Whether you are supporting someone with a mental illness or whether you are battling a mental illness yourself, the reality is that burnout is something you have to be aware of if you are going to beat it.
Burnout happens when you overburden yourself, taking too much work and responsibility while not giving yourself enough time for self-care. It is your body and your mental health saying it has reached a breaking point and can’t be ignored any longer.
And it happens because too many of us who battle a mental illness try to put on a mask and pretend that we are fine, even if we are not. And if we do that, the demons are allowed to wreak havoc unchecked within our minds. And the end result is never good.
Personally, I know that when I don’t pay attention to my anxiety and my depression, when I try to push through it, it doesn’t end well. I get stressed, and end up taking that stress out on the people I love, the people who are just trying to support me. Because the stress created by my anxiety needs a way out, and if I don’t find healthy releases for it, releases like self-care and exercise, it will come out in less ideal ways. Like picking fights with loved ones.
Which brings me to burnout for those who love and support someone living with a mental illness. This is something I am familiar with from both sides of the issue. As someone who battles mental illness, I have been too hard, too short, with those that are just trying to love and support me. This leads to tension with those I love the most and guilt because I feel like I should know how to handle my anxiety and my depression better.
Yet I know others who battle mental health issues too. And too often I feel the bluntness of their anxiety when it is peaking, as they too are short-tempered. In some ways, I am particularly well suited to handle this since I can understand what they are going through and can respond with the compassion and forgiveness they need, which helps both me and them avoid burnout.
Lastly, as someone who works in the mental health field, I see and hear some truly difficult stories. This is perhaps the hardest area in which to avoid burnout. Because if I internalize the battles of those I am working with, those I am trying to help, then their demons can team up with mine, making it extra hard on me.
Yet just as with my own mental health, I find healthy outlets for this stress. I am open about how I am doing with my own mental health, and debrief with co-workers and colleagues whenever necessary.
All of these approaches to beating burnout come down to being mindful of my stress levels, and mindful of how that is impacting my anxiety and depression. So to summarize today’s rambling, mindfulness is the key for me alongside exercise and meditation. Yet I am curious how all of you beat the burnout of your mental illnesses and your professions. If you care to share, please feel free to do so, either in the comment section below, or through the contact page, above.
And as always, thanks for reading.