“Rest doesn’t improve restlessness because you’re not tired, you’re weary.” – Jody McPhearson 

 It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving and I’m back to the grind at work. I just had 6 days off from work and…I’m uneasy. Exhausted. Simultaneously bored and overwhelmed and my motivation is waning. There’s less room in my chest for my lungs to expand and less room in my lungs for oxygen to refresh me. 

This doesn’t make any sense. I “should” be “refreshed” because I just came back from time off. I even got some good news today. Today wasn’t a particularly busy or stressful day at work. 

And yet as I prepare for my evening staff meeting as I have done on most Monday nights for the last 7 ½ years, I feel my chest tightening. I feel like I can’t relax or be productive, so I’m paralyzed somewhere in the middle, feeling like I’m wasting my time away. My husband says this is what his depression feels like. My normal leisure activities (reading, playing the piano, writing, etc.) all feel unappealing. A few anxious tears leak out of my eyes as I try to figure out how to pull myself together enough to be present for my staff because I have to leave in 20 minutes. 

Regardless of sleeping in and getting more rest last week, I am weary. Bone-deep weary. Even 6-day weekends and sleeping in multiple days in a row doesn’t cut it anymore. I read an article from Forbes magazine about burnout and met the criteria for 10 out of 10 symptoms, so that’s super excellent…

How do you stay present in the season you’re in, be proud of the job you are doing and the effort you are giving, finish well even though you know a chapter of your life is coming to an end, do the hardest emotional work of your life in counseling, fight for your marriage when you’re both pretty crispy from burnout, and try to chase your dreams/build a new future for yourself all at the same time? I don’t feel like I have enough energy for even one of those things, much less all of them.

I have a paper chain hanging on the wall over my dining room table, one link for each week left in this season. A countdown to an important milestone and an opportunity for freedom. 

I see the light at the end of the tunnel; I know it’s there. I can hear that still, small voice whispering “You’re almost there. Change is coming. Release is coming. New air and fresh breath and relief is coming.”