I still remember the day nine years ago when I was fired, unlawfully, and was feeling completely burned out. Actually, I didn’t understand the seriousness of my health condition at the time. It took me a year to get to a space where I finally got my head around the fact that I was burned out.
I had been sleeping badly for years with no support from my husband or family. I was struggling at work under constant criticism from my colleagues and my boss. I didn’t understand why the atmosphere was very negative, I was performing well to my job description and getting the results. And my colleagues didn’t even come from a position of strength, they weren’t succeeding on my level. But there was something in my personality that irritated others and that’s why I was bullied.
After the dramatic departure I stayed at home for 6 years taking care of my daughter. I tried yoga and went for long forest walks everyday. I meditated and did cleansing. None of this helped much. I studied leadership, digital marketing and skills required for board level positions. I kept myself busy by doing some administration work from home for my dad’s company and sat on a few company boards. I was keeping myself busy but was still not feeling physically or emotionally better.
I then became active at a local trade association and soon I found myself as the head of Business Ladies Club. My healing started with this group. I was welcomed to the group and got a lot of recognition for the volunteer work I did to help empower other women. When I finally landed a teaching job at vocational school, I started to feel better.
“A deep sense belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired for connection.” Brene Brown
I’m still struggling with tiredness. My sleeping is from time to time a bit better, but I still have bad sleeping periods. I’ve tried everything from acupuncture to hypnosis. Every time I start to do something new, I get panic-attacks. This means that I become paralyzed and cannot do anything except be super tense. Things are going slowly because I get stressed out every time I’m doing something new. My cortisol level must have been high for years since it’s coming back so quickly and strongly.
Searching for balance has become my number one priority.
Now I find time to do more exercise, walk my dog, read and relax by watching some Netflix series. And it gives me great pleasure to have time to be more involved with my daughter’s hobbies and interests than ever before.
Last year I started my own company and to do meaningful work. I had a strong calling to do this because I’m very independent and strong person combined with high-sensitivity. I can see that sometimes this scares people, and perhaps I’m a bit different to many other women. I also immediately feel tension at workplace or in intense female groups.
A real surprise has therefore been that I found comfort in women’s group DrivenWoman. I had never been in a group where women actually support and help each other without being stabbed in the back afterwards.
Besides still experiencing some stress time to time I love my life much more than ever before.
I find joy everyday by doing more things that I love.
Today I can say that staying at home with my, now seventeen year-old, daughter was a real blessing in disguise. She is a smart and grounded person, I’m very proud of her and happy that I chose to spend that time at home with her.
Many things come slowly in life and some traumatic experiences may take a long time to heal, but the key is to keep actively looking for solutions and not accept constant struggle as a norm. It is hard to do that alone, and no matter how difficult you may find the concept of sharing – it works.
And now, after taking care of others for so long, I feel now is my time. There is also hope for finding a new relationship, someone to support and take care of me from time to time.
Kati Saario is a DrivenWoman member in Finland.