Anna's Burnout

Anna’s Burnout


Anna’s Burnout


(A fictional story based on a real-life story)

Anna's Burnout
Photo by Alexander Dummer from Pexels

It is half past three in the afternoon and I am still feeling extremely exhausted. I am battling with the work overload, but it seems to me that I can’t get anything done properly and timeously. 

Otto has just shouted to me in his paternalistic and impatient way, so loud that the whole office can hear, “Bring me those bloody reports, I need them NOW – hurry up!”. I must still finalise the booking for the MD’s trip to the Germany for the company’s AGM and the last report for Otto’s meeting is not done yet.

I just can’t carry on like this!!! But I need my work. Ben has just started a new venture trying to implement and sell franchises for his new company. So far he hasn’t been very successfully and we are battling to cover our monthly expenses at the moment. We should have waited before we bought the new house, the bond payments are killing us!

The moment we saw the house, we knew that we had to buy is, especially after I got the nice increase. But with Ben leaving his old company and starting his own thing, his monthly income has been reduced to a just a drop in the bucket.  


I’d better email the final report to Otto before he has a heart attack. My head is killing me and these jabs in my chest are getting worse by the minute. I don’t think I’ll make it to five today. The pain in my chest is getting extreme painful. Am I getting a heart attack? I’m not feeling well at all. Here Otto is storming into my office to demand the reports, but the pain is now taking over my brain – I can’t think straight, I am sweating profusely and Otto is standing there just staring at me…

hospital, emergency room, entrance

“What’s wrong Anna? You are as white as a sheet… Are you OK?” When I told him that I have this terrible pain in the chest, he immediately phoned 112 and asked for emergency medical assistance. I was taken to the hospital and after being checked out sent home with the request to see a heart specialist the next day. The emergency doctor diagnosed costochondritis (inflammation of the areas where your upper ribs join with the cartilage that holds them to your breastbone) but recommended seeing a specialist to confirm that my heart was OK.

That was 6 years ago. I was working for a German company (not in Germany) with typical old-school German company culture. A “tough on the issue, tough on the person” management style with high assertiveness and low humane orientation. I just got promoted from secretary to executive personal assistant with a nice increase in salary. It might have been too big a jump for me, but I believe that I simply had too much work, I just couldn’t clear my desk ever! And I also didn’t receive recognition for good work. Since I got the promotion I had overwhelming stress at work.

Apart from work stress, my husband, Ben also lost his regular job and started a consulting business – without any real income. That after we bought a house with additional financial strain, with the resulting stress. I was tired in the evenings and that, combined with our  reduced income resulted in us stopping from going out. Disagreements between us increased.

Photo by Geraud pfeiffer from Pexels

After several more trips from work to hospitals, weeks of sick leave, numerous medical specialists visits, I eventually was forced to retire early. I was still in my fifties! I started to develop all sorts of food intolerances such as gluten intolerance, salicylate intolerance, additive intolerances for nitrates, monosodium glutamate and sulfites. Diagnosed with fibromyalgia and hypothyroidism, but unable to take the prescribed medicine caused increased fatigue, lack of sleep and listlessness.

I was too tired to take part in anything, go anywhere or receive guests. My favourite answer to the question: “How are you” was “Like death warmed up”. I spend time in dedicated mental health facilities specialising in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. I am too tired to go on holiday and don’t laugh much any more. 



Anna’s Burnout

If you are already past the breaking point, trying to push through the exhaustion and continuing as you have been will only cause further emotional and physical damage.

(A fictional story based on a real-life story)


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