Today I want to talk about something very personal. Let´s talk about Burnout – Let´s talk about shame! I want to take up this subject since it´s STILL tabu!
So many people experience burnout or Adrenal fatigue themselves or have someone close who’s going through this –but it´s still Tabu – why? –This is my personal reflection and my honest story.
Before, Every time I met old colleagues, or people I have worked with at some point in my freelance life, the story would be the same. “I´m doing great, thanks. I decided to take some time off to deepen my yoga practice and spend time with my family!…”
Not a complete lie, but not the truth either.
The truth was I wasn´t doing great.
- I couldn’t work.
- I would drag myself up in the mornings
- Maybe I would bring my daughter to daycare and then Maybe and only maybe I could do one more activity that day! Even activities like going to my doctor or likewise would cost me at least one or two days of rest afterwards – and that visit was one hour!!
It was as if little things that I could usually do on the way to somewhere, became like running a Marathon or climbing a mountain.
My partner represented me in most official matters. He would go with me to my doctors’ appointments, because, at the time, I wasn’t able to concentrate on the conversation or remember anything that was said.
This went on for months
I was ashamed of my situation and I feared what other people would think of me. I felt like I should be strong to be accepted, and that was the one thing I couldn’t be.
I think, that for me, one of the reasons it became so shameful was because it was very hard to accept that I was actually ill. That this was not just the normal tiredness after an intense project, that would go away after 1 or a few weeks of rest. That this “condition” and the brain damage or cognitive challenges that it had caused – not to speak about the physical and emotional pain -would take a very long time to heal.
I was ashamed that this could happen to me! Why did I not stop in time, Why did I not listen to the signals that my body was sending me so clearly – why, why, why? A good friend even questioned in a conversation we had, how that could happen to me? Me who was always so strong and grounded?!! Yes maybe on the outside! Maybe that was even the problem. I used to be the strong and grounded one, I could not afford to be the weak one. What kind of friend, partner or colleague would I then be? Would anyone I knew actually be able to like me if I was not strong? But inside I was in panic. Inside I was falling apart! I felt weak and had the feeling that I should have known better. I kept hitting myself in the head with all this: No one will like or love me if Im weak. I will lose all of my friends. Nobody will believe it’s true – they will think I am faking it. I should have known better – Im clever – I know my body – I should have stopped.
HOW TO WORK WITH SHAME
The first and most important thing is to dare talk about it! –easier said than done right?
There is nothing wrong with feeling what you are feeling – Feelings show up for a reason and everybody has a great range of emotions whether the feelings are conflicting or we are connected to them or not. Feelings should not be hidden away or repressed. We have to remember that feelings are important messengers from our intuition. They can help us make important decisions if we listen carefully.
I found it very hard to talk about this subject –I still do. For me the feeling of shame is so closely linked to the feeling of failure. Even if I know in my logic, that that is not the case. Failure is something completely different! (Note to self)- and I still need to learn to accept that. Im working on it every day.
Second you have to Learn to love your inadequacy. Even if it´s really difficult! I have spent my whole life to rejecting it. Hiding it. condemning it Escapeing from it. I have this idea that I should be able to do everything I want and need. But I will never be able to do everything at the same time. I have learned that now – the hard way! And it´s ok – now I dare to ask for help!
WE LEARN THROUGH LIVING
Meltdown in any form can happen to anybody – I´m no special case whatsoever. It´s easy (and sometimes both needed and rightful) to blame other people or situations for your circumstances. But when you have worked through the anger (it´s ok to be angry) I believe that it´s important to show clearly that you are not blaming anyone. We have to be better in sharing difficult feelings and be able to talk about, that it is ok to be ill.
Today I know that I need rest, both at night, but also during the day. Rest were I can retreat in silence. I´m also leaning to recognise what I want to do in my life (right now) and learning to say no – and yes!
Today I´m not hitting myself in the head with not reacting to the signals soon enough. On the contrary I’m very proud of myself that I was brave enough to stop when I needed to, and that I took myself and my body´s signals seriously. I was ill, but I was not dead or had lost all my emotions yet. Even if the journey is long and at times very very dark, I have stepped out on the other side of this chapter in my life story both stronger, more sensitive, wiser, and more curious on what life has to offer.
I am not done finding my place, fighting the guilt, and feeling as if I am not offering enough.
But I know in my heart it that I can love, listen, be present – and I think that is a lot better than pretending to the world – and my self – that I am strong. I will rather fall and experience – and I am working on getting there. Let us forget about the guilt and shame – let us live instead.
with love and curiosity
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