"When someone tells you they're tired, sometimes you need to look beyond their answer. Are they tired? Or do they in fact need you."
One of the worst things about mental illnesses is that it's quite hard to recognize when someone near us is struggling with them. Unlike physical ailments, mental disorders rarely give out obvious symptoms and expertly manage to hide behind forced smiles and false reassurances. However, mental health advocate Pauline Palita believes there is a reliable way to identify individuals struggling with mental health. "I've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder," Palita told Bored Panda. "I've decided to become a mental health advocate because I knew there were a lot of people out there fighting the same silent battles."
MENTAL HEALTH EXHAUSTION IS NO JOKE...— Sir Pogi (@UliratNiBogs) April 22, 2021
I've been giving advise to many whenever they are depressed and having their break downs...
until I experienced it myself...
"I know how hard it is to deal with this kind of illness, the feeling for not taking your condition seriously. I also know a lot of people out there who don't have the ability to speak about it. The only thing I can do is spread and raise awareness, [trying to] end the stigma around mental illnesses," she added. A few years ago, Palita addressed one particular aspect of mental illnesses in a viral Twitter thread that resonated deeply with many on social media. "Allow me to explain why mental illnesses can make people so tired," she wrote. "Chances are, if you know someone with a mental disorder or disability, you might have asked them or thought, 'Why are you tired?'"
"Not many people ask me if I'm OK, but when they do my answer is always the same, 'I'm fine, just tired'—and people seem to accept that reply. For me, 'I'm tired' is not a complaint or pessimistic. It's merely a fact of life. Allow me to explain why a person who is constantly battling their own brain and societal expectations may feel so drained. These are people whose brains are stuck in overdrive and have a great amount of difficulty unwinding to fall asleep at night."
"For the 'average' person, it takes seven minutes to fall asleep," Palita continued. "Imagine crawling into bed exhausted and it takes the average of an hour to fall asleep, instead of seven minutes. Every nap and bathroom break and the brain relaxation delay begins again. These are people whose sleep is frequently disturbed and who spend their nights tossing and turning instead of resting. Sometimes they're awoken by noises inside of their head, vivid dreams, and many other reasons."
Palita explained that, at best, such individuals wake up feeling just slightly more rested than they were when crawling into bed. "Like a battery that has been damaged that never seems to recharge properly," she wrote. "These are people who for decades don't feel rested after their slumber. These are people who put an immense amount of effort into focusing on the task they're supposed to do or perform, while their minds are trying to carry them down other paths or while they are struggling to remember just what those tasks are." Palita went on to point out these individuals are probably dealing with working memory issues and "lack the skill to remember multi-step instructions in a world where they're just expected to know how to do it."
"These are people who are in a constant war with their own brain, people who are battling their own thoughts and fears, hearing every day from their brains they aren't good enough, strong enough, skinny enough, that people don't like them or that they should have done better just to list a few things," she continued. "These are people who are in a constant war with other people's judgment and lack of understanding."
"These are people who experience sensory overload that mentally exhausts them. From the clothing they are expected to wear, the food they are expected to eat, the noise around them, the sights engulfing them, and the odors surrounding them, these people's senses are constantly under attack. These are people who are exhausted from self-advocating to people who don't understand and don't care to understand. These are people who spend most of every day dealing with fears that others sometimes find silly and irrational."
I love playing the game Why Am I So Tired... Is it physical exhaustion, mental exhaustion, the heat, depression, lack of sleep, all of the above?... pic.twitter.com/kwiuC9AyNP— Taylor Joan Carlson (@TeejCarlson) July 26, 2020
"When someone tells you they're tired, sometimes you need to look beyond their answer," Palita wrote. "Are they tired? Are they physically tired and need some sleep? Or do they in fact need you. Do they need somebody to look them in the eyes and tell them they're not fine but that you're there for them? Do they need someone to realize they're not OK and to offer them a hug? Because I know when I say I'm tired, that's what I need."
"So please, the next time someone with an invisible disability says that they're tired, please don't treat them as if they're lazy or irrational," Palita urged. "Instead, imagine living your life on a rope bridge over a canyon, or imagine how you would feel if someone jabbed you and woke you up several times a night for just one year, and the physical and mental impact it would have on you. I beg of you, on behalf of all of us fighting our own silent battles, please be patient and empathetic. Just because you don't experience it doesn't mean that it's not a reality for someone else."