At the end of 2019, I was worn out, dreary and ended up in the ER.
Culminating to that morning and episode were months of physical and emotional fatigue by a craft I love. Not only was the early commute killing me, but the writing and writing tasks were too much for one person. While I slept throughout my commute, the fatigue would not resolve.
My body could not revive itself and me. My body could not revive itself to the girl who looked at the possibilities words could offer.
I remember thinking,” there must be something different. A different world where work is nourishing and not debilitating.” In the midst of all this, my body was keeping tabs. One fine morning as I was setting up my desk at work, sudden pain forced me to stop and use the restroom.
I couldn’t walk, and a colleague had to call me an Uber to the hospital, where I was sent to the ER. That was my first light bulb moment. Months later, the company I worked at would go through a merger and lay people off. The pandemic would hit 2 weeks later.
I was still a fatigued and burnt out writer.
Your fatigue doesn’t End after a couple of leave days off
I tried many tactics to fight the fatigue.
The most common tactic burnt-out writers use is lining their leave days with weekends. Take a Friday and a Monday off then you have a long weekend to sleep, eat well, drink lots of fluids and cure yourself.
At first, this worked for me. Until it’s stopped working.
Other tactic employees use is lining their leave days with public holidays. For me, this was hard to do. Holidays are prime time for marketing departments. Lots of marketing activities revolve around holidays. While it’s easier to schedule campaigns if they’re conceived early by marketing heads, this is not always the case.
You will find that you need a long leave of absence to cure your fatigue and not a couple of days off.
Good luck getting a long leave of absence.
Lack of sleep or lot’s of sleep
Fatigued people sleep a lot.
Getting out of bed in the morning is an occasion and feeling rested after more than 8 hours of sleep is a rumour. You feel tired as soon as you wake up. Your muscles and spine feel like stiff iron rods. I remember starting yoga and exercise to beat the fatigue in 2019, even before the ER episode. While it alleviated my back pain and gave me a couple of extra hours of sleep, I was still fatigued.
Fatigued people also suffer less sleep and interrupted sleep schedules. They’re unable to go into a deep sleep, which is the reason why they wake up feeling tired. They’re not light sleepers, but need to resolve their burnout to be able to enjoy deep sleep.
With fatigue, you’re either oversleeping or undersleeping. You’re worrying about your lack of sleep in your waking hours.
You have no motivation to write
Back then, I used to manage two sites: content and eCommerce. I would plan marketing, content, product descriptions, email newsletters and social media posts. I would then come home to work on Medium and my blog before retiring to bed. Looking back, this workload was very unhealthy and I don’t know how I did it, neither would I like to repeat it.
In the beginning, it was fun and exciting. I was learning new things, seeing results, testing, learning and implementing. The workload and the commute killed my motivation to write. Not even the prospect of earning money on Medium could entice me to write.
Given the changes the world has been through and the unhealthy nature of work pre-2020, it’s rather selfish of companies to tell people to go back to work. To the commute. To cream walls and fluorescent tubes.
I tried doing my pre-2020 commute this year. It took me two days to recover.
You complain a lot
I hate people who complain.
I have been a person who complains. It’s a helpless position to be in, especially when some things are out of your control. If you’re a fatigued and burnt out writer, you might find yourself irritable and blind to solutions. Even when solutions are right in front of you.
Your Reasons for Fatigue Go Deeper
Today, I read Sean Kernan’s article on Seagull Managers and this resonated with me:
“Remember: no matter how good you are, the company’s health overlaps everything.” ~ Sean Kernan.
While the workload was a great cause of my fatigue, the general discomfort and uncertainty in that company was a contributing factor. New graduates expect that their efforts will get noticed by their managers. They expect appraisals and promotions. This rarely happens. If you’re lucky, the company might teach you the possibilities of a great working environment. If you’re not, they’ll teach you how to stand up for yourself.
At the end of the day, employers need to realize that employees talk. Looming change can be felt and when not communicated to employees, they’ll speculate. While change is inevitable, living in a state of uncertainty is tiring. At the end of the day, transparency always wins.
While a long break can cure your burnout, you also need to look at underlying issues and your environment.
If a long leave of absence doesn’t cure your fatigue, then it’s time to check your environment.
This article first appeared on Medium.