Who are you, and why did you decide to share your story?
I am a woman in my mid-thirties and I work in the humanitarian sector. During a recent long-term field assignment, I experienced what I later discovered to be burnout. At the time I had little knowledge about this mental health issue, so for a long time I simply ignored the signals my mind and my body were sending me.
By sharing my experience, I’d like to shed light on burnout, its symptoms and its consequences. In my sector there is still a lot of stigma around it, so I think that reading about others’ stories may be of help to those going through (or suspecting they are going through) the same experience.
Trigger warning! This poem may be difficult to read if you know someone who has committed suicide, if you yourself have had suicidal thoughts, or if the topic of suicide is difficult for you whatever the reason may be. Please do not read if you don’t feel ready to do so.
If you want to read make sure you feel in a good place with your mental health, perhaps read it with a friend or do whatever you need so as to not feel triggered. Please also check local resources (and on this website) to support you with your mental health.
Or should I say, the last time I burnt out. I really hope it was the last but you never know, these things creep up on you… Nevertheless, I’d like to share the story with you and I took to video again to do so.
Once again, it was the the usual “end of year breakdown”. Sad that’s actually a thing, but it was. And I’m sure many of you can relate, in most industries Q4 is pretty intense.
I’ve been blogging about mental health for a while now, but I’ve not yet talked about finding or creating your own support network. And yet, this is probably one of the most crucial and valuable things you need to get through it. I’ve talked a bit about helping colleagues, but this time I’d like to refer to your “inner circle”, or those closest to you.
Once again inspired by the Sanctus podcast on mental health, I listened to them speak about the importance of relationships for mental health, and couldn’t believe I had never addressed it beforehand.
Originally this blog post was going to be tongue in cheek – recounting funny experiences of end of year breakdowns. But since no one answered my call for stories – I decided to turn this into something that I hope is more meaningful and helpful.
In my experience, the end of the year at work is madness. You’re rushing to finish off the last projects, leave no loose ends before you go on holiday, but you’re also desperate to finally have a break! Meanwhile you may be reflecting on everything you’ve done this year, thinking about the performance review and conversations you want to have, and wondering what you’ve achieved. Or you may be – as I have in the past – ridiculously overworked and racing against the clock.