Self Portrait of a Burnt Out Artist
Mar 18, 2023
A non-fiction blog post.
A few weeks ago I had a panic attack while I was working. I was teaching a class when it happened. I stepped outside to get some fresh air and see if that would make me feel better, but it got worse. I also had pain in my left shoulder, arm, and hand. Fearing it was something worse than a panic attack made everything worse. Not taking any chances, rescue was called. I got an EKG and after being reassured I was not having a heart attack or stroke, I decided to stay until I felt well enough to drive home. I took the rest of the day off. Everyone around me that day was very nice, but the whole situation was quite embarrassing, and I’d like to not repeat it.
Since then I’ve felt extremely burnt out. I made a video announcing my frustration and impending quiet quitting. Some of the people who read it, thought I meant quitting art. No. Art is the only thing I can promise you I won’t quit, I’d quit eating first. Everything else is negotiable.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to eliminate some of the unnecessary parts of my schedule. I’ll be making more changes in the next few months. I’ve spent the last three Mondays purging useless stuff from my storage spaces and studio. This coming Monday I’m hoping to finish that purge. I’m altering my business plan to focus only on the things that work best.
I could have predicted this was coming a year ago. I came home from a road trip in Texas really burnt out, similar to how I feel now. I promised myself I’d do better for myself. I took on a hobby, fiction writing, and I applied to a few less shows. I also promised myself no more 15 hour single day drives. Anything that long needed extra days with more rest. And no more coming home from a long drive and teaching the same day. But still I ended up sitting on a slab of rock outside of a class with EMTs standing over me making sure I wasn’t dying, only having a panic attack.
I really need to do a better job as a boss to myself. I deserve better. I took down my quiet quitting rant shortly after I posted it. I’ve been working on constructive ways of lightening my schedule. And I’m prioritizing things that I’m just doing for myself.
Attached is my artist rendition of me getting an EKG from two very nice EMTs. I haven’t done a self portrait in a while and I was due. Ok, I took a few artistic liberties here. No apologies for that.
Thanks for reading,