In early May this year I went for a run. This is not unusual. What is unusual is that on the way back to the gym to collect my things, I forgot my ID number. I couldn’t remember a single digit. It took me over an hour to figure it out. I was convinced that i had developed a case of early onset Alzheimers. I was terrified.
That’s how the swift decline into full blown burnout began for me.
Through my recovery process I realised how massive a societal stigma there is to any sort of emotional or mental imperfection. People were uncomfortable when I tried talking to them about what I was going through. My blatant imperfection made them uncomfortable. It was a long and lonely walk back to wellness.
One of the many things that helped me move beyond burnout was the knowledge that I was not alone; that many many other equally strong women had walked this treacherous path and had emerged victorious.
Below is a poem I wrote while I was in the thick of things. If you’re reading this and suffering from burnout or know of someone who is; know that it’s a very real thing not to be shrugged off and discarded as something that will get better by itself. You have got to work through it and at it. But most importantly, know that there is an After.
I feel as if I am driving along a cliff on a fog covered morning after a night of too much red wine and too little sleep
I keep rubbing my eyes to clear the cobwebs but its not my vision creating the impediment…it’s my mind
I find it near impossible to concentrate, my thoughts a mishmash of broken pieces scrambling around a space that used to house clarity and now has become a vacant lot
A plot for half baked ideas to gather dust
I must pull myself together
But something is taking my lust for life and throwing burning tires around its tired neck while an over crowded minibus taxi branded with the Nike slogan and carrying my responsibilities screeches by on two wheels
It feels as if I am losing my damn mind
And the only way I can imagine being able to find it again is to cast off the shackles of my job
To leave the mob of screaming deadlines rattling the safety gate outside my door
To return to a place remembered only as Before
Because I cannot see an After without that change
Not without taking drastic measures to rearrange the living room of my content
My efforts are entirely spent
and all I am left with is the promise of this change falling into my open outstretched palm