A week or two ago, there was an epidemic sweeping Houston. It was literally effecting everyone I knew in one way or another. Those without power were tired of the heat, the isolation….the dark. My neighbor across the street who had power was fatigued by having no cable…and thus no internet or email. He said he felt like he was living in the 1980’s again. I told him that was nothing….I was living in the 1880’s with only candles to see by! Others had lights, email, etc. but their children….normally busy with school, homework and activities….had been home for more than a week and were running out of things to do to fill their time.
The first few days after the storm were kind of fun. One friend described it as “high end camping”. You had your grill, your own shower and best of all, your own bed. We made up some games with the kids that we could play in the dark and really seemed to be making the best of the situation. But after a few days, take it from me, even high end camping can get old. I kept pretending I was Amish, but that game ended after a few days as well
One day…about a week after the storm….I was standing in my house and literally had sweat running down my back and front. It was hot and I was tired. My mom called, and having a safe place to “vent”, I began rattling off my complaints. After I finished there was a pause on the phone…and then my she said very calmly……“Darla, I think you are suffering from storm fatigue.” Again, a pause. Then I said… “YOU THINK?!!?” “My food is melting, there is no ice, there is a gas shortage so we can’t leave, out clothes are dirty, I can’t vacuum the house, the children have had a fever virus for 8 days, we are hot, the kids are now over their virus and fighting, my calendar is stored on the computer which I cannot get to, and I’m tired of playing Amish. There is no thinking….I HAVE storm fatigue!”
Later I was telling my friend that my mom (who has a degree in counseling) had diagnosed our condition. Storm fatigue. I’m not sure why, but it started to be funny. We had the best time saying….“storm fatigue” to each other. We said it all the time. If someone wanted something to eat, we’d say “you’ll have to get it yourself…..I have storm fatigue.” If we were supposed to be somewhere….“sorry, we can’t make it…storm fatigue.” When the soccer coach wondered why my son didn’t have on shin guards at practice…“So sorry, storm fatigue.”
Before I knew it, people everywhere were saying it. Seriously, my mom could have had an entire practice counseling people with “storm fatigue”. I went to Chuck E Cheese one day… spent 3 hours and who knows how much money …. (a/c AND pizza AND electronic games for the kids….priceless!). I saw a friend there who is known as a gourmet cook. She even runs a meal planning service from her home. When I saw her, of all people, eating Chuck E. Cheese pizza, I knew. She was suffering….storm fatigue. I told her about it and her face lit up when it dawned on her…“yes! That’s it! Storm fatigue.” It’s as if it was a welcome relief….you no longer thought you were totally crazy….there was a diagnosis for what we had.
A few days later another mom came across the soccer field to tell me….“your mom is a genius!” I immediately knew someone had told her about “storm fatigue.” She said she was telling everyone she knew.
It almost became a game and the more we said it, the more fun it became. Storm fatigue became one of my most used phrases in the (and I recounted….it was actually 12 days of no power) long days after the storm. People could ask me just about anything and I would say….“I’m sorry, I’m suffering from storm fatigue right now.” And they all got it!!!
When we had our school open house last week, the teacher was describing how she had felt a little “off” since the storm and she imagined the children did too. Because of that they had spent a lot of time processing the things that had happened….writing stories, drawing pictures and sharing about their experiences. I didn’t want to appear smug, but I already knew what she and the students were suffering from….you guessed it, storm fatigue.
I don’t really think it matters if you live in hurricane zone or not….we all experience some sort of storm fatigue at one time or another. And you know what… it’s o.k. to say it. And it’s nice to know there are others who feel the same way as we do.
And what’s even better is knowing The One who calms the storms.