The last time I checked in, I said I was going to take a week off to get my sleep in order and just give my brain a rest. That one week became two, and then became six. At no point did I say to myself “I’m going to take six weeks off.” One day just rolled into another until finally I’m lying in bed this morning, asking myself if I’m really going to do nothing again today.  

I wish I could say it wasn’t a close thing this morning either, but it was. I usually write this blog in my writing group’s online session at 11am on Sundays. At 10:35 I was still staring at the clock asking myself if I was going to log into the meeting or not. I hit some critical threshold of disgust at my lack of productivity, logged on at 10:58, and here we are.

It would be nice to tell you that I’ve fully recharged, have had some kind of breakthrough and that I’m ready to go back to things whole-heartedly, but unfortunately that’s not the case. I have, however, managed to come to the conclusion that this impromptu sabbatical wasn’t about the writing itself, but a simple case of burnout. My assessment comes from the fact that I’ve felt unmotivated about anything, not just the writing. I’m going out less, I’m sluggish about chores and cooking (moreso than normal), I’m not exercising, and just generally feeling blasé about everything I could or should be doing.

There’s some comfort in knowing it’s not the writing specifically, but that’s countered by knowing that it’s probably something I can’t really do much about. The really good news is I don’t think it’s depression, which is what my bouts of unmotivated greyness are usually caused by. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was making me depressed, and I couldn’t figure it out. I’ve been totally lacking the sadness and despair that usually goes hand-in-hand with the depression. I’m just exhausted on this deep mental and physical level.

It’s not as simple as taking a vacation; every time I take a break from work I’m so hammered when I get back that it undoes the benefit of the time off. I’m working with my boss to make the business case for hiring another person, but that always falls into the Catch-22 of “I need time to make the business case that I’m too busy, but I’m too busy to find time to make the business case”. My work is somewhat cyclical, with periods of being intensely busy alternating with a period of easing off. I’m coming into a slight easing-off right now, but it’s not sufficient. My “easy” periods are not being as easy as they used to be, the baseline level of work having increased over the two years I’ve been in this role.

It’s not as easy as just finding another job either – I actually like my job, there’s just too much of it for one person. Anyone who knows me knows how long it’s taken me to find a job I actually enjoy, and I’m loathe to give it up for fear of ending back up in a job I hate. I am slowly trying to find the time for that business case so this can balance better, allowing me to have a job I like, while also being able to function in the rest of my life.

But I do hate the way the burnout is taking the good things in my life with it. Writing this today is hopefully a start, and is at least better than what I’ve managed in the last six weeks.  I’m going to try for a bit of editing after this, and just be easy on myself. I’ll take anything as a win today. I’m upset with myself for letting my writing slide so long, and while I’m sure that doesn’t sound healthy, I know from experience that getting disgusted with my lack of productivity is usually a sign I’m coming out of it.

So now I’ve written a blog entry, and I’m going at least try to do a little editing, even if it’s only a paragraph. That’s something, at least, and it’s more than I’ve been doing. If I can get myself to do even one or two more sessions this week I’ll call that progress.  Fingers crossed that I’ll be back here with you next week with stories of at least marginal success.

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