I burnt out.
Recently, I kind of abruptly stopped blogging. I went from regularly posting twice a week to posting nothing at all.
Honestly, I’ve been feeling pretty deflated about this blog. About a lot of things, really. I fell into a bit of a “what’s the point of doing this” pit. Eventually, I realised that constantly fighting it, trying to scramble out of the pit, expending energy trying to force the spark back into it, was only making it worse.
I’m quite open about my arch nemesis – my inner critic. Well, around this time, she somehow acquired a megaphone. Her nagging, persistent taunts became all I could hear. It didn’t matter if I got a nice comment on a post or if something got a lot of views. She successfully drained any feeling of accomplishment or enjoyment from the whole process of blogging.
In an attempt to switch things up a bit, I started a YouTube channel. At first, I thought it might help me gain some confidence and give me a different kind of project on which to focus, and I guess it did, but only briefly. I quickly got bogged down in the stress of technical problems and my inner critic cranked her megaphone volume up to maximum. I felt like I’d fallen at the first hurdle and sunk further into my pit of misery.
The final straw came when I was writing a blog post and for some reason, the auto-save function wasn’t working properly. Of course, I didn’t realise this until my laptop glitched out and I lost two hours worth of writing. Even my tech-savvy dad couldn’t fix it.
I’ll be honest with you, tears were shed.
I realised that I was completely burnt out. This thing that was once so much fun had morphed into a huge concrete block chained to my ankles and I’d just been pushed overboard.
That night, I closed my laptop, put it in a box, and pushed the box under my desk. I didn’t open it for around two weeks.
For those two weeks, I made a conscious decision to stay away from social media (apart from Pinterest, just for collecting ideas, not interacting with anyone). I shifted my focus onto non-tech activities like arts and crafts, reading, and journalling. I didn’t blog, I didn’t record any videos, I didn’t doom-scroll through Twitter.
After a few days, I felt a weight lifting off my chest. My anxiety faded (well, relatively – I have an anxiety disorder) and I finally started to feel a sort of freedom.
The stress of self-imposed deadlines and the pressure to produce more/better content was gone. The cycle was broken.
After a couple of weeks of digital detox, I’ve slowly started to use my laptop and social media again, but for now, I’m definitely not going to go back to blogging twice a week, and I’m definitely not making any more videos. I don’t spend anywhere near as much time on social media anymore and I don’t intend to go back to my previous level of aimless scrolling.
I strongly believe that technology, the internet, social media, etc, are great tools. They can be incredibly useful and help to connect people and they play a crucial role in accessibility and tackling isolation.
Having said that, I personally had got myself into a situation where these previously useful tools had started to control my life and damage my mental health. I was putting unnecessary pressure on myself and letting my inner critic control the way I used them.
So, from now on, it is my intention to strip everything back and start using technology as a tool, rather than letting it consume my life. I’ll be around; I’ll still be on Twitter and I’ll probably blog from time to time, but I’m not going to set a strict posting schedule anymore. I’m going to spend more time doing things that support my mental health, and if one day that includes posting on my blog, then so be it, but I’m not going to force it.
I’ve worked too hard on my recovery to let myself slide backwards by setting myself unrealistic goals and stressing myself out to the point that I completely shut down.
My mental health has to be my priority.
If you have any thoughts or personal experiences with burn-out, please feel free to share them in the comments.