Burnout Chronicles: the big one

4 min reading time

continued from part 1: the early years

My early twenties were the perfect storm. My long-term boyfriend and I broke up and my biological father passed away within weeks of each other. I threw myself into work and partying to avoid the difficult feelings that were coming up for me. I was working full-time for a non-profit, moonlighting as a music journalist, studying personal training, and had started my blog.

I figured I’d sleep when I’m dead.

I switched jobs a couple of times but struggled financially on minimum wage, and ended up taking on promo work and hospitality shifts to make ends meet. I was struggling in pretty much every aspect of my life. Partying and social time was the only time I felt happy and could forget my problems.

Then I had a jaw reconstruction and it all went downhill.

The reason for – and recovery from – the surgery was traumatic. I had my jaw wired shut and couldn’t eat solids for three months. I lived on protein shakes, green juice, coffee, and amphetamines. I lost a lot of weight I didn’t have to lose, and my immune system was cactus.

By then I was working in a hugely toxic environment; juggling multiple roles without training or support, and my bosses bullied me daily. I stayed up all weekend trying to learn how to do what they were asking of me, while trying to keep up with my studies and extra projects.

My mental health GP suggested that my drug habits might be masking ADHD, something that runs in my family… and, low and behold. I was working out, eating vegan, abstaining from alcohol, and convinced myself that it would all balance out my drug use.

But I was so unwell that my eyelashes started to fall out, I constantly had eye infections, and would cry in the bathroom on a daily basis. I got an infection from scratching my ankle that meant I couldn’t walk, and I was cold and depressed. I quit my job, recognised that I had a problem that I could no longer manage, and opened up to my parents about the struggle I’d had trying to complete Uni.

I’d hit rock bottom – burned out both emotionally and physically.

I’d known for a while that I needed to make a change. I’d signed up for a health coaching program in the midst of my decline, so strong was the nudge from the Universe. I’d signed up with a Spiritual Practice coach after reading her blog. I packed up my things and followed the guy I’d been seeing to Brisbane to “thaw out”, to make a fresh start. I cried listening to my lectures, and felt like I was on the right path.

I longed to help people, but deep in shame and still healing, I was back in hospitality and events. I bought a licence for a business networking events company, and coached people for free to get experience. Those two things lit a fire under me to work for myself in a way I hadn’t felt before. Freedom.

Even when I landed a “dream job” with a household name where I cried at all the lovely things our teams did around the world, I still felt unfulfilled. It wasn’t until I went back to school to finish my Health studies that I realised what was missing. I picked up work as an assistant for health entrepreneurs, took on coaching clients, freelance work, and a network marketing opportunity to help build my business income.

When my partner and I got engaged, the pressure was on to pay for a wedding. I took a government contract but maintained my schedule of study and freelance work, figuring that this time, I had my shit together and it would all be okay.

Spoiler alert: things were not okay.

continued in part 3: the final lesson

Does any or all my journey resonate with you? For more tips, get my free eBook the Hospo’s Guide to Wellness here, or find out more about how I can help you go from surviving to thriving too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *