Thyroid Patients Explain What Thyroid Fatigue Really Feels Like

I asked fans of my Facebook page how they would describe thyroid fatigue to other people, because, let’s face it, it’s not just ‘tiredness’ or being ‘sleepy’. It’s much more than that.

When people say “Oh yeah, I’m tired too!” or “You need an early night!” it’s really infuriating. It’s not a matter of having a bad nights sleep or a late night. Our body is literally deprived of hormones meant to keep us functioning properly. 

So, I asked: “It’s hard to describe to those who don’t experience it, but if you could put it in to words, what would it be?”

Lynne – “It’s a monumental effort just to stay upright and put one foot in front of the other, and as for motivation, its so much easier to stay unmotivated. It takes grit and determination just to get through the day, its so unfair.”


  From Linda.

Anon – “It’s like coming round from general anaesthetic.”

Harriet – “It’s my stomach sinking when I realise it is 3pm, I’m exhausted and have still got 4.5 hours of “mum duty” to do before husband gets home.”


From Anon.

Anon – “It’s waking up more tired than when you went to bed the night before.”

Emma – It is as if you are surrounded by a fog and stuck in a bubble. I feel like I should be able to shake my head really hard and, cartoon style, this fog will be shaken away and I’ll feel ‘normal’. I’ve had to change how I work to fit around the fact that, the that later in the day it gets, the more useless I become. It’s as if you’ve finished vigorous physical activity every minute of the day but you’re never able to recover. Basically it sucks!”

Carolyn – “The fatigue is like all the possible different pains that feel like a bee has stung you or someone just stabbed you with a needle. It is so strange how the pain comes and goes. It is making me crazier than I already am, plus staying so tired all the time is really a pain.”

Janice – “It’s like having jet lag, extremely draining leaving you very lethargic, your whole body is exhausted, you want to move, but you just can’t.”

From Shena.
Linda – “It’s having no motivation. It’s a struggle to force yourself to do things that you used to enjoy. It’s feeling like you’re going to crumble into a pile if you don’t sit down.”

Theresa – “It’s definitely like being drugged. You have the urge to do things but you just can’t. It’s very similar to depression; It’s hard to motivate yourself to move or do anything. You choose the easier way even if you want to go the harder way. It just sucks.”

Caroline – “Extremely debilitating exhaustion, it’s past the stage of being tired. No amount of sleep rectifies it. A lack of energy to stand up in the shower even and when you do a need to sit down again! It is so awful it is painful, muscles scream at me and my bones hurt. This is not just being tired!”

From Sam.
Gwen – Before my treatment started to work, the tiredness I felt was indescribable, exhaustion to the point of being unable to function at all, a trip to the supermarket wiped me out, it’s worse than just feeling tired, it’s like your body has just completely packed in. Even now I have to make sure I keep any physical activity to early in the day as by late afternoon the tiredness creeps in, but think the worst part is being so tired but then completely unable to sleep.”

April – “Like someone has sucked all the joy, my actual soul out and I had no feeling or energy of any kind left. ( I no longer feel that way fortunately, my thyroid is managed well).”

Pauline – “It gets me so that I would just curl up where I stood, even walking along, just anywhere!”

From Colette
Teddy – “It feels like the air is sludge, every movement is a Herculean effort. Your thoughts are world class sprinters with your tongue a weekend jogger trying to catch up as they disappear in the distance. The pain is a big, hollow, indescribable thing that owns you.”

Liz – “I’m reaching the point now where I’m going to have to reduce my hours at work as I can’t work full time and look after my own home and I don’t even have kids.
I have massive respect for all parents with hypothyroidism, I seriously don’t know how you do it!”

Kathleen – “It’s like swimming through honey and someone filled your head and eyelids with lead. Every movement is such an effort and you really feel you need to just lay down and sleep wherever you can.”

Myself – “It’s more than being tired. It’s not ‘you had a late night and are a bit groggy today’ tired, I mean absolutely exhausted. Like you could drop sleep with every blink you take. When getting up the stairs is such a horrendous task, that you have to plan about half an hour before you want to go upstairs, to physically prepare yourself for it. And even then, you need someone to help you. I guarantee, if you do not have a chronic illness, you will not know what this feels like.”

Myself – “I’d say it’s beyond exhaustion. It’s spending every moment consciously having to keep my eyes open, using any energy I do have to stay awake from a major lack of energy. It’s waking up more tired than when you go to bed. It’s almost painful.”

Add your own in the comments section below. 

If you are on thyroid medication and still having these kinds of issues with fatigue and other symptoms, you are likely not adequately treated, or have other problems you need to address. A properly treated thyroid condition should have no or very few symptoms. Of course, other illness, conditions and deficiencies can cause problems too, so explore them all if possible.

Of course, getting ourselves adequately medicated and finding doctors who will listen to us, is a whole other topic!

Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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8 thoughts on “Thyroid Patients Explain What Thyroid Fatigue Really Feels Like

  1. When I have a flare up it’s like the death eaters from Harry Potter have sucked the life from me. I feel like a shell rather than a person and simply getting through the day feels like a marathon effort. I survive on sugar and caffeine to try to keep myself going, just desperate to collapse on the sofa and stop having to think, walk, talk. It’s beyond tired, it’s like constantly swimming against a strong tide and trying desperately not to drown.

  2. It feels like I just pulled 3 all nighters, went a week without eating, and ran a full marathon. It’s a combination of physical and mental exhaustion without having done anything. You have no motivation to do anything, not because you are lazy, but because you’re beyond exhausted, and no amount of sleep makes it better.
    23 and hypothyroid!

  3. Hypothyroidism feels like Ive taken about 4 Benadryls and I’m fighting to stay awake. I’m so forgetful it scares me.

  4. After being seen by 2 health care providers who both dismissed my constant fatigue and exhaustion, after them prescribing multivitamins and sending me home with a piece of paper on “proper sleep hygiene”, after having to insist that they palpate my throat because one side is CLEARLY swollen, after a year of all that, I finally have a diagnosis.

    I was so happy when my third doctor finally told me what was wrong. It validates all the horrible exhaustion I’ve felt for years. I feel like I need a nap just from waking up to silence my alarm clock in the morning. I need a nap for living. My house is usually a mess because I never have the motivation or energy to do anything.

    I miss waking up feeling excited and ready for the day. Having energy throughout the day and even *gasp* meet friends for dinner after work or go hiking on the weekends.

    I can’t wait to start my treatment and feel better.

    1. I’m glad to hear you finally have a diagnosis Joanna, and I’m sorry to hear you were dismissed for so very long. It’s crucial to be validated and know that you’re not alone or imagining it! I hope you’re feeling better soon.

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