When in the middle of a burn-out, it is always a struggle to give an answer to that simple question, “how are you?”. If you honestly answer that you are at home because you have a burn-out, that you have been told to take it easy and to rest, it’s not easy to handle some comments people may have on burn-out and about yourself. There are a lot of information nowadays on the internet and in media about burn-out. Some are true, some are not and in between lots of people make up their own ideas and unfortunately judgements. You probably already feel like a looser, you are exhausted and the least you need is someone who makes you feel even worse about yourself and the situation you are in. So let’s see together how you can handle a quick social talk (because it’s what we are dealing with here).
First things first, you are not a looser honey, remember that, repeat it to yourself as much as you can and keep it in mind when someone starts to look at you and/or talk to you like if you were a 4th grade child.
Second, you are the boss of yourself, you tell what you want. Generally people who are having a burn-out are people who have difficulties to say “no” and who try to please others as much as they can. This has to stop, you got to have this “under control” and you can try to exercise it with social talks at the supermarket when you come accross your noisy neigbhour who wants to know why you are so often at home the last time. You say what you want. It’s not about lying, it’s about making choices of how much information you want to share. Your life, baby, remember. Your life.
Third, use your inner filter, if you come across someone and you don’t want to be specific about how you feel, then don’t. (cf point 2, it’s your life, your story)
It can be an idea to prepare yourself to what you are going to say and to whom. You won’t say the same to a close friend than to a mother from school or to a colleague from an other department that you even don’t remember his/her name.
So take some time and think about what you want to communicate to others, put it on paper if it helps and assume it. There is no shame for having a burn-out, you are not your burn-out.
Last but not least, remember what Maya Angelou wrote in Letter to my daughter:
“Let’s tell the truth to people. When people ask, ‘How are you’, have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. You must know however, that people will start avoiding you because they too have knees that pain them and heads which hurt and they don’t want to know about yours. But think of it this way, if people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.”