Burnout diaries

I am burnt out.

It’s 5:30pm and I’m just sitting down to write today’s NaBloPoMo post, and the only thing I can think to write about is that I am exhausted.

I stopped working full-time in April and I’m just beginning again now. A foreplanned 2-month break turned into 6, and could easily stretch to the end of the year if not for my declining bank balance and a nagging sense that I ought to keep the lights on in my broken brain by putting it to good use.

I am burnt out. A series of personal and global crises have as good as ground me to a halt, and the many conversations that followed my recent talk: “It all means nothing in the end” have confirmed to me that I’m far from the only one.

I drift through my days like a sad ghost, alternating between caffeine-induced pep and a few too many lie-downs for a 34 year old woman.

Burnout is a funny thing I haven’t danced with before. I have the sensation of sitting in a dark room, knowing that the old me is on the other side of the door, but not knowing when she’ll come back again.

I sit down to write and the words won’t come out.

I try to read and the information won’t go beyond my eyeballs.

Sending an email requires a level of effort akin to pushing a ten tonne boulder up a hill.

A stack of unpaid parking tickets sits in the corner, reminding me of the times that I was so fog-headed I forgot to pay the fee, and of the fact that my brain is now too pea-soupy to read the letters and understand the numbers and pay the fines.

I crave human connection and so I surround myself with people, only to find myself exhausted in their company. I missed the closing keynotes at the last two conferences I went to so I could go back to my hotel room and nap.

Time off stopped helping a while ago. In the absence of work, my days filled up with overthinking: an agitated, restless energy that left me too wired to sleep and too tired to do much else.

When I sat down to work today I caught a flicker of the old me: focused, organised, productive. “I really miss you”, I thought. “I really need you to come back now”, I told her, and then she was gone again.

She will come back.

I am burnt out, but I’m fighting like hell to get back to myself.

And one day soon, I’ll be home.