A couple of months ago I found myself slowly grinding to a very definite halt. I’d gone from springing out of bed in a morning (yes, even in the darkest deepest winter months …) to having to haul every sinew of my being from my slumber-pit. I’d like to tell you that it happened very gradually over a period of weeks or months, but as I remember it hit me like a brick wall one day.
Things were not looking good, my friends. And let me add to that: I was not looking good either. Bags had appeared under my eyes that were so huge they probably should have had their own postcode.
I was bereft. Drained of all vim. Dispossessed of my verve. A shell of my former self.
My mother told me to go and see the doctor, but I knew what was going on.
Firstly I needed a fortnight in the Maldives with nothing on my to-do list other than “re-apply sun lotion – turn over”. Secondly, I’d worked every day since Christmas without no discernible break and understandably my body, soul and mind was yelping rather pathetically “enough …”
Given that I’d have to put the Maldives option on ice for now, I turned to numero dos.
And so I can sense the urgency in your need to know what solution I came up with … So here it is:
I lay on my sofa and watched every single episode of Grey’s Anatomy… all fourteen series worth… back to back. For a week.
Yep. That’s as complex and sophisticated as it got.
I emptied my head completely and indulged myself in possibly the best American medical drama of recent times.
Did it work? You bet your sweet life it did!
So, as a future reminder should I need it for reference, I’ve put together my list of tell-tale signs that I may just need to book another appointment with my sofa and Netflix.
Take a look; do any of these look familiar to you?
You’re all out of orginal ideas. Completely. Where once there was a deluge of creative notions there is now a barren desert of hollow despair … And don’t even think about cooking something ‘new’ for dinner!
It’s just not fun anymore. One day it was one big barrel of smiles, the next no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to get the corners of your mouth to turn skyward.
You’re permanently exhausted. One minute you’re skipping down the road like a spring lamb, and the next your limbs feel like they’re made of lead. ‘Energy’ is something you only read about read on soft drink labels.
There’s a big fuzzy mess where your brain used to be. Simple decisions are impossible. The fog has settled and it’s inside your head. What happened to clear and decisive thinking? It disappeared into the befuddled mist, that’s what.
Your va-va-voom has va-va-gone. Life is wearing a heavy cloak of dullness, dragging you down and sapping you of all the sparkly zest that you once effortlessly effervesced.
You need to count to ten. All the time! It takes less and less these days to get you to the stage where you want to punch someone. Annoying laugh? Let me at him … *bop*
Everything is a drama. Broken fingernail? Forgot to defrost the chicken? Run out of milk? It’s the end of the world as you know it.
You’re just not interested. In anything! You feel flatter than the flattest of flat things.
Jokes just ain’t what they used to be … Q. What do you call a joke that normallly you’d find hilarious but now it’s just irritating? A. ‘Irritating’.
You don’t want to dance anymore. For me this is the most serious of all. If one of my favourite tunes drifts across the room and I feel no compulsion whatsoever to leap to my feet and bust a few moves then something is very wrong. My kilter is skewed.
What I’m talking about, of course, is ‘early-stage burnout’. I’d class it as early-stage because in my case as I was able to treat myself with intense Kevin Spacey therapy for a few days and all was well in my world.
You may experience different symptoms, but the important point is this: if you live your life at a hundred and fifty miles an hour like I do, it’s vitally important that you recognise that you can’t do that indefinitely before the wheels start to fall off your wagon.
So my tip is this … get up and walk away from time to time. Temporarily, of course. Whatever you’re walking away from will thank you for it in the long term.
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