Sunshine Behind the Clouds

Sunshine is a nickname I often get. It’s usually from people who don’t know me very well, people I’ve met while I have my extrovert face on. It’s my smiley, friendly, so-good-to-meet-you face. I used that face when I gave tours in Chicago, whenever I had a job interview or gave a presentation, anywhere and anytime I have to “shine”, and it’s exhausting.

Ever hear the term “fake it ’til you make it”? My motto is “fake it ’til you can get the hell out of it”. Now don’t get me wrong, I dearly love people and being around them, but I can only take so much until I need to recharge. This goes for family, friends, acquaintances, or complete strangers, although around friends and family I can (sometimes) relax and be a bit more of my sarcastic self.

I’m sure some of my introvert friends can understand where I’m coming from. I have a yearning to be around people, be social, laugh, and create memories with good people, and it constantly competes with the desire to hole up with the complete Game of Thrones series and read myself into a shower-free oblivion. Right now the GoT is winning (with daily shower concessions). There have been times in the last few days when I wondered if it’s truly a form of introversion I’m feeling or if it’s downright depression. I’ve had my share of counselor appointments and prescriptions for happy pills so I’m not excited about THAT prospect or going down that road again.

One of the best things I can do when I feel like this is to write. It’s amazing how getting my dreary thoughts down can really help me sort through them. When I started writing this particular post, I thought I was just depressed and needed some counseling or pills. This was going to be a confession of depression. By the time I reached the second paragraph, I realized what it was:  I AM MENTALLY EXHAUSTED.

I just spent a week traveling with Joe and meeting new people, staying with family and basically being Sunshine Sheila, when all I really wanted to do was hide. It doesn’t make sense to me how I can become worn down by good fellowship, sharing, and laughing. Every single person I was around was friendly and nice. How could that possibly affect me so much? Because I was wearing my happy face. It’s not a lie, I am genuinely a happy person, but I enjoy being alone.

Tomorrow (Friday), I go back to my day job and will be working six days in a row (ugh). I will work pretty much alone for only a couple of those days so I will use that time to try to get my head straight and get out of my funk. If I don’t feel better by Monday, I’m calling a shrink.

There’s a difference between depression and recuperation from overstimulation and one of those differences is the amount of time it lasts. I’ve had three days of sitting at home alone so you would think I would feel better now. Writing this has helped me gain a little perspective as well as a tiny bit of motivation. I might actually go get groceries today… or not.

Ironically, I have two challenges starting on Monday and a personal growth program I’m starting next Friday in Seattle. Between being mentally exhausted from our trip and the physical exhaustion that’s sure to come from getting minimal sleep this coming weekend (my work has bat-shit crazy hours), the challenges and Seattle trip/symposium, it’s going to be a long February. Let’s hope there’s a major mental BREAKTHROUGH, and not a BREAKDOWN by the end of the month.

Depression is not a joke and if you think you or a loved one might be depressed, here are some resources that could help you decide. Most importantly:  don’t suffer in silence. Even if you’re an introvert like me, you still need people in your life and it’s important to share your feelings and reach out to others.

May you always find a silver lining,

1 (800) 273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


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