How burnout almost destroyed my life and how I came back from the flames

I often get asked, why did you become a coach? Why do you work with the mind and the body? Why are you a self-confessed anxiety geek who enjoys talking about anxiety and burnout?

This is my story on my why. Why it is my mission to help women not only overcome burnout and overwhelm, to live a life with more confidence, more joy and to live a life they can thrive in.

Years ago, in a land far far away, I was a successful woman in the PR industry, with a glittering career in London. Working at the coolest events with the in-crowd, and always busy. In that industry, and you may experience it within your own, there is a glorification of being busy. Somehow, somewhere we learnt that being busy is a shiny beacon of our self-worth and we validate ourselves accordingly.

Too busy to socialise outside of my work circle, too busy to notice that you are heading for burnout, too busy to go to the Drs, too busy to deal with heartbreak and grief. Just too busy to love yourself and provide the self-care you need.

Lurking in the shadows of shame of my life, I was clutching a deep secret. I had been suffering from anxiety, at times crippling anxiety, for 10 years and I had just been diagnosed with depression. No one at this point knew and I remember staring at my doctor in floods of tears knowing that I had hit rock bottom.

Anxiety was my faithful companion, always there at my lowest points offering a comforting cold hand. Reassuring me that the worst will happen and how many ways it will, especially in the middle of the night. It helped me to lose weight I didn’t need to lose, as a panic attack would kill my appetite, encouraged me to drink more and work harder. Reassuring me that I really wasn’t good enough or loveable.

Usually when anxiety was present then shame wasn’t far behind. Shame was the toughest, constantly internalising conversations and events and morphing them into a fabricated version of what actually happened. Shame was especially vocal the morning after a few drinks or just before a work presentation.

Feeling my heart-beat thud in my chest and being jittery was my day-to-day and I thought it was how everybody felt. This was manageable in my mind until the following events took place within a few years of each other.

My wonderful and inspiring father passed suddenly of a heart attack mere months after his 60th birthday. The shock and grief ignited the starting spark of my burnout and I didn’t fully grieve. Instead, I held that pain within my body and distracted myself. I was too busy anyway to fully allow myself to feel the feelings I needed to feel, in order to start the healing process.

My marriage crumbled and ended in divorce. The shame and stigma I felt being in my 30s and divorced, ebbed me closer to rock bottom. Being single certainly had its thrills but I was heartbroken and lonely. I was definitely not equipped to take care of my emotional wellbeing during the app swiping time. Desperately lonely, rather than stay inside and take care of myself, I put on another layer of lipstick and kept going out.

Rather than acknowledge my feelings and heal, I worked harder and ridiculously long hours in the office and received an incredible promotion. Never out of office as I was always on, I had no clue about boundaries and my self-belief in myself was at an all-time low. I thoroughly distracted myself with work and loved the validation that came with success. The glorification of being busy endorsed my self-worth. Anxiety and the adrenalin buzz, in my mind at that time, was my superpower. My belief was that in order to be successful, you must feel the sensations of stress, to push yourself to achieve greatness.

Working this hard in the office and also in the gym, meant that I wasn’t returning to an empty apartment and another night snuggled on the sofa with my best pal anxiety. At the weekend I was always out drinking to feel alive and also numb at the same time.

Then not surprisingly, it was a slow process, but I became very ill. I developed a rare pituitary gland disease that stole my serotonin, burnt my adrenals and damaged my thyroid. I was told that I was unable to have children. As well as feeling unwell, my face and body swelled up and packing on the pounds fast, I fled to the gym getting up at 5am to squeeze in an exhausting workout. My belief was that people would judge me for gaining weight and I punished myself accordingly. What I didn’t know at the time, was that the more time I spent at the gym and spin class, the more weight I was gaining as I was bathing in cortisol.

Slowly the world had lost its glow and I kept secretly crying and having full-blown panic attacks. Everything had turned grey and I was extremely lost, lonely and exhausted. For two weeks I was unable to leave my apartment and my dr diagnosed depression and provided medication. Conveniently I thought at the time, this fell within my working holiday so I could keep it a secret, and I spent my two weeks holiday on my sofa hiding.

Without realising it I was probably depressed six months before I was diagnosed. There is a stigma that having depression means that you are suicidal and actually there are various forms of depression.

Personally, I was never suicidal. For me it was like being shipwrecked at the bottom of the ocean, watching the remaining fragments of your life float away and you can’t do anything about it. Just sit numb, burnout and stare into the darkness. Everyone around you is going about their day, yet you are so disconnected and exhausted. Yet it is remarkable that you can still shine on the outside and disguise it to everyone that you are fine, fanning the flames of burnout.

This is why it is so important to check in on your loved ones, especially the ones that seem to have it all under control and are too busy to communicate.

Shrouded in shame, I didn’t dare tell anyone. Looking back, I should have told my circle sooner and I am closer to my fabulous friends because of this. Shame can not hide in the light, it lives in the secrets and the darkness. If you are unhappy and overwhelmed, pick up the phone and call a trusted friend.

The great thing about hitting rock bottom was that I woke up.

It was time to put myself first and to find a way to heal. That inner voice within my gut, that feeling that I had numbed was communicating very loudly. That I had the power to change and that I would find the strength to climb out of this and become stronger for it.

The healing and recovery journey was like a mountain and it was exhausting but the view from the top, my goodness me, I was able to breathe again. To have more clarity in who I was and where I was going.

My recovery involved my body and my mind. Carefully and calmly put me back together again.

I found the most wonderful specialist and Dr, who helped with the medical side of my recovery. An incredible therapist helped me with my depression, to peddle back and weed out those limiting beliefs about myself. To understand the root of my anxiety and to help restore clarity amongst the chaos. With those invaluable stabilizers on, I was able to see more clearly and minimize the self-sabotage patterns. If you think you have depression, please speak to a professional. Acknowledging is the hardest part, I know that first call/email is hard. Do know that working with a therapist will be the best decision you have ever made.

For the Burnout, I slowed down, excruciating slow for someone as busy as me. Rest, recovery and recharged my body. Spent the majority of my evenings and weekends in salt baths, to support the recovery of my body. Detoxed my body and gave up alcohol for 3 months. Started gentle restorative yoga and movement, eating for pleasure and nourishment and not punishment and pain.

Journaling became my outlet for all the grief, pain and emotions that had been bottled up inside. It is one of the best and simplest actions you can do for your brain. As my self-love grew, instead of abusing my reflection in the mirror and seeking love from men that would never love me, I practised self-care and learnt to love myself. The reward for this was that my heart was finally free.

I became a self-love, self-care, anxiety student, developing a deep fascination for understanding how anxiety can impact the body and mind. Found the most amazing inspirational teachers and psychologists on my journey, who teach bodywork and how we store emotions in the body. Discovered all the deliciously-nutritiously, body and mindtools, to help restore the balance and start to truly shine and sparkle. I came off my medication.

Took a deep breath and quit my job, for my mental and physical health. It was a radical move but one I needed to make for myself at that time. Since then, I did return to PR with my thrivalpack, filled with healthy boundaries, self-care and all the goodies I had learnt to help me thrive. It allowed me to be successful, to work without anxiety, and do what I do, but more importantly enjoy my job and have fun.

The idea to become a coach was a belief about wanting more, deserving more. That life should be more than surviving, every one of us should be thriving and living our best life. That you can overcome all the challenges in front of you and learn to live and breathe again. I am so grateful to have had the best and wisest teachers in Energy Work and Coaching, that have made me the person and Life Coach I am now. I’m a work in progress and I am so grateful for it, as it means I can evolve and grow.

Fast forward to now and I can honestly say I’m living my best, healthiest and happiest life. As well as working 121 with my inspirational clients, I run digital workshops helping people with anxiety and burnout. I now live in Munich with my partner and daughter and finally, truly thriving. This is what I want for you. To thrive, to step into your power. This is why I am a Coach.

You can come back from burnout. You have a choice. You can do it. Everyone deserves to live their best life xx