What ‘I’m tired’ really means

CW: suicidal thoughts

In light of R U OK Day I wanted to share with you all some of the things to look out for when you ask the question ‘are you okay?’. One of mine and many people’s go to responses is ‘I’m tired.’ It is easy to accept this phrase at face value. But often this phrase means more than meets the eye.  So here’s what ‘I’m tired’ really means and can mean for me at any given time.

I’m depressed
My mind is moving slow like tar. I can’t focus. Everything is difficult. It all seems so damn impossible. A dark veil is over my head. I can’t move. I feel like concrete. The only way I can possibly sum this up to you is to say ‘I’m tired.’

I’m overthinking a thousand things
My thesis is due in four weeks. I have an essay due I haven’t even started. I have to go the doctors tomorrow. I’m seeing my friend for brunch on Tuesday but I don’t have enough money so I guess I’m living off 7-11 tonight. I can’t handle all of this. I feel like I am going to explode.

You caught me dissociating
I wasn’t even in the room. Your words shook me out of the chasm that was my consciousness. I was looking down at us sitting as if I wasn’t even there. I had no thoughts. No feelings. I simply was not there.

You caught me thinking about suicide/self-harm
Your words broke my stream of thought about all the cruel things I could do to myself. I was imagining how much better the world would be without me in it. I was thinking about what I would write in my note. I was making my plans.

I’m stressed/emotionally exhausted
I feel like the world is closing in on me. There is no way out. I can’t do it anymore.
I just want to sleep for an entire week. Or disappear.

I don’t feel like I can disclose to you
I want to tell you about all the things described above. But I am scared. I don’t feel safe doing so because we are in a public space and I don’t want people to judge me. I’m scared you will criticise me or tell me to ‘buck up’ or give me some positive platitude that means nothing. I also don’t want to be a burden to you. I just feel so deeply ashamed. I was made wrong.

I’m tired
As Freud once said, ‘sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.’ The point of this post is not to make you distrusting of people but to assure you that asking people if they are okay is not enough. Sometimes people are resistant to share. It is necessary to read between the lines and trust your gut. If someone doesn’t seem themselves, they probably aren’t. Persevere.

It is my hope that through this guide of some of the different meanings ‘I’m tired’ can have it will help you all to better help your loved ones. Asking ‘are you okay?’ isn’t enough. You need to be receptive and listen to what the person is saying, even and especially if they aren’t using their words.

4 thoughts on “What ‘I’m tired’ really means

  1. Again, another beautifully written piece. I love the descriptions and different ways in which I’m tired can be experienced. I see I’m tired as a polite way of saying I don’t want to talk right now. What a heavy load some people have to carry, of course they are tired. Thanks again Jess


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