Burnout and the Recovery Process

As I sit down to write, I remember saying in last week’s post that I expected this week to be more exciting. I had to go back and read the post again to compare my expectations with the reality of this week.  

Why did I think it was going to be exciting? Why did I even think it was going to be okay? 

I woke up, barely convincing myself to get out of bed, and then I could only get started by putting on an audiobook, working at a puzzle, and ignoring the overwhelming to do list that I’d planned to catch up on when my time was my own again. 

With my time reclaimed, the burn out hit me even harder. I wasn’t trying to keep up anymore. I had time without external demands, and I was going to have to actually take it to rest, not add my own demands, no matter how much I wanted to achieve them. Last week’s breakthroughs didn’t solve everything, and I was starting to feel discouraged that I had been so reassured just to then be lethargic. 

Displeased but with the awareness that pushing wasn’t going to help, I let myself just be. How long was this going to take? I don’t have a month to recover… I have things I want to do. I just bought an RV. Why did I even do that? Now I have to clean it, repair things, finish uncompleted work… Who was this person who thought projects were a good idea? I never want to do anything again! All I will ever do is lounge around and read books. 

By the time Friday rolled around, I woke up to the dreadful feeling of things to do – things that needed to be done on a weekday, and preferably one where it was just me and not juggling between fun stuff with the kiddo and things I needed my full focus to complete. So basically, this was the day to get things handled or wait a full week, and who knows how I was going to feel after another week of this. 

Was I going to let myself off the hook or push myself to do something I really didn’t want to do that I could put off again as far as actual deadlines go? I lied in bed acknowledging the dread. I can give myself more time, right? Self-care and all. But…I’m going to feel it weighing on me, knowing that deadlines will be approaching and there will be a time I have to force it if I don’t do it before… Will I even enjoy the day, knowing that I’m borrowing from the next Friday, knowing the things I need to do will still be uncomfortable then…what if I feel even worse…and letting them hang over me for a week… is it worth it? How do I feel? What do I need most? 

I decided I was already uncomfortable, and I may as well continue to put my focus into getting rid of the culprits. I got out of bed expecting a less than pleasant day – and because of this – deciding I would do every unpleasant thing I could get out of the way, so that the next days would feel more free and flowy, not interrupted by annoying adulty things. 

And that’s how a satisfyingly productive weekend started, where I caught up in almost every area that I’ve been feeling I didn’t have the time or energy to tackle. One morning put into insurance and assessments and taxes and paperwork, followed by listening to an audiobook and organizing my closet, scrubbing the RV and removing a plethora of stickers that have nothing to do with my interests, cleaning the pool and removing all the debris from the storms, catching up on all the laundry before my dryer broke again on the last load!, steam cleaning couch cushions and making the living room look fresher again – and not touching the puzzle because I promised I wouldn’t even put in one piece!

I say all of this to show my process and how it all happened because it’s so easy to focus on either one or the other. It’s so easy to have a good weekend that invalidates all earlier feelings of dread and only share how magical I felt with momentum. How easy it is to do all the things in a weekend, when it was really the restful week that let me be propelled to accomplish it all. Or once it’s all caught up again, to show all the relaxation and enjoyment like it didn’t also take effort to create that atmosphere – the picture perfect life of beautiful moments, which often lends to toxic positivity or making others feel inferior. 

On the other hand, it can also be easy to get caught up in the overwhelm and add shame and guilt and stay there much longer, fighting with ourselves instead of passing through it. I could have kept myself from getting to the satisfying part, entertaining self-loathing instead. I lived there for too long. I don’t give these feelings prolonged focus anymore, but I use them as tools to tell me where to make adjustments. I still feel they’re worth acknowledging. We’re human – and likely if you’re reading and relating to my own experiences – neurodivergent humans. The world can be much more challenging for us to navigate, so I’m committed to sharing a real picture of my real life experiences for relatability and normalcy that isn’t found in the overwhelming majority of sources. We’re valid too. 

When I looked back at last week’s post, I realized that yes, I thought this week would be more exciting; but I also uncovered some truths that still felt very true, making me realize it’s all a process, and not the end goal – some lessons take repetition and reminders, even once we “know” them.  

I’m going to put our homeschool activities in a separate, short post. So far I haven’t been able to decide the best format for sharing our day to day and sharing more depth for relatability. I’m working on that balance, and I’m okay with showing that I don’t have it all figured out. I will always prioritize inclusion over looking impressive. Neurodivergence can be isolating, but we can create spaces to do at least a bit of this together!

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