I've spent a lot of my life being pretty exhausted a lot of the time. Having depression and not knowing it for almost 10 years through junior high, high school, and college will do that for you. My depression has always, always presented as bone-crushing weariness with life that makes it difficult to actually do anything productive, let alone get ahead in stuff like chores and homework.
I didn't really understand why I somehow couldn't make myself function at the level that was expected of me in my youth without caffeine; even as early as 12 or 13, I had discovered that soda could not only make it easier for me to focus but also make it possible to attain the level of hyperactivity my friends naturally exhibited. When I got home I could collapse, but when I was hanging out with people, it was all about getting enough fake energy into my bloodstream.
Same with homework. If I could drink enough soda to kick my brain into gear, I could get everything done. More often than not, though, it was just enough to get by, and frustratingly not the extra that I knew I could do if I just could have gotten around to it perhaps the night before it was due.
I have always been very analytical about my caffeine consumption. I almost treat it as another over the counter medicine that I take. I know about how many milligrams of caffeine is in the coffee I drink most mornings versus how much is in an energy drink, tea, or a regular soda. I know which drinks affect me fastest, ala different types of hard alcohol. If I want to get buzzed super quick from booze, I drink tequila because one drink is more than enough. If I want to get that mental zing in the next half an hour because I have a paper to write, I slam a half an energy drink or a shot (or two) of espresso.
Starting in college, it became about the most efficient ways to get it into my system. Caffeine pills were not out of the question, though I recognized the slippery slope there and avoided them unless something like a sickness or trying to keep my voice alive for a performance kept me from drinking my normal stuff. Excedrin became my emergency, "I have nothing in the house and a caffeine headache" go to.
At some point in those four years, I realized I was probably legitimately addicted to caffeine and made attempts to either go cold turkey or back off my consumption severely on breaks to at least try and salvage some semblance of natural energy production. Whether or not that actually worked is somewhat up for debate, because I always go back.
I worked hard after I moved out of my parent's house to deal with this because 1) I had less than no money, and 2) I needed to be able to be more consistently functional to do fun things like hold a job and support myself on some level. A combination of actual depression medication and working out a lot of my previously totally ignored emotional issues helped with that. Did you know that completely repressing a lot of different strong emotions all at once is kinda exhausting? Neither did I, until I started working through them and noticed the difference. I even managed to get off the meds after a couple of years, which was a goal because I wasn't a huge fan of the side effects, as much as the meds helped.
I had also managed to successfully taper off my usage of energy drinks for a good couple of years before starting my Masters program. I still had them every once in a while, but not with the frequency, and often I would open one can and just sip on it for like, three days whenever I was feeling slow. I never fully got off of it, though, unfortunately. And then school hit.
Suddenly it was all back. Too much stuff to do, too many new tasks to handle, and I jumped on the energy drink train hardcore. Also the coffee train, which was one that I had stayed away from, not liking coffee for most of my life (this changed when I went to Italy and discovered real espresso, but that's a different story.
I have spent a good portion of this semester trying to moderate my consumption, after a summer of pumping myself full of various high-caffeine drinks to survive my newly early alarms, my ridiculous school workload, and the summertime drama that made all of that even more difficult to process. I even went completely cold turkey for a couple of weeks, until my first assessment was due and I realized the reason I still drink caffeine is because higher level thought happens much better with it than without it. Unfortunately, I don't see that changing any time soon, though I am still going to try and keep it at least within the bounds of moderate consumption, instead of, you know, 4 shots of espresso a day in various forms, or a couple of energy drinks instead of just one. It gets to a point where it's just not worth it anymore, and then I'm still tired.
That's what it all comes down to, really. Even with all this, I'm still tired all the time. It's been quite possibly the longest year of my life, with the possible exception of the year my sister and nephews died. But that happened in May, and this year has pretty much been insane since January. It's been school, yes. It's been work, and the drama associated with getting prepared to leave in August for student teaching, which brings us back to school... and on top of that, you know, still trying to be a person with functioning feelings and the time to occasionally stay at home for a few hours to rest. Minor details.
So exhaustion is where I'm left, clinging to the last vestiges of my willpower. Even though has grown a LOT out of necessity this year, it's almost gone. I'm starting to feel like I'm going to need a full week of just absolute nothing except for self-care activities to decompress from this year. Whether or not I'll get that is still up for debate, but at the very least, I get Christmas, a day which I'm looking forward to not out of a super-developed Christmas spirit, but because it represents the time when I finally, finally get to stop for a minute and just be.