I am disappointed in myself. I keep putting off my blog posts and going WEEKS at a time without posting. I can explain.
Not the fun kind of burnout. Nothing like the one you do in a fancy sports car. I mean the one where life sucks the energy out of you, leaving behind a hollowed out skeleton of who you once were.
The worst part was that I predicted my burnout about a month in advance. It mostly came down to the gradual onset of my workload. My typical schedule included my full-time gig at around 25 hours a week. As of September first, that number went up to 35 hours with teaching two college courses. After October first, that number climbed again to roughly 50 hours a week when a third part-time gig started.
I knew signing on that my hours would nearly double. I knew it would be a lot on me. I even developed a rough timeline of two weeks before I would feel the burnout symptoms.
However, I hoped one major factor would play out in my favor. In previous “burnouts,” I often kept pushing myself well beyond my limits. I literally had to be in my death bed before I stopped. This time around I had acceptance and awareness on my side. I promised myself to conduct a self check-in several times a day with a focus on my emotional, mental, and physical symptoms. I also brought my expectations down and literally told myself to go at seventy to eighty percent rather than one hundred the entire time.
As predicted, the two-week mark hit. Up until that point, I did rather well. I only missed two appointments due to burnout. Other than that, I kept pace. I felt it in my body first though. My fibromyalgia pain kicked in. Fatigue got the better part of me, resulting in dizzy spells. Next came the isolation. I barely spoke to anyone. I could not handle any sort of feelings from anyone. I preserved what little emotional energy I had for work.
It all came to a head with my mental health. I sat in front of my laptop the other night ready to fill out this silly eight-question survey for work. I started at it for a few moments. My eyes welled up. What the hell was going on? I was about to cry over a damn survey!
My brain had enough. I knew that I was pushing too hard. I took a deep breath, finished the survey, and closed my laptop. I had a few more hours worth of work ahead, but it was not worth risking my mental health over it.
Do not underestimate the relationship you have with yourself. Of all relationships, it is the most important. No one knows you better than you know yourself. You just have to be willing to have real talk with that person. It could literally save your life one day.
-The Caring Counselor