It’s such a terrible symptom. It’s so easy to doubt, even in one’s self. “Am I really sick? Or am I just lazy? Am I avoiding something? Is this just an excuse?” Sigh. I had a four month bout of mononucleosis when I was in high school. That was a level of fatigue that was undeniable. But, even then, I doubted. “Am I just being wimpy?” Ever since then, I’ve listened carefully to other people’s stories of fatigue and its emotional sequelae. Every time, it seems, the guilt and shame that follow are at least as bad as the exhaustion itself.
And so I found myself here, in Berlin, living my dream. Lying on the couch, exhausted. What made me so tired? Lunch, apparently. For a practitioner of the healing arts the emotional response that comes with fatigue has an added bonus – self-doubt as a healer. Whenever I get sick I run myself through this: “If you are an herbalist why can’t you just take herbs and feel better? Is it because you are not very good at what you do? No. There is a reason why the Wounded Healer is an archetype. Don’t forget, you are blessed with ill health. It is what led you to this path. Are you saying I am frail? A hot-house flower? You are more sensitive, yes. You know how people are always saying ‘You are so in touch with your body?’ Well, many people would just have a coffee and get on with it. So I should just get on with it? Remember how sick you were a decade ago. You will use this opportunity to go deeper, discover more. This is what urges you ever onward on your path. You are getting on with it, in your way.”
In this case there can be no doubt. It’s real. I have the time and freedom to do the work that matters most to me in the world. If I decide to take a break from work, I have a gorgeous city to explore. It’s as if I set up the perfect experimental conditions to get a true reading of my level of fatigue. And it is real. It often comes right after a meal. And so I research.