When good things exhaust me

Good things are supposed to be… good. However, something it has taken me a long time to get my head round, is that if I’m burned out, or close to it, good things are just as problematic in some ways as slightly bad things. This, frankly, is annoying, but in learning how to see it coming I’ve been able to look after myself more effectively.

It’s easy to forget that good things also take energy. Good news, exciting developments, moments of joy, relief and the like all take energy. They take a lot more energy than just shuffling along in a non-descript state. Sometimes, good things even bring an adrenaline burst. If you’re an anxious person, then adrenaline means anxiety even when you know a good thing is happening. I was told by an entirely unhelpful person some years ago that I can’t tell the difference between excitement and anxiety. My head can, but for my body, there is no difference. It’s not a failing, or something to fix by trying harder it’s just what happens.

Good things require processing time. If I’m feeling a lot of emotions, I need time to work that through. It’s more obvious when the feels are all difficult, that self-care is in order. Intense good feelings need just as much processing time as difficult feelings. The high of something good can provide a lift, but if my energy is poor then on the far side of the happy peak, is a slide down into a low place. If I know the slide is coming, I can handle it better.

I’ve spent most of my life doing intense highs and lows. The only times I haven’t were when I was too depressed to do the highs in the first place. I’ve always believed that the lows were the price of the highs and chose to accept that as a trade-off. However, in recent years I’ve become more interested in exactly how my brain and body work, and it suggests something more complex is going on. I can have highs without an inevitable crash afterwards if my energy levels are generally good. I can navigate the aftermath of highs better if I give myself processing time.

Sometimes resting is enough for emotional processing. Sometimes I can sleep it off and let my unconscious, dreaming mind figure out all the things. Sometimes I can walk it off or bounce it off on the trampoline to get excess energy under control. However, when it’s a more complicated feeling, I need to dance, or sing, or play a musical instrument for a while. I think these help me most because they let me manifest how I’m feeling without having to get specific words on it. I can express emotions and embody them and settle them into me. Some emotions are big enough to have an impact on who I think I am and how I view my life as a whole. They take some processing. It’s better if I make time and space for them.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “When good things exhaust me

  • dapplegrey

    This is very helpful – you just simply do not hear it said. I know this to be absolutely true for me as well, yet because I’ve not voiced it (or not very well, and not much at all until recently) even to myself, I’ve overlooked it or tried to steamroller myself through it and inevitably suffer the consequences. I’ve come to value ‘decompression time’ – and understand it better. Thank you!

  • Ziixxxitria

    Wow this is so helpful. I learned to expect that if I get really high energy happy that I will slide down later in the day to an even worse place than my average baseline, and this makes a lot of sense. My working theory was that the anxiety that comes afterward is from an irrational sense that if something good happens then there’s something bad around the corner. But that worry isn’t always mentally present, or it seems to arrive after I’m already anxious or depressed. I definitely am overdue for a doctor visit to really have some professional guidance but in the meantime this is something I want to pay attention to and maybe it’ll help me manage. Thank you very much for sharing. I always appreciate when you post about your personal mental/emotional/physical struggles (especially when they’re so entwined that it can be hard to figure them out). Also, you have my sincere wishes that you will continue positively toward making progress in whatever form that needs to take for you.

  • Ailanthus Altissima

    One of my favorite authors, Sherwood Anderson, proposed in his book Winesburg, Ohio, “The World is on Fire!” which was to mean that the world is in a constant state of decay. Literally everything is on fire at all times.

    It’s the way of the universe that decay leads to growth and growth leads to decay. The concepts of “Good” and “Bad” generally come down to growth vs decay in our thinking. Does our action spur creation? If so, it is good. Does our action spur decay? If so, it is bad.

    However, we must realize that decay is not all bad.

    It can lead to growth.

    And we also must realize that not all growth is good.

    Too much growth leads to stifling of life.

    It’s best that we accept and do our best to maintain the balance between the two, as nature intends.

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