How I almost lost my job and my family to emotional burnout (and what saved me)
How I almost lost my job and my family to emotional burnout (and what saved me)
Hi, my name is Kristina Simons, and I finally found the time to write this post!

It's a story of how I almost lost my favorite job, friends and even my husband.

All because I was suffering from a problem that I didn't want to admit.

I'm talking about emotional burnout.

I always considered "burnout" to be sort of a synonym for "work stress." If only I knew what this attitude would cost me!
Your personal guide to recover from emotional burnout and get yourself together
Let me start by saying that I REALLY love my job. I am a database tester.
Doesn't sound like a lot of fun, does it?

Вut I've been in love with numbers and tables since childhood, I just always liked them. I was the best in math in my class. Few people have this talent, and I was happy to be the best in solving problems that others were literally scared of.

It may be routine for others, but my work is a joy for me, because no one can do it better than me.
I've always been a reliable person, people ask me for advice on complicated issues or for help with the hardest tasks. And I have always been very proud of it.

Up until a certain point.
Say Goodbye to Burnout!
This did not happen over the course of a single day, rather, I began to notice that switching on my work computer no longer made me happy. I began to procrastinate more and more with non-work-related stuff during working hours.

Requests for help started irritating me more and more, well, because I had so much of my own work to do! Of course, I did - I was working less and less

Work meetings stopped being fun because I was no longer praised there.
I was noticing more and more hints of my low efficiency in my colleagues' emails.
A couple of weeks went by, and the whole office now only annoyed me.
Tasks were no longer getting done of their own accord, like before. Now I procrastinated as much as I could, and then finished up just before the deadline - and in tears.

I was doing less, but felt more tired.

I knew that clouds were gathering over me. Six months ago I applied for a senior position, and now I thought I'd be asked to pack up my things pretty soon.

But I couldn't do anything about it, as if I was being sucked into a whirlpool of powerlessness.

For half a day I tortured myself, calling myself lazy, procrastinating and irresponsible. For the second half I cried, wishing to fall seriously ill soon, so that everyone, both my colleagues and my boss, would understand what they had done to me with their nit-picking and endless demands.
It sounds completely cringy, but that's what it was
Your personal guide to recover from emotional burnout and get yourself together
Then the nightmare began seeping into my whole life from the workspace.

I ate more and more to alleviate the work stress, and a couple of months later I hated my reflection in the mirror. I was demanding enough of myself, and now I flat out refused to leave the house and go anywhere. My social circle has narrowed down to my cat and TV series. At least they didn't judge me (in my imagination, everyone else did).
I started driving my husband up the wall. He didn't understand what was happening to me, and was offended. I was sure that our marriage was also coming to an end. As soon as he smiled at the monitor, I started detesting him, convinced that he was chatting with other women.
Say Goodbye to Burnout!
I felt shackled, I was waiting for a dismissal at work and a divorce all at once, my life seemed to have taken a wrong turn and was sliding down a steep slope, and I had no levers in my hands to put everything back in place.

Salvation came very unexpectedly and seemingly out of nowhere. Actually, as it turned out - it was always there.
During the most ordinary work discussion with a colleague, we somehow touched on one issue, then another... and unexpectedly for myself, I flushed out all my pain and despair that have been accumulating over these months.

It's hard to put into words how unlike me that was. Since childhood, I've learned not to whine.

Most certainly not to whine to someone who was practically a stranger, with whom I had a very good, but still a purely working relationship.

Now I realize that it was a desperate cry for help. And it's good that it finally broke out of me. But I didn't understand it then.

At the time I instantly felt terribly ashamed of this spiritual exhibitionism session. But my colleague reacted very calmly and sympathetically.

She kept repeating that I must have simply burned out, which was normal. She also had a similar experience. She kept convincing me that I NEEDED HELP. And I was trying to prove to her that I was a wreck who didn't deserve positivity and support.

I refused to even think about going to a therapist. No wonder, because soon I'd have no job, family, and probably even a home! Yes, soon I WILL LIVE UNDER A BRIDGE!
I needed to save money for my imminent poverty.

After the conversation, however, I felt a little better. And the next day my colleague sent me this little book.
As you can see, I resisted. I remember that I was angry with myself for sniveling. I was afraid that she'd think of me as weak, and that rumors would spread about me.

And yet I opened this guide.

Of course, I did it during working hours, since doing non-work stuff had already become a habit by that time.

What I read impressed me deeply. I felt both surprised and relieved at the same time.

Almost everything the guide said described my situation accurately and succinctly. Please understand - I was sure that my case was completely unique.

I was sure that my problems were laziness, procrastination, lack of willpower and self-organization. But now it was clear that this simply wasn't the case.

With each page, I became more and more aware that I had simply fallen into a trap - a self-twisting spiral of emotional burnout. My case was far from unique, and my personality wasn't the problem.
A lazy person is someone who intentionally and knowingly avoids work. Those who want to work, but cannot force themselves to do it simply have psychological problems that need to be solved.

Simple words, right? Simple and true statements. But they were a revelation to me.

I'm not a lazy person or a procrastinator. And I love my job. And my colleagues are not my enemies. Nobody tried to take advantage of me.

I was the one to run myself into the ground like a horse, the one who burned out and refused to admit it. The desire to be the most efficient and useful has made me the most useless, unable to complete elementary tasks on time.

I always thought that "mom problems" were about other people whose mothers were tyrants and oppressed them throughout their childhood. Not true: even regular loving mothers (like mine) may well put a couple of psychological patterns into our minds, which, like time bombs, begin to tick in our brains when we become adults.

I did not think about the fact that our virtues, our best qualities can sometimes do us a very bad service. Well, what harm can responsibility, ambition, the desire to do things well bring to a person?

But it also became clear to me that by repeating the same work mistakes month after month, not observing elementary occupational hygiene, and misjudging my own attitude towards myself, I drove myself into a deep crisis, and I had to get out, fast.
Of course, things didn't work out right away.

Mustering up my courage, I talked to HR and my boss and took a short time off for health reasons – I had accumulated a lot of unclaimed sick days. But I didn't spend it the way I usually did (which was fundamentally wrong!). I followed the recommendations from the Roadmap.

At first, I felt uncomfortable, but by the end of the week I was able to relax completely for the first time in many years (as I now recognize).

After returning from vacation, I was ready to start working again. But I no longer intended to be caught in the same trap. I once again requested a one-on-one meeting with my lead, explaining my goals and concerns. We distributed my duties and workload in such a way that it did not harm my psychological state.

Again, for the first couple of months it's hard to stick to your own rules. I kept making the same old mistakes, falling back into apathy a couple of times. If I was in therapy, I'd probably be able to make more noticeable progress faster.

But what happened, happened: stumbling and rolling back, I was still moving forward. The main thing is that I no longer felt helpless, realized what I needed to do and what I was doing wrong.

At that time the Roadmap became more than a reference book for me; it was almost a pocket bible. I re-read it over and over again, each time noticing something I missed before, and perceiving the information in a new way, taking my new experience into account.

Now that I can confidently say that burnout is a thing of the past for me, I'd like to share this life-saving guide with others. This is the least I can do, because once it helped me, too.
If you are also feeling:

  • A lack of enthusiasm for the things you used to love
  • A lack of willpower, the ability to force yourself to do what you need to do
  • Decreased energy, efficiency, concentration
  • A loss of interest in your hobbies and favorite activities
  • Problems with sleep and physical enduranc
  • Irritability and nervousness

You need to IMMEDIATELY start paying attention to your mental health. Believe me, the problem won't go away on its own - this spiral only leads downwards.

I hope this Roadmap out of Burnout helps you as much as it helped me. It is difficult for me to express in words how grateful I am to its author Maria Kravchuk. Rarely do you find material presented in such an accessible way, which is also extremely useful and capable of leading you to serious and profound changes in life.
*The story is published on this page with its author's consent
Say Goodbye to Burnout!
Your personal guide to recover from emotional burnout and get yourself together
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