I write about some symptoms I observed during burnout and depression. That is the goal at least. Closer to the truth would be: the symptoms I struggle with on a daily basis. By writing them down it gives me the opportunity to give them a ‘place to be’ and I can feel some distance between what I experience and who I am.
Wanting to be invisible. Before the burnout I just wanted to be left alone at work. I tried to do my duties as good as possible. I ran around and did things, visible things, small things. All to stay under the radar. Emotional detachment was real, not in regards to my clients but to myself. I couldn’t stand the possibility of a conflict. I couldn’t take a stand. I was overly friendly, to be left alone. Is that being hypocritical? Maybe. I see now that I was not true to myself. I was already demanding a lot from myself, I was trying to function when actually that wasn’t an option anymore. I also couldn’t bare extra expectations. I almost cried when asked to cover an extra shift for a colleague.
Irritability; depression is a mood disorder those mood swings are exhausting! I used to think that depression was being sad most of the time. When I think about a person suffering with depression or burnout I see a maybe timid person with a grey aura around them. I understood how they could suffer from not caring, being sad and uninterested. But I did not see my mood swings coming. Before being on medication I could cry more than 10 times a day. Out of the blue. I picked myself up and carried on with another grey day until the tears came back. It’s not the tears per se but the internal turmoil that makes it exhausting.
Already in burnout, struggle to sleep and to relax, this proved to be just the little push I couldn’t handle anymore. From the flat emotions arose big emotions. I guess you could compare it with a volcano. And the people dear to my heart were burned the most. I went on a rant! I couldn’t sleep, started to think about all the things wrong in the middle of the night, couldn’t take it anymore and got up. I paced through the room, not caring I could wake Pierre up. I had a lot of ‘sh*t’ inside and it was going to come out. I started to point out (yelled!) all things he did wrong and how the situation was utterly worthless. I couldn’t find any rest nor peace. There was nothing more to hold on too, that was how it felt. When those ‘eruptions’ occur it takes some self-regulation and reflection to manage it and not ‘share’ every crappy thing that lives inside with the ones who care about you. Once the volcano became more quiet, the huge mountains of guilt became visible and the river of tears started to flow. Beautiful landscape isn’t it? I saw it over and over again and still feel guilty about it.
Black outs. When you thought it wasn’t enough that mental illness interferes with my self-esteem and my emotions, I also experience cognitive effects, like a shorter attention span and feeling easily overwhelmed. Sometimes life is just there. Things happen and I get overwhelmed. I try to cope with it as good as I can but when my barriers are exceeded, I black out. Like that. Due to difficulties with health insurance I made an appointment with the occupational psychologist. The lady I should see wasn’t available, the person I was then referred to was an hour late due to traffic. I was told to wait in the waiting room. Once seated I noticed other people coming in and looking at the chairs. It slowly dawned on me that the chairs had different colors. There were different colors associated with the specific sections offered by the organization. After telling my story, again and being told again that I needed to take time to heal in spite of what the insurance company tells me, I decided to get some fresh air and walked home. I honestly don’t remember me walking home. I recall snippets of the road I took. I recall just being able to stop crossing the road when a car showed up to my right. I just don’t remember.
These were the surprising symptoms I thought about this week, can you relate to them? Or were you as surprised as I was? Tell me what you think in the comments! If you want to read about the other ones, you can look for ‘symptoms’ using the category button, I found loads of those weird things to come along with burnout and depression.