For this fourth issue we met Ophélia, a young lady who recently went through a burn-out. She agreed to share her experience and thoughts with us. What appealed to us while talking with her is how positive and faithful she is. It is truly inspiring to meet someone like this who can see a burn-out has an opportunity to know better yourself and to grow. May her story give you comfort and inspiration.




-Who are you?

My name is Ophélia, and I am a 26 years old woman who is born and raised in The Netherlands. I have a fulltime job and in my free time I love to spend time with my boyfriend, friends and family, I also love to dance and do photography.

-When did you understand you had a burn-out?

My burn-out wasn’t just there all of a sudden. Due to many factors combined together, the burn-out started to develop till it reaches the point that I knew something was going on. Yet I didn’t know what exactly was going on. A few months before I had to call in sick, I noticed that I was extremely tired every day. When I got home from work I made dinner and ate, and after that I felt asleep right away. It was only 6 or 7 pm. I also couldn’t handle very well many incentives at the same time. It got me stressed out and I would react moody and impatiently and I would snarl to other people. One time I even ran away to my bedroom with the lights shut down, trying to calm myself down.

I was so stressed out for days I asked for a week off at work because I felt like I needed to give my body and mind some rest. That week didn’t help at all. Even though I did almost nothing, I just couldn’t find my rest. The day after this week off I went to work and after work I went for grocery shopping. In the supermarkt I totally panicked and freaked out. I started crying desperately as I went home. I slept very bad that night and all I could do was crying and the days after too. Yet I still went to work, doing my best to get it together and not burst out in tears. When I felt I couldn’t hold my tears I would ran to the bathroom, with hope no one would noticed it. The next day I spoke to a co-worker who was recovering from a burn-out. I told her how I felt, still not knowing I was having a burn-out. She told me to go to the doctor. So I did it and the doctor told me that I was having a burn-out. She explained to me what it is and it made sense to me because I had those symptoms.

-How did you explain to your entourage what you were going through?

I told my entourage what happend the days and weeks before I went to the doctor. And that the doctor told me I was having a burn-out. I also explained to them how I felt and what was going on with me, physically and mentally. Of course I didn’t know everything at the beginning. So I explained the things I did understood and also the things I didn’t understood.

-What helped you to recover?

First of all, I never, never, never stopped believing that it was going to be okay and that I would get through this and become a better version of me. Of course it was a hard time, and not all days were an easy one. I cried a lot, I was very tired and couldn’t do much activities per day. But I never stopped believing in myself.

I accepted burn-out, I stood open for professional help from a psychologist, and I tried to not force myself to be better “just like that”. It takes time to get into a burn-out, and it also takes time to recover from it.

And even though there are still some days I feel a little bit insecure, I am so proud of the woman I am today.

What also helped me a lot was the help and support from my boyfriend, friends and family. They were very understanding.

Also I spoke with people in my environment who also had a burn-out. I found it nice to speak with people who dealt with it because to me it felt like I wasn’t the only one who had to overcome a burn-out and who had to suffer from it. By speaking with them I also learned that it is a very personal journey, and everyone has to deal with it in an other way. But overall, people who dealt with a burn-out will completely understand how you’re feeling. And that is the nice thing about sharing each other experiences.

-How do you feel now?

Now I am feeling good. Sometimes I feel a bit small when my insecurity is taking over. But there are only rare moments now and then. Overall I feel strong, happy and at peace. I feel proud of myself for all the things I have learned from this stage in life.

-What did you learn from yourself thanks to your burn-out?

I learned that I needed to love and respect myself much more, and that I do matter! I learned that my feelings, thoughts and opinions matter, that I don’t have to put myself down to try to make another person happy. That my time and space are also valuable, that I don’t have to carry the world. I felt so responsible for my job and the people around me that I sometimes could lost myself in it. Through therapy I learned how to deal with this and how to have a healthy balance in my responsibility towards others.

-Do you have tips for people who are dealing with it now?

First of all accept that your body and your whole system is out of control and that it takes time to get back on track. Love yourself and respect yourself, so you are able to respect the proces you’re in. Please never stop believing that it’s going to be okay and that you will get through this. Look at this phase in your life as a gift. A gift so you can (re)discover yourself and grow in the best version of you.


As she mentioned it, Ophélia is also a photographer. You can see her joyful photographies on her Instagram account . Enjoy:-)

Photography Charmaine




If you are familiar with Amsterdam’s cultural scene you might already know Ana, aka Amsterdive. Ana is typically a slash lady, she writes/acts/teaches Yoga and knows where good coffee is. What you might not know is that she had a burn-out. In this interview you will learn more about her own experience and insights. Enjoy!


Who are you?
Ana. 33. Portuguese roots, Amsterdammer at heart. I’m an actress / writer / blogger hybrid.
When did you understand that you were having a burn-out?
When I had a panic episode at work.
What helped and helps you?
I was already a fan of yoga before the burn-out. Then I added meditation into my dailylife, which has been playing a crucial role in my recovery. I also try to pay more attention to the quality of what I eat. More nutritious whole foods that support my psychological well-being, less junk that drags me down. The book “The Happiness Trap” (Dr Russ Harris) was a great recent discovery. Other than this, therapy and loved ones 🙂
What did you learn about yourself thanks to your burn-out?
A burn-out is a huge moment of confrontation with yourself. We live in a time where the pressure to perform and succeed in all fronts of one’s life is unbelievably high. Therefore, I was also one of those who used to set very high bars to herself. First of all, I have learned about my limitations and I have learned to accept and respect them. This is an ongoing and very challenging process. I had to let go of some work-related expectations. I also had to let go of the urge to always ‘be in control’. Furthermore, I have realized that my self-esteem was very dependent on my ‘performance’ and on ‘what I do’. As long as I could keep on going, keep on doing stuff, keep up with all the projects and people in my life, I was good. My current goal is to feel I am good enough even when I’m not racing. Even when I am doing nothing. Good enough, darling 😉
Could you share three tips?
1st: Definitely, therapy. If you find the right professional to help you, that is. It is very important that one feels a good empathy click with their therapist. If you don’t, drop it, do some research, and find another one.
2nd: Ask for help. Let go of control. Surrender. Let your loved ones in, allow them to take care of you while you need. This is actually an opportunity for you to get closer to them and build stronger bonds. Let yourself be supported: no one should have to go through this alone.
3rd: Mindfulness. Find a couple of pleasurable activities that connect you to the present moment and get you out of the couch (and off your pc, for that matter). The goal is that you get a bit active, but relax at the same time. For me, yoga + meditation really work. For you it can be a walk in the park, gardening, painting or some other long lost ‘meditative’ hobby of yours.
If you want to know more about Ana, her creative journey and be up to date with the Amsterdam’s cultural agenda, you can find her on Instagram and Facebook
Credits photography Dana Marin Amsterdamian


Who are you?

-My name is Raluca Sabau, I am 32 years old and I am a classical musician.


What can you tell us about yourself?

-During my first year at the conservatory I was facing a lot of pressure trying to keep up with all the requirements. Next to having a very stressful time at school, I was pretty much on my own in a new city. Not having a piano, I had to wake up at 5am to be in school at 6am, when the doors opened, in order to get some practice hours before lessons would start, around 8 or 9am. As a student that didn’t have the luxury to practice at home, the only way you would have a chance to touch a piano in the evening hours was to be the first at the door in the morning and reserving a room for after lessons. So for the first two years I was waking up at 5am on a regular basis, practicing from 6 to 8/9 in the morning and again from 18/19 to 22 in the evening. During the day I had classes I had to attend, and trying to catch up on sleep when possible.                                                       My living situation would bring its share of stress, having to move five times only in the first two years because of various reasons, ranging from bad heating, to being stolen from, to being bullied, and even sexually harassed. In my family we’ve been struggling financially for ever since I can remember, so money worries were just something I got used to while growing up. I remember being cold in the winter because of not having proper shoes and clothing. I remember counting coins to make sure I had enough for the day. I remember having to portion a jar of jam in order to have enough food for the whole week. I remember not having enough and being hungry more than just once. It was a dark time, but I had accepted it because it was the only reality I knew and it was my choice and desire to study at the conservatory and become a pianist. So I sucked it up, being brave and completely unaware of all the red flags around me. It took less than two years until I started breaking down.


When did you understand you were going through a burn-out?

-Before the end of my second year, at age 20, my body started reacting, or at least that’s when I couldn’t ignore the signals anymore. Preparing for the exams I realised that my body was in pain and I had this constant cramp that I couldn’t shake off. Funny enough, I was working just as hard as always, but for some reason things wouldn’t stick anymore. I then concluded I had to work even harder, since exams were approaching and I felt like I was behind. I pushed and I pushed, but learning new things was slowly becoming impossible. I couldn’t remember much. What I do remember is not understanding how come I keep putting in the exact same hard work as always, but all of a sudden it failed to deliver. Why were my methods not working anymore? When did my system stop functioning? Why couldn’t I remember anything? Why couldn’t I just shake it all off with a good night of sleep? I was getting slow and I was fully aware of it. I was a spectator at my own show. I felt like I was turning stupid, going dumb. I felt like I had damaged myself, possibly irreversibly. All sorts of dark thoughts went through my head. I felt scared and broken.


Luckily, the cramp on my right arm was there to stay, which lead to a diagnosis, which lead to me having to cancel all playing activity and taking some time off. I say luckily, because looking back to it all, it could have been so much worse. I am convinced that have that hand injury not come at that exact time, the mental damage could have been much more serious. Having no choice but to stop, I took it easy for the summer. I can’t remember exactly what I was doing during those months, but I do remember not playing any piano. It was not easy, as I was cursing the pain that was keeping me away from the thing I loved so much. It was just there, a constant reminder of having done something wrong, but not quite being able to put my finger on it. At the time I didn’t even know what it was, or that it was a real thing, with a name and a diagnosis of its own. I haven’t seen any doctors about it, I believed they would have laughed in my face and tell me to get some sleep. I haven’t spoken about it to anyone, not even family or close friends. I felt ashamed and pretended the only thing that had happened was my tendonitis. I hid behind that diagnosis and hoped that getting the now unavoidable rest would make that other thing I couldn’t name go away. And it did, for the biggest part of it anyway. I felt considerably better at the end of that summer, after taking some distance from what has caused it all.

What helped you go through it?

-Again, luckily, having it happen at the same time with my tendonitis I was conditioned to get back to work very slowly. My hand needed me to be cautious and my recovery required that I didn’t work too hard, or too long. I had accepted my new, slower pace. In about half a year I was able to go back to school and play my exams. I had to downscale as the burnout threw me back on my own timeline. I had to adjust my repertoire to my new, lesser abilities and accept that I was still recovering. I remember feeling how unfair it was having to settle for less after having worked so hard to get to where I was before it happened. I was angry, very angry, I felt my hard work went to waste. It was my right to be better than I was!

What did you learn about yourself thanks to your burn-out?

-Truth is, I never felt the same as before the burnout, but I now believe that’s a good thing. Reflecting on that time, I was too obsessed with work. Being good at what I was doing was at the top of my priority list, and proving myself to others was a constant worry. I realise I was wrong, but not necessarily in my beliefs, as in the way I was approaching them. I still believe it is very important to be good at what you do, that it is your responsibility to yourself and the society you live in to know your s**t and deliver your contribution to this planet. Still to this day I am a perfectionist, but being aware of it makes it easier to keep it under constant watch. I am still an achievement driven person and my field hasn’t stopped being tough. Competition is just as high, or maybe even higher, but my take on it is different. I decided I wasn’t interested in being a race horse anymore. From then on I would be my own competitor. I have previously raced myself into sickness and that was a tough lesson to learn, one I wasn’t willing to repeat again. I realised I could only contribute if I am healthy and that has become my number one priority.

RalucaPiano-17Don’t get me wrong, I still go too far sometimes. I still work myself into exhaustion, as if I haven’t learned anything. It’s tricky keeping track when you really love what you do, so that’s my new challenge. (note to self) Love your work, but love yourself more! I’ve already failed a couple of times, in fact I’m pretty close to pushing a bit too far as I write these words, but now I know what burnout looks and feels like, so I know to stop before it gets to a place of no return. It’s challenging to accept that I can’t handle as much as I did in the past. But then again, I am also older, and they say that happens anyways with aging.

Do you have tips?

-I strongly believe perfectionism should be the main diagnose. Please, please, please listen to your own body! I cannot emphasize this enough. Eat properly, drink plenty of water (I personally get foggy when dehydrated) Feeling tired? Go to sleep. Don’t smoke, drink in moderation. Take breaks that preferably involve going outside. MOVE! Not a sportive type? Start with a long walk three times a week. Get a buddy to join. Get in contact with people. I don’t recommend being alone while going through a burnout. I personally realised that by ignoring or trying to hide it you are not doing yourself any favors. It will not make it go away, on the contrary. It’s like pretending you didn’t spill coffee on your blouse when everyone can see the stain…

Acceptance brings closure. Now, 12 years after my burnout, I have a new 100%, slightly lower than when I was 20 years old, and that’s fine. Now, I start every day with a blank page, fully aware that everything I do is a choice and it’s up to me which direction I go to. My note to self has become my new motto: Love your work, but love yourself more. Someday I still feel like I should tattoo this on my skin 🙂





Who are you?

-Leyla, 44. I come from Iran and live in The Netherlands since I’m 15. I’m passionate about photography.

When did you understand you were having a burnout?

-I’ve been through a lot of things and traumas in my life. At the age of 19, I became very sick and was completely exhausted, it lasted until I was 23. When I was 24 it started again and I could not go back to work at all.

How do you feel now?

-Not much better, the problem is not solved. I have traumas and I’ve not been helped yet to address them while they play a big role in my burnout.

What helps you to go through your burnout?

-Photography. It has changed my vision of the world, the way I’m looking at things. With my camera in my hand I’m able to do more than without.

Do you have tips to persons who are suffering from a burnout?

-Search for a good therapist

-Walk 5 or 10 minutes every morning

-Do something creative


Leyla has an Instagram account where she regularly posts her street photography, you can find it here, Lela’s photography . Have a look, enjoy and show some support 😉