Our Personal Stories of Burnout

This blog header has a picture of Kristen and Erin. Erin is on the left and wearing a blue dress. Kristen is on the right and wearing a yellow dress with flowers. The background colors are blue and yellow. The white text box has the text "New Blog" and "Our Personal Stories of Burnout."

We wouldn’t have written our book without our personal stories of burnout. It’s important for us to share them with you, so up first is Kristen:

Kristen’s personal story of burnout

For years, and years, and years, people would ask me how I “did so much.” I volunteered at multiple places, I read hundreds of books a year, I traveled, I wrote – how was it possible? I’d smile, hopefully masking my discomfort. I’d tell them it was because I didn’t have any kids, pets, or plants. I simply had more time than others. Inside, though, I was screaming “I actually have no idea how to not work this much, so if you could tell me how you manage to stop, I’d really appreciate it.” 

Well meaning friends, family, and even some therapists would tell me to slow down, to rest, to stop. I’d tell them I didn’t know how, and I could tell they thought I was blowing them off. No, I did not have any idea how to do it. It was awkward getting praised for productivity I saw as a coping mechanism. 

Then, in March of 2023, I hit the hardest brick wall of my life. I’d been exhausted before – for a few decades, actually – but I’d never actually and fully lost the will to live. I had enough wherewithal to call my mom. That call set off a chain of events that led me to a new psychiatrist. 

Her a-ha moment

When I told him I didn’t know how to slow down, he wasn’t surprised. He told me the chemicals in my brain didn’t permit me to. No amount of effort, of new habits, of mindfulness would get me to a restful mind. All of this because I was chemically unregulated.

The clouds opened, the birds sang, and I felt a whole new world opening up. 

A new diagnosis and a lot of new meds later, I’m still learning how to create my own culture of balance amidst the culture of burnout that the rest of the world encourages me to stay in. It’s a daily practice and sometimes I’m completely garbage at it. Other times, I’m pretty good! 

The moral of my story is this: sometimes, our brains are unregulated and working out of burnout on our own isn’t possible. If you think this might be true for you, I’d encourage you to find a few moments of bravery and make a phone call. It could just save your life. We hope that sharing our personal stories of burnout helps just one person get the help they need.