I'm reading a book called Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive by Joan Borysenko. I believe I purchased this book for the Kindle while waiting in an airport to go somewhere to do something for work, in tears because I wasn't quite sure where I was going or for what and I just felt tired and need some answers right then.
But, ironically, I was too tired to read the book and it just sat there, taunting me.
So, months later, I am finally, slowly reading it. It's an interesting book. Not fantastic, but useful. For example, Borysenko says that one of the symptoms of being fried is that you lose your ability to enjoy things--pleasure is harder to come by. This differs somewhat from depression--you're still able to function, you still seek out joyful activities. You just can't enjoy them. You can think of the moment in Eat, Pray, Love where Julia Roberts goes on and on about not being able to taste her food because something in her life is missing, so she has to go to Italy to have pasta, etc., etc.
The way being fried manifests for me is that I fall into deep wells of self-pity, task-counting, and disdain for all people including myself. Also, I make lots of little mistakes that enrage me. At myself.
For example, when I'm fried, I enter into thought patterns about how hard I have it. Now, I know I don't have things hard, objectively speaking. My life is full of joy and blessings on a regular basis. Not that I don't struggle--Lord, how do I struggle in my own sad little ways. But most of the time I'm able to really appreciate all the good things and enjoy them. But when I'm fried? Nuh-uh. Everyone has it easier to me. I find this a particularly appalling quality in myself, and I feel like everything I say comes out sounding like one big whine. It's awful.
Related to that, I task-count. I make lists in my head of everything I've had to do today and all with no help and this is going to go on forever and something has to change now or I will fucking freak out! All this is said in a very demanding voice in my head. Threatening, even. Like somebody better save me from myself, or they're going to get it! Sometimes these little internal diatribes leak out my mouth. This is always unfortunate.
Third, I dislike everyone when I'm fried. I was in a meeting today which, to be honest, was the last place on the planet I wanted to be, and my good friend and colleague said something, and I reacted, and you all know how good I am at hiding my emotions, and he kindly said he noticed from my "body language" that I disagreed with him, and I wanted to smack him and tell him, "no, it's YOU I don't like." But I DO like the guy. Lots. I was just out of kindness at that particular moment.
My bucket of kindness, as Nolie would say, was empty.
And finally, I do stupid things I wouldn't normally do when I'm fried. Like drop the kids off and leave the car to go walk the dog, but leave the lights on and toast my battery. Which will make it so I can't shower before a very long day, and definitely have no time to sit with my coffee and journal, like I had hoped. Which only adds to my friedness, because I like 20 minutes of quiet time before starting the heinous 10-hour workday Wednesday, and when I don't get it I have to pull over to the side of the road because I'm crying very, very hard and can't see through my tears.
This leads me to forgetting to pick Addie up at the right spot after school, which makes it so I'm late getting the kids home, and a new (male) babysitter whom I've never met is watching the kids so that I can teach class, and so I have to order pizza for all of them and go to class with kale in my teeth.
You get the idea.
I'm doing two more of these Wednesdays, to finish the semester, and then never again. I'm done with it. I realize being fried is a byproduct of being a professional these days, and that it will happen once in a while. I get it.
But it doesn't have to be a way of life. Because you know what? My day was actually filled with kindness--somebody jumpstarting my car, people asking after Nolie (who is just dandy, by the way), people laughing with me, hugging me, being on time, being kind, absorbing my negative energy and not sending it back my way. I just couldn't really appreciate any of it because my bucket of kindness was really, really empty. I need a refill, and that will take a little free time and disengaging from so much of this doing all the time.
As Mark Nepo would say, there may have been clouds over my heart today, but that doesn't mean the sun is gone forever. I'll try to remember that.