It's hard to believe we're about halfway through the year. At least, it's hard for me to believe it. Part of it is the way I keep hoping for things to get better. Personal stuff, work stuff, pandemic stuff. I just keep thinking there must be something better when it comes to, well, all of it. Like treating my ADHD because I'm still not sold on Adderall. There must be a way to... dot dot dot, reach this or that goal. To simply feel more... at peace.

There must be a better way to... feel alive? To quit feeling so... all over the place? About everything. And I'm not sure I know how to get these questions off my mind.

This morning, I took my daughter to the grocery store and I felt pretty good—reasonably good—about making this a working weekend. I wanted to work and knew I really needed to do it. I keep telling myself that another day, another weekend, another super productive week (et cetera) is going to finally make me feel like I can take a break.

Once we got home and put the groceries away, however, I began to feel some massive doubt creep into my head. As if everything I planned to work on was just silly. Maybe worthless, maybe senseless, or maybe just a waste of time. The more I thought about it, I realized this is burnout. I'm worn out and tired of feeling a little bit like a failure lately. It's not that I really am a failure right now... but I've been struggling a whole lot in a variety of ways. All of that struggle builds up. It grows.

Tobe honest, I'm so tired of struggling with schedules and summer vacation even though it's only been a week. One week of summer vacation is done and it feels like the only thing I've done remotely well is to hang up and use the responsibility chart for my daughter. Aside from that? Lol. The rest of my life feels like a real slog right now. I don't want to be the mom who works all summer long from home and disappoints her kid. I'm not cool with being emotionally distant but I still need to get shit done. So, the longing for better balance is real. And constant. Though I'm not seeking perfection, mind you. Just something... sustainable.

I'm working on all of that every day, but I'm not feeling too good about my efforts. Not yet. Today, I guess I sort of crashed. I suggested doing a game night with my daughter—meaning I suggested it for later tonight. After I got some work done because I had the assumption that I was going to be successful and productive today.

In reality, she fell asleep watching Unikitty while I spent a few hours (really) trying to Google local vacation ideas. Or staycation ideas. Something. You'd think that after spending so much time reading through various suggestions, I would have at least gotten somewhere with that. Instead, I wound up feeling incredibly guilty and that much more—certain, maybe?—that any sort of vacation is off the table for me. Or maybe it should be.

Who the hell am I and why the hell am I so suddenly fixated on the idea of getting away? If I'm honest, I suppose it's pandemic burnout on top of my work-related burnout.


Two summers ago, I remedied a bad case of burnout with our first-ever vacation. We took a shuttle out to Atlanta and I spent way too much money, but damn, it felt good to getaway. We booked a hotel with deep soaking tubs and really lived it up. My daughter still talks about that trip and how much she wants to go back to the same hotel. To be fair, though, they gave us an enormous discount that I don't think they'd repeat, and in the back of my mind, I've always felt guilty about that trip. And I've worried that maybe we can't do anything like that again.

I don't know.

After my hours of Googling, I realized that I'm looking for a trip that won't be too hard on me with my current physical state of lipedema. Being out in the heat is a lot harder for me lately. Walking far distances is tough too. My lipedema is advanced enough that I worry a lot more now about being able to fit into certain spaces. I worry about being too heavy. I worry about getting into a situation that lets my kid down.

All of that leaves me thinking that maybe it would make a cool little getaway just to spend a few days at a nice hotel. And then I realize, again, how limited I am. I've never actually driven on the interstate and I'm not really in the right headspace to start. I'm still new enough to driving and apparently, awkward enough in my neurodiverse quirks that I'm very particular about which routes I take or what gas station I prefer. I'm still weird about parking lots and nervously avoid drive-throughs. What with the pandemic and my lipedema, I'm not feeling like we can take a shuttle anywhere either.

That's when I remembered that I do have some Delta vouchers that expire in 2022... but do I really want to brave an airplane now? I'll be officially fully vaccinated in one more week since I had the second Moderna COVID-19 jab last weekend. But do I want to risk air travel with my daughter when we wear masks but others don't? And do I even want to deal with the whole flying-while-fat... fun? And speaking of my fat, the most responsible thing is to save the vouchers for my lipedema treatment.

It's all a lot to consider. Too much. It's so much easier to say that now is not the time for a vacation. Not financially, not with the pandemic still happening, and not with my uncertainty about my work. Now is the time to buckle down! Now is the time to work my butt off and smash some goals. Now is the time to... be perfect.

Oh, fuck.

If I'm feeling the need to actually try to be perfect about my writing and efforts to succeed, that's just one more red flag to suggest that I am seriously burnt out.

Burnout like this—say you’re working like crazy but not currently getting the results you want or need—is super common when you’re self-employed and working from home. The way most folks tend to think about work is that your results are the true measure of how hard you’re actually working. So, money and sheer output. That’s not true, of course, but it’s so hard to get away from that mentality. When you work from home it’s so much easier to feel like nothing you do is ever even good enough. As if you can't put in enough hours.

I’m feeling that deeply today. No, not just today. Lately. I hate it. Logically, I know my work ethic isn’t suffering and that I actually do need to take a significant break, but the guilt that maybe I’m not working hard enough (or perhaps, smart enough) loves to pop on over and slam me with fears.

Honestly, I don’t have any great solutions. I think that so many people feel this way, or they feel something similar. As much as I love working from home, the one problem I consistently run into is that guilty feeling I can’t seem get to squash. Not completely, anyway. This entire battle of guilty feelings and burnout is almost like its own brand of depression. Work from home depression. Self-employment depression. Creative depression. Hustle culture depression. All of it gets tangled into this icky web that makes me feel so sick to my stomach.

This upset and dread it isn't what anybody needs. Right? The feeling that just one wrong move, one poor choice about topics, one more worry that I'm not doing enough—I can't write my best stuff when I'm so twisted up inside.

So, I think that maybe I have to accept that this is just how it goes. Working from home comes with guilt. Especially as a single parent. Especially as a mom. Furthermore, working from home often feels great when I feel a bit more in control. When things are going “well” and I feel like working harder actually shows or yields greater results.

It’s a whole different story when I feel stuck in a slog where working harder pretty much just makes me more fatigued. And then the slog feels ridiculously overwhelming whenever my fears go into hyperdrive.

What if this happens? Or that? What if I end up taking 10 more steps back? What if there’s another emergency? What if, what if…?

It's not as if I don't know that asking constant what-ifs is detrimental. I know it is. But I'm tired. Really, I'm so, so tired of working for hours on end to the point where I begrudge my body for needing bathroom breaks. Or, I get back into disordered eating just because I'm stressed and feel like there's never any time.

Never enough time, anyway.

The answer to all of this—if we can even call it an answer—seriously sucks. Basically? I think we have to learn how to respect our limits and understand that sometimes we simply can't do everything we want or need.

If I'm really honest here... honest with you and honest with myself, I know my body, mind, and spirit have been warning me for quite some time. I've been on the brink of a truly nasty burnout for a while now, and I know I'm not going to get through it by powering through several more weeks like this. I'm not even positive that I can do a few more days.

I suppose that's why I've been so focused on trying to strike a healthier balance. Folks, I promise, I truly am not looking for a perfect life here. I don't imagine that most people achieve some mystical level of balance either. Honestly, I simply know I'm screwed. I'm burnt. I know I can't keep going on doing the same white knuckle, grin, and bear it routinely.

It's not that I don't love writing. That's not the problem here, though, that probably doesn't make any of this easier either. It's hard to slow down and do less of what you love. It's hard to work less when the whole mantra of work everywhere is basically working more until you get to the place where you really want to be.

Well, I know where I'm going and it's not that great. Pushing far past burnout is bound to make everyone miserable.

I guess it's time to step back and breathe. No... I know it.

But I wish I could tell you that it all turns out alright in the end.

Here's hoping for a light at the end of this particular work from home depression. Here's hoping that we will find some way to give ourselves the rest and recuperation we seem to desperately need, instead of pushing grimly through just one more workday... again and again.

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