Burnout recovery tip 5: Say NO to “The new cure for chronic fatigue!”

This post was written by Megan on October 5, 2010
Posted Under: burnout and recovery

Burnout advice cartoon

It's exhausting, listening to all that advice. Your family has it, your friends have it, strangers in the the pharmacy queue have it.

And it usually starts with "I read in this magazine….", or "I saw on the tele the other night…",  or "I was talking about you to Sharon in accounts. She had chronic fatigue and cured it in a week by…."

Couldn't you clobber Sharon in accounts? And the magazines and the television?

Well, I could. But not in the beginning. In the beginning I was grateful. So grateful for the care that everyone was offering in the form of ideas that might work. What sweethearts they are.


We will not take burnout lying down

There's one thing most advice-givers haven't worked out about the personality of a typical burnout candidate: we are insanely proactive. Despite being unable to crawl out of bed we will try EVERYTHING they suggest.


We will be respectful

Another unfortunate characteristic of the burnee is being a 'good, responsible person'. Being a lazy, parasitic member of society through faux illness isn't our shtick. Which is why it's so bizarre that others accuse us of such a thing.

If we're not seen as useful we might as well roll in some wet concrete, dry out, then throw ourselves off the nearest bridge. At that point, we are a nice neat concrete package…out of the way…no bother to anyone.


So we take the advice…

…to be good, to be respectful and to be grateful. And to get well. 


Some of the advice seems sensible…

…others less so. At first, we try it all. Here's some of the things I did in the first stage of burnout (it's not the whole list because the experience is a blur):

  • Wear red underpants to enliven your base chakra
  • Drink 10 litres of water a day 
  • Bounce on a trampoline daily (those two didn't go together so well)
  • Take yoga classes
  • Take pilates classes
  • Take qi gong classes
  • Take feldenkrais classes
  • Join a gym
  • Power walk daily
  • Spend more time in nature
  • Spend more time with the cat
  • Be in physical contact with onyx and clear quartz crystals
  • Have regular hypnosis sessions
  • Have regular massage sessions
  • Have regular acupuncture sessions
  • Have regular osteopathic sessions
  • Go to a homeopath
  • Go to meditation classes and workshops
  • Take Chinese herbs
  • Take Western supplements
  • Take microscopic algae
  • Drink Noni juice at $200 a bottle
  • Eat only organic food and beverages
  • Eat more meat
  • Become a vegetarian
  • Stop consuming yeast, wheat and gluten
  • Stop consuming dairy
  • Remove all synthetic chemicals from your environment
  • Book an appointment with a psychiatrist
  • See a psychologist
  • Whine to a counsellor 
  • Deal with my childhood
  • Write a letter to my future self
  • Be in the moment
  • Write, chant, think positive affirmations
    (stick them everywhere around the house, on car visor, on mobile phone)
  • Create a vision board
  • Create a vision powerpoint
  • Create an uplifting personal play list
  • Sit in the sun
  • Swim in the sea
  • Drum
  • Go to drumming jams
  • Write
  • Go to writing workshops
  • Draw and paint
  • Go to art workshops
  • Take up mosaics
  • Take up boxing
  • Dance more
  • Sing more
  • Laugh more 
  • Scream more
  • Cry more
  • Spend more time with positive people
  • Try not speaking to anyone for a week
  • Do something different at least once a week
  • Give up alcohol forever
  • Attack your telephone books with a garden pick and then burn them
  • Become a Taoist

I would have added 'give up coffee' but I never drink the stuff.

As you may have noticed, much of this list is actually sensible advice. Most would assume it wouldn't do me any harm. But you can also imagine the amount of energy required to attend to this list. And – for a good slab of it – the amount of money required. Money that I didn't really have because I had to give up work. Because I was sick. 


The key issue…

…is not what is on the list. It is the length of the list.  Trying everything to cure yourself can send your health backward big time.

All those well-wishers in your life giving you advice still are sweethearts. But I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to clobber them.


My advice?

Tell them "Great advice – I'll put it on the list!". Then go ahead and do what you want to do, in small, bite-sized pieces.

Note: You could attack the list with a garden pick and then burn it. But only if you think it will help.



This is the fourth post from my series: '13 things towards recovery from burnout'.

And the premise remains the same: what works for me might not work for you.  Please don't mistake these posts for advice per se…


This post was written by Megan Hills. Megan is a writer and cartoonist who hopes that you do what cha wanna do, be what cha wanna be, yeahhhh*. Find out more about Megan

*Inspired by the lyrics from the song 'Because I love you' by Doug Ford and Jim Keays, performed by Masters Apprentices. Yeahhhh.

Reader Comments

I don't know whether to laugh or cry reading this. You know, I didn't have 'helpful' people suggesting stuff, I had to make the list all by myself (I did a good job anyway), and I have tried a fair amount of things on your list (ehm 24 things?). Well, the one recommendation I got was from my grandma who almost forced me to go see a psychiatrist for medication. She didn't really understand the difference between exhaustion and depression. I didn't go, but I could have clobbered her for sure.
For me, meditation helped in dealing with it, yoga helped, therapy helped, going to an energy healer helped and above all holiday in an exotic location with a therapist, a yoga teacher and a massage therapist (yes, I got lucky) away from everything helped. I wouldn't mind doing that again! It didn't cure me fully (what a long road that is) but it helped  anyway.
What a paradox indeed- I think I spent the best part of two years obsessing that I was not a 'useful' member of society. Hmmm….

Written By Amber on October 5th, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

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