I feel like I’m overwhelmed constantly with, well just life really. I didn’t used to be this way. But things that didn’t used to feel like a lot feel like so much now.

Like days when there are multiple what’s app threads to respond too and my brain just cannot seem to cope, so I ignore messages until a time where I can make space to intake more information. I’m not trying to be rude, or intentionally ghost people. But it’s like the thought of getting into another conversation and having to think about how to respond, it’s all just a lot to intake.

It just feels overwhelming to add the discussion into my headspace

Or the times that people want to lock down what we’re doing on a day together. Unless that get together is happening in the next 24 hours, I can’t process it. I just cannot think about it until it becomes an imminent thing and I’ve no idea why. I can’t understand why my brain is now unable to cope with just saying, ‘Yeah, 10am sounds good with me, let’s go here …’. But it can’t. It does not want to consider the thing that’s coming up in the diary until that event is right upon me. Then I’m happy to discuss, make plans, check out all the possibilities. But until that 24 hour countdown hits, it just feels overwhelming to add the discussion into my headspace.

It must be my way of coping with all these things

When I’m dealing with a lot of stress – being hectic at work (which is often) doesn’t help – and my personal to do list is growing ever longer, I procrastinate. I procrastinate and think a lot about the things I need to be getting on with. Then struggle to take the action. I used to be all go go go. Things would get tackled pronto. I wasn’t one to sit still or ‘relax’ too often.

Now I think about things for way longer than I used to. But not even actively think about them, just like distantly recognise they are things I need to address, but I keep them backbenched. Out of sight out of mind. It doesn’t make the stress any less because I’m not doing a damn thing about shortening that list. But it must be my way of coping with all these things that are happening during the working day, and then all these to do items that need to happen before and after that finishes.

I need more downtime than I ever used to require

And it’s not for any other purpose than to just be still, and not be required to do anything, meet anyone, have a commitment or social engagement to attend. Maybe even just sit with a coffee and consider nothing much in particular. Or a day where I just have zero plans on the agenda. It’s like a rest stop for my brain. Because even meeting friends, nowadays I seem to require space between each meet or activity. I need rest. A whole weekend packed out seeing other people, doing exciting things, it actually feels a bit much. When I do it, it’s like I’ve lost the time needed to recharge and unwind. If I don’t get that balance, my weekend doesn’t feel long enough to be social and also, get the space I need to restore before I’m back to work and feeling overwhelmed once again with hectic days.

It’s why I’m not as social as I used to be

I make less effort to meet people nowadays. But prior to all of this I’d jam pack my weekends seeing everyone I could. I was seriously a lover of social! But now, things seem to have changed. When someone suggests a meet I know I should and I do push myself to do it. But it does have that element of real effort it didn’t have a couple of years back. And there is always this somewhat kind of relief when I get back to my home.

Because my home is like my safe haven. It’s a place I feel I can be at peace and take a moment to process all this overwhelmed’ness I’m experiencing. My house is somewhere that everything seems less pressured. It is a space I can be alone in with my thoughts and be quiet. I’m not expected to make conversation or be an active participant in anything other than my own personal world.

Sometimes, there are no words for all these thoughts

Sometimes, there are no words for all these thoughts. I read that somewhere recently, and I resonated with it massively. Because I am not quiet because I am actively ignoring people, it’s because I need to process everything else that’s happening in my world. I am not creating space between myself and a particular person because of them, nor because I want that space to exist really, I am just doing what I need to do for me.

I don’t want to be anti-social or appear like I don’t care or I don’t want to see people, I just cannot cope without adequate time to recharge these days. And I want to make more effort in my own personal time to do things and see people, but work feels so much that when I get to ‘me time’, sometimes, there is so little left that I need it to just get myself in a better place before that working week begins again.

Maybe it’s post-pandemic related?

And this isn’t depression – I’ve been there, I know what that feels like – this is something else entirely. I’m thinking maybe the pandemic has something to do with everything I’m going through? Maybe I’d gotten so used to quiet, calm, peace, that normal life crashing back into full play just feels like too much all at once and maybe my brain isn’t able to keep up? I’d spent so long in isolation that not being isolated still feels weird and uncomfortable somehow.

Maybe my feelings of being overwhelmed, stressed, worrying, anxious, maybe it’s all related. Because a couple of years ago being busy, having lots in the diary, it felt entirely manageable. I enjoyed it. But nowadays, just the thought of hectic has me feeling like I’m drowning in a stormy sea.

I am slowly becoming a little more extroverted once again

I do think its getting better, as I seem to be moving forward. Coping with the stress of work feels a little more manageable with each passing month. Navigating the personal life does feel a little easier – I’m becoming a little more extroverted once again and locking down meets that have been due for a very long time. I am ignoring peoples messages less, and the restorative downtime feels still needed, but less impacting to the point where I spend my entire weekend like a hermit; walking dogs, running and pottering around the house by myself.

Today, I am overwhelmed, but in a way that feels a little more manageable. But I won’t ever really know whether it’s a post pandemic aftermath that I’m slowly finding what feels like a way out of, or whether those moments of being overwhelmed are going to remain a permanent hurdle to navigate. Where some days feel a little lighter, and others are just days I need to hide away, figure myself out and not talk to a soul. So I’m not ghosting anyone, I’m just a little overwhelmed at times and my way of coping is by prioritizing myself.

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By Amy Roullier
By Amy Roullier

Amy is the Founder and Editor of The Authentic Optimist. She talks all things life. From the highs to the lows, to all those messy bits in-between. She is a writer, rambler, lover of carbs (her true soulmate) and she is especially passionate about dispelling myths about women in their 30s. Amy lives in Lincolnshire with her two greyhounds.