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Friday, May 15, 2015

Constantly fatigued? Don't ignore it - seek help!

Falling asleep during the day, diagnosing sleep disorders

When I was in my late teens I started feeling constantly tired. I was involved in a variety of activities and assumed my busy schedule was to blame. As I moved into my twenties, I blamed my usual lack of energy on the fact that I overworked myself at my corporate job. I always managed to stay awake when my mind was active, but as soon as I'd sit down or my workload lulled, I'd start to nod off.

By the time I was 27, I knew that there was no denying I had an underlying problem. I was drinking about a pot of coffee a day, I had alienated some of my closest friends because I was too tired to spend time with them, and it was all I could manage to write a blog post each day and look after my kids. My house was a mess, my life was a mess, and I was the ultimate procrastinator. I knew I should make a doctor's appointment, but even the process of finding out what was wrong seemed like an overwhelming prospect. Everything that I needed to do was continually pushed off for a day when I would have more energy.

Unfortunately, that day never came for me.

Getting Treatment

I rejoined the workforce in 2014 with the hopes that a high-stress job would keep me awake and provide me with an income. I loved writing with a passion, but my blog wasn't supporting me due to my inability to stay awake and focused.

I managed to land a job at a nearby hospital - a place I'd always wanted to work anyhow - and I was startled by the amount of patients that ended up in the emergency room simply because they hadn't been proactive about their healthcare. I decided then and there to get serious about managing my own health and made a doctor's appointment.

A few weeks later I was diagnosed with narcolepsy. I had been living with the condition for over a decade, fighting each day just to stay awake, but had never forced myself to seek help. Although the condition was lifelong and serious, the fix was simple: My doctor put me on a stimulant medication and within a week I had returned back to the "me" I remembered from when I was a teenager. I felt like I'd been released from a cage, finally able to do all the things my mind knew I was capable of.

Too tired to do my favorite hobbies
Years' worth of crafts that I was never able to finish.
To this day I regret all the hours, days, & weeks of life that I missed out on. I messed up relationships, lost special moments with loved ones that have passed, and almost destroyed my career. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are no words to explain the loss I feel when I think back to all that time I wasted sleeping - time I could have spent living.

Symptoms of a Sleep Disorder

If you feel tired every day, please read through some of my symptoms below - everything listed is something I personally went through for years. If you can relate, please seek help from a physician. Any number of problems can cause constant fatigue, and many of them are completely manageable or treatable. I hope that this helps someone out there to make the decision to get help for themselves - this life is just too short to sleep it away!

  • Preferring to go out and do something but staying home to sleep instead because you just can't find the energy to leave.
  • Feeling fine when you are active and focusing on something, but tired as soon as you sit down or start to let your mind wander.
  • Cancelling plans with friends & family, especially when the activity is something you love.
  • Fighting sleep anytime you have to drive more than 10-20 minutes.
  • Leaving crucial house chores like dishes and laundry go undone because you feel too tired to even attempt it.
  • Falling asleep while watching TV or reading, even if you love the show you're watching or the book you're reading.
  • Calling in sick to work because you feel too tired to go in.
  • Putting off life-long dreams - such as continuing education or starting a business - because even the thought of signing up for or researching your goals seems too tiring.
  • Withdrawing from your social life and cancelling your extracurricular activities because you can't manage to get yourself up and out of the house.
  • Breaking promises made to yourself, your kids, your spouse, and others because you felt fine when you made the promise, but when the time came to keep it you couldn't find the energy.
  • Feeling so tired that even standing still fatigues you.
  • Constantly desiring to sit, even if you've been sitting for most of the day.
  • Falling asleep within minutes when you go to bed each night, or when you nap during the day.
  • Noticeably frequent dreaming, especially when accompanied by recurrent dreams or sleep talking.
  • Having a difficult time waking up, including getting angry at those who wake you or feeling the impulse to cry when you have been woken while still too tired to function.
  • Feeling in a 'dream-like' state as you start to fall asleep and answering questions with incoherent or silly answers if you start to nod off while talking to someone.
  • Being unable to determine whether you were dreaming or daydreaming when you have started to nap and are suddenly woken or startled.
  • Not wanting or being able to sleep at night and staying up all night long.

The above is not an all-inclusive list of symptoms that may accompany a sleep disorder, and if you are having trouble staying awake your problem may differ from mine. Please seek help from a licensed physician and ask about getting labwork and a sleep study done to find out if you have an underlying condition.

Have you been through a difficult health problem? How long did it take you to seek help?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love hearing from my readers!

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Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post and, as always, my opinions are purely my own.

8 comments:

  1. I am glad you got help with this. To always be tired sounds awful.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is! The worst part is probably that if I run out of medication now I'm even worse than I was before I started taking it. That happened to me over the weekend and I could only stay awake for 30 seconds at a time before falling back asleep. My husband had to give me like a gallon of coffee just to get me to the point that I could semi-function!!!

      Delete
  2. If you feel tired every day, please read through some of my symptoms below - everything listed is something I personally went through for years. If you can relate, please seek help from a physician. Any number of problems can cause constant fatigue, and many of them are completely manageable or treatable. I hope that this helps someone out there to make the decision to get help for themselves - this life is just too short to sleep it away!

    ReplyDelete