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Serious burnout - what worked for you

AliMa
Community Member
I have been feeling burnt out for a long time and finally hit the wall a few weeks ago. I had/have nothing left in the tank. I went to my GP and she gave me 2 weeks off work. She told me just to rest and to do nothing apart from watch TV, sleep, and perhaps work on something creative. At first I felt ok (apart from feeling guilty for not being at work, I love my job) but after a while I found myself back to feeling the same - super stressed and exhausted. I went back to see her today. She said that the 2 weeks off wasn't enough and that I am in a crisis state of high stress and that I am still not fit for work. She also said I need to be careful that my burnout doesn't turn into depression, which obviously concerned me. She has given me another 2 weeks off and prescribed me 1 weeks worth of diazepam to see if I can start to feel less stressed and anxious, and to help me see things more clearly so I can make some decisions about next steps. She also suggested that I see a psychologist but not right now - that I am too stressed at the moment and that now is not the time to work on strategies etc to address the stressors. To perhaps give that a few more weeks. I thought that was interesting as my instinct is to read up on burnout and stress to help me make sense of how I am feeling and to try and start to put in place strategies for the stressors I can control, but on the other hand, I see what she is saying in that I might be in too fragile a state to do that well now. I guess I am posting to hear from others with experience of serious burnout (especially those that have perfectionist tendencies) as to what worked for them and how they found their way forward. Any advice appreciated.
16 Replies 16

missep123
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hi AliMa,

I hear you! 100%! I am someone with perfectionist tendencies and in my last role I definitely experienced burnout.

Every morning I would keep waking up to check what time it was and how much more time I had left to sleep (which disrupted my sleep), I kept ruminating about what I had to do the next day, I was eating more, always tired and didn't want to socialise (had to force myself).

It's hard to admit when you are experiencing burnout because for me I didn't want to be seen as anything less than a perfect work. Except we are human and not robots! I realised that everyone is so focused on themselves they really aren't judging you for needing to recharge your batteries.

I think it's so important that you love your job because for me a lot of my burnout was coming from a high-paced workplace but also incredibly stressful work.

What worked for me is to ask for support from anyone I felt comfortable; friends and family. I also found that it was so important to have support or open communication with your boss. It was so easy for me to just say yes to everything or look like I was doing fine but I found it so hard to admit that I was crumbling.

I hope that is helpful, in saying that I really wanted to post on your thread to show you that you are not alone!

Gambit87
Community Member

Hi AliMa,

Welcome to the forums!

Wow - Your post is so relatable!

I too find it very difficult to admit when im burnt out. I'm one of those people who will work day in and day out year after year because I felt like I needed to be working, didnt want to let the team down and I would feel terribly guilty if I wasn't working. I didn't know what to do with myself if I had more than 2 days off.

I suffered from severe burnout and my psych recommended I take 2 weeks off work. I did that, but I couldn't just sit around and do nothing all day, so what I did was have 1 outing every day. I would go to the Zoo one day then the next day I would go to the botanical gardens on the next day I would spend hours plane spotting etc etc. After 2 weeks I actually felt relaxed and recharged.

With the help of my psych, I'm able to recognise when im feeling burnt out and take steps to address it. I now feel ok taking a few days off every once in a while to recharge when I need to.

I would encourage you to see a psych asap, they are a great help.

All the best! you are not alone here 🙂

geoff
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hello AliMa, and a warm welcome to the site.

Yes, I know what burnout is like and happened to lose 6 months of work in front of me as I was self employed and know exactly what you're saying as do those above me.

How do you determine what stage the doctor tells you that you need help, and I have full support for my doctors because when you are stressed, that's exactly the time you need to see a psychologist, if you wait, then half the problems won't be an issue any more until something triggers you back or you forget about why you actually became feeling like this, so the medication she has given you for a week can be addictive and it's only putting a bandaid on the problem, not solving it, so all of this needs to be discussed with a psychologist.

You can also make an appointment with another doctor who understands what any type of depression involves in affecting somebody, then they book you in to see a psych on a 'mental health plan', this entitles you to 10 Medicare paid sessions, please consider this because when you return to work the whole problem may begin once again, hit it while it needs to be.

Take care.

Geoff.

chadicha
Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hey AliMa, I've had stressful, overwhelming thoughts so much recently to the point I can't even act, so I can fully resonate with what your saying. My ways of dealing with this won't exactly be your ways, but just some food for thought:

  • Fully immerse your mind in what you love eg. watching art videos, music, learning a new skill, having meaningful conversations with people, opening up about how your feeling it happens to best of us.
  • Getting out in nature alone can be very regenerative and healing if you allow it. Sometimes I tend to overthink when walking, not always but if I notice I listen to music.
  • Connect with family and your roots. Go back in photo albums, dive into beautiful memories, re-live it especially as a child. Research your culture, watch videos it can be really healing & bring you back to yourself in a sense by shedding thoughts that don't even belong to you.
  • Always remind yourself to come back to this very present moment and re-build from here. Your mind can come up with so many images, stories, ideas of whats going to happen, what others think that aren't even true. Live by each moment. Right here with you now there are no thoughts and stresses just this amazing opportunity you have to connect to yourself, relax, engage in what you love. Thats the only thing thats real.
  • Change your lifestyle. Don't live so much by the whizzes of the world and how fast-paced it is. Slow down, and even if you physically do this, sometimes your mind is in the same dimension as before. Not having coffee, eating organic and cutting out sugars helps calm your mind crazily its noticeable. Its good to keep this up for a while to notice the change and I always have either one or the other in a day if I can't resist. Delete social media for a while!
  • Self-care: candles, self- massage with oil, spirituality & appreciating how far you've come in life.
  • Step back and notice the bigger picture. Sometimes I get so caught up on the details any little task I don't do gets to me & then I won't do it as I get into a spiral. When you step back and realise the grand picture that it really doesn't even matter, life is so much more than this you can't help but relax a bit more.

Really, high anxiety and stress is calling you to change something in your life, whether its how your perceiving your duties or the fact maybe your not placing yourself and your health, wellbeing and joy as a priority. Don't take life too seriously, rather take yourself, your health and joy serious.

AliMa
Community Member
Thank you. I am definitely starting to do these things. I think I just need to do them for longer to feel the change. I like your last sentence about thinking about all of this as a signal to create change in my life. It just feels overwhelming and that I have so far to go to feel well again.

AliMa
Community Member
Thank you, that's very kind.

AliMa
Community Member
Thank you

AliMa
Community Member
Thank you. I think you make a great point in that I don't want to go back to work and for the same thing to happen. I feel a lot of pressure to use my time off well to avoid this, which in turn is probably making me anxious. I have had a first appointment with a psychologist and she just said that taking time off is the right thing to do and that I will know when the time is right to go back. I am not convinced of this but hopefully I can recognise when I am at this point.

Ellow369
Community Member

Hi dear,

First of all, I am so sorry that you are going through this. I know how horrible it feels as I have been through the same thing a few times now.

I can relate as I also love my job, I am good at it and anything that would not allow me to perform in it is very distressing.

My advice to you is to see a psychologist if you feel you are ready for it. Getting through this on your own is a huge task and the more support you have the better.

Also try to practice self care, your body and mind is asking for it. Be kind to yourself... Burning out is your body and mind telling you that something has to change and that you deserve to look after yourself instead of looking at what is wrong with you and trying to fix it.

At the end of the day your health comes first, without it, you would not be able to do the job you love.

Thank you for sharing your experience and I truely hope that you get through this phase and find your healthy self.

Take care dear