Survival tips for people who are on fire (metaphorically)

Some weeks ago I procured and read The everything Guide to Adrenal Fatigue. One of the main consequences, is that I’ve changed how I think about my body. Rather than just experiencing how I’m feeling, I’ve started to consider it in terms of chemistry. Not very sexy, but a good deal more useful! Here are some things I have learned so far that may help other people dealing with forms of burnout, stress, and depression.

I cannot tell the difference between depression and exhaustion when I am feeling them. I also often confuse anxiety with pain. If I tackle the pain and the exhaustion, I feel less depression and anxiety. If I take the pain and exhaustion seriously as issues, I am less likely to want to call them depression and anxiety, and thus I feel more able to do something about them. I have stopped thinking of myself as a person suffering from fatigue and started thinking of myself as a person who really needs a rest. This is helping me make changes. Other people’s mileage will vary depending on what the underlying issues are.

Thoughts and feelings are connected. If I let panic get a hold of me, I can run my body into the ground. If I let myself feel pressured, even making lunch can bring the threat of burnout. I have to slow down, take deep breaths, try to put things into perspective, and not let myself be panic stricken about what I haven’t done yet. I’m not actually on fire, it just feels that way. If I can control my thoughts, I can get in control of everything else and change something of how I am feeling. I have been in situations I could not control, this fear is a legacy from that, but I am not there now and need to learn to be gentler. People who are actually on fire need actual help, and will not be able to change things by thinking about it. I have been there, I need to recognise the consequences.

I need the good stuff. Happiness is not a luxury, not something I have to earn, not an optional extra. It is key to my viability. I need things that make me happy and leave me feeling good. I must not, therefore, squander my precious downtime on things I find stressful or miserable. I have to stop doing what other people want me to do and start doing what I want me to do. I have to trust the people close to me to support me in this and I must be less willing to tolerate people who don’t really care whether I am happy or not.

I have to stop using sugar and caffeine as a crutch to keep me upright when I’ve burned out. I need to handle exhaustion with rest, not with using stimulants to keep pushing myself ever onwards. I can have sugar and caffeine, but I need to treat them as recreational drugs, not as things I am dependent on.

I have to recognise when I can’t do what’s wanted, or don’t want to, or haven’t the energy, or the inclination and so forth, and say ‘no’ to people sometimes.

I have to be aware of the pressure I feel around money, work achievements, social engagement, the need to be a really fantastic activist and all the other things that would cheerfully suck me dry if I let them. I have to hold my own boundaries. Other people cannot be relied on to hold those boundaries for me, or to respect them. My body is a finite resource and needs treating that way.


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

9 responses to “Survival tips for people who are on fire (metaphorically)

  • Lara/Trace

    It’s not easy. Not easy at all.

    • Sheila North

      But well worth it! Excellent points all, as usual.

      As someone who usually works long shifts, including some nights, I particularly liked this: ” I have stopped thinking of myself as a person suffering from fatigue and started thinking of myself as a person who really needs a rest.”

      I sometimes experience exhaustion as anger & distress. However, I have learned that it’s almost always down to me being tired, and that after a decent enough sleep, what seemed like a problem or annoyance will usually disappear once I’ve slept.

      I have no idea why that was so bloody hard a lesson to learn!

      • Nimue Brown

        thanks for sharing this. As for why it’s so hard, I’m inclined to blame our culture of sleep deprivation, and how normal it is to be tired, and how deep the implications of questioning exhaustion go – especially with regards to things workish.

  • Ellas.Infinite.Realm

    Most everyone I know needs a rest. The thing with deep fatigue which I have recently learned is that it is a marker of deeper distress. One of the most amazing things that I found recently is the function of the body on a quantum level. Basically, if your light, water or magnetism are messed up, (which is likely as our designed reality would have it) your body systems will not function in symbiosis with the earth and sun and will develop things like adrenal fatigue. That is a symptom of the problem, but the underlying cause can be treated. I found a book called the Epi-Paleo by JackKruse and he has a blog at For anyone in this system, where we do not control/create all of our reality, it is amazing to learn the quantum functioning of our body and how by addressing with some simple steps one can begin to heal from that level outward. I made some changes and must say that while being most dubious at first, am seeing some remarkable re-sets, the most noticeable being a very deep restful sleep that I have not had in many years. It’s worth a visit to his blog to get your toes wet. It should be much easier for a working Druid to make the transitions as the Earth contact is so much stronger already. Blessings for everyone’s healing!

  • Christopher Blackwell

    I would go farther and say that laughter daily is necessary for happiness, and if life does not provide it, they you have to arrange for it. In my case that 17.5 pounds of bird seed that I put out each morning in the area I call the Seed Vulture Cafe, right across the driveway from my window. I have added a cottontail rabbit who runs out to check me out when I come outside especially if he sees me with my bucket of seed. So he will chose a bush to sit under while I put out seed and I make sure to leave a pile of seed where he can see it. He only moves a fraction of an inch if I drop more besides him. With the seed set out, I know that I can look out the window and usually see something that will make me laugh.

  • alainafae

    My mom always said to me “You need to be your own best advocate, because no one else can do the job like you can”, sounds compatible with your post 🙂

  • landisvance

    Thanks for this! I have forwarded it to friends who are in need of your wisdom.

  • lornasmithers

    Wise words. I’ve recently given up caffeine because it augments my anxiety too much but can see why it’s a good crutch to depend on to keep going. Mine is now peppermint tea…

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