My friend started falling off. He no longer responded to text messages within the hour, or even within the day. Often times, he never answered at all. On the rare occasion that I did get a response, he typically rejected any invites to hang out—he was always “too tired”. He no longer showed interest in hiking his beloved trails or he backed out at the last possible second. He no longer enjoyed his favorite leisure activity of going to the theatre and seeing the latest top box office. He spent all of his free-time at home, in bed, with the door shut. He lost touch with most of our other friends, who measured him up to be a bad friend or always busy. I was the only one who knew what was really going on.

John had depression… and anxiety… and insomnia. And bad cases at that. At first he did his best to get out of bed and stay involved. He painted a smile on his face at school and sometimes didn’t even have to fake it. He came to our outings and still found joy in the small stuff, like joking around and rough-housing with the guys. He was still John. But then, the mental illnesses worsened, their symptoms progressed. And among these symptoms, was the development of anergia: a chronic state of exhaustion and total lack of energy. The one responsible for tired, absent John. The anergia made him feel sleepy all of the time and stole his interest in the activities and people he loved the most.

Back Up—What’s Anergia?

Simply put, anergia is a persistent state of low energy and sleepiness. I know what you’re thinking: I know exactly what that’s like, I pulled an all-nighter just last night binge-watching Game of Thrones, and I’m exhausted. Though I can relate, and that is indeed very tiring, it is not anergia. Anergia is a symptom of an actual disease or medical condition. These conditions include mental disorders such as—most commonly—depression. In this case, an individual’s drive plummets. They’re no longer interested in the activities they used to enjoy and made a life out of; they just want to sleep and find it rather difficult to complete even basic tasks. Anergia may also be a sign of a physical health condition, such as anemia or coronary artery disease.

How Can You Snap Out of It?

Again, anergia is merely a symptom. Therefore, the underlying condition has to be treated, which will hopefully result in resolving or at least improving the anergia. But there is no simply snapping out of it. Doctors first order tests such as blood work, psychological diagnosis, and others in order to determine the cause. Treatment may then be discussed and initiated.

John had depression, anxiety, and insomnia, which could all possibly explain the anergia. So, he stepped back and took a good look at his life: he felt he was learning how to deal with his episodes of depression and anxiety more effectively, but the newer presence of insomnia was weighing heavy. This realization motivated John to experiment with different medical treatment for the sleep disorder, including benzodiazepine hypnotics and melatonin receptor agonists. While his difficulty sleeping was never completely resolved, he found a medication that was effective in lessening the degree of it. And now that he was getting more sleep at night, he started to feel a little more energized during the day. That lack of motivation and decreased interest were still there. But he started to fight back against them and felt fulfilled when he revisited the things he knew he loved: the great outdoors, films, and his loyal friends, to name a few.

Fate: Given or Choosen?

One of the worst fates I could ever imagine is losing interest in the things and people I love dearly, one of the characteristics of anergia. I’ll never be ready to give up writing, playing music with my friends, or even tuning into my favorite shows every week. And I think everyone would agree with me—at least humans. But vampires might be a different story.

In The CW’s hit TV show, The Vampire Diaries, the main characters live some pretty tough lives. They’re constantly fighting some mythical creature or life-dooming power in order to stay alive and keep their loved ones safe. Sometimes this even means putting their interests and their emotions on the backburner, or “flipping their humanity switch”. When they do this, they completely cut off their power to feel: to feel love, happiness, excitement, hope, gratitude. I know, why would anybody ever do this? Well, it turns out there are some pretty ridiculous monsters living in the shadows of Mystic Falls. And you know what they say—desperate times call for desperate measures.

The vampires in The Vampire Diaries choose the fate of living with one of the characteristics of anergia: the loss of interest in the things and people they love. But anergia isn’t a choice in the real world—it’s one of the evil powers instead. And people with harmful underlying mental and physical health conditions live with it and fight against it everyday.

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