What the heck is a fatigue attack?

Hey all,

I’m exhausted, so pardon me if my grammar and general writing skills are crap for this one. I’m desperately trying to stay awake through a fatigue attack. Fatigue attack? I’m not sure that’s the word for it. It’s a relatively new development over the past month. At least once a day I will suddenly become extremely fatigued, to the point where I will fall asleep regardless of location or time. It’s not like ordinary exhaustion. I’m not just sleepy. It’s this overpowering heaviness. I can’t support my body in an upright position, I can hardly keep my eyes open, my limbs feel like lead. It’s nuts. I’m learning that I can stay awake through it if I write.

I know, you’re probably thinking, “Jeez, girl, if you’re that tired, you should just sleep!” The issue is that once I’m asleep, I’m still mentally conscious and I feel trapped inside my body for a few HOURS, unable to pull myself back to full consciousness. It happened when Will was here once and he couldn’t even shake me awake. He had to put on loud rock music to pull me out of it. It’s rough and a bit scary. So hey, how’s it going, peeps? *blinks hard*


I did my final exam on Friday. Three hours of physical geography, from 7-10pm. Not my favorite time slot, I will admit. Worst of all, I had one of these fatigue attacks in the middle of my exam! It was my second of the day. Perhaps stress brings them on. Thank god I’d studied intensely and had blown through most of the questions. I was going back through to deliberate on three particular questions I hadn’t had a clue about when it hit. It was like I described above. I knew that if I managed to fight it for the first 10-15 minutes, I’d be okay. So I was sitting there, staring at my paper intensely, my vision blurred to the point where I couldn’t read my booklet (yeah, that’s another fun side effect) until the proctor noticed and came to ask me if I was alright. I was okay after another moment and was able to finish the exam. Good grief. I don’t intend to do any long drives until this goes away.

Meanwhile, over at EdventureProject, my boys are sailing the world. And getting much-needed haircuts. Ha.

Overall, today has been a great day with a few miserable 20-second chunks. Trying not to let those colour the rest of it. I worked all morning on SEO and social media stuff. The hedgehog FELL OFF THE BED and I had a minor heart attack. She’s fine. She just stuck her face out of the hat she rolled over in and blinked at me sleepily as if to say, “What happened? That was rude.” Later I went out on a bit of a shopping spree. All necessary things, all paid for with the last bit of busking money that I’m trying to get rid of. Not enough for a coin roll, but too much to give away. Now I’m the proud owner of a zebra t-shirt, to be worn in May for EDS awareness month. I also bought little locally-crafted gifts for friends and family in India, tipped a busker (with busking money, ha), and spent the rest of my change on paint. I’ve had this canvas hanging in my room for months, all drawn up and ready to go, but I’ve been deliberating. And broke. I painted her up this afternoon, but it’s terrible, I can’t show you. I always paint something most of the way, decide I hate it and it’s awful, stomp off in a grump, and then return the next day to fix it. In the end, I fall in love with it.

Miserable 20-seconds: I’ve been dislocating like a wooden puppet all day and have been grumpy about it. Walking was a challenge again today, even though it’s been better for a month. Hrmph.

Other miserable 20-seconds: Just some crummy people online with nothing better to do than whack at people they don’t know. Asked a question about EDS in an EDS group and was called a S****-stirring ableist. I don’t know why it got to me; typically I don’t pay attention. I suppose it’s because I feel like I’ve found a group and was excited to meet others in similar situations and become a part of the community. That got a little shot down.

We can’t let the crummy twenty seconds interfere with the rest of a perfectly good day, though, can we? :) All is well with this evening. Thanks for waking me up.

Stay tuned, I have a pretty fun post coming up soon!

2 Replies to “What the heck is a fatigue attack?”

  1. Jodie Salmond says: Reply

    Its good to hear that you’re feeling hopeful and making plans for a future, especially for a future that involves all the stuff that you love to do. Your sleep disorder sounds like sleep paralysis and narcolepsy so if you haven’t researched that already take a look.

    I wanted to tell you that I understand that it can be really tough when your body starts doing strange things and you’re struggling to keep up with the world the way you used to, like you, my health declined in really unpredictable ways around exam time at University and like you I pushed on through to the end. Since then I’ve been pretty unwell but the bright side of this is that I’ve had the space to really reflect on the way I used to live and the things that influenced the choices I made for my life.

    When I first got ill I did all the things you are doing – adjusting exercise, dietary restrictions, seeking help and information on forums and from specialists, becoming disheartened by the vagueness and lack of definitive knowledge in the medical sciences, along with tons of my own research

    I still think that going through these steps is important and necessary, and I still incorporate lots of what I learned into my health management today, but I eventually discovered that doing all of this work to try and fix myself was somehow doing the opposite. The constant internal pressure I was placing on myself to do all this work to get better in addition to the work of just living my normal life was too much. What I really needed what just to stop and let go for awhile.

    You sound really busy with big plans and you also seem like an incredibly determined person (which is something I admire about you in this space), because of this I can well understand the drive you have to keep moving forward while retaining as much normalcy in your life as you can.

    In the end the thing that has helped my health management the most has been embracing the idea of convalescence as a path to healing. This rejection of a societal pressure to produce is hard. But if you think about it, applauding people for pushing through and working while ill (on anything – hobbies, work, homemaking, studying etc) is a strange fetishisation of labour. Slowing down and doing less in order to heal is a torturous proposition for those whose greatest joy is to live in forward motion but for me this cognitive shift and the permission to do nothing and produce nothing is the thing that has had the most impact on my well being.

    I know that you’ll find your own way, that most things about our experiences will be completely different and that whatever you do will be just the right thing for you. I just wanted to add to the probably enormous amount of suggestions that you’ve already received that, if you want to, you are allowed to take a break when you have just been diagnosed with a serious illness or condition.

    Wishing you all the best of luck and health.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I’m doing okay. My biggest issue right now is that my mind says, “Okay, let’s fix this!” when “fixing” isn’t actually going to work. I’m trying to find my new normal. Worry not, I’m finally getting some rest in now that exams are over! Sleep is a wonderful thing. I have nearly a week in NY with William to deeply rest before flying to Indiana and then to Guatemala. Once in Guatemala I’ll be able to find a new routine.

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