Welcome to a personal story my Friends.
It took me a few days to write this, as the story below is one that I have only shared with a small handful of people. One that at first I was scared to share (for various reasons). However, after working through my own mindset on what it truly means to take care of yourself (especially as a high achieving perfectionist), I felt it important to let others know that they are not alone. That they are important. And that they deserve to make themselves a priority. This story is also why I created a powerful new program called HustleWise Academy, specifically designed for female leaders that are struggling with the stress, overwhelm and burnout of being a woman that enjoys the hustle, yet struggles with burnout and exhaustion. More on that later. First, let's delve into why this program exists in the first place.
My burnout story...
So here it goes (deep breath): A lot of the women I work with are struggling because they have muted their own priorities. So they keep going. They just. Keep. Going. They think putting themselves last is the answer, and this is the furthest thing from the truth.
Ask me how I know!
Back in 2018, I realized that I had hit a brick wall. I’d built an award-winning training facility, an online learning platform, and a group practice that was nationally recognized and I was becoming the go-to collaborator for HUGE community, corporate and media programs focusing on arts and wellness. From the outside I was crushing it, on the inside my body was trying to send me messages I chose to ignore.
While hustling hard to accomplish all of my goals, I was sleeping less than 4 hours a night. I’d stay up until 2, 3 o’clock in the morning working on a project, crash into bed, and then wake up to my alarm at 5 to go for a 5 mile run, shower, get the kids to school, down about 2 cups of coffee and whatever sugary carbed up food I could find, and get into work before anyone else arrived.
I started to experience severe night sweats, unexplained skin rashes, massive headaches, and trouble focusing. I’d snap at my kids for no reason, except that I was exhausted and lost my mommy filter. I tried creams to get rid of the rashes, and coffee was my way to keep going, relieve the headaches and try to stay focused.
The more coffee I drank, the more I needed.
Until that summer, when I ended up in the emergency room.
It had been a hot day and my youngest daughter wanted to play outside. It was so hot that all I could do was sit out in the garage and watch her play...while I worked of course.
When I got inside I noticed that my face had become red, so I took a quick shower, forgot about it and went to bed that evening. When I woke up, my face had swollen so much that I could hardly open my eyes to see.
It felt like my face was on fire.
Mind you, this was the very first day of a one week intensive course I was supposed to teach. I immediately texted my team to tell them that I was sick and that someone needed to cover the class. I then made an appointment with the first dermatologist that could see me that day, and two hours later they told me to go immediately to the emergency room.
By the time I arrived at the emergency room, I could no longer see out of my eyes because my eyelids were closed shut from the inflammation. They pumped me full of steroids and placed gauze bags full of ice on my face every 15 minutes to decrease the swelling, gave me even more meds to increase my dangerously low blood pressure, and brought in specialists to determine what was wrong with my body. The doctors told me that I had 2nd degree chemical burns on my face due to internal inflammation, and that I was lucky I got there in time.
It took me two long weeks before I was allowed to leave my house and return to work. They determined that the inflammation was caused by, now listen closely here...severe stress.
I. Was. So. Scared.