As I described in “The burn-out clichés”, I went through the dark caverns of burn-out hell. I stayed home for months, after my body refused any further co-operation. I tried to find rest by doing “nothing”, which made me even more restless. I wanted to get energy by trying to sport, but it depleted me even more. And then suddenly, after frustrating months of sliding further down, while expecting to go up, there’s that little spark of energy. A sign that your body is up for something more… and then it happens!
You go and grab that spark. Out for that long awaited run. You feel the oxygen filling your lungs up till the smallest capillaries. You’re alive again… Alive! For fifty f* meters, then realizing your heart rate is abnormally high, you’re feeling even worse than before and you need two days to recover from that poor attempt to run. Another setback. BUT the spark was there and it will come back more frequently. It just needs to be treated with care. It’s a fragile spark, one that will still fade easily if not cherished, one that will need to charge again for some time after every time it went out.
Building up after burn-out is delicate. Your mind and body need to become partners… truly best friends. And sometimes best friends clash, but they will always find each other again. I realized that for me the normal working life is never going to work (although still trapped in it 🙂 — Why Work Doesn’t Work) and while gaining energy in the past months, my mind wanted to bypass my body. I felt the urge to execute all the ideas I had to escape from my golden work-cage. My spark, that meanwhile became stronger and brighter, all of a sudden faded again. My balance was off and bam! I fell. Burn-out is ruthless.
For people struggling with the same, I can only recommend to listen to your body. Don’t let anyone or anything convince you to go faster than your body allows you to, or the balance is lost and the spark fades to only light up again when it gained enough confidence. Don’t allow any pressure. There is only 1 you, only 1 life to live (I don’t really believe in re-incarnation or any “after-life” — loved the series by the way :)). Invest in “you”. Make the handshake between mind and body, accept and go as slow as needed… enjoy the sparks, but protect them so they can grow stronger! (Also motivating myself here :)).
People that had a burn-out or depression probably recognize this feeling and the setbacks… I’m curious to see how others deal with it — I’m still struggling to find my balance, but step by step I’m learning more about myself, life, its relativity and the purpose of it all.
Thanks for reading!