Typically we hear this expression when someone is voicing extreme frustration or disgust. People become fed up about one thing or another and on the verge of having a Howard Beale moment—”I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”
Often there is good cause for their angst. Systems continually fail, organizations are dysfunctional, and people are, well, human.
Yet the reaction may be out of proportion to its true impact in our daily lives, especially when compared to being literally sick and tired.
Recently a vicious flu bug knocked me out for a week. I was completely useless, barely able to make it out of bed. Unrelenting chills, a headache that made my hair hurt, and aches everywhere. No appetite, no energy.
While I was sick and tired, life did not pause or wait for me to get better. I missed appointments, important events, hugs from my children, time with my wife. I missed everything. I missed living.
In realizing the world keeps moving on, we often feel a sense of helplessness. We want to be doing more, but can’t. We feel like we are failing in everything that matters.
I am fortunate in that my flu was temporary. But for others, being physically sick and tired is a constant state. Conservative estimates show that 25 million Americans, including my sister, suffer from an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis. And almost 12% of Americans report having experienced severe pain EVERY DAY for three consecutive months or longer!
Surprisingly (or not), society isn’t that compassionate to those who suffer in this way. If we don’t see any obvious signs of ill health from the outside, we assume people should just be able to do more, to push through. Sometimes, they do. But too often they just can’t.
We give the bully pulpit to those who want to scream that they are sick and tired of this thing or the other. But for those who are actually sick and tired, they suffer in silence.
It’s natural to get frustrated when things perpetually go wrong. And as our frustrations build, we might all feel sick and tired of something. But remember the difference between feeling sick and tired about something and being sick and tired of something you can’t control.