Yesterday, I caught up with two different colleagues, one over a half-hour call in the morning and the other at lunch. When I got home in the early afternoon, I was completely exhausted. My mind was spent from the effort of meaningfully engaging with other people. This outcome baffles me because, as an undeniable extrovert, I get my energy from my relationships and interactions with other people.
Something similar happened in Australia two weeks ago. After the conference I was attending ended, I went to Melbourne for a few days to see friends. The first two days, I took a series of long naps. It was frustrating, because the weather was lovely for Melbourne Summer (meaning that it only hailed one day I was there) and I wanted to spend time outside or at least visiting places I enjoy, like the art gallery. Instead, I was inside asleep. It was different than the exhaustion I know from jet lag. This was fatigue from forcing myself to exhibit energy, maintaining an appearance so others will perceive me the way I want them to. I’m a naturally energetic person. The word I’ve most often heard to describe me is passionate. Right now, projecting what I consider to be my usual self requires a lot of effort. It’s tiring. It’s also, as I’ve come to know, unnecessary.
As I was discussing this phenomenon with my psychiatrist, she noted that it’s possible that I’m still in the major depressive episode. We won’t know for sure until I’m off all the medication. It is a relief to be away from my regular job at the moment, because I can sense the toll being “on” all the time would take on me. I’m also frustrated, because I feel so unlike who I know myself to be. The other thing I’ve realized is that my instinct to cover up and minimize is remains acute.
Others may be willing to take me as I am, but somehow, I’m still not.