Untitled by Jennifer Walker
Credit: Jennifer Walker

I am tired. No, let me take that back. I am exhausted. No, that still doesn’t do it. I am bone tired. When I was growing up, we used to say that we were bone tired. This meant you hit your limit but kept going.  

When the sun was hot on your back, you were sweating and close to dropping to the ground from lack of water tired. When everyone else had stopped you had not.   

There are a few reasons why I’m feeling bone tired — and I’m working hard to protect my mental health.  

Ignorance Makes Me Bone Tired 

I live in San Antonio, Texas — I’m afraid to walk around freely and say that I am nonbinary. In October 2021, I had a horrible experience with a rheumatologist. I asked her to use my pronouns and she treated me like garbage, asking what my pronouns had to do with my treatment.  

Despite owning the practice, the rheumatologist said she couldn’t ask others to use my pronouns. She even told the front staff that I was unstable and that I could no longer see the nurse practitioners — just her. She then gave me instructions to become vegan, tried to convert me to Jesus, and more. Yes, I do have a new rheumatologist.  

Feeling Left Behind Makes Me Bone Tired 

Several weeks ago, I went to see my endocrinologist and her regular nurse, whom I have dealt with for at least two years. The nurse proceeded to tell me that COVID-19 is just a cold now and it’s no big deal. Then she looked at me and said, “Oh, except for people like you. You still need to be careful. You can’t just go out anywhere. It isn’t safe for you.” 

My mouth was wide open, and I just sat there looking at her. I was so thankful I had my N-95 mask on. She had on a cloth mask like what we wore in the beginning before being told it was an airborne virus. What the hell do I even say to you as a health care provider at this point? You are around high-risk patients — diabetics, folks with thyroid cancer, and more — and you’re wearing a cloth mask.  

I have struggled deeply this year because there have been no safe spaces for me as a disabled person. There are no mask mandates. There are no accessible options. I have no options of streamlined events. Nothing. COVID-19 is still real. And the community that was so busy yelling at others a couple of years ago saying they were willing to give up their celebrations because of COVID-19 have left us out once again.  

But this time, it isn’t just an inconvenience. It is life and death for me because I am immunocompromised. I am #HighRiskCovid19. And I have started an additional treatment in January that makes me even more susceptible to germs and infection. I have been told I can’t go into places where other people are not wearing masks. So now, I can only go outdoors where there is enough distance between me and other people and to doctor’s offices. 

Because of this, I was unable to attend Pride events this year. I was cut off from my LGBTQ+ community, a community I love and value and connect with every year. One that means so much to me. This year I was left with a gaping hole, a sense of emptiness because there was no place for me in the celebration of who we are. I lost out on the camaraderie, the space that allows us to be open and free to be who we are without judgment. 

Losing a Loved One Makes Me Bone Tired 

I lost my arthritis doggie Edgar last year. I had him for 10 years by my side — for all my major diagnoses, my relationships, friendships, every move. Edgar was my sanity through the COVID-19 lockdown. He helped me feel safe when I lived on my own. He helped me feel strong enough that I could live on my own as a disabled (at the time) femme presenting person. That I could go back to school and handle it. No matter how bad my day was, I could come home and have him curl up next to me and cuddle. And when I had my panic attacks in the middle of the night, he was always by my side to make me feel better.  

There are times when people just do not make sense to me. But animals always do. Dogs always do and Edgar always did.  I was broken when I lost him last year. 

Current Events Make Me Bone Tired 

COVID-19, the Uvalde shooting, and now Roe vs. Wade has been overturned…..I am bone tired. Tired from the marrow of my bones crumbling from the inside out of my bones. 

Living in Texas makes it extremely difficult for patients to access methotrexate for treatment since new abortion laws have been enacted. It is a struggle at the pharmacy, a fight — patients have to go without or have delayed treatment because of the hoops they have to jump through to get methotrexate. It is one more thing that makes me tired when I look around me, just bone tired. One more fight, one more battle full of pressure, fear, and anxiety because patients don’t know if this prescription will be the last one filled.

On top of this I am only 86 minutes from Uvalde, Texas. After the Uvalde shooting, I had to tell people to please not talk to me about it. If I heard the word, I would burst into tears. I need my mental health to be okay. I need me to be okay. I skip over videos on TikTok I cannot handle. I have curated my social media very carefully over the years and try to stay away from arguing with people who just want to argue and who are cruel. 

My health is the most important thing. Dealing with my own health care providers who do not take Covid-19 seriously enough to wear the proper masks, enforce that masks are worn properly in the waiting rooms, maintaining correct cleaning procedures, and social distancing is hard enough. I know I am not in a place where I can advocate for the patient community right now. I know the best I can do is advocate for myself in my local spaces.  

Arguing with some stranger or some person on the internet is not worth my body being laid up for three days unable to function. We must admit that our bodies and our minds are connected. I am here to tell you that it is okay to screen social media. It is okay to take a step back for your mental health. 

How I’m Helping Protect My Mental Health  

Here are a few more ways that I’m working to protect my mental health and eliminate feeling bone tired:  

I have stopped… 

  • Going to people’s profile’s or accounts I know will upset me 
  • Watching shows that bring me down (I am easily affected by shows and movies) 
  • Running to someone who will just agree with me when I complain, and won’t play devil’s advocate 
  • Saying yes to spending time with someone (partner included) when I really need to be alone to recoup 
  • Agreeing to tasks that are not possible with my current health level, but based on what I think my health should be 
  • Letting people talk to me about a topic that overwhelms me 
  • Working to make others feel comfortable without stopping to think if I am comfortable 
  • Ignoring the signals from my body that I need to stop, rest, or take a break 
  • Pretending that I am okay when I know I am upset or need time to process what is happening 

I have started to… 

  • Watch a show that I like — even if that means alone 
  • Make time for something that relaxes me — art and crochet for me 
  • Watch dog videos, art videos, crochet videos, etc. (things I am interested in, just because) 
  • Set aside time for me alone — even if I feel guilty about it 
  • Disengage in the hot topics that are happening right now if they are too much 
  • Wait until I feel emotionally ready to discuss a topic without falling apart 
  • Say no about something tragic or difficult in the news and setting boundaries 
  • Stop and think if I am comfortable with a topic or idea — listen to that little nagging voice 
  • Exercise daily as I am able. I try to take a short walk with my new pup each day to get outside and clear my head 
  • Use an app called Finch to help me stay motivated judgment free with daily tasks to help my depression 

Some of these seem intense but the truth is they all take practice. No one is great at this stuff overnight. And every wall gets built by putting down the first brick. Every trip starts with the first step. And that is all we can do — start one piece at a time. Look at something that jumps out at you, and you know overwhelms you, and try to apply it in a way that works for you.  

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