Those first weeks I was burned out, I remember them well.
The feeling as if somebody had pulled the rug out from under my feet and in a split second I’d lost full control over my life. The feeling to have failed. That I wasn’t capable of living the same life as everyone else. Then again, a life that had never felt good to me and I was exhausted living it.
I couldn’t understand why this had happened to me. Me, of all people. For decades I had managed to discern every single detail of my life. No matter what, I could always rely on my brain to figure things out. Me, who usually was in control. But that single moment my free fall in the deep changed everything. I remember…feeling powerless and depressed. My soul was broken into pieces and I had no idea how to put it back together.
My despair and pain wasn’t that evident to others. I myself was still busy figuring out what was happening and even if I could have understood I wouldn’t have known how to put it into words and find the courage to share my troubles. That was painful. But even more painful was not to be understood. Looking back I think that it would have been easier for my colleagues if I had used crutches to walk with. If my arm would have shown a cast. Then you could have seen that I was broken. Then it would have been obvious that I was in pain.
But if you’re not walking with crutches, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have trouble staying on your feet. If you’re not wearing a cast, it doesn’t mean that you’re not broken or in pain.
When you’re burned out or depressed you are broken on the inside. Then it hurts inside your body. It is an emotional pain and it needs the same amount of time to heal.
We often forget this emotional part of our being. Emotions like sadness and anger are often found difficult. We find it hard to feel them and are worried that we might lose ourselves in them. We think it would make us vulnerable if we would share these with others. We think we’re the only one going through difficult times. And often we feel uncomfortable if others show their sadness or anger to us.
We’re selling ourselves short.
Being burned out and depressed was extremely hard. But looking back, it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because for the first time in my life I was forced to listen to my feelings again. By taking the time to feel my emotions and question the thoughts and beliefs I’d held for so long I understood me and my behavior so much better. I could see where in my life I’d made the wrong choices. And I could also see where I could change and improve my life. I became aware I was still carrying old emotional wounds with me that needed to be healed. This is how I put the pieces of my broken soul back together again. This is how I put them back together in a better and healthier way and how I became the best version of myself.
Not feeling my emotions and not talking about them had led to my burnout. They also became my way out.
Hold space for each other. To feel, to share and to finally heal.
Photo credits: Tom Pumford / Unsplash