I know It's been awhile since I've updated y'all, and now I've decided it's time to brush off the cobwebs and get more active writing! in all transparency I needed some time to figure out things about myself, take some time for self-care, and navigate a crazy 60+ week schedule. After a decade of throwing myself into community work t I was at a point of true burnout where I had nothing left to give. Trying to be functional in a space that relies on you like that is scary, dark, and overwhelming.
I'm not sure when I first started experiencing burnout symptoms but earlier this year I knew exactly what my rock bottom was.
My rock bottom happened earlier this spring late at night sitting on my bed in a messy studio high rise apartment. I felt fine yet I had my after work symptoms where my eyes were red and I had no desire to eat dinner, so I just automatically did started to do what I normally do and sleep it off. But there was something different about that night. The thoughts in my head of failure, loneliness, trying to meet peoples expectations of me, and figuring out what I was doing with my life started to overtake me. I started trying to figure ways to make these thoughts stop, I tried all the spiritual-mediation-blunt-type shit to no avail. I then contemplated ending it all.
Without hesitation I sat in my bed and started to create a plan of how I could just figure out a way to go to sleep and not wake up. But thankfully along my career I was trained in mental health first aid and was able to snap out of that contemplation stage into figuring out a safety plan. For me my first thought was to admit myself into the hospital. I started looking up hospitals and places that would best serve queer folx like me. But the shame and pride in me started to battle this thought of a "helper getting help".
As a young advocate and community leader we are ingrained in this mentality from executives that we are supposed to be like superman and resilient since we are "the next generation". I fought internally of "If I go will this affect my ability to help people?" and "I can't miss work, I have to do ____ for ____ and they are relying on me." So I fell back into social worker mode in my own crisis and showed up to work the next day with a smile on my face and like nothing every happened.
How fucked up is that ?
That's when I realized I needed to shake things up my life from top to bottom. First, I needed to find a place that would ground me outside of work and for me that was a spiritual center called Bodhi Chicago. Secondly, I needed to find and LOVE myself in my beautiful imperfection, not this superhero social worker identity that wanted to save the world while abandoning myself that is something I still work on daily and have the help of my beautiful and supportive partner. Third, I needed to slow down! I am horrible at saying no, if you ask any of my peers I am generally the first person to jump in to help out or to put out a fire. If there was a superhero that I could compare myself to it would be Elastigirl from The Incredibles. She is always being stretched in many directions yet able to bounce back when it came to home life. So, I made a hard decision to pull out of any conferences, events, and initiatives for the upcoming year that were coming in almost daily to focus on rest and restoration of the passions that feed me soul.
So where do I start? I've relocated to a town outside of St. Louis where it's a much needed change of pace from the big city life of Chicago (I do miss Whole Food though) . I left the industrial non-profit industry and joined a corporate healthcare entity supporting patient advocacy through healthcare legislation. I also have started living together with my loving partner who helps remind me to be a big kid and to have fun.
I hope my little blip of transparency brings someone hope and understanding that they are not alone.
Love and Light