Burnout was something online but didn’t really understand. I am not one of those supermoms who runs kids to sports practises in between working fulltime and maintaining their home. In all accounts, I have no reason to have experienced burnout.
I live alone these days. No kids, no partner. I have no pets left. And my job had regular 9-5 hours. I don’t spend hours at the gym. People would describe me as being laid back and chill.
Under that calm surface there is always a storm brewing. An anxiousness that I suppress so I can put on my optimistic face and be there for others. My willingness to please others was my undoing.
Despite all my free time, I carried the worries of others with me all the time. My friends, coworkers, boss. I would carry the worry of my family members but I can safely say they do that for me instead!!
The first signs of burnout
The burnout first started to show itself about two years ago. Out of nowhere I started getting panic attacks. Sometimes multiple times per day. After Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for a few months, my doc, therapist and I decided to go the medication route. It worked wonders. I rarely get panic attacks at all now! But in hindsight I believe my panic attacks were a symptom of my burnout. A warning my body was trying to tell me to slow down.
The slow burn
The next two years came on slowly. I was tired all the time. I found myself unable / unwilling to cook for myself. This is big coming from a self-proclaimed foodie and food blogger!! I lost interest in my other hobbies. I would go to work, come home, watch TV until bed and do it again. I was a shell of myself.
I started to resent tasks I was given at work. Things I would have normally embraced as an extra chance to help out. I looked at some of my coworkers with a new dislike. I saw enemies everywhere. I began putting off my projects. Procrastinating. I didn’t even recognize this person I was becoming.
Then the lockdown happened. I was unable to see any of my family or friends. For months. All I had was work… and isolation. There was no way to blow off steam. No one to talk to about my day who would help me see reason. It compounded, day-by-day. I was getting sick more often. Stomach pains, back pains, migraines. I felt like I was falling apart.
One morning I got up for work. I found myself dressed for work, with my coat and boots on, sitting on the couch. I was unable to move. I literally couldn’t get myself out the door to work. I tried to call in but I didn’t know what to say. I was confused, and scared. I sent an email that I wouldn’t be in that day. I laid back on the couch. And I stayed there for a week.
I have now been home for a month and am making progress. Updates in the next blog post…