Welcome to TBH – To Be Honest – Capsule’s monthly column with our columnist and old pal, Brodie Kane! This month, Brodie is opening up about the health issues that have plagued her and how her body sent up the bat signal that she was experiencing burnout.
Being my first column of the year, as late as we are in January I would still like to wish you a Happy New Year. I hope everyone has had time to power down, reflect, sleep, rave, dance, shag, swim, read, drink, not-drink, smile, cry or anything else that was required to get you through (if I missed something off the list, apologies. I hope you did it well, haha).
This is a bit of a confessional column, and may provide a slight bit of context as to why I was quite ragey in the final column of the year (I don’t take any of it back though, lololololol).
In this confessional, I’m not seeking sympathy, nor am I seeking advice. I am simply baring my soul in the hope that someone out there might not feel so alone, in whatever they might be experiencing of a similar nature.
I ended the year with burnout. And what a confusing, harsh experience that is.
Because I had had the most incredible, busy, fulfilling year. I had so many amazing and epic work opportunities that I hustled hard for. I travelled. I ran a marathon. I ran an ultra marathon! I moved out of a house and spent three months hunting for a new house and finally found the right one at the end of the year with my mum. I did not stop, or slow down.
‘When all of this happened, I knew. I knew I was doing too much. I knew my body was having a meltdown because I was doing too much.’
From about mid-August, I started experiencing some heavy bleeding – which wasn’t entirely normal as I was on the Depo Provera contraception injection (you don’t get a period on this). I was intending on coming off it at the end of the year, so I joked that maybe this was a sign my body was ready early. I got one more jab to make it go away until later in the year – I didn’t want to deal with it until after two big overseas work trips.
Well, the bleeding came back with a vengeance in October. Crazy, heavy bleeding right through one of my big trail runs, and it wasn’t until I went to the doctor the day before I was to fly out to France, she told me we had to get to the bottom of it. Long story short, I had to go for an urgent check-up at the hospital ON THE WAY to the airport just to see if I could fly, because I had an abnormal result in my uterus lining.
I was given the all clear, so I flew to Paris. Eventually the bleeding slowed down, but during the trip away, I had two bouts of severe constipation. When I was back in New Zealand, I spent a night in ED while they um, sorted it out. It delayed another work trip by a day, but I still managed to go to that.
I had a colonoscopy, and while they removed a polyp, everything was in working order. I then had a hysteroscopy to check my uterus, and my gynaecologist also put a Mirena in – as this is a much better option for contraception for me at this stage. I found out just before Christmas that nothing was cancerous, and in fact my uterus passed with flying colours (aka a 10/10 uterus). Happy days.
When all of this happened, I knew. I knew I was doing too much. I knew my body was having a meltdown because I was doing too much. But what I wasn’t prepared for was what burnout feels like.
While all this was going on, in between work trips, weekends and weekends of open homes, throwing money at and losing houses at auction, training for an ultra marathon, and managing all my work, I was starting to feel completely broken.
I didn’t want to socialise, I had not a shred of energy to be around people, I didn’t want to talk (the very thing that helps pay the mortgage!), I didn’t want to work. It’s like the passion I had for everything I did had been sucked out of my soul. I had some mornings where I would cry because I didn’t want to get out of bed, I didn’t want to do anything I had to do. I also at times felt quite cold and emotionless. And then other times completely ragey and furious. I was angry at myself for letting myself get like this, and frustrated because I didn’t know how on earth to get better.
Then there’s the guilt of feeling all of this, when you’ve had such a busy, fulfilling year. You’ve been to all these amazing places, you have worked for all these wonderful opportunities, and yet you are broken, and you feel like you shouldn’t be, so you actually ask yourself most days, “what the bloody hell is wrong with you?? Sort your shit out!”
I don’t have the answers as to what is the correct way to deal with burnout. But it’s one of the reasons I pretty much put Christmas in the bin, I didn’t have the energy for it. My emotional and social currency was at zero. I needed to sit down, spend a good chunk of time not talking, read books, swim at the beach, and sleep. I did as much of that as I possibly could. I am still trying to factor some of that in as much as I possibly can.
I am going to say no more this year. I am going to be more protective of my time. I am going to look after my body better (these aren’t resolutions by the way because these are forever things), I am going to be better for me.
And sure, I will make mistakes along the way, I’ll overcommit, I’ll overdo it, I’ll still operate at a million miles an hour – the life of a highly motivated self-employed, single broadcaster in her late 30s doesn’t lend itself to sitting in idle too often!
But I’d like to think I won’t easily forget what it felt like to live with burnout, and I do not want to go back down that road again.
I actually feel quite weird writing all that down; it feels a bit awkward and really personal and it really is a spew-out of thoughts and emotions. I’m not always good at that.
But the aim of this is to send a message to anyone out there who’s experienced burnout, to know that they’re not alone, and that their experience is valid.
And, it’s a reminder to look after your bodies, take care of all your bits and bobs and pipes and everything, and if something doesn’t feel right, keep fighting, because no one knows their body better than you.
Much love xxx