With summer hitting a horrific heat wave, a new semester starting at the University where I work and knowing that we’ll be going into the office for work in just another week for the first time since March 2020, and the stress of a dangerous new variant of covid – I’ve been feeling a lot like things are getting out of hand in my brain and my mental health was ready to fully plummet.
I’ve had no plans to go anywhere. No plans to DO anything. No thoughts but “I need a break.”
So I took one. I took a bit over a week off from work, and I did NOTHING. I needed to gather myself back together so I could tackle the world around me again.
Here in the US, from what I’ve seen and experienced, we don’t take time off from our jobs (and responsibilities in genera) nearly enough. We feel compelled to always work work work or we are lazy or fear repercussions. Or just don’t think about it period because it’s just what we do. And it hurts us.
I have so many vacation days saved up at work, because a) I always feel like I am letting my beloved (though frequently frustrating) boss and my coworkers down and causing problems if I am not there because I really am essential for the smooth running of things at work. And 2) Why do I need to take time off? I’m not going anywhere nor do I have no plans to do anything. (A there is also why I never take enough time off when I am sick or recovering from a serious illness or surgery – see 2020 when I got covid, hurt my shoulder, had ankle surgery, and had emergency gallbladder surgery.)
But mental health. By push push pushing myself I only end up reaching the point of burnout that comes from not taking care of myself. By not taking the time away from my responsibilities to just catch my breath I only end up close to suffocating.
It’s really hard to step away. I have to delete the Outlook app from my phone and iPad and not go near my computer unless I absolutely must or I will open my work email and work/respond to emails in order to handle things that have come up that – honestly – are NEVER an emergency that I absolutely have to deal with right at those moments.
Like I said earlier, with everything going on and coming up, I was approaching burnout. I saw it coming.
I just spent a week solid hiding in my apartment with the AC on, doing nothing but reading (rereading because I couldn’t focus enough to start reading anything new) and watching mindless movies/TV shows/YouTube videos.
I didn’t write the blog post I’d planned to go up this past Friday, and I am trying not to kick myself about it. I needed this time off. But it wasn’t enough.
Tomorrow I go back to work. My hands are shaking and I feel queasy. I’ve been out of my anxiety meds for about 5 days (I have an appointment with my psych on Tuesday so I thought I’d be fine) and clearly my stress is not alleviated enough from this time off like I’d hoped when I realized this would happen. But I have to go back.
I may end up behind on my blog posts for another week, as trying to gather my thoughts is painful when my stress levels are this high.
I hate this. I hate that I let myself reach near critical burnout. I hate that I can’t think. That I am feeling the need to apologize not just to the void but to my boss and coworkers for taking some much needed time off.