For months, if not years, I have been creeping towards burn out. It’s been a long series of really hard things.

We’ve moved, lost family members, I’ve changed jobs, and this whole COVID thing. I’ve taken things on that I probably shouldn’t have, and I’ve waited for situations to get better or change longer than I should have.

I went on stress leave for a month and a half. I was having trouble concentrating, I was procrastinating, I was exhausted. But the most alarming thing for me was that I was getting very angry. Small things made me angry, bigger things would send me into a rage and it was hard to calm down.

Other signs I should have been paying attention to:

  • Irritability
  • Low self-esteem and catastrophizing
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in appetite

All these bright red flags that I decided to drive right past.

Stress leave was not easy. Week one I spent feeling incredibly guilty and useless, but also the thought of going back to work left me shaking. I felt like I should be doing more to work on myself, be better, strive. Week two I felt like I had failed all of week one.

It was most difficult because people kept saying that I needed time to heal, but I wasn’t clear on what I was healing from or how that was supposed to happy. A million small cuts over a number of years.

Healing means strengthening, exercise, eating healthier – burnout is total exhaustion, anxiety, depression.

And it’s not like the stress stops just because you’re trying to ‘heal.’ I stopped watching the news. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped watching the news before.

When I got back to work I felt better, and the burnout has slowly crept back in. There are days when I’m sitting at my computer and my body just starts feeling heavy, I’m so exhausted. I told my therapist this and she said “it sounds like you’re really burned out.”

I almost burst into tears. I clearly didn’t ‘heal.’ I can’t keep operating the way I am. How do you move forward when the stress doesn’t stop?

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