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Why Am I So Exhausted?


Why am I so exhausted? I figured that if I'm asking myself this question every day, chances are you are too.

The actual answer – if this were a biology class – is obvious. Fatigue is a signal from the body to the brain. It says, this organism is expending more energy than it’s generating. The tank is empty.

Everything around us is in an uproar. If the state of the world right now were a plot in a novel, we'd say it was ridiculous, unrealistic, crazy. No way all of that would happen at once. We wouldn't read the book.

So yeah, we're all exhausted. What’s the answer? Again it is simple: do less, rest more. And yet we can't, we won't, we don't. Why not?

Why does the question evoke shame? Does it, for you? It sure does for me. Gut level.

My dog, Ruby, has Addison’s disease, which means her adrenal glands don’t function properly. She doesn’t produce enough cortisol and aldosterone to keep her alive. It was diagnosed a few years ago when she suddenly stopped eating and didn’t want to move. Her body did not have what it needed to keep her going, so she began to shut down. We manage it now, with medications that replace the hormones, but it is a tricky balance, to get the dosing just right. So we have to watch her and adjust the meds as needed. We know that she needs more when she starts to slow down.

When she doesn’t have enough energy, she quite simply stops moving.

Unfortunately we have this annoying prefrontal cortex that talks us out of responding to such simple biological calculations. Our thoughts, beliefs, stories, and emotions trigger behaviors that override the messages we get from our bodies. We keep going even though our fuel gauge is low-to-empty. We have endless strategies, tools, and technologies that help us override symptoms and continue to over-function. Over time, we burn out. We even know this is going to happen, but often we don’t stop before it does. Go until you crash. Sound familiar?