If I could reify my exhaustion, it would look something like a shackle chained to a heavy steel ball, I a prisoner of myself and of my bodily limits. By my attitude toward exhaustion, you can tell how much I loathe being tired. Tiredness feels like tar, and it also feels like emptiness, forlorn and accidental, when all strength and energy and willpower has drained out. Tiredness often feels like the opposite of consciousness; I’m both physically and mentally stuck, unable to make decisions and disinterested in action. Also highly vulnerable to angst, despair, and loneliness. If ‘perforated’ could describe a state of being, that might be the most accurate adjective.
It’s both a symptom and consequence of my neuroticism that I count depletion an imperfection. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I expect in myself the consistency and infallibility that I expect of machines. Even machines burn out though—my seven-year-old hair dryer started whirring and smoking yesterday, and I thought, “I guess it’s about time”—but we expect that anything functioning under the algorithmic architecture of codes, programmed inputs, and scientific wiring to achieve impermeability—maybe even immortality. That I desire perfection is not the problem; that I feel less worthy and less able for inhabiting my imperfections is. A machine is reliable and manageable, and it also does not have a soul, which is that spontaneous, desirous, capricious proof-of-being that carries with it an awareness of self as it relates to the world; also gives us the capacity to believe, love, give. After years of battling perfectionism in the form of tangible afflictions and self-inflictions, I'm still learning to encounter the humanity in myself; it's okay to want and need and to be hungry. It's okay to feel exhausted and weak. When tired, rest. When hungry, eat. It should be as easy as that, right?