It was a series of upending life events over a period of years—some bad, some good, all unexpected and disorienting—that gradually propelled me into a state of mind-numbing, body-exhausting burnout. First, there was my husband’s cancer, his surgery, and the seven months spent watching him suffer through the spirit-breaking ordeal of chemotherapy. During those months, I’d prayed and cried and white-knuckled my way through an endless, dark valley of alternating fear, anguish, and desperate hope.
But then it was over. My husband got better. The casseroles stopped appearing on our doorsteps, and the encouraging cards and calls stopped coming. We both plunged heart and soul back into our lives. Daniel, as if to make up for the time he’d lost, started full-time graduate school in mental health counseling. I began expanding my practice to cover the costs of his schooling and the pile of medical bills we’d accumulated. I also signed a contract on a book deal, with a deadline looming. Meanwhile, we had five children of our blended family still at home, four of whom were teenagers. Life felt something like walking uphill, against the wind, in a blizzard.
And I got tired—tired all the time, and irritable much of the time with Daniel and the kids. Worse, I began feeling apathetic at work, even as my clients’ painful stories began following me home, haunting my dreams at night. Then my back blew out, as if telling me I…