0 In DIY/ Life Lessons/ Mental Health

Emerald City Quarantine Diaries Catch-Up Post: Burnout

Burnout, What Is It?

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. – HelpGuide

I knew it was coming. You could even say I saw it coming. I just wasn’t sure when it would get here. After the last few weeks’ events and trying to manage both my own anxiety and that of friends, I crashed and burned.

Completely.

Utterly.

And so very hard.

It took me a few days to realize what exactly happened. Burnout.

Which is something I’m pretty familiar with because due partially to burnout being the reason I shuttered Full Moon Beauty. That and COVID-19 being so much bigger than I initially thought.

Or maybe it was seeing all of my friends get furloughed or lose their jobs entirely. Regardless, I found myself forced to pivot in a way that would be so much more helpful to the collective. But I forgot one important thing in this entire mess.

I Forgot Myself

I forgot to take care of myself. In my efforts to care for everyone else, I stumbled over my own rapidly-emptying bucket of feels and found myself pouring from empty. Fortunately, I’ve been through burnout enough that I know how to at least get myself stable. It’s not easy, it takes time and as of penning this entry, I’m still battling waves of random emotional instability.

Physical affection is a huge help. It’s also scarce when you’re supposed to be social distancing and staying at least six feet apart with a mask and gloves if you’re immunocompromised. I reached out to a friend who was within walking distance and we grilled each other on a level that honestly felt like I was asking a prospective sex partner about STDs and their sexual history to determine whether or not they were safe. The same feeling and it’s still weird.

But it was necessary because I was cracking and breaking fast.

Now I’m getting the hugs I craved. We both are, which makes us both feel somewhat more human than we were a few weeks ago. There was even a chance to drown my sorrows in petting two cats and a dog. All crafting stopped around week 4, which you may not have noticed, but I didn’t post that entry. Because that entire week was simply my survival. The next week though, I took my time in picking myself back up.

Picking Myself Back Up

It wasn’t easy on my side. The first part was admitting that I needed support. Friends around me enjoy pointing out just how often I hate asking for the help that they know I need, and while I’m glad they’re supportive, it felt like that the first part of my month was dominated by my father’s issues, not exactly my own and I didn’t want to wear them out.

Look, I never said it was a rational feeling, but that’s how I was feeling throughout week 3 and week 4. Week 5 was punctuated with a damn hug and a night spent at a friend’s where we could just exist in the same space and get the affection we craved. It wasn’t the smartest idea, it wasn’t the best idea, but it’s working.

I broke Quarantine. It was better than my own mind breaking to try to do my part with social distancing. Week 5 and 6 also heralded a couple of new additions to the apartment.

Addition 1: Bamboo Shelves

bamboo shelves on a wallThese 16” shelves were an Amazon find when IKEA failed me. This wall called for a couple of shelves in order to balance out a future medium-scaled commissioned art piece. Having two of the shelves also lets me get a few fragile items up off of my dresser and altar shelf. Thankfully, these also arrived in a 2-pack!

One day, I’ll create a tutorial about how I am hanging everything on my own, but these make it pretty simple to do if you have a bubble or laser level. The built-in mounting hardware is the part that you’ll need to ensure is level, and it helps if you screw at least one side into the wall and figure it out from there. The shelves look amazing and were just one material step in helping me recover from burnout.

Addition 2: Boom Microphone

boom-microphoneYou can probably guess that I’m working on an overreaching project here. It’s bonus time at the Day Job and the Blue Yeticaster Microphone sat on my wishlist for three months before I just bought it. I’m still working out some kinks in sound quality, but once I do, I’ll let you all know where that project is heading. I can’t wait to share it with you! Mental health note: a surefire way to help conquer burn out is to introduce a task that lights your fire, so to speak. Podcasting always intrigued me, but not enough to actively pursue it. Well, now I’m not going anywhere, so here we are!

Addition 3: Ring Light

I know there are smaller ring lights out there.  This one sat on my wish list since last summer when I mulled over the idea of starting a Youtube Channel. For selfish reasons, this one makes my skin look flawless.

Oh, yeah, some of the topics I want to cover with this blog are better suited for video. So this blog is going to be on Youtube. Granted, this move might be ill-timed since I know the Landlord is considering a rent raise. If he does, I’m going to see if I can swap units with another resident.

Which means a bigger space!

Addition 4: Circle Skirt

If you’ve been reading through these entries, I adopted sewing as a way to stay steady throughout this COVID-19 affair. When I identified the burnout back in Week 4, I knew a sewing project would be helpful. But I didn’t want to work on pillows. Rather, I opted for clothing and started planning a massive circle skirt.

Honestly, it started with a set of sheets I had for at least a decade. I wouldn’t say that they hold value to me, but they are soft, and they are pretty, and they were just enough fabric for a 4-paneled circle skirt. I’ll share the finished results in Week 7’s entry as part of the process is to hang your skirt so it can stretch and then you trim. I still haven’t trimmed it. Life got away with me. But I am excited about it. You can see other pictures and the finished result will also be posted to Instagram!

There are not enough words to describe how liberating I am finding creation though. It’s been enough of an energy boost that I’ve made four rosette pillows to date and have plans for eight more. I haven’t been feeling creative writing-wise and I would usually read, but my hands (and to that extent my brain) aren’t doing anything.

Or they could be repeatedly stabbing a piece of fabric that after a few hours of effort turns into something beautiful and usable other than a piece of fabric. I can transform an IKEA curtain into a gorgeous pillow or quilt that can be used for more than just light and sound blocking. When my anxiety ramps up to 10,000, the repetition is very grounding and right now, grounding is required.

Recovering From Burnout

You don’t.

At least not immediately. Sitting with that feeling for weeks or months, in some cases, years and you find something else to be passionate about. This helps you mentally reroute and find happiness there. The hardest part is learning what caused the burnout and then trying not to do that again. Learning how to avoid the same patterns and eventually, you learn how to avoid starting that pattern altogether. Then and only then will you recover.

We’ve all been there. Some of us more than once, which is probably a flag in of itself, but it’s been a journey for me and part of the reason I feel confident saying the above. But let’s be real here, the last few weeks have not been easy, for anyone. I know you’re all feeling it because I am feeling it too.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy

I’m writing the initial draft of this entry on May 6, 2020. Our Stay-Home, Stay-Healthy Order has been extended through May 31st, so we’re in lock-down at least through that point. I have no idea what the future holds, but whatever it does, I hope you’re staying home yourself and keeping yourself healthy. 

Be safe and know that my comments and email are always open to you should you need a safe ear to help you get through this mess.

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