Burnout

Signed off at the moment and suffering burnout. GP says caused by stress.


She said stress as though it were easily encapsulated. Perfectly defined. Contained within its syllables.

All I know is that I have crashed. Hit the wall at speed.

I ignored all of the warning signs. Stomach aches. Coughs and sneezes that became full blown infections that had me hiding under my duvet. Anxiety. Headaches. Irritability with family and with friends. An obsession with work and doing my best and getting it all done perfectly and within time and finding a solution for everyone’s problems. In fact, having everyone’s problems become my problems too.

For the last 9-10 months (and most likely the whole 4 years I have been doing this job) I have thought of little else other than the job. Or the people I exist to serve.

Their legal problems have – in reality – been minor and easy to resolve. But their psychological ills have proven my downfall. I just forgot to protect myself from the unrelenting and grim nature of what I heard and was involved with.

Couple of calls from the Directors I am close to (who line manage me and whom I respect) have made me feel a bit brighter today. One shared an analogy with me that has better helped me understand the nature of what has happened to me.

She asked – in the middle of what I had considered to be a sane conversation – what I knew about Africa. I told myself to relax – just go with the conversational flow – however strange it might appear to me. And said – very little. She then asked what I knew about giraffes? What was the greatest risk to a giraffe for example. And I guessed – drought or large predators? She said no, it was the little tick. The tick that weakened over time. Drained energy. Eventually the giraffe was overwhelmed by ticks – those little things – and simply hadn’t the energy to go on.

She does not understand just how that analogy has helped me.

There was no one big thing. I have simply been overwhelmed by a multitude of little things. I am the giraffe overwhelmed by ticks.
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9 thoughts on “Burnout

  1. I know a little something about this..and I hate it for you.

    I wish I knew enough to offer an immediate fix but….

    Sounds like you've got good people around you though and that makes all the difference.

    I think more blogging is probably the best therapy :).

  2. thanks e.f.

    all things pass I guess. I will claw-back some energy and will survive to fight another day…would be good if that were overnight – but I know enough to know that it isn't going to be that easy!

    It is also quite clear to me now that the “me” that emerges from this needs to be a bit different if I am to make sure it doesn't happen again.

    live and learn – there will be a day in the future when I understand that being a giraffe covered in ticks taught me some valuable lessons. I think.

    and in the meantime blogging is proving a real tonic! specially when the company is as good as it is!

  3. Ah, the dreaded stress factor. So frustrating isn't it? Right now my son is napping so the effects seem less dreadful. I wish I could be a stay-at-home dad and just concentrate on him. Once the college closes for winter break maybe I can relax with my boy.

    Loved the analogy. Definitely something to remember.

  4. Yes. So frustrating David-Glen Smith. Your unconscious mind and body in revolt. Fighting for (I guess) what is best for you. And “you” (perhaps the conscious mind “you”) barking orders and flogging when there's a stumble and fall. Hindsight is wonderful. But all things pass.

  5. Lots of fellow feeling la mujer libre. I have got into this state myself a few times in my many years of working for various demanding organisations. You give too much and then become overwhelmed. I know you'll bounce back. But give yourself time. I love your writing so keep at it.

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