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I asked fans of my Facebook page how they would describe thyroid fatigue to other people, because, let’s face it, it’s not just ‘tiredness’ or being ‘sleepy’. It’s so much more than that.
When people say “Oh yeah, I’m tired too!” or “You just need an early night!” it’s really infuriating. It’s not a matter of having a bad nights sleep or a late night. Our body is literally deprived of hormones meant to keep us functioning properly. We’re exhausted!
So, I asked: “It’s hard to describe to those who don’t experience it, but if you could put it in to words, what would it be?”
Here’s what you said:
“It’s a monumental effort just to stay upright and put one foot in front of the other, and as for motivation, its so much easier to stay unmotivated. It takes grit and determination just to get through the day, its so unfair.” – Lynne
“It’s like coming round from general anaesthetic.” – Anon
“It’s my stomach sinking when I realise it is 3pm, I’m exhausted and have still got 4.5 hours of “mum duty” to do before husband gets home.” – Harriet
“It’s waking up more tired than when you went to bed the night before.” – Anon
“It is as if you are surrounded by a fog and stuck in a bubble. I feel like I should be able to shake my head really hard and, cartoon style, this fog will be shaken away and I’ll feel ‘normal’. I’ve had to change how I work to fit around the fact that, the that later in the day it gets, the more useless I become. It’s as if you’ve finished vigorous physical activity every minute of the day but you’re never able to recover. Basically it sucks!” – Emma
“The fatigue is like all the possible different pains that feel like a bee has stung you or someone just stabbed you with a needle. It is so strange how the pain comes and goes. It is making me crazier than I already am, plus staying so tired all the time is really a pain.” – Carolyn
“It’s like having jet lag, extremely draining leaving you very lethargic, your whole body is exhausted, you want to move, but you just can’t.” – Janice
“It’s having no motivation. It’s a struggle to force yourself to do things that you used to enjoy. It’s feeling like you’re going to crumble into a pile if you don’t sit down.” – Linda
“It’s definitely like being drugged. You have the urge to do things but you just can’t. It’s very similar to depression; It’s hard to motivate yourself to move or do anything. You choose the easier way even if you want to go the harder way. It just sucks.” – Theresa
“Extremely debilitating exhaustion, it’s past the stage of being tired. No amount of sleep rectifies it. A lack of energy to stand up in the shower even and when you do a need to sit down again! It is so awful it is painful, muscles scream at me and my bones hurt. This is not just being tired!” – Caroline
“Before my treatment started to work, the tiredness I felt was indescribable, exhaustion to the point of being unable to function at all, a trip to the supermarket wiped me out, it’s worse than just feeling tired, it’s like your body has just completely packed in. Even now I have to make sure I keep any physical activity to early in the day as by late afternoon the tiredness creeps in, but think the worst part is being so tired but then completely unable to sleep.” – Gwen
“Like someone has sucked all the joy, my actual soul out and I had no feeling or energy of any kind left. ( I no longer feel that way fortunately, my thyroid is managed well).” – April
“It gets me so that I would just curl up where I stood, even walking along, just anywhere!” – Pauline
“It feels like the air is sludge, every movement is a Herculean effort. Your thoughts are world class sprinters with your tongue a weekend jogger trying to catch up as they disappear in the distance. The pain is a big, hollow, indescribable thing that owns you.” – Teddy
“I’m reaching the point now where I’m going to have to reduce my hours at work as I can’t work full time and look after my own home and I don’t even have kids. I have massive respect for all parents with hypothyroidism, I seriously don’t know how you do it!” – Liz
“It’s like swimming through honey and someone filled your head and eyelids with lead. Every movement is such an effort and you really feel you need to just lay down and sleep wherever you can.” – Kathleen
“It’s more than being tired. It’s not ‘you had a late night and are a bit groggy today’ tired, I mean absolutely exhausted. Like you could drop sleep with every blink you take. When getting up the stairs is such a horrendous task, that you have to plan about half an hour before you want to go upstairs, to physically prepare yourself for it. And even then, you need someone to help you. I guarantee, if you do not have a chronic illness, you will not know what this feels like.” – Myself
“I’d say it’s beyond exhaustion. It’s spending every moment consciously having to keep my eyes open, using any energy I do have to stay awake from a major lack of energy. It’s waking up more tired than when you go to bed. It’s almost painful.” – Myself
Add your own in the comments section below.
Read other blogs in the ‘Thyroid Patients Explain’ format here.
Related post: How Thyroid Tired is Different to Normal Tired
If you are on thyroid medication and still having these kinds of issues with fatigue and other symptoms, you are likely not adequately treated, or have other problems you need to address. A properly treated thyroid condition should have no or very few symptoms. Of course, other illness, conditions and deficiencies can cause problems too, so explore them all if possible.
The thyroid course ‘Freedom From Thyroid Fatigue’, which walks you through how to overcome thyroid fatigue and flare up days with a personalised approach. You may benefit from this guidance if you still experience ongoing fatigue and low energy.
You, Me and Hypothyroidism: When Someone You Love Has Hypothyroidism, is a book for those who know someone with hypothyroidism. Learn what reduced energy levels look like for your spouse, friend or family member with hypothyroidism, and how you can help so they improve their quality of life.
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. Her thyroid advocacy work includes authoring books, writing articles, blogging and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a board member for The American College of Thyroidology and The WEGO Health Patient Leader Advisory Board. Rachel has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, ThyroidChange and many more. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work and dedication. She has authored two books: ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate‘ and ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism‘. Rachel is British, but advocates for thyroid patients on a global scale.