#13: Burnout

Wednesday 24th July

I’m currently off work. I didn’t make it in to Uni this week, and I haven’t been able to go  out on my weekly fieldwork placement. I feel very fortunate to have people in both areas of my work who understand my mental health picture well enough to know that when I say “I can’t make it in today”, I’m not skiving/bunking off/pulling a sickie.

I wish I could say I’m just making it up. 

I wrote those few words during one of my brighter spells last week. Sadly, my mood dropped rapidly again soon after that, and I couldn’t bring myself to fire up the laptop again. Doesn’t seem like much, I know. Still, this was the first time I’d tried writing a blog post in almost a year, and I was pretty proud of myself for that.

As the title would suggest, I think I’m going through a ‘burnout’. And I think it’s been coming for longer than I’d like to admit. I’ve had days over the past twelve months where I’ve not been at my best, and I’ve even had to take the occasional day off.

This time was different, though. No amount of sleep – and boy, can I sleep – could bring me the sort of energy and motivation I needed to make it in to my Uni desk. When I tried working from the laptop at home, I’d manage menial tasks – a few emails here, a couple of calendar updates there – before closing the lid again.

The strange thing was, I was still able to do things that I wouldn’t normally feel able to do during a bad patch. I’d go for a walk through the village, or even take a football to the field across from my house for a one-man kick-around. Those things felt good. And yet, knuckling down to some good old fashioned research work was always one step too far.

I’m getting better now – slowly. I managed to make it in to University today for the first time in well over a week, and whilst I’m midway through what will most likely be a half-day stint, I’m treating every minute I stay here as another little victory.

Right now, the main thing is that I get better again, and in my own time. That said, I’ve already started to reflect on why this might have happened in the first place, and what I could have done – if anything – to stop this off-spell from coming about. I really don’t want to feel this way again.

– Have you been through a period of burnout during your research? Whether it lasted a week, a month, or even longer, I’d love to hear from you. And if you’ve got any coping techniques – ways of managing yourself mid-burnout, or of preventing a burnout in the first place – I’d really like to hear them, too. – RB


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