Shame of Burnout

I wrote recently that I didn’t want to be the face of burnout. And it’s because I fear the judgement that comes with it. People will think I’m weak, they will think that I can’t handle stress. Digging a bit deeper and with some help of my merry pack of healers, I’ve uncovered that these are my thoughts and judgements of myself.


There is a part of me that thinks I was weak to have a health collapse from stress. There is also a part of me that thinks it was all in my head and that I have imagined this illness. And there is another part that wonders how on earth I took so long to collapse, and to wake up to what an unhappy life I was living. I have come to realise that it is not necessary for me to defend and to explain.

The collapse of my health has been a gift. It was the only catalyst I would have responded to, being the stubborn perseverer that I am. I have moments when I wish that things could have been different. But then I realise that I would not be where I am now if they had been. Things had to happen exactly the way they did in order for me to reach this place where I am now.

This is a place where I no longer feel shame for experiencing burnout. I look back with gratitude on the events as they occurred, because they facilitated a new life and a new me. My new life allows me to explore opportunities with a lens of wisdom – the wisdom to know if the opportunity suits me, and is best for me right now. I’m not closed to any work that isn’t aligned with my calling. There may be a few pieces of work I can do to bring in some money and to learn, and meet new interesting people. And I trust that I am heading in the right direction to fulfil my destiny.

I feel that I have overcome the shame of burnout. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who felt that shame. According to Brené Brown, shame loses its sting if shared with a trusting person. Well, I’m not sure how trusting and supportive this community is, but you probably wouldn’t be, or shouldn’t be, following me otherwise.


So I’m naming it – I felt shame for a business that I couldn’t make profitable and I felt shame for buckling under the pressure. It’s tough for anyone to know the full depths of despair that I felt. No one else in the world will ever feel that exact thing under those circumstances in my body and mind at that time. I know that I’m not a weak person and I did my utmost to turn the business around. So it’s okay if people can’t relate or fully understand. Some people will relate. And that’s enough for me.

For now I’m willing to be the face of burnout if it helps others. I hope to help people who are approaching burnout, to not go as far down the rabbit hole as I did. I hope, through my book, this blog and public speaking to share this message. Even if I can simply help a few people to take a step back from their lives and take a good look, that would be useful. Awareness comes before action.

I so passionately believe that we can live full lives, enjoying our work and being happy at home. My hope is that more people take an active step towards building their lives on purpose, and not simply waiting to die. I aim to live this vision to demonstrate my point and so far so good. I am enjoying my life now more than I have in many years and I wish this to be true for many people in the world.

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.


  1. Kathy, always love your posts! Inspiring and yes you have helped me by confirming that I too am making the right dicisions in my stepping back from my career!

    1. Thanks for the great feedback and I’m so glad to hear that you’re living on purpose. Too often we just react and live the lives others want or expect from us. Time to live life for ourselves which makes us much happier people, parents and friends.

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