My First Month of Rest
Spoiler: I Hated It
At the end of 2021, I shared a bit about how I was taking a sort of medical leave to try to focus on resting my very tired disabled body.
But after a month, I find myself itching to do something, anything, productive. After years of constantly working, churning out content, I feel bereft of purpose. How can my only task for the day be taking my Corgis to the dog park and going to the gym for my doctor directed exercise?
I recently read Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen, in which she delves into millennial burnout that stems from our constant effort to just exist in this too-fast world. She mentions how this sort of burnout can be a major disabling event for non-disabled folks, but what about when you’re already disabled? What does that look like?
For me, that looks like staring at my computer screen, trying to respond to emails. This task feels monumental, a heavy weight on my chest. I can’t breathe as I mentally lift my willpower into place to write a simple response and hit send. Too many days, especially in the beginning, I cried over my keyboard because I couldn’t even send a single email.
At first, I had big plans at what my “rest” would look like. I made schedules and sketched out ideas. It’s not work if it’s fun, right? But I found myself sitting on the couch, staring in the void, which happened to be my Christmas tree that I still hadn’t taken down. Those obnoxious twinkling lights kept reminding me of all of the things I wanted to be doing instead of sitting on the couch and painfully wheezing next to my snoring Corgis.
When I talk about my slow recovery with anyone but my close friends and family, I usually hear some version of what I could have done to prevent this from happening. I’ve heard a ridiculous number of things that “for sure would have made a biggest difference for you.” But as Petersen points out in Can’t Even, burnout happens even when we do everything “perfectly” (and that was BEFORE we found ourselves in a pandemic).
“There’s a pervasive feeling that despite some of the legitimate wonder of modern society, our potential has been capped. And yet we strive, because we know nothing else. For millennials, burnout is foundational: the best way to describe who we’ve been raised to be, how we interact with and think about the world, and our everyday experience thereof. And it isn’t an isolated experience. It’s our base temperature.”
If you, too, find yourself a puddle of goo right now, hang in there. We’re not here because we failed, because we weren’t perfect or productive enough. It’s because we’re human beings who live in this incredible broken society.
At this point, I’m supposed to tell you my actions items, the things I have in place that will “for sure” make me feel better and ready to rejoin the rat race that is the working world. But this time, I don’t have any answers. That’s the point. There aren’t any quick fixes. It just takes time, so thanks for hanging out with me while I wait.
Podcasts I’ve Been Listening To
It’s just a bunch of comfort listens this week, folks. This is my brand now. Welcome.
Appodlachia - #118 Is TikTok Censoring Appalachian Progressives?
Appalachians adore TikTok. Surprised? Have a listen.
The New York Times Book Review Podcast - 383. Imani Perry Talks About "South to America”
Imani Perry explains why she loves the South so much that she wrote a whole book about it. Pamela Paul is once again shocked a story like this exists. 100% in my wheelhouse.
The Wintering Sessions with Katherine May - 5. Aimee Nezhukumatathil on Nurturing Wonder Through Nature
The meeting of my two loves! I adored this conversation with nature writer and poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil.
Things I Made That Went Up This Week
YouTube - January Wrap Up | 2022
I share updates from my very “okay” reading month. Also, I bought this sweater to go with my new favorite earrings, which were made by my friend Shelby.
“10 of the Best Audiobooks Narrated by JD Jackson” - I love JD Jackson, one of the best audiobook narrators working today.
“The Course of a Creek” by Garrett Robinson - I didn’t write this one, but I still wanted to share. Garrett, my editorial intern for Read Appalachia has been knocking it out of the park with his essays.
Linking Links Linking
Libro.fm started an audiobooks listening challenge, and I couldn’t have been more excited.
Jen Campbell reads and reviews all of the books on this year’s Barbellion Prize longlist.
According to their website, “The Barbellion Prize is a book prize dedicated to the furtherance of ill and disabled voices in writing. The prize is awarded annually to an author whose work has best represented the experience of chronic illness and/or disability.”
The longlist for the much-beloved Stella Prize will be announced on February 28th.
Dani’s Dreamcatcher Instagram @waabishki.binesikwe
If I didn’t already own two, I would buy another dreamcatcher from Dani. You can support her work by buying one too!
That’s it for this week!1 Let me know if there are any topics or things you’d like me to write about. And as always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I say “this week” but TBH I don’t know what schedule this thing is going to be on (see above discussion), so we’ll see what magic I can still work. Stay tuned!