I'm mentally exhausted... but I'm frustrated and guilty for feeling this way

Surely we should be bursting with energy and enthusiasm as the country re-opens? Not necessarily so — some of us are tired, very tired, says EIMEAR HUTCHINSON
I'm mentally exhausted... but I'm frustrated and guilty for feeling this way

"I do not think it is even a physical tiredness, it’s mental exhaustion," so says Eimear Hutchinson. Picture: Stock

EACH week before I write this article, I spend about two to three days letting ideas and topics stew over in the back of my mind, like a constant hum of creativity going on way back in the depths of my brain.

This past week, I had one topic that I was constructing my article around but somewhere in the back of my mind another was stewing over. I wanted to write about sustainability, but in the back of my head the same alternative narrative was going over and over — I am tired.

And I thought, I cannot write about being tired, we have just gotten a new lease of life after spending the best part of over a year doing nothing. I berated myself for being tired by all the opportunities we now have again compared to what it was like in lockdown. And then, amidst all my running and racing, I met a few other mums as I was doing a swap-over of my eldest girls at soccer training and every single one of us said the same thing. We were tired.

I do not think it is even a physical tiredness, it’s mental exhaustion. And I am so frustrated and guilty for feeling this way. It is like my brain has two different sides and each side is berating the other. One side of my mind is racing, there are not enough minutes in the day to figure out how to cram as much of what we missed for so long into the hours, days and weeks ahead, but the other side is whispering a suggestion that perhaps the slower pace of life, to a certain degree, was nice too.

On top of wanting to do everything we could not do for so long, there is so much more planning and thinking involved in doing anything now.

I want to see friends, but wait, how many can we meet this week, where are we allowed to meet and are there toilet facilities wherever we gather?

The children have been stuck at home for so long without the social interaction of school, after-school activities and play dates. So, every single day bar Tuesday we are on the road after school, going here and there, because it is important to be involved and they have missed it — but wait, have I filled in the Covid questionnaire, read through all the WhatsApp messages coming through, and got my mask to drop them off? And longer term, trying to figure out how to make the most of the summer, where can we go, where will we stay, and the biggest conundrum of all, when can we see our family in England.

It is a strange one because it feels like life went from willing the time to pass quickly to suddenly it was all go, go, go. And I love that buzz, I have four children so I would want to enjoy a busy life.

 I think maybe the last year or so is beginning to take a toll on my head, there has been so much worry, so much unknown, so much change, so many demands on my time and so little getaway from it all.

And while we are all enjoying a relative freedom, it is like Covid is always lingering there around the edges, whether it’s an outbreak of it in the next village over, or the inability to plan anything concrete for the summer because who knows where we will stand? The media are constantly casting shadows about new variants. I’d like to think I am a optimist but the last year has taken a toll on my ‘glass half full’ demeanour.

It is the headspace I miss. I feel like I am being pulled in about a thousand directions now, trying to make sure we all live life to the fullest, but is it really living life to the fullest if I feel exhausted by it? I probably need to settle into a better balance, find the place I’m happiest, instead of getting swept up in what I feel I should do as opposed to what I want to do.

And there is no escape from it all, yes I can go for a walk in the fresh air alone, but I would love to just go to the shops, to a coffee shop on my own, and sit down with a magazine, or even at a real stretch, visit a spa and relax for a few hours in a pure aromatherapy-induced bliss.

I won’t complain though, I’m not complaining — we all get tired, half the battle is acknowledging and then figuring out what you need to do to find that balance again.

I feel like I might be caught up in the excitement of trying to get it all done now in case our freedom is taken away again, the highs and lows we have become accustomed to over the last year always around the fringes of our imaginations. So maybe, if you feel the same, know that you are not alone, that it will take some time to figure out our new, and maybe better all round, life balance.

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