THE PARADOX OF CARING – A STORY ABOUT BURNOUT

This week marks the day I start working with a coach I have been inspired by (and in awe of) for a long time.
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And it couldn’t come at a more poignant time.
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ENTER THE BIG B:
3 weeks ago I hit total breakdown, harder than I’d ever been hit before. Burnout was staring me in the face and there was little I could do about it.
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But this doesn’t happen to me? How could it? I live life to the fullest, follow my heart, stand up for what I believe, serve people powerfully and look after myself….or so I thought…
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I didn’t see it coming. I thought I had it all under control. In fact, I thought I had figured it all out and was on my way to set a new course for my life, all planned and all organised. Turns out my life had other plans… little did I know THIS was the course I was about to embark on.
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I thought I had experienced burnout before. I never knew there was another level, until 3 weeks ago.
It started with the onset of a pounding heart that never calmed down.
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My heart was pounding so hard it felt like it was about to jump out of my chest and I had continuous irregular heartbeats which honestly freaked the hell out of me. I ended up in the emergency 24 hours later.
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As I sat there in the emergency unit waiting to get an emergency heart X-ray, with a heart monitor on my body and blood being drawn from my arm, my whole life flashed in front of my eyes.
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” Life really is short”, I said to my husband sitting beside me.
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He looked at me with warm eyes and replied:
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“Yes, but it’s not over yet.”
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I wasn’t sure he was right, but all of me was hoping he was. Luckily the test came back positive, I was ok, or at least the papers told me so. I on the other hand felt like I had been run over by a ten ton truck..
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I spent the rest of the week in bed (except for the time I broke down at the GPā€™s office in tears thinking is was about to die!) I could hardly move. I had to have a 24hr heart monitor on to make sure there was no damage to my heart that they had missed at the hospital. My body was so tired that every task seemed impossible to complete. Making food or taking the kids to the dentist felt the same as if someone would ask me to run a marathon. I could hardly make it to the bathroom to have a shower let alone jump in the car to go to the dentist!
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That week was the longest week of my life. I cried, screamed and cried again. I must have cried a river, literally. I drew, wrote, meditated & slept for hours on end. My brain felt slow, I couldn’t thinks straight, and I didn’t want to either.
There where moments I didn’t think I would ever be myself again. I had so much pain in me I was sure I had caused permanent damage. But slowly, very slowly I started to recover. Each day I gained a bit more energy and after a couple of weeks I started to feel somewhat alive again.
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Today I am feeling a lot better compared to 3 weeks ago, but I am not there yet, far from it. I know this will take a lot more than a few weeks to recover. But I am grateful, truly grateful to be on this side of it.
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By deep contemplation I have come to realise this has all happened to help me long-term. No longer am I willing to sacrifice my own health for anything. Period.
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Burnout is real. And this is especially true if you are a care-giver or have a heart that cares deeply about others. Combine that with an added workload and unresolved grief (or other emotional pain) and you’ll have the perfect storm for reaching burnout.


Even though I KNEW consciously how to NOT get myself into this situation, I couldn’t stop it from happening. Burnout can happen to the best of us, especially to the ones that put others before themselves.
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I am grateful for all the work I have done on myself and all the knowledge I have gained through life. Because of that, I know what to do to get myself back to strength. Even though the road might be long I know I will get through this, and become even stronger because of it.

My life will look a lot different from now:
– I now KNOW the true meaning of self-care
– I now UNDERSTAND being a martyr doesn’t actually serve anyone but only hurts ourselves
– I now KNOW trying to please everyone stops us from staying true to ourselves
– I now KNOW life can slip away in a second so appreciate each moment
– I now KNOW I am not here to fix anyone or anything, and that the care I give to others I also am allowed to receive
– I now UNDERSTAND compassion starts within ourselves

So, this Friday as I embark on a 6-month journey with one of the most amazing coaches out there it will be a different journey from what I had visualised. But if life has taught me anything it’s to trust the process.
Travel well my friends, and don’t be afraid to stop and smell the roses along the way.
šŸŒ¹
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Your mere presence in this world is the spark that lights up the whole universe. My wish for you is that you can allow yourself to see that today.
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Love Madelaine

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