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Burned out

I don't even know how to start this post. This has been a long time coming and I feel that it's time to say something about it. Warning: this one's going to be long and it's going to be a whine fest in here.

Let's go back to last week. Last week was bad. There were deadlines to be met, shit to be done and places to get to. Half the deadlines weren't met, most of the shit didn't get done, and when I got to the place I had to reach, I kept obsessing over the stuff that didn't get done. And it goes without saying that a lot of sleep was lost. In fact, in the first four weekdays of last week, I slept for a total of 8 hours max.

Before going on any holiday, I need to do the laundry, run and empty the dishwasher, and clean the entire house. It's just what I do and it's pointlessly obsessive. When I strike things off my to-do list, I get this indescribable feeling of being in control of everything and I thrive on that feeling. And that sucks. Because the minute something doesn't work out, the minute my order is disrupted, I'm a mess. I plan my weekdays hour to hour. I assign time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I assign time for even watching Youtube videos. I know what you're thinking because I'm thinking the same thing. I might need help.

But yeah, going back to last week, I was trying to power through everything. I was assigning time, sticking to my time-table and still not getting anything done. It's really hard to strike off all 20 items on your to-do list, you see. And most of these items, I had no control over. I couldn't designate the amount of time it would take for me to reboot my 3.5-year-old laptop that randomly kept dying on me. I couldn't predict the amount of time it would take for us to finish editing and releasing a podcast episode that included both audio and video components and needed the audio to be extracted separately for other channels. At 5 a.m on Thursday morning, The Husband and I were literally sitting on the couch, getting shit done and stopping each other from dozing off. It sucked. By 9 a.m, the episode was up but I still had shit to do. I still had deadlines from 2 days ago to meet. I still had all the cleaning and packing to do before leaving that evening to go to Birmingham. And even thinking about all the stuff I wouldn't be able to do in the hours remaining gave me a weird stomach cramp. Finally, an hour before leaving, I gave up. My work requires me to be creative and I can't fucking force creativity out of me. That's just not how it's done. Moreover, I hadn't even packed for the trip. Cleaning and organising were out of the question. So I packed while my very exhausted husband took a nap and I felt alone and miserable in those few minutes. I just want to take a step back and thank all my stars for having him in my life by the way. He has a traditional day job that is quite demanding in itself but he still never complains when I ask him for help. He never moans or groans when we're up at 5 am, nodding off on our couch. I don't know how he does it but God knows I want to be like him. If I wake up one day and I'm emotionally and mentally a clone of my husband, I would be the happiest woman on the planet because he powers through adversity like a boss.

But yeah, back to feeling sorry for myself. While in Birmingham, I laughed a lot. I laughed, I ate, and I threw my panties at Shakespeare's family home. But I had the hardest time relaxing. Out of nowhere, I would start thinking about the deadlines I failed to meet. The deadlines I vowed to meet the minute I got home. "New week, new beginning, new goals, new everything", I kept repeating to myself and woke up randomly in the middle of the night with an urge to grab my computer and get to work while feeling endlessly tired at the same time. That sucked too.

Soon, I was back home and I was feeling hopeful. I told myself that I would wake up on Monday morning, hit the gym, do my laundry, write and publish my post for the blog, and meet my deadline with the people who were paying me for my content. I woke up on Monday, felt too tired to hit the gym, tried to get into the shower instead but as luck would have it, the boiler broke and the whole house started freezing. I layered up in warm leggings and sweaters, sat in front of my laptop and typed out my blog post. Something seemed off about it but just as I was going to hit publish, the internet screwed me over. I stood on a chair, reaching for the modem, turning it off and on again, hoping for it to start working. It didn't anytime soon. Once that was fixed, it was too late to publish my post and I remembered that I hadn't done my laundry after all. I looked around my living room and realised that my suitcase and handbag were sitting right where I'd left them when I got into the house the previous evening and I remembered a phone conversation I had with Meenal after the last trip I took. I spoke to her the night I got back from the trip and as we were speaking, I told her how I'd already finished unpacking. Feeling like a failure in comparison to my former self from just a month ago, I sat on my living room floor and decided that I was in no mood to write for the people who were paying me. I couldn't possibly deliver my best work in that mental state.

On Tuesday morning, I woke up feeling good, hit the gym, published my post, organised my underwear drawer, did the laundry and sat down to finally write that piece. I don't know how many of you who read this blog write as well. And I don't know how many of you who write, do it the way I do. You see, when I sit in front of my computer to type out a post, I get into this euphoric, orgasmic state where I don't notice a thing about my surroundings and write everything in one sitting. After finishing a post, I feel like I just woke up from a dream, a very good one at that. And when I write, I hardly ever have to go back and edit something. Hardly ever do I strike out a word or sentence to replace it with something else. It's a very straightforward, simple and natural process for me.

This time, however, I found myself striking out entire paragraphs and feeling the need to re-word everything. A post that would have taken me half an hour to compose took me more than two hours to finish. I was more than happy with the finished product but the toll it took on me was something else. I felt frustrated, demotivated, and unhappy. And that's when I gave up. I curled up into a ball as involuntary tears rolled down my cheeks, and I told The Husband how I felt. I told him how on Monday, on my new-week-new-beginning-new-goals-new-everything-day, I couldn't wait for the weekend to roll in so that I could sleep in and take some time off. I told him how I wasn't feeling satisfied with the content I was producing and even if I did, it took more time than usual to get there and it just didn't seem natural anymore. I wailed and bawled and cried like a baby while simultaneously feeling ashamed and helpless about my reaction.

And he said, "You've burned out. I'd like you to take a break and only go back to writing once you're well and ready. But you need to understand that you chose this path for yourself and that you've pushed yourself too hard. So you need to find the right way forward. For you. And once you're ready, you need to get up and get on with it". Best advice ever, don't you think?

And do you know what I said to that? I said that I was scared to take a break. I was scared that things wouldn't be the same anymore. I was insecure about everything. I knew my readers would get it, and that they would understand. But I was afraid to publicly put my vulnerability out there because isn't everyone supposed to think it was a smooth sailing? Won't people think that I'm an ungrateful piece of shit who is whining about the smallest of problems? And what about all those other people who hate me? Won't they rejoice and celebrate the fact that I had a break-down?

COWARD!

I know what I went through. My pain is my pain and no one can take it away from me. I'm not going to let anyone compare it to theirs either because it's not a competition. But that feeling I had when I couldn't stop crying last night, when I had to cry myself to sleep at 9 p.m? It sucked. And it sucked hard. But I'm going to take responsibility for what I did to myself and I'm going to take it slow. I hope you guys will understand. I'm not taking a break but I'm planning to take it slow for a short while. I will publish as often as I can, and hopefully, I'll figure this out soon. I'm already feeling a lot better after sleeping for 10 hours last night and I'm pretty confident that I'll storm through this. I even wrote this piece in one sitting and didn't have to go back and change a thing about it. But right now, I don't want to put any kind of pressure on my creativity. Instead, I'm gonna let it flow.

See you soon!


Photo credit: Janicskovsky via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND


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