May 19, 2021

“I Literally just Can’t”—6 Symptoms of Emotional Exhaustion.

“I literally just can’t today.”

I texted that to a friend recently. I’ve probably repeated it an excessive number of times in the last few weeks. 

I. Just. Can’t. 

I can’t be strong. I can’t do the small talk. I can’t get my ass in gear and just power through (like I normally try to do).

I can’t coordinate any more schedules. I can’t be a support system. I definitely can’t be responsible for choosing the “right,” most “mindful” responses. I can’t make it to those plans we made. I can’t keep the house spotless. 

Nope. I literally just can’t.

I’m tired. 

And, of course, what creeps into my mind? 

“You’re lazy. 

You’re inadequate. 

You need to just keep going. 

You need to try. Try more.”

This video from Psych2Go couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Here’s a blurb from them:

“With society becoming more fast-paced and productive, people are starting to normalize the habit of overworking. Because of this, people tend to confuse ‘mental exhaustion’ with ‘laziness’ since they both look similar on the surface level. This video might help you remember why it’s important to take a break without feeling guilty.”

Each one of these…symptoms fits my current feelings to a T. 

Here are six signs that you’re just freakin’ done—not lazy, just mentally and emotionally depleted—and need to go a little easier on yourself:

1. You don’t feel motivated 

There’s a glaring difference between being lazy and being drained. It’s an I’m-too-tired-to-give-a-f*ck feeling. You might even feel numb to the consequences of your fatigue.

2. You can’t focus or concentrate 

Even if you don’t have ADD (like me), it sure feels like it. You struggle to complete simple tasks simply because your brain won’t relax—be in the moment. If you’re overloading yourself mentally, emotionally, or physically, it will always manifest in other areas. Your mind and heart can only handle so much; after a certain point, efficiency and resiliency go out the window. 

3. Small tasks seem overwhelming

It’s the dishes, vacuuming, laundry—the little things. But they don’t feel so little when there is no chance for you to recoup. It’s a million little things that snowball into a big thing. And it’s heavy—so heavy. 

4. You constantly dream and fantasize about a drastic change

Honey, I know we all dream about winning the lottery and receiving our Hogwarts acceptance letter; that makes sense. This is something different. This is a constant desire to escape our reality. Because we’re just too exhausted to keep things going the way they are.

Unfortunately, this constant (that’s the keyword here) need to change your current situation can also lead you deeper down a negative-thinking hole called: comparison. It’s fine to plan your next vacation or decorate your dream house on Pinterest, but if you find yourself uneasy and trying to escape into that daydream…you might really just need a break.  

5. You get easily irritated 

Being mentally exhausted (i.e., stressed AF) puts you into a low-grade fight-or-flight mode. On a chemical level, your body is saying, “I literally just can’t.” Personally, I’ve found myself thinking things like:

“Why can’t dinner just make itself?”

“Where the eff did this laundry pile come from?!”

“Why does X person talk so much?”

“I’m too tired to listen to this bullsh*t today.”

Not the nicest thoughts, eh? I’ve also been ultra-sensitive about cabinet doors being closed and certain day-to-day items only sitting on “certain” counters…because that counter needs to stay clean. (Bless my husband. I legit scare myself lately.)

6. Resting isn’t helping your energy levels

Do you feel tired even after you’ve had a whole night of rest? Yeah, me too. 

You see, if it’s emotional and mental exhaustion, you probably need a different kind of rest. 

Also (if you’re like me), you might be great at being “the strong one” or the confidant or the supporter, but when it comes to needing that for yourself, it’s like this: 

“How do I…what? Huh? No, no. I’m fine. Go away, please (so I can quietly sulk in my sadness that I won’t name).”

If any of this sounds familiar, just know that you’re not alone! (And can you tell me how you’re getting by?)

You’re not lazy; you’re tired.

You’re not inadequate; you just aren’t adequately taking care of yourself.


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