Love, Wellness

I couldn’t figure out why I was constantly exhausted, but I refused to get help

To put it simply, I didn’t care about myself as much as I should have.

A few years ago, my energy levels randomly dropped, and I began to just want to sleep all the time. I couldn’t figure out why. I would get so tired that I couldn’t physically do anything but fall into my bed. Going out would be a struggle, as would staying awake during the day. It became very easy to feel sad and depressed because I was being so unproductive and felt so lazy. I tried coffee, energy drinks, fruits, and multi-vitamins., but nothing worked.

I’ll admit that self-care isn’t something I’ve ever been great at. It was pretty normal for me to not address important issues in my life. I just didn’t care about myself as much as I should have. I was happy to ignore things in hopes that they would go away and I tried to do the same with my fatigue. After a while, my family started to get concerned and urged me to pay a visit to the doctors.

It turned out that I had iron deficiency: anemia. Because of the lack of iron, I had a reduced number of red blood cells. Symptoms of this kind of anemia range from feeling lethargic to having a paler complexion to heart palpitations and getting short of breath. There are other symptoms, but these are the most common ones. I would get pretty pale but the most life-affecting symptom was the lethargy.

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I was prescribed a course of iron tablets, and towards the end of the course, I began to feel more like myself. I had a lot more energy. The thing is, I still hadn’t gotten better at looking after myself. I was pretty happy to rely on the tablets, but obviously, they aren’t a miracle cure. The iron deficiency did not go away, it was just remedied for a short period of time.

Over the next few years, I was stuck in this perpetual cycle. My anemia would strike, I’d go on iron tablets for a course and get better, only to have it come back after a few months. I was busy studying and working, I barely had time to get myself to the doctors and just couldn’t be bothered with the extra hassle.  When the lethargy hit me, it was frustrating because I could not bring myself to do anything. I was constantly feeling exhausted and it made daily life so difficult. I’m lucky that I’m not the type to pass out but I had many days where I felt faint and came close to it.

After some time, I realized that I couldn’t keep going like this, it was getting ridiculous. So I did my own research into iron deficiency and how to overcome it.

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I’d already resolved to cut out tea and coffee due to my IBS, but I learned that tea and coffee actually reduce iron absorption. So, those two to three cups of tea a day I’d been having were making everything worse. So was the coffee I’d tried to drink to get my energy levels higher. So, I made sure that I stuck to avoiding these coffee and caffeinated tea. I switched to herbal teas though, because what kind of monster doesn’t have a hot drink in the morning?

I knew that there were tons of foods out there that are high in iron, so I tried them out. Although I do eat meat, I live in a vegetarian household so adding fish and meat to my diet would not have been sustainable. I tried kale and I absolutely hated it. I’m a huge snacker, so incorporating nuts and seeds into my daily diet was an easy alternative. I would buy packets and keep them in my bag to snack on during the day and I began to feel a lot better.

It has been over a year since I’ve had to last have a course of iron tablets. The last time I had a blood test, I was told that my iron levels were average which made me ridiculously happy.

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I no longer get randomly exhausted. It’s such a small thing but I do not take it for granted. After such a long time of feeling so crappy, I’ve learned to appreciate being energetic. It was such a minor adjustment to my diet but it has changed my life dramatically.

It seems like I have beat the anemia, for now. However if only I had taken more time to look after myself when I was younger, I could have avoided this whole issue.