I'm Always Exhausted Because of My Mental Illness

May 18, 2021 Megan Griffith

No matter how much coffee I drink, I am exhausted all the time, and it's because of my mental illness. Recovery is hard, but sometimes it's not even about recovery, it's just about getting through the day, and that's where I'm at right now. I have to fight to do anything; even getting dressed in the morning is a battle. As I sit typing this, my hands feel heavy, and with every breath, I want to quit and go back to bed.

This is depression or part of it, at least. It's the feeling that my body is full of lead, and every action requires monumental effort. It's the aching, literal, physical aching to go back to bed at all hours of the day, even if I got a great night's sleep. It's the dread forming a pit in my stomach when I think of all the things I have to accomplish today, somehow. Exhaustion is a huge part of my depression, and it brings with it a lot of shame.

Feeling Ashamed Because My Mental Illness Exhausts Me

No one wants to feel exhausted because of a mental illness all the time. To a certain extent, it feels shameful, especially when you know you aren't working as hard as other people. I often fall into this comparison game. I feel like exhaustion is a feeling you have to earn through hard work, not something you just experience because you exist. But that's how it is for me. When my depression settles in, exhaustion comes with it, and it makes me feel even more useless.

I try to use this shame to my advantage, to motivate myself into getting something done. This usually sounds like, "Why are you being so lazy? Just do the thing already; what's wrong with you?"

This motivation often works, but it comes at a cost. Shame-based motivation helps you get stuff done, but it wears down your self-worth, makes you think less of yourself.

How I'm Coping with My Exhaustion from Depression

That's why I try to avoid shame-based motivation when I can. Instead, I'm coping with my exhaustion by leaving room for it. I am taking naps, taking breaks, and cutting out unnecessary activities that drain my energy. This includes things like doing productive but not strictly necessary work items, making sure the house is spotless, and doing my hair and makeup. It stresses me out to stop doing these things because part of me worries I'll stop doing them forever, and my quality of life will plummet.

But I know that this is only temporary. No feeling is permanent, not even the exhaustion of depression.

How about you? Do you struggle with exhaustion when you're depressed? How do you deal with it? Let's talk about it in the comments.

APA Reference
Griffith, M. (2021, May 18). I'm Always Exhausted Because of My Mental Illness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Megan Griffith

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May, 19 2021 at 1:43 pm

This explains me exactly. Most difficult is showering. It's such a gargantuan task.

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