I realised that I hadn’t helped myself by not communicating.
I was in my 20’s, living in London and working in a fast paced agency. The harder I worked and the quicker I got through work; the more work came my way. I didn’t tell anyone I was struggling, I just got in earlier and stayed later. After a particularly epic project in which I had more responsibility than I knew how to handle, I found myself crying on my own, late in the evening, while hiding in a boardroom. My brain wouldn’t work, and I couldn’t get through the simplest of tasks. When my manager eventually found me, she sent me home. My manager then must have escalated my situation because not long after a very senior person said to me, “you’re burning yourself out so can either go to the Priory (a rehab place) or your Mum’s.” I chose my Mum’s house because it felt less dramatic and I didn’t want to make a fuss. I don’t think I actually told my Mum why I had gone home; I was ashamed and horrified with myself for being so weak. I went for a week, caught up on sleep and gained some perspective. I realised that I hadn’t helped myself by not communicating. It was also the nearest I came to a breakdown and that was scary. Since then, I have spoken out when I have felt overwhelmed and managed my boundaries better; there is no benefit to a stressed or burned out employee. This experience has made me aware as a leader to spot the often-invisible signs of struggle so we can help them.