This post is part of what I hope to be a series of life advice piece using video game analogies to make sense of the world. For everyone who had their minds warped by video games and still wants to make sense of it all. The previous post can be found here: A Life of Tetris.
Fatigue’s a strange kind of strange thing. There tends to be a lot of confusion as to what it does and how it manifests itself, much like with stress. A few years back someone gave me this basic explanation as to what his understanding of fatigue is. He used this explanation using heart containers. Then he told me that when it was explained to him, it was told using ladders. I kind of knew most of what he told me already, although in a sense I didn’t. At least, not really. His explanation opened my mind to exploring it further.
Which is why I’m here to give my spin this time around. Using Mega Man X.
Imagine your energy being a health bar. More specifically, imagine it being the health bar from Mega Man X. I know, there are games out there with fatigue bars that should represent your energy as well, but I find those to be fundamentally flawed for several reasons.
Stamina bars in gaming automatically refill if you’re not doing anything for long enough. Or in most cases, they even refill as you’re walking instead of running. Sure, when you’re tired out in real life situations, you can feel recharged from taking a break for a few minutes, but this is not going to give you a completely fresh stamina bar. It’s going to refill a slight bit in the best of cases. In the worst case, your fatigue catches up with you and completely drains your stamina bar.
So the stamina bar is not an analogy we can use here. Instead, Mega Man X’s health bar is a perfect way to explain fatigue.
Mega Man X featured these collectible items called sub-tanks. Items that, when you’re full on HP, let you charge extra health that you could use to fill up your health bar when you really needed it.
Let’s say that, as a normal person, your energy consists of one full health bar, and 4 sub-tanks of extra health. Now let’s say that, when you spend energy, you exert yourself, you drain this health bar.
When you’re really, really down on energy and manage to push through those first stages of fatigue you stop feeling how tired you are. You’ve just used up a sub-tank. If this sounds strange to you, you should be glad. You’ve probably never suffered from severe fatigue.
After a while you just don’t feel fatigued anymore. But that doesn’t mean you’re not it. And you can go down the pit of fatigue even further and further without even being aware of it. Or at least, there are tell-tale signs that you’re still fatigued. A lost of cases, your sense are just too dull to be fully aware of it.
It isn’t until you really do your best to rest up that you notice how much extra rest you really need. That’s when it really catches up with you and you start feeling how tired you are. In Mega Man terms, this is when you want to get back to full health and have to go that extra mile to fill up those sub-tanks as well.
It’s frustrating, reaching that point where you’re much more well-rested than you have been in a while, but feeling all that more tired for it. You’re grinding those extra health items despite being at full HP, because you know you’re actually not at full HP by a long shot.
And there is a limit to how far below full energy you can go. Go down to far and after a while your body will start responding quite badly. I’ve had entire days that were lost to me because I either passed out in the middle of the day and woke up the next, or where I went to sleep normally one night and didn’t wake up the next morning, but the exact same time I went to bed on the day after.
The best way to go about it is to not rely on sub-tanks. If you know how to handle yourself, you should be able to live your life without them. Just like that, it’s a bad idea to try to rely on that extra energy that you can get by overworking yourself in real life. Get that extra rest when you can. Stock up on that energy. You’ll need it.