Two years ago, almost to the day I sat with my colleagues listening to feedback from Ofsted inspectors, and before I knew it the tears were falling down my face. I stopped listening and just wanted to get out, be anywhere but there, listening to their judgment on my work and services. It took a herculean effort not to lose it completely, and as soon as it was over, I fled. I just had to get out, ‘breathe deeply’ I kept telling myself, ‘go for a walk around the building’, ‘pull yourself together and then you will be able to go back in, face everyone and deal with the consequences’. And that’s exactly what I did. Of-course people had noticed, and I remember saying ‘please don’t hug me, I just couldn’t handle it right now’!
What I didn’t understand was that my response was normal; it was actually a perfect example of the flight response where our body perceives a threat, and just needs to escape. My body was physically telling me enough is enough.
I have always said that you can deal with whatever is thrown at you at work, if everything at home is OK and vis versa. And suffice to say I was dealing with a perfect storm. But the professional in me believed I would get over it; I would dust myself down and get on with the job. People and families were relying on me, I didn’t have the ‘luxury’ of giving up and so that’s what I did; I carried on for another couple of months before I finally realised that I just couldn’t cope. I left my role; felt a complete failure and fraud and it’s taken me two years to recover.
Having read The Secret to Solving the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski, I now realise that I was suffering from burnout. Herbert Freudenberger in 1975 defined burnout as
- Emotional exhaustion – the fatigue that comes from caring too much
- Depersonalisation – the depletion of empathy, caring and compassion, and
- Decreased sense of accomplishment – an unconquerable sense of futility; feeling that nothing you do makes any difference.
Does any of this feel familiar? I can help, I know how you are feeling and what to do to start to feel better. Book a no obligation chat