Originally I was going to title this post “Suffering through burnout”. But let’s be honest, having to deal with burnout is suffering enough, but what we actually end up going through is life. And someway or another, actually moving forward. Because that is the truth of the matter, that even though we’re suffering we move forward.
I experienced the worst burnout of my life this past year, and mixing it with depression threw me into the deep end. Those six months, I suffered, and lived through it.
When we arrived in Vancouver all I knew is that we were supposed to be here. Every sign had pointed us back to our hometown, so we packed everything and moved back, but other then that I had no idea why or what I was supposed to do. Mister would go off every day to a job he loved and instantly succeeded in, but I was left with the hard reality that stepping away from a thriving business to having no purpose at all was a bigger challenge than I was willing to face. I fell hard, down the slippery slope of depression and with it, burnout.
I was so tired of feeling, doing, and being anything. I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed some days and the thought of starting a new project made me ill. I did not have the drive to put any thought or action into what needed to be done. I hardly had energy to meet with family or friends because I didn’t want to talk about what I was going to do now that I was in Vancouver.
I was tired of dreaming up dreams, writing down goals, achieving, and setting out to do good in this world. I was done, dead. All my emotion had left the building and I didn’t know if it was coming back. At first I was worried, what if I stayed emotionally dead? How will my marriage succeed, how will my business become what I want it to be, will I ever move forward? I struggled through these thoughts for months before eventually finding a stillness and soaked in the pleasure of emotional burnout.
- I stopped caring. Somehow all that achieving and pushing forward takes a backseat in your life and you stop caring about what other’s are achieving or doing. I found it a great way to stop comparing myself or feeling like I’m competing. I was able to step away from facebook and I quit my google reader as well, two things that I had always felt attached to as a way to stay ‘informed’.
- You learn to be still and enjoy a season of non creative energy. There is this idea that we always must be pushing and creating, without stopping. Feeding that idea will lead to burn out. But once you realize it’s okay to just be still and enjoy, it feels amazing! Plus it helps you create a sense of balance once the energy comes back.
- You take the time to truly appreciate the small things in life. It’s amazing how good it feels to have a spark of energy to go for a walk, talk with a friend, or sit down to a movie that makes you laugh until your stomach hurts.
Looking back I realize that my burn out wasn’t all that I had thought it was while going through it. Now that I’ve lived through it, I know that I come out stronger and more focused than before, but it’s no vacation where you sit pool-side sipping cocktails all day. It’s an emotional roller coaster and takes a lot of energy, and you hardly have any to begin with, to fight your way back to the top.
To be completely open about my experience with burnout I am in no way saying it was easy. It’s a suffocating experience and I hope I never have to go through it again. If you happen to know someone who is going through one, be there for them, support and give them space. They’ll appreciate it, believe me. That being said, I’m thankful to have a husband who supported me while giving me the time and space to heal. Without him, I would probably still be wandering around burnt out, depressed, and stressed as well.
Image Source: Fredric Lagrange