For the last ten years or so, for the most part, I have had severe fatigue. I sleep like a baby every night; I could literally sleep 10 hours straight if I let myself (but most of the time it's 8.) Yet I wake up exhausted, like I haven't slept at all. This happens day after day, and for a young, driven woman, it's demoralizing. I have been to a myriad of doctors and specialists but mostly they just dismiss me with "nothing is wrong with you." I even traveled to Cleveland and spent close to $2k out of pocket on blood work once, and it was mostly inconclusive. Mild anemia, but several months on a high-quality iron supplement did nothing, so I quit taking it.
I know I could be a little more persistent in my quest to get better, but the way that doctors have treated me has been discouraging, to say the least. I feel like I have to muster all the strength in me to seek out another doctor, only to be let down again. Yet I haven't exactly given up. Currently I'm trying to book an appointment with a local doctor who supposedly is good with "hard to treat" cases. He was recommended by a customer of mine. I'm hoping that gets me somewhere, finally.
So who else battles severe fatigue? I am looking for some support, since no one around me seems to be able to comprehend how a 25-year-old woman who is seemingly healthy, hard working and determined, can be so tired. This is probably the biggest obstacle I have to overcome in my path to reaching my dream of being a competitive FEI Dressage rider.
Thanks in advance for any advice and/or support.
I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo
cu at x you have my sympathies but I don't have any help to offer. I have suffered from extreme fatigue since my last baby was born (16 years ago). Once I am up I can usually get through the day but getting up is SO hard. Sometimes I feel like my limbs are lead weights. And I go thru periods where I HAVE to go to my car and take a nap at lunch because otherwise my head would hit my desk. And of course who wants to go ride after work when all you can think about is how soon can you crawl back into bed? I too have had the blood work, repeated thyroid tests, even got my dr to give me the thryroxin even tho he thought my test results were good. And it helped!!! Until it gave me the runs so bad I had to quit taking it. GYN said its perimenopause, get used to it. Perimenopause for 16 years??? Sometimes they just don't have a clue.
After years of dealing with this, the best advice I can give you is to have a consistent bedtime, and wake up time, and if you need 10 hours then allow for it, not everyone can get by on 8. Eat healthy, minimize sugar intake, minimize caffeine intake, and hard as it may be, try to get some exercise everyday, even if you have to force yourself. B complex vitamins may help too.
Good luck and just keep trying to finds ways to feel better.
Yes, fatigue is probably one of my biggest barriers as well. And it's been incredibly difficult to get doctors to take my complaints seriously. I can't even begin to count how many times I've left the doctor's office in tears.
In my case, it's probably related to Fibromyalgia, which I have along with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.
Have you had a sleep study done? It doesn't seem to be very routine for young women to get them, but my mother has sleep apnea, and has for years, despite not fitting into any of the typical risk groups.
Right now I'm on Wellbutrin for depression, and it also helps wake me up a little. Still not enough to function on a normal level, but at least enough that I'm not having to take a 2-3 hour nap nearly every day after getting 10-12 hours of sleep a night. Now I only nap once in a while, and sleep 8-10 hours a day :P Most prescription medications exacerbate my fatigue, so I've had to be very careful about what I take, and that means that I have to suck it up when it comes to pain more just so I'm not completelly wiped all the time.
So no real good advice, but lots and lots of sympathy. I'm so sorry you're going through this.
"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
Thank you for the advice, arabiansrock. I try to limit myself to a cup of coffee a day, but it's hard when I *have* to be 'up' for work (I'm a food server and need to act personable and energetic with customers.) I am bad about keeping a consistent bedtime. It doesn't help that I usually get home around 11 PM-midnight. I take a multivitamin but could probably use more B vitamins. My only exercise right now is riding a few times a week, I know I need more.
I saw the angel in the marble and I set him free. - Michaelangelo
It pretty much limits my life anymore, so frustrating. I don't think I'll ever get to ride my young horse, by the time I get her warmed up (OK, the bucks out), saddled, brushed, etc. etc. I'm exhausted and don't even know if I could stay on if she just shyed! Same here, all tests normal, no apnea, have to take caffeine not to fall asleep at work or driving, etc. etc. All the Dr. could come up with is that I do not get enough deep sleep, I spend most of my sleep time in very light sleep (from years of half listening for catastrophes or midnight raids on the chicken house probably).
I did see a thing on TODAY about hypersomia where it seems that some people make too much of a chemical that causes a sedative effect. THe problem is of course that there isn't an available pill to take for it. They make one (it's used to wake people from anesthesia) but not available.
Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.
Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.
I don't want to go into a long-winded story about how tired I've felt. Suffice it to say that I sympathize with you. Sometimes the need to sleep is SO strong, like being parched with thirst. The fatigue was right deep in my core. I've nodded off frequently while driving to work, while at work, while in meetings, etc. When I retired, I was able to go back to bed most mornings after looking after the horses and having breakfast. I would sleep for at least 2 hours. That need has diminished. Now, I nap for 20 mins. or so after lunch maybe once a week. Every couple of months, I need that morning in bed.
I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep on going, and keep on going, and keep on going. I've been known to do this to the point where I can barely walk or talk (still do -- did it last Thursday). Somehow, I don't realize that I've pushed myself too far until it's too late. I can't seem to just chill out. When I try, my mind is full of the "should bees". I should be doing this, or I should be doing that. I don't know if I'll ever overcome that.
I was finally treated for low thyroid - after over a decade of untreated symptoms, lots of doctors, lots of tests.
One doctor put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Face it. You're a woman." Yes, that was his diagnosis.
January 2012 I was so sick I was pretty much a shut-in. Through an acquaintance I found a doctor who was suspicious of the test results.
May 2012 I was finally started on thyroid meds. One week later I could finally feel the ends of my fingers again.
Those effing idiot doctors stole ten years of my life by dismissing my symptoms and declining thyroid function.
I feel like sending them big flaming piles of pig poo - because I know they are dismissing many other patients and God only knows how much those people are suffering.
Anyway - extreme fatigue can be caused by many things. But don't be surprised if your doctor just runs a TSH test and gives you a pat on the head because 1) It isn't bad "enough", or 2) It's "normal" (but it really isn't normal) 3) Just prescribes drugs and shoves you out the door.
Don't take no for an answer. Question the results. Do your own research. Be an informed, assertive patient. You have to be your own advocate. I hope you find an answer soon. Good luck.
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Amen JSwan!!! Thats why I pushed my doc into giving me a test run on thyroid meds, because the test numbers are not hte be all end all. And it helped but gave me side effects I couldn't live with. I may ask to try again with a different version. Synthroid doesn't work the best for everyone.
The really hard thing for me is my daughter is adhd and we have several bottles of concerta left over from when they were stabilizing her, and it is REALLY hard to resist the draw of a quick pick me up. But to my credit, I have not once dipped into her meds. I am afraid it would be too addicting because to feel normal again would be like being in heaven!
There seem to be so many problems that cause extreme fatigue. I have MS, and I am disabled. I no longer have enough energy to own and take care of horses, and when I ride I need help with the grooming & tacking up. I could do it but then I would not have the energy to ride! I do manage to keep the toes on one rasped down once a week, if I let it go much longer the hoof gets away from me.
I can ride only 30 minutes at a time. Right now I'm lucky, I'm getting to ride three horses a week, each for just 30 minutes. I could not do it without help. Driving or even riding in a car is very tiring for me too. So after being driven to the stable, walking around the stable, riding & driving home I have to rest.
I found some herbs that help me some, bilberry, milk thistle, astragalus and hawthorn berry. MSM helps some too.
I have tried repeatedly to get thyroid, but the MDs always say my tests are normal.
JSwan said it well! There IS a reason ; there is ALWAYS a reason for it. And I regret that it can take a huge amount of stamina to find the reason. The medical reasons should be ruled out first. Then you HAVE to be willing to investigate psychological reasons. Work stress? Emotional stress? Financial stress? Relationship stress? Depression is the classic reason. Work with a skilled therapist the same way you would with a willing medical doctor to FIND the reason and deal with it. Sometimes what you're feeling is...in fact...normal! Yes, life IS exhausting! You described yourself as "young and driven"..sounds stressful to me. Don't put all your eggs in the Medical Diagnosis basket. Often it is NOT medical. So often we won't pursue our emotional health with the same zeal we do our physical. Be driven to find your psychological diagnoses too as they go hand in hand with our physical health. Can't separate them. Intertwined. We like it better when it's a medical diagnosis; no one likes to face emotional diagnoses. Stigma maybe. Denial?
If anti-depressants are prescribed. Go with it. They MUST be taken as directed for a minimum of 6 weeks to even BEGIN to see the effects! 3 months optimum with many. SOOOO often I see folks taking them for a few days and wondering why their lives aren't better. They will not pep you up. They will help you cope. Smooth out your emotions. Give you a better sense of well being. They correct chemical imbalances in your brain & physiology...which...BTW...sounds medical to me!! See? Intertwined!!
BTW...sometimes borderline diagnoses can give you symptoms before you are full blown. Thyroid, diabetes, anemia, and....dehydration even! Yes! Make sure your diet and fluid intake are perfect. Dehydration makes you sluggish!! Sounds simple but it's true!
Best of good wishes to all those who suffer from this. For me it was "pre-diabetes"....you never know!
I'll second wateryglen's post but add - Vitamin D helped me a megaton. My values weren't horrifically low, but when I noticed that I felt significantly different on sunny days, I gave it a try (and I live in one of the most cloudy areas of the country, so this was easy to experiment on). Luckily I have a very open minded doc now, who said yea - let's try this and see if it works. I did, and it does.
Dehydration can also be huge for me - because I forget to drink water-containing liquids.
Stress fatigues me greatly as well as being unfit, which is this stupid catch-22. If I'm out of shape I'm more tired and less likely to have the motivation to get in shape. I even end up with depression symptoms, bitterness and existential angst. Wellbutrin helped with the mental stuff a little, but that effect went away quickly (and I was on it for several years).
It took about 10 years for me to really observe all the patterns and figure out what was going on.
So for me, the prescription is Vitamin D and exercise (more than the average bear)...fatigue goes away, stress goes away...and the aches and pains that I end up with...well, I know what THOSE are from
Have you considered a nutritional aspect? I know this sounds so obvious, but hardly anyone anymore eats 3 well-balanced meals a day, and long-running nutritional deficits look and feel a lot like constant fatigue. Try altering your diet (in a positive direction) for a solid week and see if that makes a difference. It has done wonders for me.
And excercise, excercise, excerise. Again, so, so simple, but it's honestly one of the best tricks to combat fatigue, and I think busy people frequently brush it off, but there is nothing that can replace daily excercise in your life.
Or it may be that there is no silver bullet for you. While I think it's a good thing that you're aggressivley pursuing the medical aspect of your problem, you might want to take a hard look at all the componets of your well-being (emotional, physical, spiritual, etc.) and consider what changes you can make to those aspects of your life. It wouldn't be too surprising if there were multiple reasons why you feel the way you do.
Thyroid panel done. FULL panel. An undiagnosed thyroid issue is not unusual. Way way too often are false negatives. Or incomplete testing. Go to a thyroid specialist if you can because all too often women go through what JSwan did and it sucks out loud.
Also see about a sleep clinic. Say you have apnea if you have to. Lack of restful sleep can and often does cause bad body pain. Your body requires restive sleep as much as it does anything and everything else. I also slept/sleep like the dead without waking and can do so for long hours and wake up feeling more tired than when I went to bed. And that sucks, doesn't it?
In my case I know the cause of not getting REM sleep...for me it's body pain. And it's a see-saw because body pain keeps you from REM and lack of REM causes or worsens body pain. I have chronic Lyme...in my case it's causing chronic joint inflamation and myofascial tightness/triggers. Anti-inflamatories don't work for me, so for the chronic hip/pelvic pain my go-to is ignoring it. But the myofascial crap...holy hell was that sucky before I learned how to fix/prevent it much better. Shots, pain meds, etc didn't do much or just gave it a bandaid for a short period. Physical therapy, OTOH, was a God send. Took some time and learning to keep very consistent with the therapy I was taught to keep up with after I stopped going 2-3x per week. But that was a relief because it was assumed I had a lot of much, much worse stuff going on due to the pain. Had no idea that it could cause severe chest pains, make one leg shorter than the other/crooked pelvis and all sorts of other fun crap it was doing while attempting to treat my body like a balloon animal, LOL! I was curling up/in FFS.
The chronic crap sucks...but chronic crap on top of sleep deprivation is worse. And many times addressing the sleep deprivation clears up a lot/all of the chronic crap. Now we're just trying to figure out how to get rid of the recurring bursitis in hips and shoulder, the de quervains (sp?) thingy in my wrists/thumbs and the stupid plantar fasciitis. That last one just pisses me off.
But do figure out the lack of sleep thing and I'll bet a lot of other issues disappear once you get some REM sleep regularly. Also ask to have your Vitamin D levels checked. Low D can cause lack of decent sleep and body pain too. And being outside all day isn't enough D for everyone. Some people can't absorb it that way for some reason.
You jump in the saddle,
Hold onto the bridle!
Jump in the line!
It's amazing how many different causes there are of fatigue. For me, it's a symptom of heart disease. Scrolling down through everyone's responses is like reading a page out of my own novel. I too have had to hide in my car and nap just so I could get through a day. And cu.at.x, you're right. It really is demoralizing.
I've been dealing with fatigue my whole life and diet has never made a difference for me. Sometimes exercise is just not possible. I just need to sleep. Having a regular bedtime and making sure I get my uninterruped 8-12 hours of sleep a night helps!
The description of your deep pain reminds me of my mom, when she had metastatic breast cancer. I know that's a really shitty thing to bring up, but have you had your pain worked up? Her cancer was NOT apparent on radiograph according to the radiologist, but it was obvious to an oncologist.
Some other (less shitty) things to try:
I support my thyroid by taking a seaweed supplement. I have read (but not confirmed, so perhaps you would like to research) that the US is the most iodine deficient nation in the world. I take this stuff and I feel better when I do.
I make a point to supplement Vit D in the winter, and I try to go for as natural as possible. I swear I notice a difference with Cod Liver Oil. I know, I know--gross, right? Except it's lightly citrus flavored and doesn't taste bad at all. I take this, which I pick up at my local grocery store. I can down a spoonful fine (little weird to just swallow oil) but it totally disappears in a glass of OJ.
I also try to exclude wheat and refined sugar from my diet, along with all sorts of fake shit. No fake sugar!! (No synthetic vitamins, either--get it in food, or "whole food" supplements, instead.) I DO feel better when I am good about the diet thing.
I'd also push your doc for a sleep study. Big time.
IBS or Celiac can cause poor food absorbtion and so fatigue. Food intolerance testing might be a good place to start.
I have extreme fatigue, but its name is Gabapentin. I nap daily to survive. I have times when I feel insane I am so tired. I can drink a pot of coffee, and then fall asleep.
Why is it I find it so hard to admit I am tired/limited? To tell people, hey, I can't do all that, I am tired/or will be too tired? It feels pathetic. Why is it so hard for DH to get how tired I am? Or for the farrier to get he NEEDS TO BE DONE BY 3, so I can nap before afternoon chores/lessons? I find being so mentally tired makes me withdraw a bit, as crowds are tiring/hard to cope with and I get confused/spacey.
Just seems that fatigue is hard to get people to understand. Just "sleep more" doesn't really help.
OP, I hope you find a solution and it is something good like Eat more Cheese Cake.
I go through extreme fatigue myself since I have a cancer and takes a lot of pills.
The way I try to overcomme is food.
It is important to treat yourself and probably you need to analyse your feeding habits.
Look for high protein diet, eat meat and good veggies, yogourt. Try to escape any sweet food and sugar since it is short spectrum energy and go for long sugar action like potatoes.
At 25 years old, you are also entering the adult world; you probably have many many question regarding your future and you may don't know how to reach your goals. Inconscienly, you deal with all this by sleeping a lot ?
These are all the question that reached my mind while writing to you.
If I was you, I would really analyse all this and try to talk to someone that could help me, like a life coach. Someone I could rely on and could help yourself to look at the forest and dont stick to the tree.
I wish you the best of luck to find a way to feel better, to reach your goals without being too stressed by life pressure.