Introvert Exhausted: Counteracting the Drain of Emotions, Sugar and People

My mind is cottony and my body feels like slabs of brisket. My energy is flickering like a wet flame. I am pushing through my day because I have to. There is no rest time in sight. The calendar and to- do list are full and people need/want me. I’m in introvert DOA mode. I’m here but I’m not entirely here. My thinking is slow and my wit is nowhere to be found. I’m Bernie in Weekend at Bernie’s. Only, I drag myself around.weekend at bernies I’ve felt this way before. Big consuming emotions, a sugary diet and a lack of rejuvenating solitude brought on this particular session.

Emotions take a lot out of you

I recently received serious and sad news regarding the health of someone close to me. The information and its future implications are a lot to digest. Despair and fear creep in. Pissed-off

Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine

shows up too.

Emotions are highly stimulating and quickly drain the introverted battery.

I cannot stop the waves of emotions. They rise and fall and steal my ability to focus. I’m holding back the worry but it’s pressed up against me waiting for me to falter. It takes a lot of energy to NOT let it consume me. It takes a lot of energy to PROCESS the flood of feelings that saturate my thoughts.

My inner world — usually a safe haven — is now a place where I can’t linger too long for fear of running into the enemy, Overwhelm. Like a police officer telling teens to move along and stop loitering, my mind says move along to safe topics because this one will only get you in trouble.

women head downMy internal sanctuary is booby-trapped with easily triggered emotions.

As an introvert, I feel a little lost. I need to shine a light into the dark corners of my mind to find my way back home but that light takes extra energy.

Joy and excitement are emotions too

Emotions can sweep you into euphoria as well as despair. Amidst the dark emotions I am also experiencing dating highs, mother/child bonding bliss, career excitement and sunny weather mood boosts. The trick is to notice. Pay attention and reflect. The trick is to slow down the gush of overwhelm by tasting the bits of beauty every day. One day at a time. One gifting emotion to counteract each emotional obstacle. One energy burst for each energy threat.

My God! Carbs are good. My God! I’m sleepy.

Stress is a strong force. It makes me eat dark chocolate in large quantities. It forces me to buy big bars of it at Target and hoard them in my desk drawer. I used to eat two squares in the afternoon as a pick-me-up. I now snort a square or four as early as 10 in the morning. I have a problem.

Traveling and staying with family makes my diet all wonky (or wonkier). I’m convinced my body burned-out-what-to-do-burnt-toastcannot process simple carbohydrates (popcorn, bread, potatoes, white rice, many fruits) anymore. If I eat them, twenty minutes later I can’t keep my eyes open. The sugar crash is almost instant and somewhat debilitating. The next day I feel its effects all over again in the form of a lethargic body. Most people drink juice and eat bread, cereal and flavored yogurt (because they’re normal) but I have all but eliminated most of that from my diet because of my sugar processing issue.

You know how you don’t know when you’re going to eat next when you stay at someone else’s house so you eat a lot when food is put out? Well, I did that. During my last stay at my sister and brother-in-law’s home where they were so kind and generous to feed me and put me up, I drank juice and ate french toast gleefully because it was there and delicious and when in Rome... I was a zombie the next day.

Precious energy lost to a diet malfunction.

Greetings eggs, butter and kale

Back home I set about sweeping the sugar out of my system. I returned to my eggs with spinach, kale and bacon breakfasts. I stuffed myself with leafy green salads for lunch and focused on the protein part of dinner (flank steak, crab, sausage, eggs again).

I’m feeding my brain and it is awakening from its glucose coma. My mind is green, alert and alive. My body is slowly recovering its vitality. Exercise helps with that too.

I’m still eating chocolate like a raccoon eating grapes but it’s 11:30AM and I haven’t indulged yet. True, I’ve chewed three pieces of mint gum and my open desk drawer unabashedly reveals two Lindt Excellence bars and a bag of Dove dark chocolate almonds. I’ll partake in the power of chocolate later, no doubt. Smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee would be worse, right?

Sorry I’m not too much fun I’ve been around people a lot lately

I’ve been flitting from errand running to family visits to kid activities to social nights with friends to one on one dates. I’ve been both needed and wanted which sometimes feels like purpose and burnt_outpassion other times more like push and pull. I haven’t taken time to read books, watch thoughtful shows, nap or meditate. My responsive molecules are buzzing and my brain is talking gibberish.

I love all of the above interactions but there’s a limit to my outgoing-ness. I feel myself sinking toward empty. If I don’t counteract this I’ll soon be softly sad and randomly irritated interspersed with periods of sparse talking and distant stares.

I pull back and close up from people in order to prevent the above from happening. I’m conserving energy. I’m preserving myself. Less gracious, loving and open in order to be passably pleasant. I become very selective about who to spend my energy on but I do know to reach out. I know connecting regenerates me. The secret to restoring myself is to reach out AND conserve. Spend quality time with intimate friends/family and set aside solitude time (ideally hours) for reading, watching stories, reflecting and daydreaming.friends sharing

Aaah, that’s more like it

By the time I was half-way through writing this post, my spirit had been lifted. My mind was sparkling like lake sunshine and my body was more butterfly than brisket. The quiet time alone with my imagination (rather than worries) rejuvenated and calmed me. I was pleased with my accomplishment and as always, writing worked its magic as teacher and therapist.

I will also admit to astute counseling from close friends who told me to stop over-analyzing and relax. A fresh haircut didn’t hurt either.;)

 As an introvert, do you feel emotions affect you more deeply because of their stimulating nature? How do you react to big emotions? How do you get through them? Do you have to go underground solo to recharge or does connecting with others help too?  

If you enjoyed this post you may also dig: Introverts Explained: Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You Why INFJs Feel Strong Emotions (Introvert Dear) How to Remedy Anxiety and Stress When You’re an Introverted Feeling Type Understanding the Introvert Cycle: Why We Go From Irritable to Ever-Loving How To Be Lively, Energetic and Vibrant When Your True Nature Is Thoughtful, Introverted and Reticent

Leave a Reply


  1. Cassandra Young
    November 1, 2016

    Hi 🙂 i’m so glad i found your blog! Thank you for your thoughtful insights to being an introvert. You seem to have a good handle on things and are very creative like me. I think i’m an introvert with fear of missing out and i am quite social so i always like to be around people but then i get so emotionally drained and i am very sensitive and gentle and i always want to please everyone im a bit of an empath so i go with the flow but i should really look for times to recharge. I am addicted to chocolate too for a boost.

    Thanks again,

    Cassandra 🙂

    • Brenda Knowles
      November 2, 2016

      We do sound a lot alike. 🙂 I always want to take part in events and spend time with my special people. Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of special people! It’s difficult to connect with all of them, but I so want to.:) I usually run on high gear until I have to take a break. That’s my MO. I’m getting better at planning for downtime. I know I’m better for it. I’ve learned that sleep is vital and positive relationships too. They help me stay charged and happy. Chocolate is definitely a wonderful boost too! Thanks for your thoughtful comment Cassandra!

  2. Marjorie
    November 20, 2015

    Beautiful….so glad you are out of the cocoon and fully charged!!!

  3. rita kowats
    June 7, 2014

    Excellent! You know this from the inside out. Add the dynamic if being an empathy to introversion, and one ‘s work is cut out for them.

    Rita at Spirituality Without Borders

    • Brenda Knowles
      June 9, 2014

      I have been reading more about empaths lately. I definitely have the characteristics of one. Noodling over how that and introversion overlap. Thanks for the comment Rita. Your blog is lovely by the way.:)

  4. Introvert Rising: More Secrets to Staving Off Overwhelming Emotions and Shifting Your Whole Experience | space2live
    May 30, 2014

    […] Introvert Exhausted: Counteracting the Drain of Emotions, Sugar and People […]

  5. sheketechad
    May 18, 2014

    It is amazing how much emotions, even positive ones, can take from our energy stores. I’ve been helping a friend recently by listening and supporting during a time of worsening health of their parent. By Wednesday of this week, I was in ‘no one exists but me mode’ and buried myself in a new book, not even answering the phone. Ahhh, much better. And diet is key, key, key. We protein types need that constant feeding and greening! Good to see you’re aware. Rest well 🙂

    • Brenda Knowles
      May 19, 2014

      I know it’s the blessing/curse of being sensitive to stimulation of all kinds. We feel so deeply which is a beautiful thing but it affects our energy so.
      I’m sure your friend appreciated your lovely listening. Good for you for taking care of yourself afterwards. We can only be needed so much before we need to repair ourselves.

  6. Tarissa
    May 18, 2014

    Brenda, I hadn’t thought much about how my diet might be playing into my energy, or lack thereof. Yesterday afternoon we went out for Italian with my in-laws and after a giant bowl of pasta and a slice or two (or five) of bread, I was a zombie. I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I went home, crawled in bed, and slept for two hours. Thank you for sharing this. I’m only beginning to learn about how my introversion and HSP affect my day to day life and your blog is fantastic. Just fantastic.

    • Brenda Knowles
      May 18, 2014

      Aww thank you!! I’m glad you’re learning more about yourself.:) A clean diet definitely keeps me more alert and energized. I go off the wagon frequently but always try to return to a green veggie/high protein/good fat diet. I’m learning every day too!
      Sleep is a major player in my mood and energy status. Diet, exercise, routine and a couple of supplements help with that.
      Stay curious and try to see all the gifts your beautiful sensitivity and introversion bring.

  7. David Kanigan
    May 17, 2014

    I’m so with you on the post. (On the problem.) Not yet on the way to the solution. Wonderful post Brenda.

    • Brenda Knowles
      May 17, 2014

      It’s always a work in progress, right David? One day at a time. Thanks for reading writer friend.:)

  8. vincenzofrancesco
    May 16, 2014

    Wow! Powerful refreshing thoughts.

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