When you live with fibromyalgia, each new day can bring a barrage of symptoms, both physical and emotional. Constantly battling through the pain, fatigue and brain fog can be wearying in a way most people without chronic illness simply can’t understand, so trying to explain how you feel can be a challenge (and some days, you just might not have the energy to try at all).
Instead, many people may respond to that tricky question “how are you?” with a simple and relatable “oh, I’m just tired today.” Saying you’re tired may not be untrue, but often, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story.
So, to better understand the complexities of how someone with fibromyalgia may be feeling, we asked our Mighty community to explain what they really mean when they say “I’m tired.”
Here’s what our community shared with us:
1. “When I say ‘I’m tired’ it often means I’m in pain and I don’t feel like explaining it or justifying it to people who will inevitably ask questions. Also, many people can’t empathize with ‘I’m in pain’ or ‘I hurt,’ but they can empathize with ‘I’m tired.’” – Heather D.
2. “‘I’m tired’ means I could lay down on the floor right here, everyone can just step over me!” – Sarah R.
3. “When someone asks what’s wrong and I say ‘I’m tired,’ I usually mean my clothes touching me are hurting me, my brain is overloaded trying [to] balance socialization and masking the pain and weakness in my whole body with wit and laughter. ‘I’m tired’ can also mean that I literally need to lay down and stretch my body or I’ll be paying for the next three days.” – Shelby O.
4. “It feels like I haven’t slept in days. My whole body aches like I’m four times my age. I really wish I didn’t always feel this way.” – Victoria D.
5. “That I have pushed myself beyond what I should have done for that day/week and I’m going to collapse. Usually every Saturday night.” – Jen N.
6. “It means I’m completely and utterly drained. Drained emotionally, mentally and physically and literally just can’t take any more! When I’m tired, I say I feel good because I’m so used to being tired. If I say I’m tired, then I’m at a point where I can’t take it anymore and I’m overwhelmed with exhaustion!” – Stephanie G.
7. “I’m tired = I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in years, my pain will not let my body relax to get rest I need and I won’t be able to live the life I wanted because of this.” – Daniel P.
8. “I literally can’t even function anymore. I’ve clocked out.” – Monica M.
9. “It’s hurting everywhere with different symptoms – tingling somewhere, sharp shooting pain in another place and cramping in yet another spot but [because] it is difficult to explain all this, I say “I am tired.’” – Lakshmi R.
10. “I’m tired from being tired and from constantly putting up a front like everything is OK. Know that it’s not.” – Nicole F.
11. “It means I don’t want to talk about how bad it hurts and I just want my day to end, even if I just woke up an hour ago.” – Taisha A.
12. “I’m so exhausted that I don’t even find the words to explain it and that I don’t even have the energy to search [for] those words and make a complete, well-structured sentence, so I cut it short to a simple ‘I’m tired.’” – Melanie C.
13. “‘I’m tired’ means the brain fog and the ache in my joints and back is making it nearly impossible to function properly. Even keeping my head off my desk feels impossible.” – Alura T.
14. “It usually means I’m in so much pain that I can’t accurately explain in a way someone would understand. So saying ‘I’m tired’ is easier.” – Bonnie P.
15. “‘I’m tired’ = I’m more than tired. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of being in pain. I’m tired of having to budget my limited supply of energy. I’m tired of always having to say no. I’m tired of my brain not being able to find the words to express how tired I actually am. I’m tired of no one understanding what ‘I’m tired’ actually means for me.” – Sophie R.
16. “I spent most of the night in so much pain that I didn’t fall asleep until the exhaustion from crying took over me.” – Amber Y.
17. “Usually when I say I’m tired it means my brain is ‘out of order,’ because I’ve just embarrassed myself and couldn’t speak or make sense because of brain fog. Or I’ll say I’m tired as a way of trying to explain how I feel like the life force has been sucked out of me. Absolutely drained sounds dramatic so I’ll just say I’m tired.” – Nicky S.
18. “[It] usually means that I don’t want to talk about it because you won’t understand or it will only make you uncomfortable to hear how I am really feeling.” – Ashley S. G.
19. “‘I’m tired’ frequently means ‘I can hear what you’re saying, but my brain isn’t capable of processing what you’re actually telling me right now’ or ‘I would do that thing, but my body is aching far too much to even try right now.’” – Alicia O.
20. “I emotionally need to go to bed. There’s too much noise, too much light. I need nothingness and rest for a while, however I can get it.” – Kelly W.
21. “It’s the extreme, [debilitating] fatigue of being in constant pain from migraines and a body that burns with hurt all over, becoming too overwhelming to face. So I go to bed to escape the unrelenting fatigue, and wake up the next morning to start another day of self-care and love.” – Gretchen W.
22. “My energy for the day is all spent. Let’s try again tomorrow.” – Natalie H.