Tiredness vs Fatigue: My tired is tired…

If you suffer from a chronic illness or a mental illness (perhaps both), I’m sure you’ll share my frustration when otherwise fit and healthy people say they relate when you’re feeling tired? From experience, when I tell friends I’m feeling tired they say they’re tired too, perhaps they’re trying to be empathic or find a common ground but the truth is, their tiredness is not like my tiredness and they don’t really know how I’m feeling because I’m not just tired, I’m exhausted. My primary chronic illness is not something I often talk about, however it’s sleep related and the most prominent symptom is that I suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness – in short, I’m sleepy all of the time and no amount of sleep will alleviate this. Can you imagine not having had a good nights sleep for almost 14years? That’s an insight into what I’m dealing with.

This post isn’t about me feeling sorry for myself, however I’m going to discuss some of the differences between feeling tired and being fatigued… Simply put, tiredness is a feeling whereas fatigue is a state of being.

Generally, if somebody is feeling tired this can be rectified either by having a sleep or by resting and taking things easy… Unfortunately, if somebody is fatigued no amount of sleep will alleviate their fatigue and the chances are that they’ll wake up feeling exactly the same and in some cases they may actually feel worse.

Has anybody ever suggested to you that if you have a shower, it’ll refresh you and help you wake up? Unfortunately, somebody who is suffering from fatigue is unlikely to have the energy to run a shower, let alone take a shower and this task may leave them feeling even worse. Bathing is also tricky when you’re fatigued.

Somebody who is feeling tired is generally still able to function, although they’re not feeling 100% which may cause frustration, they have the ability to rely on their energy reserves and often stimulants like coffee, or energy drinks can keep them going. In contrast to this, somebody who is fatigued is barely able to function, this causes a greater level of frustration and not only are they running on empty, so are their reserves.

Mornings aren’t fun at the best of times, however somebody who is feeling tired is generally able to wake up and push through the day (relying on their energy reserves and sometimes stimulants). Somebody who is fatigued will generally need to take rest periods between waking up and actually getting up – this is often a time consuming process which can lead to greater frustrations, in addition to anxieties and self-doubt.

If like me, you’re experiencing something greater than tiredness you may be familiar with how people respond differently depending on the language which you choose to use. In my experience, if I say I’m tired people say they relate – whereas if I say I’m fatigued they look at me slightly confused. Generally people are familiar with the term exhausted but I’m not convinced that they fully understand its meaning.

If somebody is tired they may feel slow, however the chances are their body still works and their feeling of tiredness doesn’t have a detrimental effect on how their body functions. Not surprisingly, somebody who is fatigued may feel like everything is 10x harder, a simple walk may feel like wading through quicksand or perhaps, it physically hurts to keep their eyes open. Fatigue often has additional symptoms to the obvious.

As you can see, there are number of differences between feeling tired and being fatigued – are these differences which you are aware of? If you’ve found this post relatable or perhaps you’ve learnt something new, please share it with your followers to raise awareness…

Do you have any experience with people trying to relate to how you’re feeling,  yet not understanding how you feel? Does this make you feel frustrated? Perhaps, I’m overreacting? Please let me know in the comments… Next week I’ll be sharing the differences between feeling anxious and suffering from anxiety – are their any other comparisons you’d like me to discuss? 

Thanks for reading,


3 thoughts on “Tiredness vs Fatigue: My tired is tired…

  1. I hear you and can relate to what you’re saying Pixie. People rarely can understand how fatigue is compared to being tired.


  2. I always say I feel tired because I think people won’t understand. I can be mentally exhausted then it runs through my body like a tornado which makes me feel lifeless, no amount of sleep can make me better sometimes my mind and body are just done for a couple of months. It has a bad affect on my memory too which not everyone understands.


  3. You have explained the difference so well! I have chronic fatigue from MS and also physical fatigue from trying to make my Hypermobile bendy body do what I want when I also have Dyspraxia a co-ordination disorder. So I’m fighting chronic fatigue with intermittent general fatigue. Having a bath is both a luxury and a curse! I agree with it taking a while in between waking up, getting and then actually functioning.


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