Warning Signs

I rolled over onto my side and thought about my options and they were few: get up, get ready and meet my campus team as usual or, go back to sleep and lie that my alarm hadn’t gone off. Though the latter was admittedly appealing, I decided I wouldn’t do that, but I wasn’t going to get up yet, either.

As I lay there on my side in the fetal position, I recognized it. It was the feeling I had just shy of 3 years ago. In November of my fourth year at Queen’s I woke up one morning and wished I hadn’t. Ever again. I didn’t want to go to class and the prospect of facing the responsibilities of my day seemed more akin to being dragged across broken glass than the “running and not growing faint” Jesus promised. I ended up skipping all my classes that day, canceling my DGs for two weeks and saying nothing in servant team meetings. That was when I knew something was really really wrong and I went and got help, only to find out I was the so often talked about “burnt out”.

Fast-forward back to present and things are a lot different. I am healthy! I am rejoicing for that experience on so many levels and this is one of them: I know my warning signs. And friends, a month ago today I experienced one. I have to admit, it’s hard to share this with you because I know it means I’m coming clean with the fact that I have low capacity (or at least I do now). My ambition is too big for my abilities.

I know that I’m especially vulnerable to burnout because I’m a single woman with a bleeding heart and a hero complex, which I’ve been working these past few years.

The reason I’m posting this is that I want you all to be aware of your warning signs. Burnout is insanity. It’s life altering in ways you can’t imagine and probably didn’t think possible. I want you to avoid this at all costs; it’s something I seriously wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy (and not just because we’re supposed to love them!). Heck, 3 years later I’m still in recovery!

So think about it. What could your warning signs be? And how do you respond if you’re sensing the alarm bells going off?

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3 thoughts on “Warning Signs

  1. aban says:

    i enjoyed this post….because you’re super honest.
    i’m sad that you had such a day..but GOOD ON YOU! for recognizing warning signs. cue. coldplay.

    anyways. my warning signs are…me crying when i drop a pen.

  2. hannahleec4c says:

    “I’m a single woman with a bleeding heart and a hero complex”

    That encapsulates it all. I think that would describe all the women I know who have burnt out, or are on the verge of it. How is it that you are working through it?

    My stress response is to run away – either in my brain or actually physically.

  3. amanda says:

    thanks for your honesty Jess, i need to spend some time figuring out my warning signs too

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