Saturday, June 25, 2016


It's been almost six weeks since the end of the school year and I still haven't recovered.

To be fair, there's been a lot going on. We moved the same weekend as graduation; immediately afterwards we had houseguests; immediately after that we went out of town. Since then, I've been out of town twice more. It's also been a rather tough year. Though the big picture has been great, the weekly and the monthly reality has been harder: multiple moves, a new job, a death in the family, constant travel.

Still, while acknowledging that there have been some external stressors, my exhaustion still seems disproportionate. It's late June, and all the hard stuff is past. I now have time. I'm back on a regular sleep and exercise schedule. But every task still feels overwhelming. For months I'd put off getting a new driver's license and transferring my car's title and registration because I just couldn't deal--and when I finally managed to block out two days to run back and forth between the DMV, the title office, and the state inspection facility, I then needed another couple of days afterwards to recover.

This doesn't strike me as normal. I mean, sure: bureaucracy sucks, and we've all felt our will to live leech out of us as we sit around waiting for the plumber to show up or spend hours driving from strip mall to strip mall on fourteen separate errands. But I feel enervated in a more profound and existential way these days. I love our new house, but just contemplating what still needs to be done wears me out. I've barely been able to make plans for any of the trips I've taken, even though there have been friends in each city that I've wanted to see. I feel behind in everything and eager to do nothing.

Is this middle age? Or am I actually the laziest person alive? (I know I'm not the busiest--most of my friends are working moms, so I'm not even a contender in the work/life sweepstakes.) I keep thinking that I'll recover with another good night's sleep, or after crossing a particularly troublesome task off the to-do list.

But it keeps. Not. Happening.


Andrea said...

I had a similar situation and it turns out I had bad sleep apnea. You might want to make sure you don't have an underlying health issue. It's not always administrative trauma!

Renaissance Girl said...

Oh, me too. My current speculation: the cultural climate is oppressive to my soul.

Renaissance Girl said...

(Also, seriously, perhaps try a B-12 supplement...?)

Flavia said...

Andrea, RG:

I have wondered if something physiological might be going on. I really seem to need more sleep these days (though if I get it, I'm pretty good).

But there may be something to the "cultural climate" theory, too, combined with a less-busy summertime schedule: I seem to be spending more time reading coverage of this & that on the internet, which in turn leaves me tired and cranky and with the sense of having let a whole afternoon slip away.

Servetus said...

I had the same problem. One thing I did was cut back to working half time for six months (I know everyone can't do this) but it helped me see more clearly the problem areas, which had to do with being bored by things I've done a million times. I have a lot of energy for things that inspire, still. The other thing that I think is persisting is, yes, middle age. I need more regular sleep, albeit less of it. Perimenopause. I can't willfully cut corners anymore.

Comradde PhysioProffe said...

Please, please, please, don't try to diagnose yourself using the Internet. See your physician right away.

Flavia said...


Don't worry! I'm interested in the possibility that there is *a* physiological reason for this feeling, but I am by no means confident that I can diagnose it myself!

And in fact, after another 48hrs of sleep and exercise, and finally returning to a regular work-rhythm on the two projects most important to me, I'm feeling less exhausted than when I wrote this (or than I've felt in weeks). I think Servetus may be right that a lot of it had to do with there being so many things I *needed* to do but that my heart wasn't in--including some important work-related ones.

But I now have three glorious weeks of no travel and few obligations (and then two weeks in London, where I can continue to work on things I care about) before being cast back into an August of lots of short trips and gearing up for the semester. So I hope to keep the worse forms of exhaustion at bay for a while.

Bardiac said...

I hope you feel better quickly! Take good care.

Contingent Cassandra said...

A long list of demanding but unappealing tasks is definitely a recipe for feeling uninspired (and tired). A lot of change (e.g. moving, for the umpteenth time) is also tiring.

If you're light- and/or sound-sensitive, new conditions in a new bedroom might also play a role.

But yes, of course, if the feeling persists, a checkup makes sense (though unfortunately midlife, especially for women, does seem to be a realm of vague symptoms that may or may not be normal and no clear answers -- but plenty of people willing to offer possibilities).

Susan said...

Also, I need to remind you that you've had three, of the most stressful events people live through - moving, a new job, and a death in the family. This is tiring without any deep physiological explanations. I'm not surprised that getting back into a routine helps. Because what each of those stressors does is change our routines, and it's HARD.

Flavia said...


Yes, it's possible that that's all it is! Little as I wish to admit it.