Burning Bright, Burning Out

Creativity is an odd thing.

Imagination can lead to endless possibilities which can than be translated to several dozen forms of mediums based on your style. I’m an artist, a graphic designer and a writer. I’ve done hundreds of pieces of art, formatted and created several documents for reference materials and have written hundreds of thousands of words all in the last three or four years.

And then, I didn’t.

Burn out is a term coined for anyone for whatever reason going from 100mph on their projects to hard breaks. It’s a subject that gets covered in a lot of media, though my favorite is how it’s covered in Kiki’s Delivery Service.

Hard to imagine that beautiful piece was created by a woman who at some point couldn’t paint anything.

Though I personally don’t have it, I liken Burn Out is a bit like longer term Manic Depression. That is, you have a manic, or high period where you are producing a ton of work and getting it out there, followed by a deep depression which you produce nothing. Though it’s a little more complicated than that because while the high seems very short the resulting depression can seem to on forever.

This isn’t the only demotivational poster for Depression, but it was one of the cutest.

Some people equate depression for sadness, of deep agony, or some other well of emotion, but in my experience depression isn’t emotion. It’s the lack of it. It’s nothing, no joy or anger, no highs or low, just a solid grey feeling that seems to extend forever. You don’t feel like your living, you feel like your just existing and often times, like your not doing anything but burning resources.

There’s a reason depression can often happen at the same time as burn out. People often associate their personal identities with their careers or their choose hobbies or talents. Burn out is an inability to perform something which you define yourself by and when you can’t do that, what are you?

Logically, you are more than what you can do but societally, you are not. People outside your social sphere often associate strangers with their usefulness to them and little else. This isn’t because they lack empathy or the ability to identify other people, but because every individual is equally distracted with the ongoing trials and triumphs of their own lives. They have their own problems and schedules they need to keep so they register other people as their jobs and ability to help them with such.

You aren’t thinking about the fact that this is a human being with their own lives, problems and story to tell. You are mostly just wondering if they’ll scan a members card for you so you can get the discount without having to sign up for one.

Last year was when personally my burn out started, but it was this year that it turned into a full deep depression in which I did absolutely nothing. This has to do with several different factors that lead to a downward spiral in which I did little more than eat, sleep and consume media. It wasn’t until I started writing my first book that I really managed to pull myself out of it.

I am not a writer by trade, I’ve written fanfiction recreationally but this is the first time I’ve done writing professionally so it’s a bit of change in gears. But more importantly, me planning and working towards actually creating and publishing a book gave me something I didn’t have at the beginning of the year, a clear and achievable goal.

Burn out is not a pleasant experience for anyone and it is possible to happen to anyone. But it is recoverable from. Goal setting and having something work towards can sometimes help like it did in my case, sometimes it’s just about taking a step back and taking it slow. Either way though it sometimes feels like you burn brightly than no longer have anything to offer, you can always recover. We as a people are some of the most resilient the world has ever seen.

After all, we’ve survived 2020.

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