To be accurate, this post should be titled “part of my burnout story,” since it only tells the broad strokes. I’m sure I’ll write other posts getting into the details about what worked, what didn’t work, how I felt, and how I feel now. I’ve left out some of the dramatic moments, and simplified the process, but it gives you an idea what I’ve been through and why I might be able to relate to your experiences – or vice versa.
Doing it all!
About a year and a half ago, I was working full-time, going to school, volunteering in several places, being a mom and wife. People often asked me where I got the energy to do it all. I was a perfectionist and I thrived on adrenaline. Then suddenly, I couldn’t push through anymore. I was a perfectionist and I thrived on adrenaline. Then suddenly, I couldn’t push through anymore. Click To Tweet
Panic takes over
I started having panic attacks that got worse and worse. I got anxious being around people – the only people who helped to ground me were my children but being with them took more energy than I had.
Eventually I quit my job, stayed at home in my house for months, and avoid people. I cried as I missed my kids Christmas concerts and birthday parties. I spent my days in bed trying to stay warm, safe and to find the energy to be there for my kids for a few hours each afternoon.
I lost my sense of self, my self-esteem, and my sense of control over my life. I avoid answering the phone and the door. I felt trapped and scared and overwhelmed, but most of all I felt I had no control.I couldn’t count on my body or my mind to provide any stability to make changes. I couldn’t count on my body or my mind to provide any stability to make changes. Click To Tweet
I slowly made progress. Although I was resistant, I started taking medication – I had to set reminders on my phone to be sure I took my pills on time because I couldn’t count on my memory.
I started with the smallest acts of self-care, which were really the survival strategies I used as anchors. Click To Tweet I started with the smallest acts of self-care, which were really the survival strategies I used as anchors. I committed to brushing my teeth, to going outside (even just to get the mail) and to taking my vitamins every day.
As I developed those habits, I drew on my training in holistic nutrition I slowly added more self-care strategies – yoga, meditation, nutrient dense and nourishing food, supplements to support the brain and produce neurotransmitters, breathing exercises, affirmations, journaling, relaxation, and more.
I finally started to feel I had some control over my life. My energy level improved and one day I felt like I could walk to the end of the block. This was a major step, literally and symbolically. With time, I was walking around the blog and then around two blocks. Eventually I could walk to the bus stop with my kids. It took almost a year to get to the point where I could drive myself to the store and back.
A Continuing Journey
Now, I’m feeling a hundred times better than I did. I’m finding joy and playfulness in my life. Over the last few monthsI’ve found new hobbies. I’m there for my kids. I have control of my emotions and a plan for my future. I put myself first, and I know when to say no. I feel grounded and energized from inside. I have my life back, and my decisions are all about what I want and need, not about doing or being everything for everyone.
There is still work to do: I’ve lost touch with most of my friends because I was so focused on myself I couldn’t think about anyone else. I’m working again and building my business, but I’m way behind my financial goals and I have accumulated more debt than I would like while I wasn’t working. Every anniversary is a reminder of the events I missed out on last year, but I’m creating new memories with my kids and my family so we know we support each other and celebrate together. This will be a continuing journey. Some days, I see old patterns returning. I have to stop and figure out how I want to be in this situation and whether that pattern is serving me now. Other days, I see the future I want to create and I believe that my vision is possible.
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