Sensational Living®

Autumn 2008
© 2008 by Bret S. Beall


I’m no longer feeling tired, so I decided that I would write what is going to be one of my most esoteric columns to date. I use a particular vocabulary here that may not resonate with you, but I ask you to look beyond the specific words to the concepts behind the words, as they apply to everyone. By being aware of these ideas, you will be able to continue to engage in Sensational Living®.

For the last year and a half, I've been feeling tired and low-energy (the paucity of columns is evidence of this low-energy [as well as my super busy-ness]). Being low-energy is very atypical for me, and I just assumed it was due to my heavy workload and multi-tasking (I really MUST write about the evils of multi-tasking one of these days). It wasn’t. What was it?

Before proceeding, I must say “thank you SO MUCH” to the so-called "friends" with whom I shared my tiredness who kept saying, "Well, Bret, you're getting older." As of this column, I’ve been getting older for 48 years. Getting older does NOT mean that you become more tired, and have less energy. I suggested that they "bite me!"


Being "bitten" is the clue! Have you ever heard of "psychic vampirism"? I thought I had coined that term, but a quick Google search showed it in wide use, so either I borrowed it from someone else, or came up with it independently. Regardless, I definitely use the term. I encountered my first (obvious) psychic vampire in the late 1980s, shortly after moving to Chicago. I was attending a men's social and political discussion group, and I was seated next to a gentleman whom I didn't know. Everyone was very friendly, and we were very open with one another. As the meeting got started, I started feeling weak, and nauseous, and otherwise ill when I should have felt just the opposite with this group of supportive men. I finally turned my attention to the man next to me, and realized that he was [unintentionally] sucking the life force right out of me.

He was trying to survive; he was ill with AIDS. He had no idea what he was doing. I should have been more aware of the situation given my background, and once I realized what was happening, I immediately shielded against him. It was a life lesson, and I learned that lesson quickly, as this situation hasn’t happened since! I’ve encountered psychic vampires since then, but I quickly spotted them, and protected myself. Be aware of this possibility if you suddenly feel tired in the presence of someone else.


I have been using “psychic vampirism” as a term for 20-some years, but I have used my biological background only recently to coin “psychic parasitism.” In ecological terms, a predator (ie, vampire) is someone who will kill its prey. A parasite will live off another being, weakening it, but not killing it. “Psychic parasitism” seemed appropriate for what I have experienced in the past year, though a quick Google search showed me that others are using the term, admittedly in somewhat different ways. Let me tell you the story of my tiredness.

I’ve been doing some long-term consulting with a downtown Chicago firm. I’ve considered this one of the most positive, affirming work environments I’ve ever experienced. You cannot believe how nice these people are! I felt at home from Day 1, and saw no need to protect myself in any way.

About a 18 months ago, I was assigned a new supervisor. I admit to sensing trouble from the start, because while being an incredibly nice person, she had a knowledge level that was way below what was needed for her new position. I tried “managing up,” with little success. Then I started receiving criticism from her. Then she imposed unreasonable work loads and artificial deadlines, which I pointed out to her, and she reminded me that I could be terminated (and this is a dream gig, so I decided to bite my tongue, and go with the flow … about which I’ve written many times (http://www.god-dess.com/services_lifestyleJan05.html; http://www.god-dess.com/services_lifestyleMar05.html; http://www.god-dess.com/services_lifestyleMay05.html; http://www.god-dess.com/services_lifestyleJuly05.html and http://www.god-dess.com/services_lifestyle_Winter2005_2006.html).

As time went by, I realized I was being much less productive both with this client, and at home. I was struggling with creativity, and just didn’t have the energy or the desire to write columns for www.god-dess.com. I couldn’t understand what was going on. As I wrote above, I thought I was overwhelmed and stressed out due to all of the work that lay in front of me. That seemed reasonable; most people would be tired if they tried to do everything I do.

In late September 2008, I realized my workload was not the cause of my low energy. That was when I learned I would have a new supervisor at this venue. I knew her, respected her, and was excited about this reassignment. With that new optimism, I was suddenly able to look back on the past year with a new perspective. All of a sudden, perhaps because I was finally able to “hear” that “little voice,” I realized that my previous supervisor had been slowly and insidiously sucking energy from me. It was so slow that I hadn’t even realized it was happening.

Once I considered this possibility, I continued to review the past year. Yes! My former supervisor was sucking the energy not only from me, but also from other coworkers. Wow! I quickly protected myself, and my energy returned. I can’t say that I’m back to 100% even as I write this, but I’m SO MUCH BETTER.

Maybe my vocabulary doesn’t speak to you. Did you ever see a sketch featuring “Debbie Downer” on Saturday Night Live? If not, check out YouTube.com. If you have, you know she has the ability to just suck the life out of a room. The key is to not focus on the vocabulary. Instead, focus on how others impact and influence you.


At the same time I was self-diagnosing myself as a victim of psychic parasitism, and protecting myself from it, I also realized I was experiencing a new phenomenon: allergies! The last time I had allergies was in my teen years when I lived on a farm in the rural Ozarks of Missouri, and the oak trees would bloom and I’d become congested with watery eyes and lots of sneezing. Once I moved away from the abundance of oaks, I never again experienced allergies. That is, I never experienced allergies until mid-summer 2008! Itchy eyes, ongoing nasal congestion, dry throat, coughing, sneezing and general malaise made me quite the sight! At the time, I attributed my symptoms to another cause (see below), not allergies. Why would I suddenly develop allergies?

This year, Chicago had an abundance of rain (as of mid December 2008, when I’m writing this, the year has been the second wettest in Chicago’s history). I have told so many people that I didn’t recall Chicago looking so beautiful, with verdant plantings everywhere, and trees, flowers and other plants healthier than ever. I enjoyed the greenery, and just dealt with the uncomfortable symptoms (including being very tired). I noticed many other people experiencing similar symptoms on the bus, on the street, in stores, in museums, everywhere people were sneezing and hacking. What was going on?

A fortuitous announcement on a local news show gave me my “Aha” moment: due to the abundance of rain, all plants were producing larger quantities of pollen than previously seen, and many people who had never experienced allergies were suddenly experiencing them! I used decongestants and other over-the-counter treatments, and my symptoms diminished, and after the first frost, the problem went away. Thank goodness! I was again less tired. But if you are feeling tired, and it isn’t psychic vampirism or psychic parasitism, consider the possibility that you have an allergy. Consult a medical professional if symptoms persist.


I mentioned above that I had originally missed attributing my tiredness to allergies because I was blaming another culprit. That culprit was the toxic downtown building in which I’ve been working for 2.5 years at this point. While the allergies did take their toll on my overall health, the “sick building” in which I work continues to do so. There is dry air, poor ventilation, outgassing from walls and carpet, and other nastiness. There’s also lots of dust everywhere. All of these contribute to my being tired, but this is something I have to tolerate unless I want to give up this great gig. I currently choose not to do that.

Toxins are externally induced agents that can cause you to be tired, but internal diseases can also make one tired. This is nothing to fool around with, so get to a doctor if you sense your tiredness could be internal. Cancer, diabetes, HIV, hypertension and other diseases all have tiredness as a symptom. Don’t be afraid; it’s always best to catch a disease EARLY! I see my general practitioner once or twice a year, and he is aware of all aspects of my lifestyle so that he can make an informed analysis. Thankfully, I’m currently healthy as a horse.


There are many psychological ailments that can cause one to be tired. Depression is the most common one, and that can be treated via a variety of therapies both chemical and psychiatric. Stress will make one tired, and that can be treated in many ways before it causes physical disease; I’ve experienced my own stress off and on, and I can assure you that being mindful of it, and treating it will make you feel much better. If you think you may be suffering from some sort of mental problem, please see a medical professional right away. As with physical disease, it would be irresponsible of me to write anything more. You need professional input for your specific situation!

I’ve outlined the major causes of feeling tired. Being tired is NOT a natural state of being. If you are feeling tired, work your way through these possible explanations, and find the best way to get back to your natural active, happy, energetic state!

If you would like me to present a talk on this topic to your organization or company, or write an article about it for your publication, please contact me at 773.508.9208 or email me. I’ll work with you in my typical upbeat, happy and energetic state of being!