When You Get Tired

Do you ever get so tired that you think you might just drop dead? And then you’re embarrassed that you’re being such a ridiculous drama queen, except that one of your parents actually did drop dead at a young age, so you have that fear embedded in your psyche?
And you know what you’re supposed to do for self-care, but you just don’t have time to do it because your schedule is so stupid that it’s a big special deal to do something like cook a meal, and by the way, your eating is totally out of control because you’re indulging yourself out of tiredness and the irrational sense that eating whatever you want will make you feel better (a cockamamie approach to self-care)?

And you got a massage so you have no reason to complain and you are doing what you love so you really do feel grateful, but you just feel so disconnected because you haven’t even put away laundry from two weeks ago, let alone had silent time to reflect, feel, pray, dream, call a pal?

I just wanted to say that it’s not just you, honey.
We all have those times.

And as it says in the good book, this too shall pass.

23 Replies to “When You Get Tired”

  1. I got an optical migraine today, a sign of stress or distress for me! (They don’t hurt like a headache, but my vision goes all crenellated & pixilated).

    Chronic deep tired feeling may mean it’s time to have a blood test, dear friend. Vitamin D, blood sugar levels, iron, lyme, all that good stuff.

    But then again, end-of-church-year-itis should have its own diagnostic code!

  2. PB and Diane…you have both described my current status to a tee. I’ve gained 10 pounds since April and was diagnosed on Tuesday with the very same ocular migraines, due to stress and fatigue.
    We must make even small changes or we won’t be able to continue to do what we love, what we are called to do.

  3. I’ve often wondered just how tired you have to be to be hospitalized for exhaustion like the movie stars are…and wouldn’t it be cheaper and more cost effective for insurance companies to just give us all a long weekend at a medium grade hotel once a year?

  4. Of course, the pithy comeback is that no one is going to make you take good care of yourself but yourself. If you are getting to the point that the church notices you are tired, you are already way beyond too tired. No church will ever truly realize the extent of work you do- emotional, physical, in-person, and at home.

    A few of my colleagues have announced mini-breaks this month- a “three day weekend” (Thurs, Fri, Sat) to get in the break their bodies need. If you think about it- we really drain ourselves through the holy days in the spring. It’s natural by this point that you are running close to empty.

    Chaplain Bee would recommend a serious day off or three this week or next. It means every project- every one- gets put on hold for at least 24 hours of plain Sabbath.

    Your job as a minister is to be a spiritual person. I’m pretty sure that none of us got into this so God could work us until we dropped dead.

    I know it’s SO very hard to just stop for 24 hours, but it can be refreshing- turning off the computer, turning off the TV, taking off with the dog- just turning it all off. Is that possible? Why or why not?

  5. Self-care is such a tricky business!! And YES to having a cockamamie approach to it– sometimes I think a night on the couch with my pajamas and some ice cream is self-care, even though I know a good workout will make me feel like a million bucks.

    I’ve just started with taking Zumba classes– it’s a commitment (harder to push it off if you’re paying for it!), it’s fun, it’s got great music, and you sweat your butt off. I’m starting with twice a week, and will go from there. Gotta make the time!

    Good luck, PB, and rest up/work out/etc. Self care is tough, but important.

  6. Thank you, PB. Thank you for making it okay to be a teensy bit of a self-pitying drama queen every once in a while. I think that allowing ourselves to be a poop sometimes IS part of self-care. We don’t always have to be sunshine and gratitude! As long as we don’t push it. : )

  7. Thanks PB for talkin’ ’bout it. I’m there too. Normally I struggle with sleep but this week I sleep and sleep. Doing closure with two congregations and preparations with a third is totally exhausting, physically and emotionally. My cat is under hospice care. (He might live as long as a year more.) Because of the hospice care I will not be able to take a real vacation this year and will probably start the church year on empty.

    Have been on the verge of one of those migraines that our colleague mentioned and I brought ice cream into the house for myself for the first time in years with accompanying cookies.

    Praying for July and time off to arrive. . .

  8. Uh-huh. Down to the migraine (although mine are painful and come with vertigo and motor symptoms).

    Tomorrow is a self-imposed retreat day. I’m doing nothing all day except contemplate my navel, as my Mom used to say…

  9. Thank you for saying that about the laundry. Which reminds me: time to put some in the dryer!

  10. I’m glad I’m not the only one! Sometimes I forget that eating is just as important, no, waaay more important, that whatever work I’m doing at that moment! With you all, I hereby commit to taking better care of myself, as my first job, so that I don’t turn into one of those burnt-out bitter toxic martyr pastors!

    And PB- you’re totally allowed to be a drama queen at these moments, and we’re happy to be hear for you!

  11. Not just tired–stressed and anxious again, and knowing that I have to be medicated to survive my job right now. So I went back on the citalopram. Which has me flopping into bed at 7:30 on nights when I can. I have to plan to do the laundry that won’t get put away just now! 🙂

  12. Boy do I know what you mean – out of the blue a migraine knocked my flat Tuesday. I had all these plans for things I needed to handle and then -pow! – on the couch, lights dimmed and sounds lowered.

    After I got thinking about it, I realized that the stress of finding a first call and the uncertianity of how to pay the bills in the meantime had me down. Couple that with the polite rejection of the first church I interviewed with and depression begins to rear its ugly head again.

    So for the last two days (hubby’s days off this week) we have gone to the zoo, had a cook-out, gone to the state park beach to swim and picnic. Nothing but relaxing and self-care and much needed family fun time.

    The sad fact is migraines (and worse) are the price you pay for NOT taking care of yourself.

  13. I always know I am in trouble when I start having fantasties about ending up in hospital where no one will expect me to do anything but sleep!

    Sounds like there are many of us who need some serious sabbath. My best ever was a whole week visiting a friend in Bermuda (everyone should have a friend who lives somewhere great like that). I spent an entire week sleeping and reading 8 books that explored Sabbath keeping. I learned a ton of great reasons why I need to rest. It turns out that I am not a quick learner, but at least I feel like I have company on the journey…

    Peace to you, my friend. Peace and rest and good health.

  14. I’m in tears reading this. I know that exhaustion and for the first time in a long time, it is June and I am not being embraced/smothered by it. My heart breaks for those who are caught in the vortex. My only way out has included a year out of the parish. The economic consequences are not insignificant, and the adjustment to hearing a different calling has been very challenging at times. I end up in hives at the thought of returning to the pace…And I wonder how the world (and UUism?) would be different if all the “heros” didn’t die young – or have to leave ministry.

  15. Sweet Queen of Life, kristine, don’t go to the hospital and expect to SLEEP! Last time I was in the hospital they woke me up at 4 am every morning!

  16. I left parish ministry when I had my second baby because I could not make the ends meet up, and that was a while ago–while contemplating taking on some pastoral care at a local congregation my throat started to close up just thinking about the pressure of parish ministry. I (mostly) can handle the whining demands of my small children, but the thought of taking on similar demands from grown adults just makes me tired.

    Why are the clergy doing so, so too much. My friends, I submit that 90% of this is what we are to be TRAINING LAY PEOPLE TO DO. I don’t know how you get there–I don’t say it to compound the guilt or frustration –and of course a pastor will be the main go to, but we are also supposed to equip the saints for something other than critiquing our work. As Bee said, I think, our overwork may seem very necessary but it neither glorifies God nor forms believers in the ways of maturity in faith and service to others.

  17. Madgebaby gets an A+

    As a lay person, one of the things that I find vital in our congregation is that new ideas for ministry are greeted with “What would it take to do that?” The clergy lead by helping equip the laity to serve. There is an active Stephen Ministry program, which serves as “extra ears and eyes” for the clergy to monitor pastoral concerns (and direct appropriate attention to them when necessary); there is an active group for Family Promise; we have dedicated members who are training to become Lay preachers and there are other ministries that are forming as we speak.

    Now, having said that, it only works if the clergy exercise self care and can be fully present.

    I’ll write you a note.

    WBJ

  18. Gang, great ideas and advice…. but be careful about projecting! I happen to serve a congregation whose leaders work harder than I do — we’ve ALL had an exhausting year. Yes, I carry more of the psychic burden, but that’s my job. My congregation is not minister-dominated, I don’t do all the programming or even most of it, and I had a wonderful sabbatical just last year (although I think it’s interesting that I did feel pressure to do lots of worthy and educational things during it). I know I’m a rarity, though, so I’m glad for folks posting advice for each other. And it is true that my self-care/Sabbath-observing habits are lousy of late.

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