Turning dark daze to baby blue

This post was written by Megan on February 12, 2010
Posted Under: burnout and depression

Depression and burnout

Yesterday I was feeling pretty lousy.  You know those days that can officially be called 'The dark end of the street'?   But I found myself doing something a little different to turn that feeling right around…  

I picked up the phone and called a friend.  Doesn't sound unusual, I know.  But wait, there's more…  

This friend of mine had just had a baby.  She was still at the hospital.  Feeling tired was just the beginning for this new mum.  So I bought an obscenely large box of chocolates and went over to see her.  This took some doing.  Crawling under the bed amongst the dust balls, two old tissues and my partner's neglected guitar was actually a more attractive option.  But, Goddamn it, I did it.

The visit wasn't long.  We smiled and hugged.  I met the baby (not much of a handshake).  We had a cup of tea and talked about this beautiful being that has just come into the world…and how flowers are nice but chocolates are imperative (phew).  And then I went home.

I left feeling lighter than I had all day.  Not ankle-kicking, technicolour splendour, but my mood had shifted up a notch.  

Important note: I still had a lie down when I got back to give my body some 'nap love'.

A word of caution

Some of us become burnt out partly because we have been way too busy giving to others and not giving enough to ourselves. Then our body reverses the action by giving us no choice – we have to stop and start tending to ourselves.  

As the risk of sounding like one of those crazy, super-positive people (you know, the ones with the wide eyes, white teeth and a best seller book you've never heard of), this is when burnout can be a gift in disguise.  It forces you to learn to give to yourself.


Giving while recovering

While in recovery, we can fall into the trap of spending too much time alone – and in our heads.  A sense of isolation, even lip-gnawing despair can form and fester.  Icky stuff, but you do have a good shot at a U-turn.   

We can often lift our muddy mood by putting ourselves in someone else's shoes.  It stops the 'I'm so tired' message that tends to bounce around our brains (that message can also come with expletives).  The message is reasonable.  You are tired.  But it's not the most helpful of mantras.  

When life feels dire, try to think of a way to give to someone else.  A way that will also help increase your energy levels, not reduce them.  Even the act of thinking about how you can give to someone else can be a lift.  

Burnout is a great teacher.  It is where we learn to give in new ways.  Healthier ways.  And we also often learn to value the small, the inexpensive and the not particularly time-consuming gifts.    

* For the record, I'll always value chocolate.  That's never going to change.

This post was written by Megan Hills.  Megan is a writer and cartoonist who…at this moment…would like to pay homage to the small and sometimes ordinary things that are also beautiful.  Find out more about Megan

Reader Comments

I find it amazing sometimes how the smallest of things can turn the pit of despair into something more bearable. The days when I can hardly speak due to fatigue and yet I manage to stumble into the backyard and accost the neighbour not with my dramas but an interest in them. This sometimes distracts me long enough that I can breathe again.
I am not saying that to always focus on someone else is good because sometimes it isn't as it can drain you. But yes that break in isolation can be a lifesaver. To feel human for an instant.
Thanks for the connection Megan

Written By Margaret on February 13th, 2010 @ 6:39 pm

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