Burnout can happen to anyone who puts their heart and soul into things. It is often seen as something that happens to those who work desperately hard over a long period of time. From an objective point of view, it is perhaps obvious that if you push your body for months or years to be the perfect employee and partner, there will reach a point where your body simply says ‘enough is enough’.
In hindsight, it is easy for me to see that this is what caused my last bout of severe depression. The stresses of daily life add up, and when you don’t take any time out for yourself but constantly work at achieving the next step in your career or at home, there can be too much to cope with.
After working tirelessly for a year and a half for a new company in Nottingham, I began to feel the beginnings of depression take hold; my sleep increased, my eating increased, and I became unsatisfied in my job, feeling as though my hard work was going unnoticed. It was at this point I was offered a promotion – so I tried to put my depression on hold.
I moved to London within three months of hearing the news, and put everything I had into the new job. The depression was still there but I felt as though I was holding it at bay by constantly keeping myself busy. The affirmation I had received in being given so much more responsibility kept me going; it meant that I didn’t mind doing a 1.5 hour commute into work and that I didn’t mind the shitty pay; they must have valued me otherwise they wouldn’t have offered me the job, right?
After six months of pushing myself to my limit both at work and socially, being turned down for both promotions and pay rises although I was performing as well as my better paid colleagues, depression returned – as I’m sure you had already guessed.
This time it crept up on me, slowly taking away my emotions and my freedom, until one day I found myself in bed, having not spoken to anyone or really moved much for two weeks, I was numb and void of emotion, apart from the odd glimmer of despair.
* * *
That was about six months ago now, and whilst some of those days are behind me, they have not disappeared. Depression for some people, can be the body’s natural reaction to events that occur within their lives. It should not be something we are ashamed of, or feel we have to keep quiet about.