Burnout

For those who don’t know, I lost my mind in the summer of 2015. As I told a friend who asked if this came suddenly, “No, this was a long time coming.” I had been trying to fight off anxiety and depression using alcohol and willpower for quite a while, but that only works for so long. At the time, I didn’t know that I had limits to the amount of stress that I could handle and I piled it on recklessly. In the end, I burned out and had a mental breakdown that left me unable and unwilling to work in my profession as a Software Architect.

A contributing factor may have been my age, at the time 43 in years. Was it a midlife crisis?  Couldn’t be right?  After all I didn’t have difficult children, crippling debt, or a loveless marriage. I already had a motorcycle, a red corvette, and a hot younger woman. I should have been safe. Regardless, I still wanted to run away and live a life of solitude as many men do at this age.  In the end I chalked my breakdown to hereditary major depressive disorder.  There is something of a history of this on my maternal side of the family, so the theory is plausible.  Don’t worry, I’m medicated now and doing fine.

More and more I’m coming to realize that many of those who wander aren’t necessarily looking for something, but trying to avoid the world and all that comes with it. At the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous one woman stood at a group meeting and said that she no longer needed anxiety medication since hitting the road. Several heads started nodding in agreement at this comment.  I know when Nic and I travelled it helped me tremendously.

I heard another long woman traveler speak about nature deficit disorder, where not being in nature enough can cause personal distress.  I think there is something to this. We watch the movie Blackfish and and are horrified at how we keep orcas in constrained captivity. Then we go and sit at the same desk in front of a computer most of our waking hours, stuck in our own Westworld loops. All this completely without sense of irony.

My brother reads a favorite blog, Bowman Odessey, where the author is clearly struggling with this very subject. Or maybe I’m coloring it with my own experiences.  You decide.  Regardless it is well written and worth killing a couple minutes here and there. Check it out.

6 Replies to “Burnout”

  1. I think wanderlust is also in our blood. Dad drove a semi across the country for 30+ years and he’d go back in the rig on a moments notice if he could. I find an intrinsic joy in traveling the lonely rural two lanes of Nebraska and other open environs.

    I’ve been contemplating my breakout from the everyday for the past 6, 7 years or so. But it’s going to be another decade at least until Corwin and Conrad are self sufficient enough for Anke and I to run away from home. We’ve been mitigating that with long weekend road trips to the badlands and longer vacations traveling west to Colorado and New Mexico. In the past year of two I’ve found a balance and have been consciously nurturing it.

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