? This is why I can say I’m not complaining — I am recognizing an issue that impacts not only me.
Seeing that you are not alone tends to help get a sense of the situation being less “wrong” or abnormal, and as such something that can be dealt with.
How do I fight the fatigue?
I wish I knew. And that only contributes to the fatigue overall.
But I do have some ideas.
Rest is an obvious answer
That does NOT mean sleep, necessarily. Maybe read, meditate, take a break and watch something funny or inspirational. While I am often not a proponent of distractions, I suspect one of the better ways to combat fatigue is to take your mind off the underlying issues causing it.
Do something you enjoy
Go for a walk, have sex, play a game, draw, journal, take a bath, cook. Just do something. An action, particularly an action you enjoy, can be helpful and take your mind off the fatigue.
Find a release
Cry, scream, rage, beat up a pillow, destroy something of no value you won’t regret destroying. Fatigue feels like ultimate inaction and exhaustion on numerous levels, but it is — at its core — a feeling. Feelings can be changed, and one way to do that is release.
Another cause of fatigue is information overload. Hell, that might, currently, be the main cause. So many things going on with such uncertainty. Fear being brandished like a shredder to paper. All of that, unchecked, embeds itself in your subconscious. Mindfulness, and becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, action, and overall mindset/headspace/psyche in the here and now makes you more conscious of the fatigue.
That consciousness offers you the opportunity to address it directly and do something with and about it. This opens you more to using the previous suggestions to better effect.
You do not stand alone
You are not the only one and are not alone in dealing with feeling fatigued right now. The struggle is real. It is also not an ending — it’s just a moment in time. It can and it will pass.
In its place, when the fatigue is gone, you and I will stand ready to continue the work, personal and/or public.
Finally — DO NOT PUNISH YOURSELF for feeling this. I could get mad at myself for putting on the weight, not getting as much done as I think I should, not exercising enough, and on and on. Will it do me any good to punish myself? Of course not.
Be kind to yourself. Accept the fatigue but recognize that you need to put in work as it passes. Be mad at yourself, but DO NOT hold onto it. Releasing all this pent-up energy prevents it from overwhelming you.
It won’t be easy — but frankly, nothing worthwhile is ever easy. You and I can overcome the fatigue. We’re not alone, we are in this together apart. Thank you for letting me share. Don’t be afraid. I know that you can get through this, too.
Know that you are worthy and deserving of using mindfulness to find and/or create the reality in which you desire to live. When all is said and done our thoughts, feelings, and actions matter, as does acknowledging that fatigue is a real struggle we are not facing alone.