I have experienced burnout before at various points in my life. They all had a pretty similar feel and the result was the same - I would get overwhelmed and my brain would refuse to be productive, so I would have to stop and recover. A few days to a week would be all it took before I got antsy enough to brush myself off and excitedly dive into a new project.
This time has been a radically different experience.
I’ve suffered from increasingly intense insomnia over the past few weeks, growing to the point now where I can’t sleep for more than two hours. The little bit of sleep I do get is restless and fraught with intense nightmares, often causing me to wake up multiple times. All my motivation to do most things has drained out of me, to the point where things that should be refreshing like going places with my spouse, talking with friends, and playing games are almost too overwhelming. I have zero desire whatsoever to partake in hobbies or play games, and since I can’t sleep, it manifests in just… sitting. I’m wholly exhausted.
In a discord channel, a handful of artists were all talking about being overwhelmed and exhausted from commissions for the holidays and pulling extremely long hours. Many people commented that they were feeling guilty for not getting more done. In response, one person posted an infographic listing off some symptoms of burnout:
- Little to no motivation
- Emotionally overwhelmed
- Amplified anxiety
- Easily triggered
I definitely had five out of the six - almost a full bingo card.
The next day, got an email about an insurance issue we’ve been fighting to resolve for over four months, and I definitely got more irritated than usual. So, scratch that, I caught all six symptoms! ✨
The thing that quickly became apparent is just how much of me, as a person, I had wrapped into making this career change. I couldn’t listen to music without thinking about how I could use it to better express myself as a brand and if there would be ways to connect with people over music. I couldn’t travel somewhere without thinking about how I could maybe use the opportunity to collect photos for social media or blog posts to write about the work I was doing towards burnout. I couldn’t sit still without thinking that I was wasting my time and harming myself by not continuing to charge towards my ardent wish.
I struggled to view burnout as anything other than yet another thing I had to work through, and as something impeding progress towards my goals. It was irritating and frustrating, and if felt painful to watch the time slip by while both not feeling any better nor making any progress towards things I cared about.
Officially, I am now on an extended vacation through the holidays, and will head back to the office January 6th. This will give me some space to try to figure out how to navigate this. These past few days have been increasingly challenging, so the relief from the immediacy of the office will hopefully give me some room to breathe.
What is going well?
Having the flexibility and resources to take a short break is something I am very grateful for, as I don’t think I could physically continue the way things were going. My spouse encouraging me and helping me to reflect and be accountable to myself and my health is much appreciated, and the perspective that I desperately needed.
What could be better?
I’d like to sleep through the night. That seems like the key piece that will help me down the road to recovery.
- Attempt to rest
NOTICE: Any ads associated with the Disqus comments section do not reflect the views or opinions of the author(s).