I’ve been having a string of rotten days. I’m in a funk and can’t seem to shake it. My self-esteem is low. My energy is low. My passion for all good things is low.
I can tick off all of the reasons why this is happening. I’m very aware that work is bringing me down. Caring for my elderly dad is hard. I’m still recuperating from a major surgery. The weather has been a series of gray skies. It has been one blah day after another.
I’ve been putting off writing this post for a week simply because I couldn’t get myself motivated to write anything at all. I have brainstormed many potential topics, but every time I sat down to write all I could hear was the nasty voice of imposter syndrome: “You don’t really have anything worthwhile to say. You can’t even fix yourself right now. Who do you think you are? Your life is a mess.”
How did this happen? My life hasn’t discernably changed since last week, but yet it feels like it is in shambles. And my brain just feels shut off.
I believe my brain did go into a sort of shut down. I have been under a lot of stress, although I’ve been using all of my stress reduction skills to address it. I’ve been reaching out to friends, grabbing sunshine when it’s available, being proactive on problems I can control, and trying to accept what is not in my control. Yet, even with all of this self-care and coping skills in high gear, some of the issues I’m facing right now are all-consuming. My siblings and I are caring for my 96-year-old father who became bedridden in January. I am on the night shift – sleeping at his house every night, commuting to work, and only seeing my husband and dogs about 1 day a week. And the last time I saw him, we discovered that raccoons had dug giant holes in our previously perfectly intact roof!
It’s no wonder that I just ran out of steam. It took me a few days to realize, though, that’s what is happening. I’m not fighting depression or anxiety. I’m fighting exhaustion: mentally, physically, spiritually.
When I’m this exhausted, I can be prone to a too-tired toddler meltdown with all of the incoherent babbling and tears. The refrain in my head of “what are you doing? You have no business doing this,” are just the nonsense words of a sleepy child.
I’ve had to learn to take time to rest, even if there doesn’t seem to be any time. What I know from years of ignoring it is that if I don’t make the time, my body will make it for me. Yesterday, I had a stomachache that just wouldn’t quit and when I checked out of work sick, it was all I could do to drive to my dad’s and get myself down for a nap. After that nap and an early night of sleep, I woke up a little refreshed, stomachache gone. Not completely refreshed; it wasn’t a miracle cure. I still have all of the same problems I had yesterday, but I at least paused to let myself rest.
Today, I was more productive and my brain seemed more in motion. I know I’m not totally myself, but that will come with time. Some of my problems just need to work themselves out – it’s a season of life, as my friend Christine will say. It’s a season and seasons don’t last forever. (At least not in the Midwest. I can’t speak for southern California.)
So, while this season lasts, I’m going to make sure I pause now and then. I’m going to give myself the rest I need with or without my eyes closed. I need to acknowledge that I may not be at my very best even with moments of pause. I’ll be the best I can be under the circumstances — and that’s better than a total shutdown.