That’s me in the picture above. I was heading out to a book signing for Susan Wittig Albert. I was excited because not only was I going to my first book signing. I was also going to get to meet one of my favorite authors in person.
It’s hard to imagine, looking at the smile on my face, that I spent the first two months of 2018 sitting in a big, comfortable chair with Toby, playing Zelda: Breathe of the Wild (a video game). I love the game, but that’s not why I did it. I did it because I was too depressed and tired to do much of anything else.
Not only was my physical energy totally depleted, but my mental energy was as well. I couldn’t seem to find the strength to do anything, including communicating with you via new blog posts.
When March rolled around, I started contemplating my situation. I researched caregiver burnout and made an amazing discovery. I found multiple articles on how Dementia/Alzheimer’s not only kills the patient, but the caregiver as well.
Reading those articles slapped me out of my apathy in seconds because I knew they were right. I was killing myself with the life choices I was making. I had stopped trying to diet and get healthy because I couldn’t see the point—nothing seemed to work, and I never went anywhere anyway, so why did it matter.
In addition to that, I felt trapped and alone. Because I needed to be at home with my husband, I’d lost touch with many of my outside contacts. Even some of my Internet contacts had become more distant because I was no longer part of whatever activity had initially brought us together.
As I sat there, examining my life with my brain fully awake for the first time in months, I realized that I didn’t want to become a statistic. I couldn’t run from my responsibility—Paul is a good man, and he deserves to be taken care of as he struggles through this time in his life—but I deserved an enjoyable life too. It was time for a change.
I got out of that chair and finished the first draft of my novel. I made plans for getting the manuscript ready for beta readers, signed up for the Author Accelerator Revision Sprint class, and started learning what I needed to do to pitch my book to agents.
I hadn’t had any luck trying to lose weight on my own. I needed some help. So, I joined The Diet Doc program and started working to lose weight and get in shape again. So far, I’ve lost 18 pounds, and my energy levels are up. I’m walking with Toby again and the support I get from my life coach is amazing.
I joined one of Dan Blank’s Mastermind groups. It’s a group of writers supporting each other as we work to achieve our goals. The goal I’m working on is turning my blog site into an author website. I’m learning a great deal about my audience and how to connect with them. I hope you will benefit from that knowledge in the future.
Life is much better for me now. I’m happier and enjoying my days, but I didn’t get better all on my own. I’m getting help from my family, my life coach, my friends, and my writing colleagues. Yes, I still get depressed sometimes. It’s hard watching someone you love as they lose the ability to do tasks they used to do without a problem, but I’m handling it much better now.
Are you wondering why I’m sharing this with you? I wanted to apologize for being silent most of 2018 and not posting anything on my blog. I also wanted to share my excitement about my future author website with you and tell you to watch out for changes. But most of all, I wanted to warn you to be careful.
Burnout doesn’t restrict itself to caregivers. It can attack anyone that burns their candle at both ends for too long. It doesn’t matter whether you have a stressful job and a boss that demands too much, or whether you do it to yourself by working too hard and not resting enough—burnout can happen to you.
It’s insidious. You may not even notice it’s affecting you until you find yourself feeling like you are at the bottom of a pit with no way out. If you’re feeling that way, it’s time for a change.
Get outside in the sunshine. Find someone to help you—a life coach, a pastor, a friend. Then once you are out of that pit, make a plan to keep yourself from sliding back down into that hole. It’s a constant effort, but it’s worth doing.
Let’s help each other. Leave me a comment. What do you do to keep your energy levels up? How do you fight off burnout?