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How Burnout Impacts Me as Someone With Endometriosis

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I want to talk about how burnout impacts me and my body with endometriosis. Despite all my best efforts to stay within my usual health baseline, it doesn’t always work and there are days I can accept that more easily than others.

Having a disease impact so many areas of your life can be daunting at times, but I’ve also learned the value of listening to your body so you can do your best to get through any discomfort, pain, or unpleasant symptoms. This is often how I figure out that I’m feeling burned out.

So what does burnout feel like with endometriosis? I’m so glad you asked because I’m currently going through it!

My mind is so tired. I don’t want to make any decisions or think about something too hard because my brain is just exhausted from being “on” too long. It feels like I’ve studied for a week straight, but am unable to retain anything. I have to constantly look back to notes since sometimes brain fog will hit on top of it. It is miserable, even thinking about what I am going to make for dinner is something I don’t want to think about or decide.

Top this off with feeling lightheaded and my eyes not adjusting to screens right for work, it gets pretty miserable. I’ve also noticed that when I move my head too quickly, it makes it feel like the blood swooshes from one side to the next like a wave and creates some unbalance like vertigo. It’s a strange feeling but I tend to only get this sensation when I’m feeling burned out.

I overcompensate even when burnout happens. I don’t stop and think – I need to rest and get recharged, I’m clearly out of spoons but the guilt of things I need to get done prevents me from doing that at times. I start to compromise my self-care routines because I’m too tired to do them and put other things first that I cannot skip – thinking about work, cooking dinner, taking care of the house, walking the dog, and so on. In reality, a lot of these things probably could wait but it’s hard to remember you’re not always measured by your productivity.

My lower back has never ached or hurt so much. I work from home but am often glued to my computer and chair more than I should be and something I need to improve. By not getting up to move or stretch, my lower back pays the price but it really starts screaming pain when I get up to move and will last throughout the day and night. I’ve had to resume using my heating pad – no longer so much on my pelvic area, but on my lower back.

The pain doesn’t reside until I start to feel more like my usual self, which won’t come until I have rested for several days and take it very easy to recover.  I’ve also started to notice the shoulder blade in my dominant hand begins to twitch and spasm at times. Some days it pinches with pain and others it stays as just an annoyance when I’m hurting.

My menstrual cycle plays a factor in my burnout — it often comes after my period ends. My body needs time to reset and rebuild hormones to get my energy back up. I know I should be patient, but life doesn’t always wait to align with your body. This makes sense as a lot of people with endometriosis have pain/symptoms around their periods so it probably takes a bit more out of us than we’d like during this time.

My nausea kicks up and causes my appetite to be poor overall. Nothing ever sounds good, I stick to my safe flare-up foods (soups, broth, crackers, fruit, dry cereal, and so on). I have to force myself to eat at times, knowing my body needs nutrition to function and recover but that can be a challenge.

Imagine just feeling sick and exhausted without having an actual bug or virus being the cause. I have to step back, recognize all of these signs and make the decision that I need to rest. That might mean taking a day off work to enjoy a long weekend, not making any plans, or canceling plans I did have (which I hate doing but my body needs to chill during this time) and I take plenty of hot baths with Epsom salt soaks. No type of meds or OTC pain relievers help me usually, but heat does, and my trusty TENS unit can really kick in to help tolerate that lower back pain.

These are just some of the things I notice when I’m feeling burned out and it’s not a typical endo-flare, even though some flare symptoms may overlap. It’s not fun, it’s quite miserable but unfortunately, it’s a reality you face when you have an incurable disease, and it doesn’t seem to matter how careful you are with your lifestyle, diet, work schedule, etc. It just happens from time to time and I’m still trying to figure out my “why it does happen” to this day.

I know burnout impacts a lot of us with chronic illnesses. How does burnout impact you or your condition? What do you notice? Does anything help you recover or are you stuck waiting it out?

Getty image by Hirurg.

Originally published: July 11, 2022
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