It's over a year now since I suffered a major burnout leading to long term sick, and since I've returned to work I've been taking care of myself by not travelling and really carefully managing my sensory environment & keeping away from hubbub (lots of conversations etc.). My self care has worked really well, and I've feel that I've discovered "normal, healthy" levels of stress for the first time in my working life (healthy levels of stress for *me*, at least).
Now that I'm looking like I've recovered from burnout and I'm starting performing at 95% again, I can feel myself coming under pressure to start attending meetings in person again and travelling again. Before my burnout I was flying into Europe alone maybe every month and just feeling important rather than stressed. Now I'm very wary about returning to what everyone else will see as normal.
I don't know what I'm asking others here for - maybe just sympathy & to tell me that yes, I need to look after myself and not put myself under pressure.
By the way, one of the things I'm *really* mindful of is giving an inch and being expected to do a mile.............
I'm done with Christmas Cards said:Two and a half decades of working life I've absorbed the norms of behaviours and logically judged them all as reasonable expectations, but now I'm entertaining the fact that maybe following suit has been causing me more pain and exhaustion than it does for others, and so it's OK to say no.
Quite! Over four decades for me (I started work in 1975).
I'm going to call HR at my new job tomorrow and ask for reasonable adjustments. And at my interview on Friday, I'm going to say what I can do, and what I'm not prepared to do. They know I'm good at my job, and they said they'd always welcome me back. Well... I'll test the validity of that promise. It has to be on my terms.
I used to be a complete model employee. Always on time, hard working, honest,no slacking. I became more and more tired and ended up having no energy whatsoever. Before that I also started to get ill every 4-6 weeks. Then when I was unemployed and had to find a new job, I got panic attacks. In my last job which was a temp job, I had to go to the ladies room and cry because I was so exhausted.
Long story short, I went to my doctor and asked if I had work-phobia? I explained why and was send for therapy. The therapy did nothing at all and my last sentence on the feedback was that I still worry because of the incredible tiredness at work.
I was then diagnosed with CFS [Chronic Fatigue Syndrome]. It made sense and I thought I had found what was wrong with me. I haven't been able to work since as every little bit of stress or actual physical work makes me so very tired.
However since being pre-diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, I wonder if these two things are related. I just can't take stress at all. I used to fall ill right after deadlines with flu like symptoms.
What if I burned myself out by trying to do too much at work. By trying to be too good at work. I worked for a few decades as I was only diagnosed recently at 50.
Is there a known link between CFS and Autism? Maybe we take things too literal and stress ourselves far more than others, which could lead to the burn-out or 'Yuppie flu' as it was known in the 80s. I know I couldn't handle many work environments any more nowadays.
You make some very salient points, and I can identify with a lot of this.
It's got me wondering now, on the cusp of 60 and with over 40 years of work behind me, whether I'm actually at burnout point. I start a new job (last week) and by day three, I'm going sick. I've always been a model employee, too - always done a good job, been meticulous and conscientious, never been late, etc. But the last 10 years have seen so many ups and downs, so many periods of sick leave following breakdowns or anxiety attacks. And then, in 2015, I got my diagnosis. In many ways, I can use that to understand where I currently am. I'm feeling like I want to work, but I'm feeling much less capable of dealing with many work environments.
My new job, I can now see, isn't going to work out for me - in spite of its being term-time only, so long and regular holidays. The one I'm going for on Friday is the one place that I've worked over the last ten years where I felt reasonably content and happy. I'm banking on that. But if I get it, and some way down the line it goes wrong... then I'm regarding that as my swan song in employment.
I was a model employee and I was really happy and proud to be one. Even through nobody a work noticed. Always on time, reading work emails during my lunch break, working hard. I’m still trying to be a model employee, it’s hard to relax and let go. Even through everything starts crumbling around me. I’m tired, I try to do everything and start making silly mistakes and forgetting things. I stopped talking to my coworkers completely. I think they might avoid me, nobody talks to me anymore. Every day I come home exhausted and just sit on the sofa, not doing anything, because I’m too tired to do anything. Even too tired to watch TV with my husband. I go to to bed early but I don’t wake up full of energy. I wake up tired and unmotivated. I still like my job. I don’t want to change it. I don’t have enough energy to change it. I use my weekends to recover but two days is not enough time to recover. My husband told me to call in sick and stay home for few days but I’m somehow unable to make that decision, unable to call in sick when I’m not sick. Unable to stop, even through probably I should stop.
I could have written so much of that. It's almost like going through the days in a kind of hypnosis - like you're a robot. You do what you have to... and then you pull the plug and shut down. Your life is in your hands... and yet it isn't. You just go through the motions.
Exactly, that's exactly how I feel about my job.
At them moment I am getting very stressed over little things in work. Today I ran out medication that’s stops my anxiety and in work I was rocking, shaking, and at one point the big manager caught me biting my thumb, I have a red mark there now with little bit of skin missing. Seems like a dream. I say I have a domino effect to meltdowns or shutdowns, how I “try” and manage it is find the falling domino and keep it standing.
My falling domino at the moment is trains and the people on it and it being over crowded.
It’s getting so bad now that my over sensory to light, sound, have gone back to how I was teenager. I now wear sunglasses again in bright places. In work, buses and trains. I can’t stop the first domino from falling but I can stop the second by wearing the sunglasses. And it helps with my self esteem too.
Hope my experinace helps you.
Aurora said:I was a model employee and I was really happy and proud to be one. Even through nobody a work noticed. Always on time, reading work emails during my lunch break, working hard. I’m still trying to be a model employee, it’s hard to relax and let go. Even through everything starts crumbling around me. I’m tired, I try to do everything and start making silly mistakes and forgetting things. I stopped talking to my coworkers completely. I think they might avoid me, nobody talks to me anymore. Every day I come home exhausted and just sit on the sofa, not doing anything, because I’m too tired to do anything. Even too tired to watch TV with my husband. I go to to bed early but I don’t wake up full of energy. I wake up tired and unmotivated. I still like my job. I don’t want to change it. I don’t have enough energy to change it. I use my weekends to recover but two days is not enough time to recover. My husband told me to call in sick and stay home for few days but I’m somehow unable to make that decision, unable to call in sick when I’m not sick. Unable to stop, even through probably I should stop.
You have pretty much summed up my life at the moment. The same as you I am constantly exhausted and I am also suffering other health problems as well - that might even be linked.
Like you, I can't let go and just switch off. Everything that needs to be done, fixed, solved, achieved is constantly buzzing round my head and not in a stressing about a deadline sort of way, just that it needs to be done and until it is done and it's perfect, then I cannot rest. So the result is I never rest and I know that the above is unrealistic to achieve, but how do you back-off and not make your work suffer?
The other side of this is I realise I have no life outside of work. My interests, hobbies and keeping fit have all been pushed to one side, because I feel too tired or ill to do anything else. Then there is the guilt when you do try to do something for yourself, that you could be doing work instead and getting on top of things. I realise all of this isn't healthy, but how do you change and still do a good job?
Yes, I'm eligible for pension in 3 years - I'm partly gibbering with fright at coping with the poverty but also desperately looking forward to it. I got caught in the women-born-in-the-fifties thing and had 6 years added to my working life. It felt like I would *never* retire but I suddenly realise that it's 3 years away and I haven't prepared at all
It can't come quickly enough for me. I've got another seven years. I won't be any worse off financially because I'm on a low wage anyway. I just want to be free of wage-slavery once and for all. It's not so much that, actually - just free to do my own thing.