Fatigued AF, But Faking Good Health To Fight Anti-Blackness In An Anti-Black World
It takes a lot to be vulnerable and transparent in a world where everything can be judged with the simple click of a “like” or “love.” The lives we lead in the public eye don’t always match up with what’s going on when there is no one looking. When the makeup comes off, and the shoes are put in the closet, and we get that alone time to decide if we have enough energy to eat, or just enough to crawl into bed and sleep. And sleep. And wake up. And not be able to move…
Social media has a way of creating a world of perception that everything is okay. For me, I try to be as transparent as possible but there are still some things I like to keep to myself. That is most often tied to when I’m not feeling 100%. You see, some days I just simply can’t get out bed. It has become a revolutionary act some days to get up. There are times where I have sat in bed or on the couch all day and done nothing. Nothing for my personal hygiene, nothing for my profession, and nothing for nourishment for that day. Only eating the bare minimum to subsist on a hungry stomach, just to lay back down on the dent in the couch where I’d been for the past ten hours.
A good night’s sleep is a privilege only designated for those who can actually have one because they aren’t worried about a world that is intent on their destruction when they leave the house every morning. To be fair, every now and then I may get around five hours of sleep in. It’s a rare thing, but it does happen. Sleep has become a thing of the past for me, and for many others as we are constantly on the go – physically, mentally, spiritually, and most importantly, financially. These four things combine to create an existence where it can be hard to be worried about rest when you don’t know how you will cover your rent at the beginning of the month. When you don’t know why your constant praying over the past 20 years continues to go unanswered.
When you watch the violence against your community, and hashtag after hashtag after hashtag reminds you that your existence is less than human in this society. I carry this baggage, along with many others in my community, but then there is an added layer when you have a virus that constantly reminds you of just how anti-Black this world is, and how much harder it will be for you to face the oppressions outside when dealing with one living inside of you.
Being HIV-positive is tough. I know, I know: it’s a chronic condition now that you can have a full life with and do all the things you used to do as long as you take your meds and blah, blah, blah.
It is still HIV.
Some days I forget this. Some days I just go as I used to when I was the 21-year old “me” who could turn up all night, catch a flight home, get off the plane and go straight to work smelling like baby wipes. I can’t do that anymore. Sometimes I am truly drained of energy. The body has to work harder to process medication and there is no way around that. The mind has to work harder with each encounter when you have to disclose your status, hoping that it isn’t met with rejection. The spirit has to work that much harder to stay encouraged as you fight past the reminder that is a pill a day. Sometimes this burden, added on top of all the other issues of the day becomes so overwhelming that the body just simply shuts down, with or without warning.
The fatigue that comes with HIV is real. I recently had a bout with this overseas on a trip to Barcelona where I spent an entire day inside and just resting. Many questioned if I was okay, until I finally had to live in my truth and tell them “sometimes I just don’t have the energy to do anything but lay here.”
This is an existence that is shared by many who continue to walk the world as wounded warriors, whether they have the virus or not. I don’t feel as minorities we are able to properly rest, and that fatigue attacks us on every aspect because of this. We see our people shot dead in the streets and we get drained. We see the HIV epidemic continue to hurt Black women and LGBTQ people, and we are drained. We see the healthcare crisis, wage gaps, and social inequality, and we are simply tired.
I write this all to say that fatigue is as intersected with Blackness as black-eyed peas on New Year’s Eve. I write this to say that it is okay to be tired just because you are sick and tired. I take my time with fatigue, as I know not acknowledging its presence could be even more harmful to my health. I write this to say I know it’s hard – but find some time to rest. The world beats up on us enough without needing to give it more time to do so.