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Don’t Be the Workaholic, Susan.

being a workaholic will lead to burnout

Exhausted. So much to do. Time restraints. Deadlines approaching. Lack of sleep. Stressed. And back to the one word to sum it all up, exhausted. Sound familiar? Whether we’re entrepreneurs, working our butts off for the “Man”, or a SAHM…we’ve all been here, are here, or somewhere in the middle…being the workaholic, or at least on our on way to it.

Me, I’m the was working the 60-hour work weeks in the corporate world. Left that, now I’m the work 24/7 entrepreneur. Yet the 24/7 hours feel better off than before. Guess it’s the whole I have control over it thing and it is in a healthier manner and there are breaks and sprinkles of self-care time in there plus I love what I do now…most of the time.

I want more.

I want to go further. I’ve already made it so far. My life has made such a huge spin, an incredible transformation. There’s no option to quit. Not an option that I’ll entertain.

Rest. Recharge. Regroup. Then get back at it.

Somedays that is easier thought and said than actually done. Fighting to find the time to rest and recharge can be a bit challenging some weeks…especially when my task list feels like it’s flowing the whole way around the block corner. Then there’s the whole situation of getting my mind to wind down. That’s like trying to see a lamb in a snowstorm.

But it’s possible. With practice. Discipline. And persistence.

See the thing is that most of us get that to succeed we have to put in a ton, like a crapload, of hard work. Sweat, blood, tears…all of that good stuff. But there’s the whole other side of it. The “we’re still human” side of it and we’re not freaking robots. So, we still need to take care of ourselves or we’ll just literally fall apart, go kaput, end. And then not even get to reap the rewards, enjoy the fruits of our labors as they say. And then well what was the point?

And how do I speak so definite about all of this? Cause I came pretty close to kaput once. And when I say I came pretty close to it, I mean in the hospital close. My mind and body had shut down. I was done. Hit the wall.

I admitted myself to inpatient treatment to recover from being a workaholic.

This was all before they classified ‘burnout’ as a mental condition on the books…so they just went with depression initially. And let me tell you the process they have for folks is well, simply put, completely awful and utterly terrifying.

I was done…I was completely crashing. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. Like a computer crashes when it overloads, that was me, that was my brain. I was done physically, emotionally, and mentally. I just lay there numb waiting for the life to melt out of me. My doctor said that when she looked into my eyes she couldn’t find me. “Me” had gone somewhere else and emptiness had replaced it. I was so gone that I admitted myself to inpatient. It was terrifying. The intake experience was the worst. I felt like an outcast, a leper, a criminal. I remember thinking to myself, “If I didn’t want to die before, this experience is making me feel like I want to die now.”

Once I arrived at the facility it was different. The staff was relatable. They were listening. They were understanding, and nurturing and said I wasn’t crazy. I was just broken right then and I needed to get fixed. I could fix myself and they were going to help me. Love, compassion, empowerment. I was receiving these things, like really receiving them at that moment, and it was in a controlled, safe environment.

The stigma that society has around mental health hurts us so much. It hurts us as individuals and it hurts us as a community. It stands in the way of many of us getting the help we need. I had been spiraling for several months, maybe even years just a little bit at a time. But my pride, and some of my shame for feeling this way, blocked me from asking for help. I couldn’t admit that I was depressed. I thought that made me weak and I’m not weak. I’m a survivor…but that’s just it. I was surviving and not living, not thriving as I should have been. How can you truly be happy if you feel you’re fighting for your life every single day? I was stuck in fight or flight mode constantly, and it was exhausting.

Getting started wasn’t easy, even after the support I felt during intake. On day one, I slept maybe an hour. I felt like I was in a dream. Was this all really happening? Did I just have a “like something out of the movies” mental breakdown??? I didn’t want to leave my room. I was in crappy, paper scrubs. Emotionally I felt stripped, mentally naked, and then wrapped in paper physically literally. I wasn’t even allowed my bra due to the metal being a potential danger. I felt 100% vulnerable. I was lost and alone. And I was really scared too. I didn’t know what to expect for the days ahead. And mostly, I felt like I was failing everyone and everything by being there. What a loser I was. How selfish am I for doing this?

In turn, it was the experience of a lifetime. Each day, I started to feel stronger and I learned so much about myself, my depression, and how I was going to move forward. And it was the beginning of true healing for me.

My life is a completely different picture now. I am happy. I live for myself and I take care of myself. I have a healthier life and a joyous life. And I continue to work towards improving it and learning more as I go.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Be the Workaholic, Susan.”

  1. Being a workaholic is often praised by employers, and even activity encouraged. But it’s not healthy, it can become an addiction, and it will ruin your wellbeing and your relationships. Life’s too short for your focus to be stuck on work. No one regrets not working enough on there death bed

    1. Agreed, and been there for both. I spent so much of my life being praised and raised up for my above and beyond and unusual work ethics and in the end, I realized it made me feel hollow. I wanted to be known for more than just work. And it was like an addiction, it was my vice. When I was sad, I worked. When I was mad, I worked. When I was happy, I worked. It was like my alcohol. So unhealthy. It’s just not worth it. There are so many things in life that should be celebrated more!

  2. I’m so glad you are better now. Being a teacher this year I have really pushes myself to the limit, working 14 hour days and I’m just not ready to do it again. Taking care of yourself is so much more important. Thank you for sharing your journey, you are so brave x

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. I hear you and see you on those 14-hour days. It’s hard on the body, the mind, and the spirit. There has to be a line drawn. Self-care is so so important. There are ways to have both! We need to change the perspective and routines of society. I hope this coming year is different for you and you can give and do what you love without having to push yourself to your end limits.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’m so happy to hear you’re happy and healthy. I couldn’t agree more with the line “The stigma that society has around mental health hurts us so much.” The workaholic/hustle culture is everywhere, and I try to remind myself often to take things slow and check in with myself first and foremost. Thank you again for sharing.

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