Burnout IS an opportunity. A Solution Focused Sister's experience
The Solution Focused sisterhood is my membership club. Filled with some of the most giving and incredible women I know, the lovely Marije, writer, mother and our all round solution focused thinker from Holland has been kind enough (and brave enough) to share her story of Burnout. Big events in our lives can simply be the tipping point and help us to come out the other side victorious, with more strength. All good in hind sight of course. Marije is passionate to share her story to help other women to see that Burnout can be an opportunity and that you can avoid it IF you listen to the action signals your body sends you before you do hit the wall. Read on to find out how Marije learnt from one of the hardest experiences of her life. Getting clear on this has been the key to her recent happiness and it can be the same for you too.
Looking back, it wasn’t a big surprise that I tumbled into a huge burnout. It was 2011. I got divorced, and at work, they wanted me to ‘do a better job’ or they would fire me. I can see that now, but back then, I was doing, doing, doing. Running like crazy. Trying to keep up to everybody’s expectations. I was a single mum, and my kids were little. I had to take care of them! They had a very difficult time, after the divorce. No, I couldn’t afford to lose my job… They wouldn’t fire me… would they? Oh yes , they did.
Ignoring myself.What are YOU ignoring?
So all I did was running. Completely ignoring myself, the signs that my body gave me (I hardly slept… and was SOOO tired). People around me said I had to take care of me. I ignored their advice. Again. I had no other option than to go on. Ignoring myself meant that I didn’t have to feel the pain. Exhaustion. Loss. Loneliness. Despair. I just ignored all my feelings. Until, in December 2011, I physically collapsed. SO DIZZY. I couldn’t move at all. My body screamed. STOP. NO. I can’t handle it anymore. I was so dizzy that it seemed like I would fall on the ground every time I stood up. In reality I ‘only’ fell back on the chair, or the bed. Never fell on the ground. But I felt like a zombie. But I didn’t recognise it as a burnout. For months, every thought of is this burnout… I pushed it away as hard as I could. ‘Something in my body must cause the dizziness.’ But it wasn’t. It took me 4 months after that first collapse to acknowledge and say out loud that I wás in a burnout. And I had to ask for professional help. It took months again, before I got that help, because of their waitlist. All that time I lived in a blur. I have no idea how I got through the days. Zombie and dizzy is all I know.
That first appointment was on one of my darkest days possible. And I was so scared and frazzled but so glad that we started. One of the best things that happened then was that I started writing again. As a kid I loved to write, but I hadn’t done that ever since. But part of my treatment was online, and I could think about the questions(a lot) and write, write, write…. I kept writing. I was a great way to express myself and it was easier for me than talking. That treatment, and the writing in it, really made the difference. Slowly, and not always steadily, I found the way out of the burnout. It took me 1,5 year to recover, but I did.
And I’d love to give you some tips (If only I knew these back then…)
Look closely at major events, life events like divorce or moving to another city, and see how you respond. Stop yourself in time when you find yourself running like crazy. Listen to your body. Sleepless nights, pain, dizziness. Whatever shows up for you.
Please, please ACKNOWLEDGE the burnout. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You are not crazy. It can happen to anyone. And find professional help. You don’t have to do it on your own.
Find someone to talk to and be open to that person. But DON’T take advice from everybody. I am sure that they want the best for you, but unless they have been there, they don’t understand what you’re going through.
Try writing down how you feel. What is going on. Scream. Cry. Fight the situation, or the people who don’t understand you. But do it on paper. Give words to your feelings when you can’t say them out loud. Try it, and keep it simple. A few lines, or even a few words can be a great start. Know that whatever you write is perfect. Don’t judge the words or yourself. Just put the words to the paper. That alone can be so helpful.
Take care of you! Do what you love. Or what you loved before the burnout. Go for a walk. Move. Whatever makes you feel a little bit happier. But start small, a few minutes is okay!
I know it feels impossible to get out of the burnout. I thought that too. But here I am. I got out of it. I learned so much about myself, about my thinking and about burnout…I joined the Solution Focused Sisterhood to keep me accountable to me daily!!
I share my story with you because maybe it can help you. Maybe you see you are not alone. What if I could help you, because I’ve been there? What if you see that glimpse of hope and light in your dark days? What if tomorrow can be just a little bit better than today? I hope, from the bottom of my heart, that you’ll feel better soon.