Welcome back, friends! How are you today? How are your energy levels? How is your spirit? How are you? I hope you’re doing well. Today, I’m actually going to be sharing a story around something that’s pretty vulnerable. It’s not the easiest to talk about. It’s all about my experience with a really, really bad episode suffering from the effects of burnout that led to a major depressive episode, anxiety, and then a hospitalization.
Now, I’m okay. I want you to rest assured, I am very much okay. But for a while, I wasn’t. And I want to make sure everyone knows that there’s no shame in that.
So, you might recall that in July, I gave an update about how I was taking a little break from the podcast because truly I really needed a creative break. But I was also recovering from the effects of burnout left over from having experienced a months-long burnout period and major depressive period.
I needed to conserve all my energy for myself and my clients. That was all the energy I had. Everything else had to be put on pause until I could regroup from the effects of burnout. So essentially what happened was that I experienced a lot of stress at the beginning of the year, particularly stress coming from my business.
Now, it wasn’t my business’s fault. It was the way I managed my time; and not just my time, but my energy, and how I led my own team. I have always been a person who is very go-with-the-flow, and it worked for a long time, because nothing in my life really required high-level planning or structure until my business started growing. When I added on team members, I suddenly realized, “Oh my God, I actually don’t have the systems in place for this.” I had systems, but they weren’t tight enough. I actually didn’t know what my vision was. I actually didn’t know where I was headed with this thing.
I only knew how to put one foot in front of the other, and this is what happens with the effects of burnout. In early 2022, I was just trying to stay afloat. I could only take things day by day or week by week, and I felt like I was drowning, but I was in denial about it.
So now I’m kind of gonna get into the heavier parts of the effects of burnout, and I want to give a disclaimer. This is really, really important: I am not a doctor. I am not a licensed therapist or anything of that nature. I am a coach. So everything I’m saying in this podcast episode is not for you to go and implement without you going and speaking to your medical health provider, especially with me talking about medication. Please talk to your healthcare provider. I invite you to not generalize mental health things that I speak about, because unless you are diagnosed by a clinician, you don’t actually know the status of your mental health.
I’d never really actually experienced the effects of burnout before, not for an extended period of time. I’d experienced your typical, “I’m tired for the week. I just need a personal weekend, and then I’m good on Monday.” But I started noticing randomly one day that I felt like I was depleted of energy, which was really strange for me. I thought maybe I just needed to chill out for the day, to stay on the couch and watch a couple shows. But then I noticed I was watching shows for hours, and I told myself, “You’re probably just tired after all that stress and all of the stuff you’ve been doing in your business. You just need a couple days.” But a couple days turned into weeks of being on the couch all day. I would wake up and couldn’t wait to go back to sleep. I just felt like I needed a lot of rest. I was starting to feel my motivation dwindling at the same time, and I noticed my appetite was going away. All of these are effects of burnout, but I hadn’t recognized that.
I also noticed I was waking up in the middle of the night with stressful thoughts. I would have very persistent thoughts, waking up to what felt like a panic.
It started happening every day. Then it went from interrupted sleep to not being able to fall asleep. My mistake was not communicating these effects of burnout with my doctor. I thought the effects of burnout would pass, which is not how I recommend going about it. Again, I’m not a medical professional, but I do want to say that if you are having interrupted sleep patterns, your appetite is going low, or things are happening in your body that are different than normal, please talk to a healthcare professional. You can catch this before it’s too late, and you really need to, because the effects of burnout can quickly reach a point of no return.
So how did I get to this point of depression and anxiety and the effects of burnout? Firstly, I was working a lot with no boundaries. I love my clients. I love what I do, but I had this really big vision to start building a bigger brand for myself and a bigger team, and I didn’t know how to build the back end. Instead of intentionally hiring help, I thought I had to do everything on my own. I didn’t even reach out to my team members to tell them what my vision was so that they could help me. I didn’t know how to ask for support in the business area. I had learned how to ask for support in other areas of life, but business was a new ballgame; hence, the effects of burnout taking hold quickly.
I wasn’t normally working like this, but I was so excited to expand my vision, I felt like it all had to be done in one day. And in addition to working a lot, I was stressed. I had a lot of scarcity mindset and I was unwilling to take a look at that. It was a constant state of stress because of that, and this is like an open door to the effects of burnout.
The depression was It was heavier and foggy than I’d ever experienced before. I had no motivation. And about a month or two in, I had zero appetite. I had to force myself to eat at one point. I ended up staying with my aunt for a little while because I couldn’t even take care of myself. That was how out of control the effects of burnout got.
Stop here for a minute—I want to add a trigger warning. I am going to be speaking about suicide here. So if that’s triggering, you probably want to stop reading here. This is actually really difficult for me to talk about, but I know that someone reading this needs to hear it and know there’s no shame in it, and you’re not alone.
It was the scariest time of my life. These effects of burnout couldn’t be rested away. Depression is an imbalance in brain chemistry, right? The parts of your brain that function around pleasure and joy are operating at a deficit, so that’s why you experience things like not getting hungry as much, or all of the sudden you’re not as interested in things you enjoy doing anymore. So when depression gets really bad, it can turn into having suicidal thoughts. All of the sudden, you can’t see the point of life. For me, it wasn’t that I thought no one cared about me or anything. The suicidal thoughts were coming from not sleeping and the other effects of burnout. I was begging my doctor to prescribe something for me, and she was trying everything and nothing was working. And of course, when you don’t sleep, you feel like you’re going mad. You’re not able to function. During this time, I was miserable. It was miserable to wake up every day. And the suicidal thoughts came in passing at one point, and I was like, “Oh, that’s very scary.” But I didn’t tell anybody about it, because I didn’t want it to be real. That was the biggest mistake I made, until one day I had to tell my boyfriend because it was so persistent in my mind that I had to tell someone. I knew if I didn’t tell someone, it could end badly. My boyfriend’s a pharmacist, so he tried to get me to be on antidepressants right from the get-go. Unfortunately, there was a lot of stigma in my mind around medication, and I didn’t understand medication properly. I thought I would just get through it on my own, but I didn’t realize what I was dealing with. These weren’t the ordinary effects of burnout. I kept saying I wanted to wait it out. I thought it would get better. All the while, I was essentially becoming a shadow of myself. I couldn’t recognize myself anymore.
Finally, one day I had a call with my therapist. I was talking to her, and whatever I was saying, she told me I needed to go to the hospital and check myself in to the ER because of the way I was talking about suicide. And I was in total denial. I was like, “No, all I need to do is take a run and I’ll feel better.” That was how serious the denial was about the effects of burnout and the toll they were taking.
I think I refused to see it because I thought, “I’m the, self-trust coach. I’m the Self-Love Fix podcast host. This can’t be real. I can’t be going through this.” I thought it meant something about me as a podcast host and as a coach that I was experiencing mental health and the effects of burnout, even though when I wasn’t experiencing these extreme symptoms, I knew that mental health is a big deal and it’s a totally different thing. Much like if you have a cold or you have an illness or a disease, suffering the effects of burnout and suffering from depression has nothing to say about your personality and who you are. Do you see it? I knew that before I experienced the depression and anxiety at this level, but when you’re in it, you can’t see things the way you normally can.
I ended up listening to my therapist, and I took myself to the hospital due to suicidal ideation, and they were so nice to me. They really took me seriously. And after that, everything was upward. I decided to stay with my aunt. If you’re going through severe effects of burnout, please get support and get people around you. I was lucky enough to have my boyfriend come and be with me and spend the night over when I was having tough nights, and for my aunt to offer me the ability to stay with her for an extended period of time. You just need to be with people when you’re at that level of depression and anxiety.
I ended up getting on medication from the hospital to fall asleep. The doctor prescribed me something to sleep, and then my psychiatrist ended up continuing that, so that’s been really cool. I got on antidepressants as well, which I’m so grateful for. There’s a lot of stigma around antidepressants; people think that they’re these happy pills that are for people who are lazy and don’t want to do things the hard way. Listen, you’re talking about brain chemistry. And if yours is imbalanced, that’s okay. The medication helps you to keep yourself at baseline and stay afloat when the effects of burnout hit. That’s another thing with medication; people assume you take the medication and all of a sudden you love life and you’re all good. That’s not it at all. It only keeps you at baseline so you’re not operating out of survival mode. And even when you’re at baseline, there are still things we’ve all got to do to support ourselves. That’s why I still do self-development work, because there’s baseline and then there’s self-actualization, but there’s no way we can even begin to reach self-actualization if we are experiencing a mental health crisis or the severe effects of burnout. That’s why I would never say to someone who’s experiencing a mental health crisis, “Oh, you just need to do a gratitude list and think happy thoughts.” No. That is a medical thing that needs to be addressed with a doctor and a therapist. And then after you’re at baseline, then you can talk about personal development.
The thing with medication is you don’t even notice sometimes when things are changing. I didn’t even notice when I started eating my favorite candy again. That was huge, because when you’re going through depression, you don’t really eat for pleasure. You just eat for the sake of it, if you even can. My boyfriend would always notice the little bits of progress I was making, though, which helped me notice.
Pretty soon. I was feeling joy again. I was feeling lots and lots of joy, and I was happy. Happier than I’d ever been. I felt like my normal self within like two to three weeks of taking the medication; that’s atypical, according to my psychiatrist. Usually people take a lot longer than that, but I started getting motivated to do new things and create new things in just a couple weeks.
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So that’s my story about my experience with the effects of burnout and depression and anxiety. I want you to remember that this isn’t a personal development situation. When you’re talking about mental health and such severe effects of burnout, that stuff isn’t going to work. You need to be at baseline to do personal development.
For me, medication helped me get back to that baseline. Everyone’s baseline is different, and that’s where personal development comes in to help you with coping skills and being able to navigate life from a place of feeling safe and secure in your body.
Be sure to connect with me more over on Instagram @theselflovefix. I’d love to hear what you thought of this post and what your major takeaways were.
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