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Running On Empty

Updated on September 15, 2011


When does it end? Where does it end? The feeling that you have nothing left to give, nothing left to contribute to your friends, family and society as a whole.

You feel as though you are being pulled into a thousand directions. Your child needs you, your friend needs you, your significant other needs you, your employer needs you, and if you have pets, they also need you. There are so many demands of your time and attention that you’re left wondering how to find the strength to get out of bed, or, even want to get out of bed and face yet another day. Don’t get me wrong; it’s nice to be needed. However, when your brain is swirling trying to juggle all the pieces of time needed for everything and everyone, there comes a point when your brain says stop, information overload. Often, the body soon follows.

Add to this the added outside stressors. First, the current stressors, the failing economy, the ever-present threats of terrorism in our states and the ever increasing school shoot-outs, bailouts, global warming and workforce reductions. For good measure, throw in the older stressors. The constantly rising prices, crime on the increase, and corruption not only in the government, but also in the school systems, heck, throw in all of corporate America for that matter.

Pick up a paper, turn the radio or tv on, and it’s all there for us to digest, daily! It doesn’t even matter what time of day it is, at any given moment you can hear the latest crisis unfold.

The good news is, there have been times in my life where I felt completely energized, optimistic and even joyful. Like right now, as I sit here writing this, I can hear the rain on the roof and it soothes me. I’m sitting here doing what I enjoy doing, with a fresh cup of coffee in front of me and my thoughts moving at a slower pace.

What to Do?

In the face of all the doom and gloom, I am supposed to count my blessings. When I bother to think of those, I find I do have many. I have a job. I have benefits, which just paid for my very recent surgery. My bills are current. My health, thank goodness, is pretty good overall. I also have a vehicle that is paid for. I have the love of my family and dear friends. I have a roof over my head, smaller than I’d like, but it’s comfortable and it’s home. I grew up very much loved, and overall, I had warm, loving parents who made my growing up almost magical at times.

So, why this hub? Because, there are days and sometimes even weeks when I let all the things that require my attention to crowd my brain, to the point where I feel as though I’m completely worn out. I feel as though I have no resources left to draw on. Kids and grandchildren wanting or needing something, the boss needing something, creditors waiting for their payments, it goes on and on.




What Happens?

When it all crowds in on me, I allow myself to get depressed about things I have no control over. I allow myself to get lethargic and do nothing but sleep.  

I worry about my granddaughter’s upcoming third surgery and I hope and pray the surgery goes well. This too is in God’s hands. In my role as her grandmother, I do all I can to show her the right way, to teach her that life truly is good and that she can achieve anything she dreams about. I am there to support her through all her trials and tribulations.  

I worry about my two grown children who currently aren’t speaking to each other. I hope and pray my children find their true soul mates, at least once in their lifetime. In that department, Mom can’t help, other than to offer my thoughts if I’m asked. I want them to find and experience, just once, the joy I had when I found their father. Even though they are grown, I find I am still a much-needed part of their lives. For the most part, this makes me happy, but sometimes a bit crazy.  

I stress about the work that’s waiting for me at my job, and the fact that even though I am home on disability recuperating from my surgery, I feel guilt about my coworkers having to carry my burden. Silly, huh? Ok, so sometimes I don’t think too rationally.  

Ok, deep breaths here. I’m not looking for answers here. I am just sharing what’s on my mind, because I know when I put these things on paper I can then sit back and see my thoughts in some semblance of order. It helps me to really take a look at what I feel are all the things I imagine that are making me feel a bit crazy and that my life is somehow out of control.  

I’ve been told, many times, that I think too much. I have a tendency to project scenarios that could happen in any given situation. Why do I do that? I have no idea. It makes no sense. I am a relatively intelligent person, and I know that there are more things than not that I have any control over whatsoever. Yet, I persist. I often look back over my life and try to discern, perhaps a place in time, where I learned any of my particular behaviors or ways of thinking. Often, I don’t find any one point in time. This tells me that I am a composite of all my life’s experiences, all of my life’s conversations and all of my life’s interactions. 

In summation, life, I realize, is an ebb and flow. In my lifetime, I’ve experienced fear, joy, sadness, pain, peace, loss and turmoil, and it has all come to pass. I’m quite sure this temporary feeling of running on empty too shall pass.




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    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      hi there muley,

      It seems noone is immune to the phases you mention.  I've gone through the same ones too.  The ideal cycle for me would be a few recycles, such as turn this older body into a younger, slimmer one, become filthy rich without having to work and have a home either in the woods or by a body of water that maintains itself.  Fat chance huh?  'Perchance to dream' I say.

      My surgery did go well, and my granddaughter's also went well.  She has had hers this past Tuesday, round one.  She will go back in August for round two.  Thanks for your kind concern.

    • muley84 profile image

      Michael A Muehleisen 

      9 years ago from Miami,FL

      We all go through cycles or phases. I went through my fat phase (actually my full moon phase lol) my slim phase, my broke phase, now I am waiting for my affluent phase (fingers crossed). Good hub Trish, it made me think. Hope your surgury went well.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hello again Feline :)

      Yes, we certainly do have those days.  I just hate when they run into each other.  Perhaps I exhibit grace under pressure? LOL  I don't really know what the reason is, but it is very flattering to say the least.

      I had chosen a different song for this hub, and it was, in fact, another hubber who mentioned the Jackson Browne song, which I too, had forgotten about, and I thought, absolutely perfect.  Always loved that song.

      Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 

      9 years ago

      We all have our down days, but hey Trish, it's because you have the grace to accept these that people turn to you for advice....right? :)

      And thanks for reminding me of Jackson Browne...haven't heard that song in ages!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi KCC,

      LOL, yes it is scary.  And, I do the same thing!  I rarely say 'fill it up' LOL.  Very odd thinking, no?  We know we'll have to stop back in 2 or 3 more days,,,doesn't make any sense :)

      Thanks for commenting :)

    • KCC Big Country profile image


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      It's really scary how much we're alike Trish. I am always the one taking care of everyone else (many women are) and not always taking care of me. I do like the analagies I've read above. One thing I'm guilty of regarding the gas tank analagy, is that when I finally do make it the gas station, I don't fill up. I only put in a couple of dollars worth thinking that's enough to get me by. Guess what, that only puts me back to 'running on empty' even sooner. I really am working on filling up my gas tank each time so that the times between become shorter. I guess the next step is learning to get more for my gallon...LOL Great hub, Trish.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks so much, solarcaptain! Appreciate the comment :)

    • solarcaptain profile image

      mike king 

      9 years ago from california

      way to go Trish. I'll be stopping by to read your stuff

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Kulsum,

      Sometimes it's like the ebb and flow of the tides.  Personally, I much prefer the ebb :)

      Counting blessings is always a help.  So is writing for me.  Even if I don't publish anything, as long as I get my thoughts out on paper it seems to help, kinda puts things in perspective.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting :)

    • Kulsum Mehmood profile image

      Dr Kulsum Mehmood 

      9 years ago from Nagpur, India

      Hi trish. We all at some time or the other feel empty and low. But these states too pass off after sometime. Speaking for myself during such times I start counting my blessings and be grateful for them. Nice article. Thank you.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi C.C.,

      Yes, I know in the bigger picture of things, that these are part of life's journey.  Even though I know I'm not alone, and yes, there are people out there with graver circumstances than mine, it's when my brain spins it leaves no room for cognitive thought.

      Thanks for the video.  I hadn't realized mine wasn't working.  Thanks for stopping by and commenting :)

    • profile image

      C. C. Riter 

      9 years ago

    • profile image

      C. C. Riter 

      9 years ago

      Trish dear, these are but road bumps on the highway of life. You ain't running on empty darlin' you just need your tires infalted to make it smooth out some. Maybe get your shocks in to God and let Him put you on some new ones while He's at it.

      He can make it smoother when it's rough, I know. And you have all kinds of freinds to help. I have lots of problems too, but I know I'm not alone, and I know there's those who are worse off than I am. God bless, I never knew

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Eddie,

      Yes, Mighty Mom is right.  It all tends to pile up till it seems you can't begin to sort things out.  Thankfully, I don't explode all that often.  It takes a lot of aggravation and pressure to push me to my limit.  Thankfully, I have very good blood pressure, in fact, it's a low normal.  A doctor once asked me was I breathing LOL, I think the reading was something like 90 over 70 or something.  I even considered getting a medical tag to wear that says 'please don't pronounce me dead'.

      So, I am, I suppose, learning little by little how to deal with the little foxes.  Maybe one day I'll find a happy medium.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • profile image

      Eddie Perkins 

      9 years ago


      Good hub and well written.  Been there done that. 

      The comment from Mighty Mom reminded me of a verse of scripture and the conversation with my sweetheart on the way to church this morning.  Mighty Mom said “it is never one thing” and she is correct.  In Song of Solomon 2:15 we read about “the little foxes that spoil the vines, for our vines have tender grapes”. 

      As human beings “our vines have tender grapes” so we need to learn to deal with “the little foxes that spoil the vines”.   One song has it “One Day at a Time” and I agree with that. 

      Thank you. ~ eddie

      P.S. I’ve been the worse at letting “little things” build up to explosions.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      LOL LOL!  I happen to love that song, and it never occurred to me that it was a song title until just now.  And, I thank you kindly, sir, for including me among smart people.  So, that's really what this is?  Am I too smart for my own britches?  :)  Nice thought, but I don't think that's it LOL

      My apology for making you whistle the song for two days :) but, you're welcome.

      Thanks so much for making me smile!

    • Mike the salesman profile image

      Mike the salesman 

      9 years ago from birmingham alabama/sherwood oregon

      LOL Trish//you do think to much!! lol smart people have a hard time turning their mind off..While dumb people like me, read your Hub title, and whistle Jackson Browne songs for 2 days!.. Thanks Trish!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Dana,

      Staying grounded is sometimes elusive.  Breathing doesn't always work for me, but it helps.  My choice for decompressing when I'm home is generally sleep.  Sometimes it's soothing music or going outside and getting fresh air.  Not only do I think too much but I've also always been a worrier.  Realistically, I know worry is a lesson in futility, it solves nothing and it certainly doesn't make one calm.  Something I need to do more of is focus on the day at hand, and not so much the future.  I recall in art class in high school, I had penned a saying which said today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.  I don't know why that appealed to me at the tender age of 17, but it did. It must have been a sign, which I paid no real attention to, since I grew up tending to be a worrier.  In any case, I'm making some headway in trying different things to keep myself calm.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      yxhuang, You're very welcome, and thank you for my fan mail. That was very sweet of you.

      I agree. Writing is at times therapeutic. As long as thoughts either get said or written is a good thing. It keeps my brain uncluttered, and sometimes I forget that and let my thoughts overwhelm me. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • dana825 profile image


      9 years ago from Chicago

      Stay grounded, life likes to pull us all around in different directions, sometime more violently than others. I have OCD and am a constant worrier and so I can 100% sympathize with your worrying but the thing that is best for all of that noise inside your head... take normal breaths but focus on the breathing.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Trish: Thanks for stopping by my hub and commenting. I guess we writers somehow use writing as a personal healing tool toward things that we can't change that much. You should be glad that you are still writing because you certainly get heal sooner or later by keeping on.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi C.S.

      You're right.  In fact, as I write this, I am doing so from my best friend's home, where I'm spending my weekend.  I have been suffering from a knot between my shoulderblades for over a week, and I woke up this morning and it is all but gone.  Amazing!  This is the time I take for me, away from my daily life in another state.  Completely different company and surroundings, which is very much soothing to my soul.  The squirrels that run amok in my head go away, I'm able to think clearly and I get to go home energized and refreshed.  BLT sandwich?  sounds yummy and we do have bacon here :)  Yesterday I enjoyed homemade soup, delicious homemade bread and preserves, and a lovely salad made with fresh veggies and chicken.  I am definitely being pampered.  Later today, I will be making my stew w/dumplings.  This has been so relaxing as there are no demands on my time, other than to chop a vegetable or two.  I highly recommend a brief vacation, or longer, to cure what ails you.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

    • C.S.Alexis profile image


      9 years ago from NW Indiana


      Looks to me like you have taken hold of the situation and are doing a good job of dealing with all that has become too much. This hub, your reading, resting and admitting that it is an overload proves you have found the station and are utilizing the available fuel. Just keep pumping away and know you are blessed to still afford the price at the pump. Remember too, that the skyrocketing prices we are paying these days are call for alternative energy sources. Why not BLT's? You go girl!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Dear Chris,

      Thank you for that analogy.  You are absolutely right.  And, even though I know that's true, my wanting to 'fix' everything gets in the way which leads to my feeling guilty if I can't, which only adds more stress to the way I think.  Take time for myself?  what's that?  take care of me?  then I won't have time to take care of others.  See?  the thoughts start going around in circles which really should be a huge sign that shouts to me yes, it's time to focus on me.  Time to put the brakes on.  Hmm, maybe I should call my mechanic and ask to come in for maintenance.  I do it for my vehicle, why not me?   :)

      The Serenity Prayer comes to mind.  I should probably make that my mantra LOL.  So, your analogy is perfect.  If I fall apart, what use will I be to anyone, myself included?  Great point Chris.

      Thanks so much for your kind thoughts.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi G-Ma,

      I find that when all these thoughts and concerns swirl around in my head I tend to get that feeling that I am the only one that has all these concerns.  Yet, when I step back, I then realize it is part of the human condition, and everyone has their crosses to bear.  I know I am not alone in this.

      I am fortunate that I do have people I can share this with, and they have been a Godsend.  You are right also about being able to share with people who are not connected to you in any way and therefore have no emotional ties to cloud their judgement.  They can listen objectively and put a different slant on your thoughts in ways that you wouldn't have considered.  So, I know there is support out there and it comes down to my willingness to open up and express what I'm going through.

      Thanks G-Ma for your insight.  Hugs to you too!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      hi Mighty Mom,

      I didn't even consider that perhaps it is the little girl inside asking what about me.  As I pondered that idea, I can say yes, that's part of it.  When I look deeper though, I realize that people have been there for me, many, many times.  So, when my brain gets so crowded with so many thoughts, it is then that the selfish little girl starts questioning.and asking what about me.  I'm just glad to know that this spent feeling is fleeting and temporary.

      Thanks so much for commenting.

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 

      9 years ago from St. Louis

      I know the feeling you so eloquently speak of, and the recent 2 years has been such a time for me as well.

      I don't think it works in my case, but if I may be so bold as to offer an analogy for you:  When a plane is in an emergency situation, the mother should always put the mask on her face first, and THEN see to her child, for how can you care for those who "need" you unless you take care of yourself first?  You began today, when you took time out to get in touch with your feelings by writing this lovely piece.  You put the mask on yourself.

      So remember to take an evening and put the mask on now and then.  (And a BLT never hurts!  Or grilled cheese with tomato soup!)

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Aww yes the price of gas goes up and down...and our strength and will also...You know I am also with many feelings like you but in a very different form...Mom has alzheimer disease and is like a child again..and my partner of 33 years left for a younger woman...and...and..and

      I have found support groups really help a lot...I happen to go to 2 a month and in doing so have come the realization there are so many people who just need a Person to talk to...someone else experiencing the same sorta things...someone not atttached to me...I can speak or stay quiet and take it all in...Just an idea

      "The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you !"

      Peanutbutter , mayo and lettuce on whole wheat bread please...yummmms...Happy New Year sweetie...and thanks for a well done Hub...G-Ma :o) Hugs & Peace

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Dear Trish,

      You described the symptoms so perfectly. It's never one thing, it's the cumulative effect of lots of little worries that feels so overwhelming. I happen to subscribe to the theory that if your body orders you to rest, you should rest. And don't feel bad about it. Because you know eventually you WILL get back up with renewed strength and energy.

      It IS nice to be needed. And I know you, like I, wouldn't have it any other way!! But, deep down in our little girl selves, we say, "But, but, what about ME? Who's gonna take care of ME?" That's why it is so therapeutic to voice feelings and fears here, where the broad, caring shoulders stretch round the globe.

      And to come up with a solution that may be as simple as a BLT. Mmmmm. MM

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      I totally agree.

      A nice BLT sounds great to me!  I am so looking forward to getting there. 

      BTW, I like the metaphor :)

      Thank you dear friend.

    • Sally's Trove profile image


      9 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      You and I have held hands on these thoughts countless times. I'm with ITD...there is a gas station nearby, and I think, at least for a few days, it's my house.

      I get tired, too. We are the sandwich generation. Our sandwiches are a little different, in that yours is defined by your children and grandaughter, while mine is defined by my mother and daughter. But the need demands are the same.

      Somehow, lettuce, tomato, and lunch meats don't figure in there. But wouldn't that be so much easier?

      Here's to a couple of upcoming days of soup, bread, and chopping things for salads!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago


      So nice to see you!  You're right, it's definitely a journey.  I am sitting here laughing, because when I read that you hope I find a gas station soon, I thought, what?  Then it hit me LOL,,sometimes I'm slow on the uptake :)

      Thanks for commenting!

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Bruce,

      I'm glad to hear you didn't give up!  Thankfully for me, it's never gotten to the point where I contemplated ending anything, except, perhaps, some negative behaviors.

      Thanks for the links, I've glanced through them and they will be something I will take the time to read fully.

      Thanks for sharing and commenting.

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 

      9 years ago from California


      My friend, such is the life of a woman, mother, and grandmother. This life is definitely a journey... just keep moving forward and pray you find a gas station soon!

    • Bruce Elkin profile image

      Bruce Elkin 

      9 years ago from Victoria, BC Canada

      Hi trish. Very well written hub. Down topic, though. I'm familiar with that state. It got so bad for me that I named it "The Terror" and almost pulled the pin on life. But that was over 30 years ago, and now I help folks get out of those states.

      If you want some handy tips to go beyond deep breathing, check out my booklet "Depresion Proof Yourself - ANd Your Kids! @

      Also you might want to read my hub "Sandra's Story."

      One last thing: I have an ebook called Emotional Mastery: Manage Your Moods & Create What Matters Most -- With Whatever Life Gives You! @ You might find it useful.

      I wish you all the best.

    • trish1048 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thanks goldentoad,

      I'm sure things will even themselves out in time.  It's the inbetween times that make me crazy, but I suppose if life went along smoothly all the time, it might lead to boredom lol,,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    • goldentoad profile image


      9 years ago from Free and running....

      I hope everything gets better for you and that later on in the good times, you can look back and have a smile on what you just wrote about.


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