How to burn out

I blogged recently about facing up to the underlying causes of depression. One of them, is exhaustion. I’m very conscious that this is a common problem. Long work hours and massive pressure coupled with little or no pay increase has a lot of people working themselves ragged right now. So, I’m going to share a list of ‘I statements’ that illustrate how I persuade myself that no matter the personal cost, I have to keep trying and pushing. It’s often easier to see how bloody stupid and unreasonable something is when observing someone else, so I offer up my nasty little inner voices in the hopes of helping other people expose them.

Other people’s needs are more important than mine.

I am lazy and not trying hard enough and if I pushed myself harder I could keep going and do the things.

I may be earning enough money right now, but what if something terrible happens? I need more of a safety net, more options.

If I stop, something terrible will happen.

If I stop, everyone else will think I am lazy and slacking and then if anything goes wrong for me they will assume it was because I didn’t try hard enough.

If I do not run very hard, I will miss out. Other people will get the opportunities. I will be a failure.

How I feel doesn’t matter compared to the importance of getting the job done.

Other people work harder than me, for longer hours, in worse conditions. I therefore have no right to complain.

I don’t deserve rest or time off. I don’t deserve good things.

Working hard will somehow magically protect me from disaster and keep me financially secure.

I feel guilty when I stop working. There are so many things that need doing.

If I say no to someone I am being unreasonable and letting them down.

Other forms of working yourself to death orientated insanity are also available. Every time I take a day off I have to face this lot down. Every time I stop, rest, do something purely for myself, I have to fend this stuff off. We live in a culture that sees hard work (no matter how futile) as a virtue, and mental health as some kind of irrelevance. I want to change this. I want to change it for myself, and for the people around me. There are times and places for hard work, long hours, for deploying whatever blood, sweat and tears are needed to get something done. No one should be trying to set up permanent residence there, and no one should be asking us to.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “How to burn out

  • A Wild Savage Star

    Truer words never spoken. I’m in the process of dropping out of a professional commitment because of my mental health, and get the distinct impression the organisers would prefer the ‘suck it up’ approach when really, no matter how inconvenient it is, I have to put that first.

  • contemplativeinquiry

    Judgemental inner voices are insidious aren’t they? If you can’t turn down the volume 📣 or switch them off, you might try the kind of dialogue that offers compassion to them first and then asks where they are ultimately coming from and wat they really hope for. Better than flat contradiction. Just a thought.

  • lornasmithers

    I can so relate to this! Because I’m not where I want to be in life right now I feel like I should always be pushing myself harder and always feel guilty taking time out to do things that aren’t geared toward the purpose of creating and promoting writing and events. Then I wonder why I crash and get depressed and can’t access inspiration on a deep enough level to be of use of anyone!

  • Leeby Geeby

    Yes, this is very import stuff that you are relating here. The business as usual approach despite all the warning signs is a form of pathology. I think Krishnamurti said it best: ” It’s not healthy to be well adjusted to a sick society.” No where is this more apparent than in our attitude to working life. The amount of chronic denial people have to go through with regards to their health and sanity is astonishing.

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