Something odd is happening. I keep thinking if I ignore it for long enough, the depression-like feelings will simply dial back and go away, but it continues to linger. I do well when distracted, as if keeping my mind busy forces the lurking crisis firmly into the background. But as soon as I try to rest or my surroundings get quiet, I struggle again. And it appears to be getting worse.
I was hired to do a specific job, working in tandem with a partner who would cover Task A. Which would leave me to happily deal with Task B. And I like B – it’s lower profile but super-cool. I know how to do it. I’d be pretty good at it. But I am – as is often my problem – without a partner. So I want to do it all – gain enough energy, clarity and talent to handle A + B – but I can’t. I’m trying – really, really hard most days – and I just seem to have this large crowd of people who want more from me than I have to give. And I’m starting to shut down.
Maybe if I spend less time in the office, I thought, trying to save my sanity. That didn’t work - it just made me feel guilty. Perhaps if I take time to relax, I thought as I made spa appointments, but that failed too. I could pray more, I thought this morning when I woke up from a nightmare-plagued sleep. Exercise. Work harder. Instead, I’m fighting this desperate urge to withdraw completely. Hide in my basement and read. Not check work email filled with emails asking why I missed a meeting, where those numbers are, if the slides were acceptable, when I was going to review the documents.
I can’t, I think, looking at them and feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. I cannot do all of this. It takes time and thought and expertise that escapes me. And Task B ends up ignored because I keep throwing effort at A in a fruitless attempt to keep from getting buried under it. And then my B people look betrayed that I was hired to help them and won't.
“Maybe I should move some things around,” Adam said when I looked blankly at him after he said something funny. “You don’t look good.”
I shrugged, thinking he was right but not wanting to admit defeat. I like being challenged, I told myself firmly. And given the economic climate, it’s good to be useful in several areas. And I can always work on B stuff in my free time!
“You can’t keep this up,” one of my favorite engineers noted after we had lunch and talked through an upcoming pitch. “Working evenings and weekends, being bothered when you can’t handle every detail.”
“I can’t burn out in three months,” I replied. “I have to find a way to do this.”
I just wish I knew how. I also wish these feelings didn't feel awfully close to depression.