Every 15 minutes or so, my Mac pops up with a message: “Your iCloud storage is full” or “Your hard drive is full.” I click “Manage” and then “Force quit.” Why? Because I don’t have the time to deal with it.
This is the perfect analogy for what’s been happening to my brain for the past four years as I’ve battled with living a normal life with endometriosis. My brain and body have consistently told me there is too much going on in my life and in my head for me to be able to cope. My brain has been at max capacity for a long time. And I just kept ignoring it. Until I got to the point of burnout and I could do no more.
Prevention, of course, is better than having to find a cure. Many online tests can help you determine if you’re heading toward burnout. These could help give you an indicator so that you can begin making changes.
During my research on this subject, I noticed that the main attention is geared toward our work lives. And while I do feel that work is the main catalyst, when you’re living with endo pretty much everything and anything can lead you to burnout. So, below I’ve listed the areas that were affecting me the most and ways in which, upon reflection, I could have changed them to stop myself from getting to this point of exhaustion.
Something that has slipped the most since being burned out is my friendships, and it’s been happening for a while. I don’t have one friendship group; instead, I have lots of small clans or individuals across the city. This means that I never see people frequently. I’m always seeing people on rotation in order to see everyone. It means that I’m feeling constantly guilty about the people I “should” be seeing more, and there are always friends with whom I can’t manage to set a date or I end up being unwell, which causes them to become frustrated.
I’ve tried to keep a lid on how I’m feeling over the past year, but it’s clear from my lack of replies, forgetting arrangements, and being too unwell to meet that hiding what’s happening is not helping.
Tell your friends that you’re really worn out at the moment. Tell them about endo. Tell them that you’re doing your best, but you can’t keep up with that WhatsApp group and you need to bow out for some headspace or that you won’t be on the social scene as regularly. Your friends should love you and stay by your side in any circumstance. If they have a problem with this, don’t let the guilt fester in you. You’ll be a better friend when you’re recharged and reenergized, and they should want what’s best for you when you’re feeling this way.
When you need some weekends to yourself but you’re torn between family commitments, the best advice I can give is to be honest and keep being honest. It can be frustrating when you have to keep explaining yourself, but your family isn’t living with your disease. So, it’s not always in their heads like it is for you and me.
Some family members may continuously expect that you travel to them, but for a few months, could you turn it around? Explain that you need more downtime and that traveling is taking it out of you. Suggest that they come to you more often or find a half-way point. Don’t burden yourself with cooking a banquet, either! Go out for dinner at a nearby restaurant or have something quick and easy.
If you’re a parent and struggling, speak honestly with your partner. Ask them to make some adjustments and take a bit more of the load while you take care of yourself. You might feel guilty about this, but what’s worse: A mum taking a few hours to herself to prevent exhaustion, or a mum in the hospital with exhaustion?
If you’re a single parent, can you afford extra childcare? Or do you have friends and family who could help out a bit more for a few weeks? Or maybe there are some mums you’re close with, in whom you can confide and ask to help with school runs, etc.? Being a single parent isn’t easy at all, but seek the support of those around you and allow yourself to ask for help when needed.
Next week, I’ll explore preventive steps that cover work, health, joy, and getting real with yourself about why you’re burning out.
Note: Endometriosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.