I felt like I was carrying all those baskets on my shoulders – except they were full of heavy things I didn’t have time to complete. And it was beyond my comprehension to simply put down even one basket, or its contents, when I had agreed to carry them.
But I thought I was tough, so I just kept carrying those baskets, spending every waking moment I could trying to address what was in them (and there were a lot of waking moments, because I was rapidly losing the ability to sleep).
I kept adding more and more baskets on my shoulders and they were full of heavier and heavier things. After a while, the baskets simply became too heavy and I broke.
My doctor diagnosed me with exhaustion. I was burned out. It took me some time to come to terms with what that meant, to understand that I wasn’t invincible, that I couldn’t do everything myself and that I needed help. I began the long process of re-learning how to sleep, how to listen to my body, manage stress, find happiness and pleasure, and say no. Not easy.
Had I understood more about exhaustion, burnout, depression, anxiety and mental illness, I don’t think I would have fallen as deeply into exhaustion and I think my recovery would have been much faster. People don’t talk about mental illness, and this means people suffer in silence, and suffer more than they have to.
So I’m talking about mental illness. I wrote an article for the health and wellness website Nanuism.com about the warning signs of burnout, B is for burnout: Pay attention to these warning signs.
If you’re suffering, please know that you can get through it and that it’s ok to talk about it and seek help. I did (finally), and not only did I heal and find happiness again, I built up resiliency so that I’m stronger when tough times inevitably return.
And I’m thrilled that when life gave me a few lemons, not only was I able to make lemonade, I was able to create a lemon pie life of travel for myself.