When I look back over the past few years, I can see when burnout began for me. It crept in, just as my endometriosis was returning. I suspect I’d been pushing myself to the point of burnout for a long time, and then endometriosis pushed my body over the edge incredibly quickly, and my flame extinguished.
That was almost four years ago, and I’m only really registering the burnout now. I would casually say I was burned out, and would have days off sick, or have weekends too exhausted to move, but I’d put it wholly down to endo when I didn’t feel recovered or rested or re-energized.
My eventual recovery from burnout may not be as full as your average healthy person, but pushing through and just assuming I won’t ever feel better because of endometriosis is not the way I want to live. It’s not the right attitude to help me recover.
For a long time, I kept adding more and more to my life. I kept relentlessly running down different paths to help myself heal, or find contentment, or discover the miracle to having energy again. I tried one thing after another, never stopping to rest.
Four years ago, I had a lot going on in my life, plus the onset of endometriosis and burnout. And here I am, with so much more going on. I have added and added without taking anything away.
Here’s the thing with burnout. You cannot work your way out of it. You cannot use effort to push your way through it. And if you have endometriosis as well, it’s even more important that you don’t try to push on regardless of the consequences. Burnout needs some time to recover. This is a condition that requires patience.
Most resources claim the first thing to do is to look at the main issues in your life that are causing you stress. There are lots of resources online to help you do this, and to help you look for solutions. Many are centered on work, but if you’re living with endometriosis, I suspect there’s more than just your work life that is causing you to feel this way.
One thing I’m not great at doing is taking a holiday. I squeeze in city breaks on a weekend once or twice a year and then spend those two or three days running around trying to see as much as I can. This Christmas, I am taking a whole (wait for it) 21 days off.
It can be tricky doing this, and being self-employed, I’ve had to make some decisions about money and squeeze extra work in, but I’ve managed it. Whether it’s a sabbatical, a career break, holiday or sick leave, whatever it is, it’ll help you reduce the impact of endo and burnout on your life significantly.
Something that keeps popping up in my research and really resonates with me is whether your lifestyle is meeting your values, or even the life you want to lead. Sometimes we develop goals, aims or just routines that are created out of an old belief or way of being. We keep pursuing these goals because our society is obsessed with achieving, but actually, the pursuit and the goal itself is no longer making us happy. It’s OK to change direction.
Are there things in your life and work that no longer serve you? Are there areas in your work or life you can cut down or reduce? I’ve had to get disciplined with myself, but I’ve begun weighing parts of my self-employed work that do not serve my business or my needs as much as I would like. I hold on to them mainly out of fear that if I let go, it’ll have a negative impact, and partly, hoping that they’ll get better. But when you say no, you can say yes to something else. So learn to say no, learn to cut down, and learn to put fear in the passenger seat, away from that steering wheel.
If you feel that juggling endometriosis, work, and life has led you to burnout, too, I really recommend listening to some of The Rob Cast. Rob Bell speaks about burnout frequently. I recommend the following episodes: Millones Cajones, What to Do With Your Ambition, Wisdom | As Yourself, Alternative Wisdom | Weak is the New Strong.
(Please note for those who may be non-Christian or are uncomfortable with religion, that while Rob Bell does refer to the Bible on occasion, his podcast is for everyone, and places emphasis on spiritualism rather than religion or Christianity.)
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