I have a personal experience of burnout. In my case it happened slowly over a number of years and it took me a while to recognize it and realize what was happening. The first signs of burnout I noticed at the age of 28.
Coming from the small country, living rather turbulent life at the time, even since I came to England in 2002, I felt I need to ‘prove myself’ as a foreigner in this country. For seven years I was in my London City corporate job working as a PA for KPMG – one of the major blue chip financial companies. I have been someone who had gingers in many pies, so I have always been involved in many ‘outside of work’ activities including my coaching studies, charity work, dancing performances, organisation of various social events etc.
Since 2004 I was fully involved in personal development, continuously developing myself. I was motivate to improve my life and also curious about what are the new possible ways of being for me as a human being and what are we really capable of?
I was also always being there for everyone else’s needs, being a stand for the love and happiness in my own family and friends in rather difficult and truly challenging times.
Having a 13 years of experience playing tennis on competitive level, I knew what is discipline, how to work hard as well as how to deal with the pain and keep on going even when you reach my limit. How to push myself to a high peak performance to test my abilities.
This drive I learned at the early stages of my life brought me a lot of success and some said everything I touched came to fruition. It also kept me learning and being very busy for many years to come.
I start noticing the downside of this burning desire of mine, that had a character of runaway train that is not able to stop, in age of 28 when I started sensing first signs of physical, emotional and mental withdrawal. I was being continuously tired realizing I am not achieving anything anymore. I am incapable to rest, but I feel like I need to stay in bed and sleep so much!
I was frustrated, that I am not efficient enough and started realising the more I try the more I push things away from me – things that really matter that I also started discovering only then.
I felt, that every day feeling like I just keep on ‘surviving’ and I am not enjoying my life at all. I used to have a panic attacks and feelings of anxiety on regular bases. Once in a half year I used to collapse out of exhaustion being hospitalised. I then took a time off and things have been good for a little while, but then it all went back to the way it was before and the cycle started over again.
I used to complain to my father trying to explain I feel like a machine and I have no way of stopping it all as all this pressure I am putting on is the pressure I am causing to my self – I am the one who is doing it all – if its someone else, I tell them off…
Then I noticed some signs of OCD in my behavior that I also didn’t feel I have much control over. My actions been driven by fear of not being good enough and could not see the end of the tunnel – felt like in the rat race that is never going to end, so I kept on doing more and more naively thinking I can finish it ‘all’, catch up and rest. That moment was just not going to come – the moment when I catch up…. EVER!!!
In front of people I was smiling, always appeared to be strong and confident, but inside, I was depressed and exhausted and felt like no one will ever understand how horrible it feels being in your own prison.
I thought of all other people being lazy and slow and that nobody can possibly understand me, so I didn’t talk about it and just ‘got on with yet another task to tick the box. I’ve tried counseling on couple of occasions, but didn’t feel it helped. I started being irritated, not having time for anything anymore and felt constantly stressed.
I started neglecting myself, my basic needs like food, sleep and even hygiene and became a smoker as a cigarette then became the only thing that gave me a break and the only thing I looked forward to in the day. I used to cry out of exhaustion and I wished the world to stop as I became so low and unhappy, in spite of being positive person having tons of energy, my body started giving up.
I knew I am awful to myself keeping on flogging myself like a dead horse, pushing myself further and further. It felt like big dark cloud is hanging over me wherever I go. I kept on surviving my day being unhappy.
I exercised some yoga for many years, but not very often as for me it was just another things that I just didn’t have a time for. Also, I thought that if you don’t sweat it all out doing weights or on the treadmill, the exercise just doesn’t work anyway and I will put on more weight.
And so there I was, young, intelligent, with great potential, but depressed, very very tired, not achieving anything feeling sad and lonely…
I had enough and felt that’s it! I’ve reached the bottom! There is nothing else for me left. The most painful part being such a giving person was, that for the first time, there was nothing, absolutely nothing else I had to give to all those people around me… I’ve burned out and couldn’t speak or get up any more.
It was in that moment, where I have decided to take a month off work and go to India to fulfill my dream to study yoga. From the moment I have made this decision about year ago, I started feeling better. It also all felt so right after such a long time.
People kept on asking me and I didn’t even know whether I want to become a yoga teacher. In India, I spent intense few weeks filled with study, exercise and lots of spiritual practices, but what took place was also a lot of soul searching during the long early morning sunrise walks on the beach.
However, the most importantly, I started building relationship – the most important one – with myself and I started falling in love with myself finding a forgiveness and true compassion. It was a beautiful and emotional journey and I felt that something fundamental is changing inside me.
Towards the end of my stay, I was scared to go back to London as I was worried that the amazing gift of experiencing yoga so deeply, I was scared it will all disappear withing a week of me being back. I have made a commitment to continue with the healthy life-style, my yoga practice and my whole new way, much kinder way of being after my return and…..I have decided to share this gift – my story and very organically, started teaching and doing what I love as to me, it was as natural as breathing and felt soooo good 🙂
Every day, even now, I am present how important my relationship with myself really is. Even now being a twin mum and maybe more than ever before, I pay a lot of attention to harmony and balance in all areas of my life. It is continuous work in progress as life itself is so dynamic.
Yoga has had huge benefits for me such as becoming more present, expressing myself in more authentic way, it brought me peace to my life as well as more confidence, strength and enjoyment of every day life, all the little things.. It also teaches me to listen inwards and being able to hear my inner voice, a voice I could not hear for so long…
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