Shocking, funny and heartbreaking comments about burnout

This post was written by Megan on March 15, 2011
Posted Under: burnout and the workplace,burnout signs and symptoms

Make a comment burnout cartoon

I recently read a post on the Lifehacker site called How to recognize signs of burnout (and what to do about them).

The post was pretty dull, to be honest (sorry, Adam mate). He quoted Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter (writer for Psychology Today) who discussed the signs of burnout. Adam gave us a few from the list:

  • Physical signs: chest pain, stomach pain, sleep problems, frequent headaches, chronic fatigue.
  • Psychological signs: activities you once enjoyed aren't enjoyable anymore, excessive anxiety, inability to concentrate, pessimism, hopelessness, frustration, anger.
  • Behavioural signs: skipping meals, drop in productivity, long work hours yet several incomplete projects, eating alone, being a poor team player.

I only relate to a few of these. For a start, I never skip a meal. Instead I think I've doubled the number…

It was actually the comments from this post that had me forgetting about food for at least five minutes – and sensing the immense frustration out there. Below are some of the comments – and my comments on their comments. 

 

Winstonsicle worked his comment into point form.

Here's his personal list of burnout behavioural traits: 

  • Increased aggression while driving
  • The desire to plow into other cars as they pass by 
  • A tendency to speed up and drift around sharp turns 
  • A strong urge to veer into every tanker truck in sight… 

Winstonsicle has a sense of humour. There's a computer game called 'Burnout'. You've guessed it, Burnout involves driving around virtual cities at high speeds. 

 

Another fellow who goes by @dickfreckle can be forgiven his chosen name due to this telling revelation: 

I'm surprised that "showing up to work drunk because you just don't give a f*ck anymore" didn't make the list of symptoms. That's exactly what I did at the lowest depth of burnout, and believe it or not I never regretted it. I'm a fun drunk, not a surly, shoot-up-the-office kind. Tried to get a conga line going and everything.

I remember dribbling under my desk at the lowest depth of my burnout. A conga line would have been but a dream. 

 

Keter attributed the workplace as the source of the problem:

I cannot work for someone else without experiencing those symptoms. It's not burnout, it's the fact that the modern workplace is a grinding hell filled with electronic pollution, backstabbing coworkers and pointy-haired bosses, and no matter how valuable your contributions may be, at the end of the day, you're even less valuable to your employer than the furniture.

The cure: go solo.

Not every workplace is like what Keter described. But there does appear to be an awful lot like this. If only they introduced siesta rooms… 

How we work can kick-off burnout. And there's no doubt that a toxic workplace can burn out your mind, your body and your spirit. As soon as I went solo, I knew I'd never go back to being an employee. It was a step in the right direction for me – but not necessarily for everyone.

Of course, the vast majority of solo traders (who are actually relying on their income to survive) tango with the potential of burnout on a daily basis. Running your own business profitably without undermining your health is an art form. I'm only in nappies with that learning curve.

 

This comment by aptly-named FrankReality broke my heart:

What if you've had these same symptoms for 20 years?

I'm going to come right out and say it: some of us draw the short straw. We've tried everything – and then tried nothing to see how that goes – and STILL those symptoms keep greeting us in the morning. Complete exasperation is understandable. The best thing you can do is stop the 'cure mentality'. Stop fighting the symptoms, stop expecting to feel better.

In short, release the pressure of wanting to be well.

Instead, ask yourself: How good can your life be even with these symptoms? And it can be good. You can surprise yourself.

Sometimes this approach has an inverse psychology effect. Give up the fight and soon you might find yourself feeling better than yesterday. It's a radical notion, isn't it? That you can still enjoy life while feeling unwell. But it is possible.

 

So what do you think of these comments?

How long have you been feeling the symptoms? Did the workplace cause or promote burnout for you? Or was it playing Burnout? (sounds pretty punishing on the adrenal glands…). What's burnout like for you? What frustrates you? What have you learnt? 

Care to comment?

 

This post was written by Megan Hills. Megan is a writer and cartoonist who appreciates shy readers – but wouldn't mind some chatty ones.  Find out more about Megan

Reader Comments

'I'm going to come right out and say it: some of us draw the short straw. We've tried everything – and then tried nothing to see how that goes – and STILL those symptoms keep greeting us in the morning. Complete exasperation is understandable. The best thing you can do is stop the 'cure mentality'. Stop fighting the symptoms, stop expecting to feel better.
In short, release the pressure of wanting to be well.
Instead, ask yourself: How good can your life be even with these symptoms? And it can be good. You can surprise yourself.'
Wow, Megan, that is some very good advice! For me it's nearly 4 years, and although I am getting better it's such a slow process. Sometimes I get really scared, thinking I will never get back to 'normal' again. Other times I am more accepting, and I can even laugh at it. So yes I am tired, so what? Nobody is going to tell me my life isn't worth living because I am tired!! The lowering of expectations is the hardest and most important lesson.
At a surface level, my workplace and lifestyle caused the burnout, but on a deeper level it was that I didn't know how to look after myself, or even that I was worth it. Low self-esteem. You know, if anything, the burnout is curing that. At a deep level I have made the decision to support myself, and look after myself no matter what happens next.

#1 
Written By Amber on March 16th, 2011 @ 1:25 am

Thanks so much for telling us how it is with you, Amber. The self-esteem thing is a biggie, isn’t it? Low self-esteem feels like something we get when we have burnout – but, chances are, it was there all along. Self-care and self-compassion are vital for all of us – the well and the not-so-well.

#2 
Written By Megan on March 16th, 2011 @ 7:59 am

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