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Burnout: The Unexpected Hiatus


Photo credit: halbergman

You may have noticed that I had little to no interaction on social media since September 2021. The reason is simple. The workload at my job increased at a rate that I couldn’t keep up with. I was tired all of the time. Irritable. The workload was constant, it got to the stage where taking a break was not possible. I was beginning to lag behind. I would get up in the morning, do my job, and then spend my remaining hours tired with no energy. I was burned out. I have had a constant headache for months. There have been nights when I couldn’t sleep. I would wake up in the middle of the night for no reason at all other than being tired. No matter how many hours I slept I didn’t feel refreshed. Does this sound familiar to you? While getting on with life depleted, I lost interest in everything. I didn’t enjoy the things I used to enjoy. I didn’t like any food that I ate. I didn’t enjoy cooking. I couldn’t concentrate. Reading a book meant nothing to me. It’s hard to be creative when your brain is not functioning the way it used to. My friends and family would say to me things like “You look tired,” or “You look pale.” Of course I dismissed all these comments as silly exaggerations. Maybe it was their imagination. Maybe it was result of seasonal affective disorder. The weird thing is I thought it was normal. I thought people are supposed to be tired after days of hard work. I thought maybe if I push myself to work a little harder I’ll get a relaxingChristmas holiday. I did not enjoy anything. I lost interest in everything. Even if I wanted to draw I didn’t get any excitement out of it. I thought maybe if I just force myself and then I will like the result regardless. Nope. That didn’t happen. Instead the quality of my art and writing plummeted. I struggled to continue with my Japanese graphic novel. Got the clues yet? The signs were there. But I wasn’t aware of them. However my friends and family saw them. Suddenly on a late Thursday afternoon on the 18th November I became dizzy. My head was spinning for hours. I couldn’t think straight, I felt weak, and then I collapsed. That did it. That convinced me there was something definitely wrong. I ignored my emotions. There was a voice somewhere screaming at me to stop, or to do something about it. But, in my foolishness I dismissed them as being a wimp. I had more important things to do. At the same time I tried to exercise harder to increase my strength and stamina. Once again, in my foolishness I was thinking maybe if I exercised harder I would be able to forget all the problems with work. My mental power was pushed beyond its limit. And so was my physical strength. It hurt. I crashed and burned. My body suffered immensely as a result. I won’t bore you with the details of all the things that contributed to my burnout or what went on during the time since then. In short, I got myself sorted by seeing a doctor. I got a blood test. I had an iron deficit. It turned out that I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was indeed pale, and weak. My doctor told me this could take weeks, months, even years to recover. So the first step was to speak to my employer for a reduced work load, it was granted. Looking back I realised that when I did this I will realise the damage to myself was elf-inflicted. Buddha said; “Pain is certain, suffering is optional.” My mind and body were in pain, and yet I suffered in silence for so long to the point my pain got worse. Not good. And yes, I should have stuck to my Eastern beliefs and principles. How foolish of me. Now I am making a steady recovery. I dedicate this article to you, dear reader, to spare yourself the pain and share the lessons that I learned. Lesson 1 Never prioritise work over your health. Whatever you do your job for, it is not worth losing your physical and mental well being over it. If it is costing your health, speak to your employer, provide evidence for your work and your medical state, and see if they can make an adjustment. If your employer refuses to take your health into consideration, then better start looking to work elsewhere before you lose your only life for nothing. Your life is precious. Your life is divine. Lesson 2 Take REGULAR breaks. I don’t care who you are or what you do. You will get tired. You need a break. One is not enough, so take several periodically. Plan when you are going to take it and when to resume work. Keep an eye on how much work you produce at a time so that you can work out how much you get done. You need a break more frequently than you think. Lesson 3 Reduce your ‘To-do’ list. The longer it gets, the more overwhelmed you will feel which will only add to the stress. Start with the smallest tasks first, the ones that can be done the quickest and take the least amount of time. When carrying out the bigger tasks that will be the most time consuming, do pieces of it at a time. It will all add up and be completed eventually. Patience is key. The Eastern Philosophers taught us to be patient. So I pass this wisdom on to you too. Buddha said “Patience is the highest asceticism.” Lesson 4 Listen to your body. Your body will not be the same at different ages. When you reach your mid thirties, you will not be as energetic as you were in your twenties. Don’t force yourself to do things your body cannot do. Your body is not a corporation that has a schedule. Lesson 5 Increase creative input. Read better books, if you don’t like the book you are currently reading, you don’t have to finish it. Start a new one. Then another. Until you find something good. Listen to better music. Explore genres you are not familiar with. Watch good movies and anime. By all means play some decent video games, they don’t have to be overpriced triple-A titles, the point is to explore the imagination of other people and listen to what they have to say. Have conversations with strangers. Sooner or later you will be inspired again. I am not advocating watching television as it is full of negative content that will only make you feel depressed. You are trying to feel better, remember that. Have fun. Lesson 6 Go and see your doctor. Get yourself checked out. Make sure you eat healthily. Don’t smoke. Cut out the alcohol. Exercise regularly. Get some fresh air. Visit your dentist. Get an intolerance test. Get your eye sight checked. Go outside and spend time with nature. Turn off your phone and gadgets for a period of time. Stay away from screens for some time. Your body is like a machine you have to maintain. Nobody is going to do it for you. Better yet, spend time with friends and family. My life matters. Your life matters. Our lives matter.

#mylifematters

#yourlifematters #ourlivesmatter To conclude this article, I will finish with another quote from Buddha: “Suffering is temporary, enlightenment is forever.” #burnout #tired #health #healthawareness #depleted #deflated #menshealthmonth #men #doctor #work #exhausted #menshealth #buddha #employment #work #buddhism #chronicfatiguesyndrome #chronic #fatigue #syndrome #sleep #sleeploss #emotion #pain #headache #mentalhealth #mental #breakdown #suffering

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