Do you know what it feels like to suffer from extreme burnout?
It happened to me for so long. It took a lot of back-to-back bad days, crying while driving, and arriving to work to put on a fake smile day after day before I felt something off with my body.
I saw my doctor early on a Thursday morning and broke out in tears not even 10 minutes into the appointment, leaving even my doctor wondering what the hell was I doing still working where I was working at the time.
Imagine having someone that you barely know say something like that to you. I felt slightly offended by her comment and quickly became extremely aware of myself wearing my emotions on my sleeve.
Once the doctor exited the room, I got myself together and headed into what would be, another draining day at work.
Working in a fast-paced environment with people who expect you to get your hands dirty day-to-day didn’t help. I made the excuse to bury myself in work and pretend that all was well.
Working in the space I worked in, everyone would come and dump everything on each other. My burnout appeared normalized because everyone else was suffering from burnout too. I literally had no one I could talk to about this.
The burnout became real when I continued to work long hours, add more clients to my caseload, and say yes to every person who asked me to do something for them.
4 days after my doctor’s appointment I made a routine trip to the bathroom after finishing up with a client.
I never really enjoyed staring at myself in the mirror but something in my spirit told me to “look up.”
That something left me frozen. I looked unrecognizable. If it is at all possible, I looked like I was 10 years older than I was and not someone that had recently gotten married a mere 6 months ago.
Talk about feeling embarrassed and so seen all of a sudden. There was this feeling of heaviness in my body.
Also, coming to terms with feeling used and fed up with feeling like nothing I did made a difference, and that the majority of my day was always spent running to my client’s rescue when they needed me.
No one ever genuinely asked me how I was doing.
I first heard of this term at a conference I was attending but I believe that I constantly struggle with this as well.
Compassion fatigue is when psychologists or other health professionals take on the sufferings of patients who have suffered extreme stress or trauma.
This is me, sis.
It is no secret that I work with clients on the autism spectrum, brain injuries, or clients who have mental disorders.
It is extremely difficult not to become physically and emotionally exhausted working with them.
Of the number of families I’ve served over the span of 11 years, there is a handful of them whose story and background still pings at me from time to time.
Perhaps, it was the many phone calls I received from clients calling me threatening that they will harm themselves that did a number on me.
Or maybe it was the many special needs families who text me over the weekend venting that they haven’t slept in 3 days.
All in all, it contributed to my extreme burnout that the thought of prioritizing my needs was laughable.
I love the families that I serve but there are moments when you start to wonder if you’re taking as good of care for yourself as you are for them.
Self-Care is prioritizing all facets that make up you-physical, social, emotional, and mental well-being.
I had to relearn words by understanding their derivative. Specifically, self-care. I glossed over this concept, thinking I really knew what it meant when in actuality, I didn’t.
The day I walked out of the bathroom was enough for me to do something. It was bananas that I was living out my good years working for a company that ran me into the ground.
No, I had to take my power back and reclaim my self-worth. I flat out told my supervisor that I was burnt out and to take clients off my plate.
Talking about what I wanted to do wasn’t enough to enact change, I needed to write out a formal self-care plan.
The self-care plan had to be simple enough that even a 5th grader could read it with goals that were attainable.
3 consecutive days turned into 3 consecutive weeks which turned into 3 consecutive months of following the very simple plan I created for myself.
My plan addressed my basic needs:
LTG (long-term goal): drinking a gallon of water cups of water (to mitigate headaches) for one month.
STG (short-term goal): drinking 8 cups of water for 14 days.
Why Did The Plan Work?
I kept things simple because it was the simple things I was missing.
Writing my plan instead of telling people what changes I was going to do in my life made all the difference.
I stopped looking to the media and Google to solve my self-care issues and really started to take data on my behavior.
Learning yourself through intentional self-discovery exercises is so crucial if you really want to enjoy this thing called life because it’s a gift.
Others started to take notice of how well I was taking care of myself and they too inquired about how to ignite personalized self-care practices in their life.
Self-Care is not unattainable, I started engaging in self-care without a single item, just me in my room.
What part of this post resonated with you?