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So, I’ve done a lot of whining and ranting lately. Amanda’s post this week pretty much nailed the reason: I’m burned out. The amazing thing is I’m still functional at all.

Here’s the short-form list of what life is throwing in my direction right now:

The Husband’s mother has cancer. It’s responding well to treatment, but each time she needs a chemo shot it’s a co-pay of over $500, which we fund because she doesn’t have it. Because of that, my con schedule… isn’t. Next year I’ll be going to the Discworld convention and Worldcon, but that’s probably going to be it unless I get invited to attend. The budget needs recovery time.

My job is beyond feral. It’s got so that there’s no way I can do everything that needs to be done, but since this is software testing for a fairly small company I’m living with the possibility that anything I don’t manage to do could be bad enough to send the employer under. The one “bright” point there is that it looks like the team lead has – finally – managed to convince the pointy-haired ones that the problem is not that the testing team is “broken”. It’s that they could double the team and have just barely enough people to avoid going backwards. Oh, and the company is now at six straight months of operating losses, which really helps a lot. Not.

My mother has pretty much given up. She’s basically sitting around waiting for something to happen, be it good, bad, or indifferent, and she calls me periodically to tell me how miserable she is. Yes, this is immensely helpful.

The Husband’s job is rapidly heading towards feral, although at least they appreciate him there. The problem is it’s a distribution center servicing retail outlets, and he manages shipping. Plus they closed several nearby centers and consolidated to where he is a few years back, and volume is now at the point where they’re overflowing into a second warehouse, and he’s doing well when the overtime doesn’t include Sundays. Saturdays are pretty much a dead loss for him, particularly now with them shipping for the holiday season. That’s not going away until somewhere in November, at best.

Oh, yes, and every time we think we might be getting a break, something else lands.

I’m sure that sounds familiar to everyone here. It’s also effectively impossible to escape – every single stressor here is an external thing, and I’m already doing everything I can to keep it from dragging me down. I’m even succeeding to a certain extent: I’m not in full breakdown, which I would have been under similar pressures a few years ago.

What bites, and what I’m not finding an answer for, is that I don’t have the energy for anything. I get home, and I’m useless. It’s an effort to think of something to eat, much less actually get up and fix it (which is why the eating out levels are creeping up to levels that are not good for either us or the budget). By the end of the week, about all I can manage is to fall over and sleep for a while.

Writing-wise, the only thing that’s going anywhere is Overlord fanfic, which… while I can have fun with it, and experiment with techniques, it isn’t really getting me any kind of sellable body of work. But when I open any of my serious works in progress, I stare at them and my brain turns off, or worse, I can’t even look at them. They’re… blood from stones that have already been squeezed dry.

I know this sounds depressed, and I’m pretty sure I’m borderline at minimum right now. Not fully into an episode – if I was at that level, I wouldn’t be posting. Just… barely hanging on, with nothing left for anything but essentials and maybe a bit of fluff that acts as an anesthetic. And, well, since this is Overlord fanfic, some recreational evil.

So. Anyone got a miracle hanging around? Or a lottery win? Enough to replace the job income would go nicely right about now. Failing that, a working space/time portal that I could use to duck off to some alternate dimension and sleep for a couple of weeks would be good.

10 Comments
  1. Not to be nitpicky but, don’t most blog posts have a title? 🙂

    Oh, and I haven’t won the lottery yet, but I will share all my future winnings with you, if you share your future winnings with me. Since I buy a ticket every 3-4 years I figure the odds are in my favor on this deal; but then again I don’t know if you have ever bought a ticket in your life.

    September 20, 2012
    • Kate Paulk #

      Yes, they do. I was too brain-dead to think of one except “whine whine whine”.

      It’s a deal on the lottery ticket. I buy about as often as you do, so we’re pretty much even.

      September 20, 2012
  2. There’s a pervasive background level of stress in the World, right now. Partly everyone’s economics. Partly war jitters. Partly the poisonous political atmosphere, just now. Lots of road rage. Shootings. Burnout.

    Businesses are . . . trying to save themselves, in all the wrong ways. If there’s an opportunity, the next time you hear “We can’t afford to hire more people” you _might_ suggest “A couple of part-time contract employees, you know, no bennies, might be useful.” Especially if you know someone with the experience who’s desperate for any income. Ditto your husband. Not that it’s always a good idea to put the idea of “No benefits” into an employer’s head.

    Avoid the background stress as much as possible. Turn off the news, do not read beyond the first paragraph or so, do not get into discussions. No politics at all.

    Make a shopping list. Walk into the store with mental blinkers. get several days of healthy stuff. Freeze half of it.

    H***, you know all this. It’s just . . . when you’re burned out, the brain just numbs. I think it’s like what you occasionally see in the nature films. The zebra or antelope gives up the struggle and just lays there. Partly it’s “Maybe the big kitty cat will go chase something still moving” and partly “Okay, I’m dead, get it over with, already.” But we industrialized apes never get the final crunch. The misery just goes on and on and . . . we lay there, being chewed on and eaten alive.

    September 20, 2012
    • Kate Paulk #

      Exactly. I know all the assorted techniques, and the best I can do is numb things off for just long enough to get through the next day. Anything else is too much thought.

      The pervasive stress of just about everything doesn’t help. It eats at things.

      September 20, 2012
  3. ABE #

    Whine away – you’re entitled, and you’ve established enough good creds to do it online.

    Sometimes people need support; for you, that is now.

    You are doing what needs doing, taking care of the elder folk, and doing the best you can at a job that needs you. Sometimes that is all you can do; sometimes it is even more than you can do.

    Do what you can; revisit the idea of change periodically to see what can be changed to improve things, because new ideas come by when you’re open to them; and batten down the hatches.

    One thing that does help a bit is journaling – saving in written form whatever is going on now, with the possible hope of mining it later, when it isn’t so raw but you would like to remember how raw it was.

    The other is to realize that you are still writing: putting into words what other people feel and can’t write. This is precious. It is adding value to the webs. And you wouldn’t be getting support now if you hadn’t already done that, and were not expected, by your readers, to do it again.

    Quick tip that helps me: our grocery store has fresh cooked chicken breasts every day, for a very reasonable price, compared to going out. A quick chicken salad (this week’s have spinach because I bought a big box of ready-to-eat washed baby spinach) is far healthier and cheaper than a restaurant visit, faster. The chicken, off the bone, freezes well – and is useful for all kinds of things, like chicken tacos or sandwiches, on short notice. You may not be able to get extra rest, or extra money, or a relief from external stressors, but you can use a few shortcuts to eat as well as possible, and get enough protein.

    PS I enjoy your writing and your insights.

    September 20, 2012
    • Kate Paulk #

      Thank you – I really appreciate it. It can be difficult to keep the perspective when I’m hammered.

      I do like the chicken idea. I already do things like grab a cooked chicken from the local grocery to go with something as a quick meal and freeze the leftovers.

      September 20, 2012
  4. TXRed #

    This may be a foolish idea, since you are worn out, but maybe try and take an afternoon or day every week or two and cook up a storm, then freeze the results? Make pasta sauce, or casseroles, prepare veggies for soup or stew and then freeze them, bake a ham, make chicken stock, that sort of thing. You can come home, cook some pasta, thaw what is in the freezer and “poof,” healthy, home made, and less stress. Combine it with ABE’s suggestion and you could do pretty well. I find chopping and mincing therapeutic, but I’m a tad strange that way. 😉 Another idea is a local meal co-op, if you can find one. Sort of a supper subscription service.

    I’m afraid that’s all I can offer, besides sympathy and kind thoughts. I clawed my way back from the edge of depression, mental exhaustion, and nervous breakdown a few years ago, but dang if I can remember how I did it, aside from sheer, teeth-gritted refusal to quit.

    September 20, 2012
    • Kate Paulk #

      The biggest problem with the cook up a ton of stuff idea is simply figuring out what to cook. I don’t have the bloody brainpower for it – although I try. I’ll have to try to figure out better ways for the freezer because with both of us on erratic hours at the moment eating healthy is not happening.

      Of course at the moment anything in the kitchen is a case of “Do something. Remove cat from bench. Do something. Remove cat from bench” repeat indefinitely. If he wasn’t so cute he’d risk being dinner…

      September 20, 2012
  5. JP #

    I wish I could just send you a winning lottery ticket. It sounds like you are hanging in there and that it is mostly the not getting (something you view as) productive writing done that is causing the internal strain. I wonder if you could take a page from E. L. James and consider filing the serial numbers off that Overlord fanfic one day.

    September 20, 2012
    • Kate Paulk #

      I’m hanging. It’s the combination of not getting productive (as in writing I can sell) writing done and being constantly tired that’s getting me down.

      I am planning to file the serial numbers off the fanfic eventually, but for the moment it’s shameless, gloriously schlocky fanfic.

      September 20, 2012

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