Tag Archives: Exhaustion

Shut Up, Sirens*

Odysseus and the Sirens by Léon Belly

My eyes pop open, then squint, trying to make out the clock on the other side of the room. 6:30 AM. I should get up.

But the sirens cry out to me. “Andrea, stay! Don’t go! Stay in bed with us! We’ll cuddle. We’ll keep you comfortable.” I sink back into their outstretched arms and lose consciousness again.

My eyes pop open. Man, what time is it? 7:30. I really should get up.

But the voices are insistent. “Don’t go! You know you want to stay. You’re still sleepy. Relax. All is well.”

I try to throw off the covers, but they gather themselves around my neck. My eyes cloud over. I surrender.

My eyes pop open. The time? 8:30. Crap. I’ve got to get up.

The seductive voices aren’t ready to give up. “Come back! You know you want to be with us. Stay a little longer. Everything is alright. Everything is beautiful. Drift with us. Don’t go away. . .”

I struggle. I know we have no appointments, nothing that has to be done on a deadline. But even so, I can’t stay in bed all day. My husband is depending on me.

I’m in the time of my life when my husband needs my help all day long. His dizziness and limited mobility means he needs assistance to accomplish simple tasks we used to take for granted. He can shower on his own, but he needs my help to dry off and dress. He used to make his own breakfast, but doesn’t have the stamina to stand for as long as it takes to brown his sausage. If I lounge in bed, he can’t start his day. Duty calls, despite the sirens’ attempts to drown him out.

I start another long day, reminding myself what it was like last year when he was in the hospital and the pandemic prevented me from visiting him. How I longed to be the one to care for him. Having him home with me is a blessing; but most days I crash right after dinner, having to take a nap before I can even face loading the dishwasher.

I know this sounds like I’m depressed, but I’m really not—just exhausted. I try to grab extra sleep whenever I can, and be kinder to myself.

There was another time when I yielded to the sirens, right after I resigned from my teaching job. Teaching had been such a pleasure for me, until it wasn’t. Budget cuts, increasing demands, and staff reassignments robbed me of the joy I once had. I stayed on longer than I should have, thinking that things would get better. They didn’t.

When it was finally over, I spent a few months sleeping until 11:00, then watching reruns of Dog, the Bounty Hunter until I had enough energy to look for a new job or write. It took a while to get used to the idea of being retired, a state I finally embraced, though reluctantly.

Now it’s your turn. Have you ever gone through a period when you were fatigued all the time? How did you get through it?

*The sirens I am referring to are the female island creatures of Greek mythology who mesmerized sailors with their song and caused them to wreck their ships on the rocky coastline.