This is my definition for anemia— the deficiency that doesn’t seem like a big deal until it starts to define you.

I walk around in a fog most days.

It’s not because I’m high or emotionally unstable. I don’t use any kind of drug and I usually manage to keep my emotions under control.

But I still drive straight through red lights, forget whatever it was you told me 30 seconds ago, and don’t understand basic concepts the third time through.

This isn’t me. This is my anemia. It’s starting to take over my life, but it’s not a big deal because it’s low iron.

Tons of women have low iron. They don’t seem melancholic. They’re not disappointed in themselves for being behind in work. My anemia is severe, which may explain the difference, but doesn’t excuse me from forgetting who I am.

I used to take pleasure in the little things. I couldn’t get bored. I tried my hardest at everything and wrote every deadline down in three different places. Now I feel behind, like deadlines are swirling around my head but none are written down—why didn’t I write them down?

I can’t remember what I’ve forgotten. I fall asleep at my computer with three pages to go. I wake up feeling no more refreshed than when I fell asleep. I’m exhausted all the time. I’m frustrated all the time.

I’m a little bit scared for my safety. Someone upstairs is stopping traffic when I hurl through red lights and stop signs. He’s saving my life because I can’t concentrate.

I try to get back to my happy place by pulling on my sports bra. Exercise only leaves me on the floor, out of breath with hummingbird wings for a heart.

I don’t know when it’ll get better or if it’ll get better, but I’ll keep popping the pills the doctor prescribed.

I’m sorry for complaining about it. I know I’m fortunate in many ways others aren’t. I know others are in a lot worse conditions than me. I just hope the next time someone tells you they have anemia, you’ll know what they mean.