Flu-Feelings VRS Depression

There’s more than one type of weariness, and I’ve endured a variety of types of it.
For the moment the kind I’m experiencing comes with a flu, but I have been thinking about the tired I felt with depression.

When I’m tired I act depressed, that is my behaviour becomes similar to depression behaviour.
Perhaps that is because tiredness is a symptom of depression?
My thought patterns are in a pretty good place so I happened to notice how my flu driven fatigue was affecting my actions; and I thought I’d write a small list of things, both the similar and dissimilar, for comparison.
Fair warning: Despite my feeling alright mood wise, being sick might cause some depression for me, and I’m historically a depressive person, so I may not actually be fully teasing the two apart.
(Also, I’m just going to compare depression and physical illness, not talk about when they coincide.)

The way they are most similar: Everything, even things I normally like, becomes a chore.
Getting up for the day becomes something I debate doing, even when I don’t need or want more sleep.
Taking care of my basic needs becomes something I have to do rather than something I want to do; making food for instance goes from something I enjoy, to something I do out of necessity.
Even things I know I want to do, I might not be up for. Desire to do something doesn’t make me less tired doing it.
This is because desire to do something is not the same as motivation to do something, it’s the difference between “I wish ‘the thing’ would happen” and “I want to do ‘the thing'”.  One is a passive the other is active.
More average tasks, like dishes, may seem “too burdensome” to attempt, and I become inclined to avoid them in an attempt to conserve my enthusiasm for tasks I actually enjoy.
When I try to get things done, even things I enjoy, I may run out of steam part way through the intended task.
Be that ‘steam’ physical fatigue (such as with illness) or just sudden demotivation (with depression), it doesn’t feel all that emotionally different (to me) in practice.
It is unpleasant for me to not feel able, for any reason, but it sucks to not finish something I set out to do.

Primary difference: Being sick is more body-oriented exhaustion, which actually is more limiting for me than depression. (I know that’s the reverse for some people)
Stuff I get comfort from when I’m depressed, might feel laborious with a flu. Especially creative endeavors that might normally make me feel better. Drawing for instance, the simple act of holding my head up and simultaneously maneuvering a pencil, feels like climbing stairs.
Even purely passive activities can feel like they take effort, such as laying down and watching a show.
With depression I also lack motivation, but when I’m sick with a flu I can have oodles of motivation. It does me no good since I don’t have energy to act on it, but I have it. This can leave me feeling flustered, and stymied, and in general I tend to be more frustrated with my lack of energy when I’m sick versus depressed.

So this leaves me with a lot of things I want to do, and am too tired to do: I want to draw when I’ve been feeling creative, I’d like to read and enjoy a good story, I don’t like being hungry and barely having the energy to make myself a sandwich.
Railing against fatigue unfortunately doesn’t get me anything, but I want it to. Fighting ones shadow doesn’t work any better for me than it does for Peter Pan.
So I guess for the moment I’ll remain exasperated with exhaustion, and hoping to get better from this flu quickly.

As a sort of side note: Given how well the two types of tired stack up, I really do think it’s ridiculous when people don’t give depression credit for the disability it is.
Also, I think next time I encounter someone who really doesn’t seem to “get it” when it comes to depression, I may get them to picture the fatigue of an particularly unpleasant cold or flu, minus the coughing/sneezing but when you still are too tired to do anything.
It’s not a complete comparison (nothing is) since it doesn’t include the crummy head-space which is such a large part of depression, and everyone is different and experiences depression differently, but it’s a starting point. Perhaps I could at least get someone to feel a little compassion for the exhaustion. That’s a start right?

How about you, do you find your behaviour shifts radically when you’re sick?
Is it like mine? Or are you more of a get up and go person even when sick?

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2 thoughts on “Flu-Feelings VRS Depression

  1. I am lucky that when I am “sick” most of the time it is mild enough that I just continue to function and work through it. However I normally have a ‘big one’ once a year that takes me out for a few days and I am pretty much miserable.

  2. I find it a very apt comparison. I can tell when I am getting better from the flu when I actually want to participate in life again. It is helpful to be ware that sickness brings on depression, so that it will go away when you get better. And not to trust your thoughts and feelings while you are sick. Of course when you already are in a constant state of depression, there is no let up. But you can share this comparison with the clueless who say, just snap out of it.

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