The Only Thing My Anxiety Consistently Responds to Is Exhaustion

a photo of a brown dog who looks very tired

I’ve been spending a lot of time exhausted lately. Not tired. Not fatigued. But utterly exhausted.

That’s life when your partner accepts their dream job 1000 miles away and you’re unexpectedly trying to prep your house for sale with only about a month to work with. Especially when you throw in other things, like goodbye dinners and visits, apartment hunting in the new city (Dallas-Fort Worth).

You don’t have a lot of time to mess around.

It does help that I’m self-employed, so my schedule is incredibly flexible. And lately, my writing time has contracted. I get up in the morning the same time I always do, except now I have a hard and fast rule that I don’t write after noon. Instead, I sit down and write as much as I can as quickly as I can. No second guessing myself. No waffling.

I just let whatever wants to come out, come out.

At noon, I switch to making important calls to coordinate with contractors and other professionals that need to be managed. And then I pivot to doing whatever physical tasks need doing.

As I write this, I’ve been landscaping and gardening several days in a row. Emptying the attic and basement, packing up boxes of things that can be donated. Posting photos of furniture we’re giving away free to our friends.

This kind of work is always hardest in the beginning. You are working like crazy, making huge progress. But the task list is so long and the house is so full and so rough around the edges that you feel like you’re doing nothing. That you’re stuck in one place and spinning your wheels.

I keep reminding myself that it was this way eight years ago when I last moved cross-country. At a certain point, it becomes exponentially easier. There’s only so much stuff in your house. There are only so many tasks on your list.

And at the end when there’s very little left to do, each one seems like huge progress. But in the beginning, you could do four in one go and feel like nothing had been accomplished.

Feeling Like a Dog That’s Been Running Around the Yard All Day

So yeah. Lately, I go to bed each night utterly exhausted. Not tired. Not fatigued. But exhausted.

I’m so bodily tired that I sink into my dreams effortlessly, like a heavy stone thrown into a lake. And as I do, it occurs to me that I don’t feel any anxiety. That I haven’t felt any anxiety for days.

Because for some reason, when I get like this, I can’t. I’m too busy. So bodily tired that my emotions essentially shut off, and I become an android who is simply working through tasks. Pushing towards a goal that I intellectually understand is important but I feel no personal emotional investment for in the moment.

As I fall asleep, I feel like a dog that’s been running around the yard all day. A dog who would normally bark and jog through the living room when a stranger enters the house but because of the strenuous day they’ve had barely lifts their head.

For me, this is the good kind of tired. It’s really the only thing my anxiety consistently responds to.

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2 Comments

  1. I completely understand this post! I am always super busy as a stay at home homeschooling mom of five. When the days come when I overexert myself, I feel so physically exhausted at the end of the day that all of my usual anxiety gets shoved out the window, and that’s when I sleep my best without waking up a million times due to my insomnia. Working out and forcing extra housework on myself is the ONLY way that I get shit done and actually sleep with a clear head, because my emotions shut off as well.

  2. I feel this in my soul and body too. It’s really hard to stay emotionally connected to something that drains you so much physically even when you know the outcome is going to be really rewarding. Your posts are so inspiring and relatable I appreciate them deeply and they’ve helped me navigate some really tricky, sticky poly life issues and are daily helping me be more comfortable with communicating openly and honestly with my partner and my metas. Thanks for being you! I know you’ve got this!

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