Life's Other Adventures

Drained

My iPhone gives me the option of having a percentage listed on the screen for my battery life. I think you can tell a lot by a person based on their preference for this setting.

For some, the shaded icon alone is sufficient. They don’t need specific numbers to quantify their remaining battery life, simply a shaded in portion of the battery is enough. Once it turns red the plug comes out, the phone gets charged.

For me however, this simply isn’t good enough. I need the percentage, I need to watch the slow descent from 100, to 90, to 60, and eventually to 14% when my heart starts to race and I grasp desperately for my charger, terrified an important call will come in and my battery won’t maintain the conversation.

phone

So maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. In many ways my day can be defined by the rate drain rate of my cell phone battery. Busy days when my phone stays tucked away the battery lowers slowly, at an even pace. If I am bored or trying to take care of things, trying to stay in touch with people, the battery life races from my phone like water from the sink when the drain comes out after a round of dishes. On these days it seems like a constant battle to keep the percentage up. I charge my phone, I use it, and it seems like only moments pass before I am back to 60%, then I start the process again. It feels like fighting a losing battle.

Life feels that way sometimes. Now is one of those times.

Do you ever feel just drained? Like no matter what you do you can’t fill back up, and even if you do for a moment you still can’t seem to hold the charge.

The last few weeks have felt like a crazy whirlwind. First was the explosion of my blog after the “Just a Nurse” post went viral. The response has been amazing, and overwhelmingly good, and, well, generally overwhelming. I have tried my best to respond to comments, emails, and other correspondences related to the post and my blog, but it has been a lot. I haven’t done a wonderful job.

In addition to that, there has been work. Last weekend I worked three 12 hour days in a row and each day became more like a 13 or 14 hour day. I moved constantly, my brain was challenged constantly. I left the stretch of days feeling run down, tired, and, well, drained both physically and emotionally.

Then there’s the house and apartment fiasco. My house still hasn’t had a closing, despite the offer being accepted in early June, leaving me still a homeowner months later. My financial anticipation never planned on two extra months of mortgage payments, especially once I would be looking for an apartment here in New York. The stress of trying to make it all come together has left me, yet again, overwhelmed, drained.

The other night I got home from work, my battery on my phone was nearly dead. I set the alarm for 5am, to be up for work on time. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and exchanged contacts for glasses. I grabbed my book, hopped in bed, plugged my phone in, and nothing happened. No battery symbol popped up, no tone or vibration indicating the recharge process had begun. I repositioned it, unplugged, re-plugged. Finally I realized the charger was done for. The cables were torn and it would do nothing for me. My battery was at 4% and I never thought to bring an alarm clock with me when I moved. At my friend Melissa’s suggestion I ran downstairs and asked my doorman if he had a charger I could borrow. He didn’t. I was moments away from asking him to wake me up in a few hours when he suggested the 24 hour Apple store on Fifth Ave. Only in New York, right?

So I hailed a cab, at midnight, five hours before I needed to get up, still in yoga pants and glasses. The Apple store is like a night club, by the way. If you haven’t been, go. Who knew an underground Apple store would be bumping in the middle of the night! There were people everywhere, children crying, bright lights, loud music. I grabbed a charger, hailed another cab, rode home, and finally climbed back in bed.

A charged battery is such an important thing. I never thought twice about going out at midnight for a charger for my phone. It was necessary. Immediately. My own battery on the other hand gets far less attentive care. I let my battery run down to zero. And then I let it stay there. When the phone is nearly dead there is that panic, that moment when you realize you have to find the charger, and now. Once the battery dies it takes forever to start the phone up again. Why then is there not that same sense of urgency when my own battery is teetering dangerously low?

I have mentioned in previous posts that I tend to spread myself too thin. I over plan, over book, over commit. I am afraid to under deliver, so as a result I just run myself ragged. And then I crash.

I have written about so many of my short comings and weaknesses, my areas for improvement. I have addressed fear, control, and stillness. I have worked hard in each of these areas over the past year, putting an effort into growing myself. All of these changes have been with a goal to, as my tagline says, define my health, to make myself so healthy that I am in control of how I feel, not a victim of my body’s health or lack thereof. Yet somehow, I have made no effort and no progress to diminish my spread too thin, overwhelmed, exhausted, and drained to empty but still trying to run tendencies.

So I finally gave myself a day of rest today. It is nearly 1pm and I am still in bed. I have a cup of coffee beside me, the one task that got me out of bed so far today. My computer is on my lap. I gave myself permission, or even required of myself a day of rest today. I plan to see no one and do nothing. I may run in the park, I may rent a movie to watch, alone, tonight. Other than simple tasks I have forbidden myself from doing anything today. As I made this plan early this morning I realized something big. As I went over the rules with myself I felt excited for this day. Then something interesting happen, I had to give myself permission to not feel guilty. I had to tell myself its ok to take a day to rest, to withdraw and just be.

There was no guilt in trying to let go of control or fear. I felt no guilt in allowing myself to take a leap of faith, or even feel helpless on the side of the road with a flat tire. Yet when it comes to slowing down and taking a day for me, I feel guilty.

I feel guilt acknowledging that I need this, that I can’t maintain the way I live my life. That I can’t keep in touch with everyone, make everyone happy, do my job well, see everyone, love everyone, make everyone laugh or smile or feel overwhelmed by my beauty every moment that they see me.

But I’ve been trying, and now my battery is empty. So today I am staying in bed. I’m plugging myself in, and hoping to recharge. I am letting go of the guilt I feel for doing this. More importantly I am letting go of feelings of inadequacy that come with admitting I simply can’t do it all. But I can’t. There, I said it!

Now excuse me as I turn my phone off and take a nap.

It may take more than a day to recharge my battery, but at least today can be a start.

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11 thoughts on “Drained

  1. Sounds like you have a lot going on. Get some good rest ! If you aren’t okay, those around us won’t be either. I always tell myself that when I need my own permission to unplug.

    Signed,
    another nurse and yoga teacher

    ps, you don’t have to respond to this comment 🙂 xo

  2. It is funny how you compared the battery on your iPhone to your life… I thought about the same exact thing. Love this post. As nurses, I think we tend to spread ourselves too thin! Get some rest and relax, things will work out!

  3. I completely understand that feeling of being drained. I am an MICU nurse and now work part time while finishing up my DNP. I also understand the needing to give myself permission in a sense do nothing. It is how I rewind and reset. Take the day, enjoy your coffee, get take out.

  4. Kateri,
    Every since your “just a nurse” post, I’ve been glued to your blog. Pretty sure I read it all in less than week. I kept thinking over and over how much I can relate to you, and how similar our lives are at the same time! I told my mom we were like the same person but in different bodies (a little weird right??) Like you, I’m a nurse in peds (just started working as a NP), love wine, love cooking, love yoga, love dancing, and am the same age. Everything going on in your head is going on in mine as well. I can’t thank you enough for all of your wise words and thoughts about so much.
    I’ve been to that apple store in NYC (however not at midnight). Talk about OVERWHELMING. I think I was in and out as fast as possible!
    Please continue all of your wonderful posts 🙂 You are truly inspiring!
    Best,
    yogi, dancer, nurse, wine lover, girl who always wants control!

  5. Kateri,
    Hi my name is Julie Schoonover and I am a registered nurse with my BSN. My story is that after starting my career in ICU with nothing but clinical in school my first two years as a nurse were hell. Finally, after 7 years of nursing I had to leave the nursing field as I couldn’t cope with the stress in healthy ways.
    The reason for my note is that I so relate to your “just a nurse” post. How eloquently spoken. I have so much respect and admiration for you. You have numerous enviable qualities and I am so happy after reading your last post that you are finally allowing yourself a day of rest without guilt!!! Hooray for you.
    God Bless you for all that you do in this journey called life. You inspire me and I pray your posts will continue. Thanks for being the special person you are!! Hugs, Julie

  6. Kateri,

    Thank you for your amazing blog!! I can relate to the “drained” feeling….as I was walking out of my med/surg class, tears in my eyes from exhaustion of another week of caring for my precious Papa while I hunted for another caregiver, I sat down next to my car and sobbed. Sobbed so hard, I kept slapping my leg, I wanted it to stop! And then, it occurred to me that sometimes it’s good to just let things fall apart so they can get put back together again.

    “I feel guilt acknowledging that I need this, that I can’t maintain the way I live my life. That I can’t keep in touch with everyone, make everyone happy, do my job well, see everyone, love everyone, make everyone laugh or smile or feel overwhelmed by my beauty every moment that they see me.”

    How true. Glad you decided to “plug in” (maybe “unplug”?) and take care of you without regard for anyone else. It is okay. I need to put a big poster up on my wall of a picture of those emergency air masks that come down from the airplane overhead in the event of cabin pressure drop, caption reading “put your own mask on FIRST before tending to anyone else”.

    You go, girl!!

    Alicia, second year nursing student

  7. Kateri, I love your blog. I can relate to a lot of your posts in some ways. It definitely helps to know there are so many other people going through the same young-adult adventures & struggles. I find myself always turning to your blog when I am having a crisis day, becuase your words are so honest, helpful, and uplifting.

    xoxo Aleah

  8. Hi Kateri. I absolutely love this post. I am a permanent partially disabled nurse (repetitive strain injuries from an inappropriate computer workstation) and have learned much from my disability, most importantly that recharging your batteries is an absolute necessity. At first, it was hard to take time each day to relax and rest. I was so used to being on autopilot, running from one nursing task to another, constantly trying to work ahead to make sure I accomplished everything for the day. Often I would come home after my shift and find myself sitting in my living room wondering, “how did I get here?” It took months for me to slow down and not feel guilty about it while I went through the healing process. I must’ve watched every episode of Law and order ever produced. Yet I found that if I did not stop, rest, and recharge my battery my symptoms became worse and my pain levels increased. Six years later I am working part-time and still taking my daily rest period. It was an important lesson, and helped make me a better nurse, wife, mother, and person. My iPhone battery is at 86% as I write this, and my personal battery is up there as well after a good night’s sleep. Keep on blogging!

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