This morning I am sleepy. Yesterday I was sleepy. I started writing yesterday’s blog post, wanted to talk about sleep deprivation and radical self care — you may have noticed that I didn’t finish that post. Instead, I took myself offline for the day.
After a week of being on, extending and expending energy, connecting with people, talking, workshopping, promoting; after getting up early for this blogging and then staying up late for online workshop processing or workshops or meetings or get-togethers with friends, yesterday I hit a place of solid depletion.
I don’t know what happens to extroverts when they get tired or exhausted or overwhelmed. I feel like I never see it. For me, as an introvert, what happens is that I grind–internally, and then externally–to a complete halt. I imagine that folks can see it, the way my eyes feel like they’re glazing over, how the very bones in my face begin to ache from too much smiling and interaction with others; I start not to be able to form complete or even remotely complicated sentences: from “I was surprised to find that the character in that story had so much to say about the nature of good and evil in advanced-capitalist, white-supremacist America, in his construction as a neconservative, post-radical queer Black bookstore owner” to “god that guy was annoying, right?” — and even that begins to devolve into simple head shakes and stares off into the distance. I cease to be able to interact.
This is what depletion feels like. When I expend too much energy outward, with and towards other people, without taking time to be alone and replenish, then I hit this sort of wall. Yesterday I took a necessary mental health day, began the restoration process with quiet and with silly tv. I spent almost no time interacting with others, so that I was recharged enough to be able to show up psychically for the Monday night Write Whole workshop.
I don’t quite know what to say today. I don’t know how to be helpful when I am depleted this way. In this month of radical self love, why would I extend myself so far that I can’t even speak anymore? Why is this our business model, this unsustainable idea that we must network and interact and offer ourselves until we have nothing left?
My goal is to pay closer attention. As someone working alone and for herself, it’s my job to pay attention to staff self-care. I can always tell when what I call “people overload” is beginning to encroach on my psyche. The next step in my self-care project would be to begin to replenish before I’ve hit bottom, before I feel like an empty and dried-out well, before the candle burning at both ends is extinguished.
How do you replenish when you’re feeling worn out? What does your introvert self care look like? If you’re an extrovert, do you know how to tell when you’re feeling depleted? What are the ways that you fill up the well again?
Thanks for your spaciousness with the exhaustion of those around you. Thanks for the ways you encourage others to care for themselves by the way you model taking care of you. Thanks for your words — I’m always grateful for your words.