I’m Not Lazy, I’m Tired

Black and white photo of a pained and tired Rikki sitting up in bed.

I’m in bed. A lot.

I sleep. A lot.

Is it because I’m lazy? Or is it simply because I’m chronically pained and fatigued?

I am someone who often has very little energy. I could have the right amount of sleep, perfect sleep, and I will still wake up with zero energy.

I have days when I have a deadline or many deadlines, and instead of sitting at my computer working on them, I’m in bed either resting my body or asleep because it won’t do what it needs to do in order to work.

I remember one day when I had plans to do a lot of YouTube work. It probably involved filming and definitely involved editing and writing. Instead, unplanned fatigue and pain consumed me and I couldn’t get out of bed until around 6 o’clock in the evening. I had finally been well enough to stay up and try to do some work, but the workload was beginning to stress me out.

When I expressed my frustration, I was told that I simply “should not have been in bed all day” and that he “doesn’t take days off when he’s tired or he’ll get fired.”

This part of the conversation didn’t help for two reasons: one, he had a traditional job and I don’t. I have my own business creating content on multiple platforms for myself and other companies. I do public speaking engagements. And two, I am already fully aware that some actions have consequences, but chronic pain and fatigue simply don’t give a damn, and that’s not my fault.

Able bodied people have a tendency to be under the impression that those who are chronically pained and fatigued are either simply lazy or faking it. If those two things aren’t their response, the third option is usually something about how they wish they had the privilege to stay in bed all day.

Here’s the thing: we don’t want to be in bed all day. We want to go out and work (as tedious as some jobs may be), have a social life, run errands, etc. without having to worry about if we’re able to do that at all. Chronic fatigue isn’t a simple choice of taking a nap. It’s physically not being able to stay awake against your own will. And being in pain at all is never fun and is quite tiring. I would much rather be able to do the things that I want and need to do and sleeping or lying down all day in bed every other day isn’t one of those things.

The next time someone expresses frustration with not being able to do things because of pain or fatigue, don’t blame them for the situation they didn’t want to be in. Instead, ask them if there’s anything you could do to help make things a little bit easier for them. There may not be a solution, but the fact that you were considerate about an illness is a great thing.