Why burn out was the best thing that happened to me
It seems only fitting that the first blog post I write is on my own personal health journey. In 2013/2014 I had just finished my Nutritional Medicine studies, however I felt that I wasn’t quite ready to be a practitioner yet (I am told that this is common for all new graduates), however in my gut, I really felt that in order to make a difference to people’s health, I needed to study herbal medicine as well. At this time I was dating someone who placed a lot of value on money and he convinced me that it was time for me to start making money and set up a business. So I did.
At this time I was working 5 days a week in a Health Food shop and had 1 day a week in my new clinic – with no clients. As a massive perfectionist (something I am working on), this caused me considerable amounts of stress. I had no idea how to market or get clients, so I listened to all of the advice of my partner, instead of listening to myself and what I felt would work. I did so many things that went against my gut instinct and as a result the stress was increasing. Add on to this the fact that I was out nearly every night (even though I didn’t always want to, but I always felt obliged to stick to a commitment) drinking way to much alcohol to deal with the anxiety and stress I was feeling, getting to bed late, exercising a lot and having absolutely no time to just sit and do nothing. I literally felt like I was being pulled in a million directions by everything and everyone around me. The only thing I was doing right, was eating well, but I can tell you, no amount of eating well will stop you from burning out, if the other aspects of your life are not balanced as well.
So after almost a year of feeling on edge, not being able to sleep despite the fact that I was exhausted, losing my temper at every tiny little thing that annoyed me (people talking was one of them – seriously), feeling overwhelmed, feeling anxious, having absolutely zero sex drive, having terrible digestive issues and just feeling like life was the biggest struggle EVER, I collapsed. Yep – comatose. I could barely get out of bed. Brushing my teeth or having a shower was a luxury for me, they just required so much effort and I had nothing left to give. This lasted for about 6 months, during which my boyfriend broke up with me (massive blessing in disguise) and I got diagnosed with adrenal fatigue, which in a nutshell means I was so stressed out that my adrenals (tiny glands above your kidneys, responsible for stress and energy hormones) gave up due to overwork.
While I was comatose, I made a few realisations that I now try to live my life by as a result (things that would never have been implemented if I didn’t burn out):
- Take responsibility for your own health – I could so easily blame others for my adrenal fatigue, but I stayed in situations and relationships and made decisions that were not serving me and I knew it, meaning everything that happened to me was a result of decisions that I had made alone
- Do what you want to do and don’t be influenced by the opinions of others – this for me at the time was going back to study Herbal Medicine, even though it meant that I would still be a student in my 30s and have to live with my parents to support this decision
- Always listen to your body and what it is telling you – I no longer ignore fatigue or illness when it strikes – I take the time to recover properly, regardless of how long that may take, or what I might miss as a result
- Prioritise self care and down time – something that previously used to bore me – I was so addicted to being ‘busy’. But meditation, yoga and going to bed early are now priorities on my agenda. I now spend my time trying to ‘unbusy’ myself as opposed to filling my schedule and I couldn’t be happier
- Learn how to say NO so you can prioritise the things that are good for you in your life – We always have a choice on how and where we will spend our precious time and energy, choose wisely
- And most importantly I have learnt to listen to my gut instinct and drown out the opinions of others if they do not align with this. Every time I dismiss this instinct, things never go well!!! It is a constant reminder that deep inside all of us, we know what is best for us, we just have to have the courage to listen to it
And so, this is why rock bottom was the best thing that happened to me. I am one of those people that needs to be hit over the head sometimes to get the message – and boy did I get the message, for which I am now forever grateful. Now, when things start to get busy or tough, I have the tools in place to manage this, without falling apart (too much anyway, it’s an ongoing journey). If it wasn’t for adrenal fatigue I would never have truly understood the value of health and how important mindset, emotions and lifestyle are in ensuring you maintain it. I knew – but I didn’t really know, if you know what I mean. And now I get to share this knowledge with you guys, which I’m super excited about!