Depletion is no longer an option. No one knows the path you’re on or the energy you have in your tank, but you.
I remember when I first learned about burnout. It was after realizing I couldn’t fight the good fight anymore. I was waking up with nightmares and could barely sleep. Even the thought of going outside was impossible. How could I enjoy the sunset when so many people were suffering? What gave me that right?
This was not like any depression I’d ever experienced and, even though I would have loved to say it was work, it wasn’t. It would have been easier and more understandable if had been.
The burnout was watching my community fall apart. It was the heart wrenching, and truly righteous anger, of my friends and me. I tried to stay. I tried to say I was getting sick. I was told to toughen up. So I left.
I didn’t go outside for a month. Old traumas we’re deeply triggered and I had no support to heal. I watched my partner fall apart too. Headaches in the back of her eye and so much anger. Now my brave thing is to say I won’t toughen up and that I’m not made for fighting. There’s been enough fighting in my life to last lifetimes.
Burnout is life-threatening. It can make you incredibly sick and one of the first things you have to do is STOP. Stop doing the things that are burning you out and be honest about what they are. Normally these things are things others won’t understand but it’s not their life. Protect your life as you would your child.
The next thing is to find your JOY and take as long as you need to recover. No one gets to determine the timeline for you. No one knows what you’ve been through. The griefs you may carry still. The losses or the pain.
So, now I work hard every day to find my joy. It is the most important work of my life. It brings peace and strength. My hope is that ripples out to the people in my life.
In a world where we can choose connection or disconnection, I choose connection. I choose love. I choose kindness. I choose joy. And I choose sunsets.