Having a burn-out was new to me. I hadn’t imagined what it was like to have a burn-out. Of course, I knew people who were overworked (education, there are many) but what they experienced and how they felt, I did not know.
I realized that it would not be an easy process. I had to go through a lot of experiences that I didn’t know about at the time. Also, that it might take a longer time than I could imagine.
In the texts below I have tried to describe my daily feeling and what I noticed. I also describe how I learned to bear my burnout better and better in time.
At the beginning of the burnout, I felt sick, as if I had theflu. A permanent feeling of lameness and lethargy. My basic feeling/mood was a feeling of not being well. But always. As soon as I woke up in the morning, I already felt sick.
In good moments I felt a little better, but there weren’t that many. They were also often short-lived. The bad moments were much more frequent. Then I felt not only lifeless and lame, but really very bad and miserable. That could sometimes last for a few days and I found it very heavy.
I also had physical complaints. I picked up every conceivable cough and pain. You couldn’t think of it as crazy, or I had it. I continued to suffer a lot from abdominal pain (stress), just like stiff muscles and a cramped neck.
I’ve had a lot of mood swings. I could quite easily get into gloom, negativity, feelings of homesickness, melancholy, you name it. Then I felt not only sick, but also gloomy and depressed.
Worrying and getting stuck in my mind was also new to me. I could navel-gazing for hours. I worried about anything and everything or I couldn’t stop thinking. The fact that I’m an introvert made me keep a lot of problems inside of me. Sometimes I really couldn’t figure out how to get out of this mindset.
Because I was so low in energy, I could not handle the above feelings and experiences well. Fortunately, I had/have an environment that helped me with this. Together we started to see what we could do differently and better to get me out of this situation.
We started to focus on several topics.
The first topic was increasing my resistance. I had to make sure that my body would be better able to withstand diseases and the like.
We started eating healthier (vitamin pills, fruit, and less fries etc.), went outside a lot (fresh air), went to bed on time, less coffee, etc.
I also had an antibiotic treatment. I noticed that my resistance became stronger and my abdominal pain less. This course of antibiotics worked as a boost
The second topic was avoiding triggers that could affect my mood. No more watching news, removing all kinds of apps, limiting screen time, not playing Limburgian music (reminded me of the past), putting away photos from when the children were still small, etc.
The third topic was improving my physicality. I often had a cramped neck and shoulder. By showering (sometimes 2 times a day), getting a massage and sleeping a lot, my muscles relaxed, and it became physically much better. At least more relaxed.
I still find the fourth and final subject sometimes difficult. The overshoot in thinking and worrying, is very persistent. What helped was writing down the thoughts and having them read to someone else. So that I can test whether what I think is also real. Almost always they managed to get me back on track.
These changes were in themselves quite easy to imagine. Only it took a long time (weeks) before we had made them our own. Changing ingrained patterns was very difficult. Almost always I started a change in good spirits, only to fall back into the old behavior within a few days and I was back to square one.
In the meantime, I continued to feel lame and sick, and I had less and less of the idea that this was going to be okay.
Until I heard someone on TV say that changes only work if they are in small steps and easy to fit into your daily rhythm. That they have something inevitable.
That’s what we started working on.
Very simple things like:
– every night after dinner, I went for a walk with someone. You are outside and can go through the thoughts.
And so, we made small interventions that made it easier to sustain the changes. That turned out to work.
Small manageable changes caused me to grow out of my lame feeling very slowly.
What I kept saying to myself was: this is because of the burn-out. When it’s over, this all goes away and that’s right. It passes.
Only I had to feel the confidence that this was also true. By making the small adjustments, my energy increased.
With small steps I felt that things were getting better, and I started to trust that it would pass.
What is positive?
You no longer have energy and the consequences of that, you can do something about it. You can increase your resistance by taking vitamins, eating healthy, going outside, and exercising a little. Your moods will improve as soon as you experience positive / cheerful things.
The same applies to your body as to your mood. Be a little kind to your body. Give it the attention it needs.
Remember that the recovery capacity of your body is quite large and that it will really be fine. As soon as there is more energy, most complaints go away.
Also remember that every adjustment, even if it is every small, contributes positively to your recovery.
Don’t give up!!
Believe me I’ve really had it all. I even had a ringing in my right ear at one point. Pale from the stress.
That will also be the case with you. The moment you get some energy again, it immediately goes a lot better. Sometimes you shoot through again, so that it backfires, but that does not matter. You learn to deal with this.
So, move on to the next pages so you’re going to get some energy again and really, you’ll get out of this!!