Crash and Burnout
In the last year I have changed jobs, moved twice (one of those internationally) and traveled about 120,000 miles. I've been working on finishing my book, caught covid, and was diagnosed with bipolar depression and Hashimoto's disease.
Additionally, with so much travel, I've had to leave my dog with my parents for an extended period of time and while she's spoiled rotten by her grandparents, she is my familiar. My stress reducer who helps me maintain some semblance of balance.
I've also been dealing with an online harasser who has attempted to accuse of me of plagiarism and get me fired from my job because I had the gall to call out an email that they sent me. This person, who I don't know, who I had blocked on social media, engaged with me in a way that made me incredibly uncomfortable, and proceeded to call me mentally ill for leaving my job at Microsoft. They have continued to pop up on and off over the last year in an alarming fashion, going so far as to impersonate someone on the Rapid exec team.
Both my publisher and my exec team at Rapid have been understanding but having someone attempt to tear apart your life because you exercised a boundary (and are generally pretty outspoken about this sort of harassment in general), is still incredibly stress inducing.
On top of this, the only time I have been in one place longer than 3 weeks in the last year was last July and while I took a little bit of time around the holidays, that can hardly be counted as rest since I was packing up to move to Berlin.
While I'm not ready to discuss all the culminating bits that finally forced me to take a break, I can say, it should never have gotten that far and I should have set firmer boundaries around taking time to rest. The more I couldn't focus and think properly during the day, the harder I tried to push through to make up for not feeling like I was being as productive as I could have.
Surprise. Pushing your way through exhaustion is not the way to solve anything and it finally started to affect my physical health.
A big factor for pushing through was feeling guilt because I wasn't super present with work while packing up my entire life to move abroad. Something I did alone and in itself is worthy of rest. That sort of life change is massive and apart from doing it alone, it also felt incredibly lonely because I don't think a lot of people understand how much work, mental and physical, it is.
Time to rest #
So now, I'm here. I've had two weeks off. I disconnected to do nothing but rest and nourish myself, and I've found it incredibly uncomfortable at times but it is getting easier. I decided to stay in the UK for a bit because the support and comfort of my partner is incredibly vital for me right now.
The biggest realization has been that two weeks off will not fix this. It has been necessary. But lifestyle changes and reprioritization of my physical and mental health are key moving forward. I intend to be more intentional with my life.
A few things I've been doing or using to help me recover:
- I've largely disconnected from Twitter and have been reading instead. Read/Reading: Braving the Wilderness, Running on Red Dog Road, The Way of Kings.
- I've been doing yoga and meditation and will continue with barre classes. My therapist recommended light exercise, nothing hardcore, to help with anxiety.
- Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. I love coffee but I drink a full glass of water in the morning before having any coffee.
- Weighted blanket for sleep. I have slept solidly through the night for two weeks with a weighted blanket. I had one in Seattle that I loved but left there. I needed the 15lbs for other things in my suitcase. It
- Listen to Solfeggio Frequencies. I've had 396hz playlists on while I read, do yoga, and clean. Whether you believe in the healing properties or not, it's been incredibly soothing.
- Overall limiting screen time. I read this article from Psychology Today at the start of my two weeks and I'm glad I did. Active recovery vs passive recovery (ex. watching TV) has made a huge difference.
- Nutrition. Taking time to eat 3 meals a day and cook. Yes. I actually had to do this.
The way in which my stress started to manifest physically put me in an incredibly dark spot. When it starts to affect you physically, you suddenly realize you've pushed too far. Masking has also taken an incredible toll on me.
I take incredible pride in the work I do, but I need to check that pride to make sure I take care of myself.
Despite autoimmune diseases and bipolar depression, I've accomplished so much the last few years. Speaking at conferences, writing a book, work promotions...the path forward now is just taking it day by day. Making sure I take care of me, so I can feel good about what I do...or what I don't do, and making sure what I do is serving me in some way that aligns with my goals.
For now, my biggest struggle is being okay with not being busy. With not doing anything. Busy is not a badge of honor.