I used to think of myself as a happy individual who enjoyed life whether being at home, travelling, working or spending time with family and friends. But then it all changed very suddenly. Like many other people, I experienced what I refer to as a ‘burnout’. As a result, I felt completely helpless and consumed by bewilderment and fear. It was so bad that I couldn’t leave the house to go to work.
What had happened to me was that I had expected too much of myself for too long. I was driven on by my desire to work hard, have a good lifestyle and a full social life. I just expected that I could forge ahead with plans regardless of basic needs like getting enough rest, relaxation, sleep and regular meals. Over time, negative issues had stayed inside me – I’d experienced stress from personal injury, moving house, changing jobs and a burglary. But I was too busy with the rest of my life to deal with my feelings about these things.
Eventually it all became too much and my emotions surfaced. I was signed off work on sick leave. Fortunately, my employer was very understanding. Family and friends did all they could to comfort me but I still felt that I had nothing left to give. I’d completely lost my sense of purpose in life. It was difficult to do anything.
My saving grace came from a colleague who stepped forward, held my hand and told me that they too had gone through a similar experience. They said that they would be with me now to help me recover. To know that I wasn’t alone, and that I wasn’t the only one who had experienced this confusion, was like a soothing balm on my troubled mind. I found hope in my colleague and saw that I too, could be happy again one day.
For anyone going through this hopelessness now or at any time, I want to say, “I know how you feel. You should know that you are so much more than just thoughts and feelings. So try to give your head a rest and allow yourself to relax for a while. The uncertainty will pass.”
So what does the research say? Psychologist Emma Seppala has identified several things that can help us avoid burning out. They include reducing caffeine intake, breathing meditation and simply just giving yourself a break by doing activities like exercising, nature walks, or taking up a hobby.
It took time for me to get through all of this, but my outlook and lifestyle did indeed change for the better. Now, I am strong and confident again. I look after myself properly and do all the things I enjoy. Before this happened, I hadn’t realised how delicate my inner self actually was. Life can easily become overwhelming and anyone can lose themselves and their sense of purpose. But I also know that it’s definitely possible to find it again and that’s the most important thing to remember.
Vanessa Bunting has written her story in Forever Home Within (published by Balboa-Press and available from Amazon and other outlets). Her website is: http://www.foreverhomewithin.com