“Sherry, have you always had such a balanced life?” I was asked the other day.
Workaholic with low level depression
“Hell no. I used to be a workaholic with low level depression, wanting to self-harm and on the edge of burnout. That’s why I recognise those telltale signs of burnout so easily – because 19 years ago, I was that woman on the brink. I was the woman working 8am to 8pm, skipping lunch, working evenings, constantly exhausted and not able to sleep. On the outside, I was extremely successful – being promoted rapidly through the ranks but inside I was struggling, feeling constantly overwhelmed, stressed and suffering with IBS. I wanted to be successful. And in my head, to be successful, I needed to work hard.”
“What happened? How did you get out of that?”
“Intellectually I knew that I couldn’t continue working the way I was. I knew that if I didn’t do something, if I didn’t take action, BOOM! I’m gone. Heart attack, complete nervous breakdown … I don’t know. But something major was going to happen unless I stopped living life that way. A few months earlier I had a nasty racing accident and hit my head. I was out cold for a while. My head injury affected me for several months afterwards – speech impairment, lack of concentration, vertigo. A few months later, I was back on the race track.”
“Weren’t you scared?”
It didn’t occur to me to be scared
“It didn’t occur to me to be scared. It was racing. I got back on the bike as soon as I could. That’s when I realised that I have an inner strength and resilience, a steeliness within.
However that inner strength and resilience had served me poorly at work. It had kept me going but that had done me harm. So I quit my job. I realised enough’s enough. I cried when I handed in my notice. I really cried. My HR manager was worried about me – she offered me a sabbatical instead. But I knew that if I came back to the same job, it would just start all over again. I needed to take radical action.
Inner strength and confidence
Now I use my inner strength and confidence to help other women get the balance they want; to take charge of their life; to know what it is to feel powerful. I absolutely love the work that I do. I love the life-changing transformations that I see in the women I work with. I know what it’s like to be a workaholic but I also know how to balance work with family and life.”
“Do you miss your corporate days?”
“I’ve been running my own business since 2012. I love the flexibility, the creativity, the independence, the autonomy and the balance. I loved my corporate career. I learned so much and I had great fun. Sure, sometimes I feel myself being tempted back to the dark side and feel my stress and overwhelm levels rising. That’s when I know it’s time to stop and take care of my wellness before I take care of my business.”
What about you? Where are you on the spectrum of workaholic to balanced mum? If you identify with how I felt, check out 7 ways to cope with overwhelm. You owe it to yourself and to your family to take action today.