Last night, as Josh and I were moderating a panel discussion on burnout at the NAPO chapter meeting, what started as a flutter of fatigue somewhere in my chest rapidly, and scarily, became the sensation that I would fall on my ass (or my face, depending how I stood) if I did not get out of the room and sit down immediately. I whispered to Josh, I need to go, and slipped out of the room as unobtrusively as one can slip out of a room one happens to be at the very front of, with all eyes in her direction.
In the hall, I found a chair near an unused conference room and sat down with my head back, my pulse racing and a thin veneer of sweat on my face. I eventually got up and made my way to the bathroom, where I sat for a while before splashing some water on my face and slipping back into the room via a side door. There I stood, propped against the doorframe, until the panel was over.
The irony was not lost on me: while moderating a discussion on how to avoid burnout, I managed to spiral down into my own little pool of exhaustion-induced messiness. (You turned a totally different color, Josh said to me later. That was freaky.) Even despite what was more or less an Actual Day Off last Sunday, I still feel like I've been working non-stop for months. That has seemed like a necessity, but it's a pace I can't sustain, and the thought that I might wind up as some sort of overwork poster child is an unpleasant one. I will not become a Lifetime movie, so help me god. My body will see to that, evidently, even if my mind disagrees.