I wrote a book about my experience of burnout. The first half is about how I got there, and the second half is about how not to get there. I shared my experience, in the hope that others can benefit. Stress is a dangerous thing and I had no idea what havoc it would cause in my life. My true desire is to help as many people as possible not to get as sick as I did.
I understood that since I’m not a famous journalist, no publisher is interested in publishing my non-fiction book. I realised after some research that self-publishing was the only way to go, particularly for my first book. I was terrified because I knew that there would be lessons to be learned and mistakes that I could not prevent. But my story had to come out. So I took the plunge.
The publisher provided an ‘editor’ as part of the package I purchased. The editing and layout were complete and my book was ready for printing. But I was not happy with it since the editor was really a proof reader. For my first book, and such a personal story, I wanted an editor to provide me with tough, honest feedback so that the end product would be something I could be proud of.
I sent it to two friends to get an opinion. Both of them said that the first half was not pleasant to read. And sure, there’s lots of suffering and it’s not pretty. But the real problem was that I wrote it in the wrong frame of mind. I wrote it when I was trying to make sense of my burnout and autoimmune disease. I wrote it at a time when I was so angry and confused that this had happened to me. Obviously, that tone permeated the writing.
I”m better known for my solution-oriented outlook. I’m not a whiny person who dwells in misery. The first half did not reflect me, and I was worried that my readers would not get past the suffering and into the solution part – the best part. One of my alternative healers did editing in her past and I asked for help. She struggled with the first half as much as I did. When she took several months to return with anything, I realised that the first half had to be rewritten. I did that, and felt much happier with the tone of a person more at peace with her fate.
But it has still been months since my editor has contacted me and I keep wondering what that’s about. Every time I pushed her to complete something, I couldn’t help but feel there was a reason for the delay. My editor said that my story caused a lot of emotions about her own health journey, to surface. That was encouraging to hear, since it means my story has impact.
However, I felt enormous frustration that the book was not ready, as it would be a great way for me to start a new career. As I became well enough to work, I wanted the book to be published. It could provide me with credibility, and it would be wonderful to call myself a writer at my speeches and workshops. The longer the book took to be complete, I began to realise that there is a lesson in the waiting.
I realised that I was tying my worth to the book. People will think I’m worth something if I’m an author – and nothing without it. People will be impressed by the fact that I wrote a book. Another way of gaining approval. I went to a workshop recently and I drew a card that said “It’s time to give up.” It’s so contrary to how I am – I never give up on things that matter to me. But I realised that I need to surrender to the wait, and to get on with my life. I need to find a way to feel worthy without a label like ‘writer’. I need to know, and feel my own worth just as the person I am. And then the book might come right.
It’s a difficult thing to pull yourself up after an experience like burnout. I’m trying to build a new career but it is very difficult. I have been out of a working environment for two years and I feel vulnerable. I am often uncertain of where to turn next. I’m unsure of what opportunities to look for, and which ones to take. I’m scared about what I’m doing, and what I’m not doing. It is hard to feel worthy and useful with all this self-doubt, and without income. I’m doing my best to convince myself that I have a lot to offer, even if no-one happens to be paying for it right now.Follow me: