I keep hearing more and more stories of women burning out, especially since the pandemic when all boundaries between work and home became blurred. 

The emotional, physical and mental exhaustion slowly crept up on Flic Taylor, as she struggled through the days, spinning all the plates. Until it was too late, and she quit her job and stayed in bed for three weeks. 

It’s something I’m so aware of – struggling to juggle all the balls in life is too real sometimes. They get dropped, and I feel like I’m running on empty. But how do we know when it’s time to stop? Or when to ask for help?


  • I’m writing this list because I’m worried about the many women cruising towards burnout without even realising it.

  • You see, I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Truth be told, I’m still there, slowly but surely clawing my way out of the burnout well.

  • And the plot twist? Well, I’m a mental health writer who managed to lose her own mental health.

  • I believe, as women, we’re carrying hefty daily work and mental loads that lead us to dance with exhaustion and burnout as a part of our everyday life.

  • Have you noticed how people casually slip “I’m burnt out” in a conversation but don’t take a moment to look up from their desk or kitchen table to question the effect it’s having on their health?

  • I, like many others, took my mental health and wellness for granted.

  • You see, burnout didn’t just show up one day and knock on my door to poke me in the eye. No, on reflection, I see how I was slow dancing with burnout for a while. Ugh, I hate slow dancing.

  • One minute, I used to want it all. The next minute I’m lying on my bed panting like the dog who’s eaten all the pies and struggling to breathe or be comfortable in my own body.

  • I’d hit my rock bottom and found myself knee-deep in exhaustion. I was carrying around a sackful of physical, mental and emotional symptoms.

  • My brain had been fried in a good few tablespoons of cynicism. I questioned and doubted my work, parenting, values, writing skills, passions and self-worth.

  • At first, I thought strength came in the form of resisting my burnout. So I wore blinders to block my view of the signs of stress.

  • I thought I was strong by slaying the 14 hour work days and ridding myself of the parental guilt of working so hard that I attended every single one of my kids’ sports games or social events.

  • I kept ploughing on. If I’d stopped, then I felt I would’ve failed.

  • I did not see I was failing myself.

  • But wearing these burnout blinders meant my body had to take it up a notch or two to get my attention.

  • So the next stop was for my stress to manifest physically.

  • I went to see my lovely doctor. “How are you?” she asks. “I’m fine, I’m good”, I responded. “I just have an infected nail bed. Oh, and also, I’m wondering if I’m having a heart attack.”

  • It was my third appointment in nine months that I’d had with her to discuss signs of stress and my mental wellness.

  • This time my doctor said, “Stop. Stop right now.”  So I did.

  • You see, when you burn out, your body and nervous system slams on the brakes and holds up protest banners declaring “enough is enough”, “time to change”, and “just say no.”

  • For the first time, I stopped and looked at their protest banners. They were right.

  • I quit my job. I lay in bed for three weeks. I cried a lot.

  • Simple things like taking a shower felt like I was climbing Mount Everest.

  • I had just enough strength to pretend everything was fine to those outside of my circle and just enough to admit that it absolutely wasn’t with those inside my circle.

  • I bowed my head to burnout and accepted I was the mental health writer who had lost her own mental health.

  • I felt shame flood and consume every inch of me.

  • Burnout is exactly what it says on the tin. My light extinguished to the extent of pitch-black darkness. It was as if all the heartache, upset and frustrations that had crossed my path over the past years could not remain buried anymore.

  • You’re probably not surprised that numerous studies suggest the group with the highest risk is women in their 30s and 40s.

  • Multiple life stressors sit spinning on women’s plates: parenting and childcare, caring for ageing parents, financial concerns, work-life boundaries… To begin to name a few.

  • Many stressors are thrown women’s way, thanks to an outdated patriarchal system and negative media messaging.

  • Just writing about those damn spinning plates gets right on my tits.

  • There were a few matches that ignited my burnout bonfire. Make sure you’re not holding onto any of these…

  • Exhausted and running on empty.

  • It’s no surprise that women experience exhaustion first. Extreme fatigue can manifest as brain fog and insomnia.

  • I never took breaks, and when I did, I felt guilty and selfish for the rest.

  • If I wasn’t overworking and overachieving to outrun imposter syndrome, then I was devoting every personal minute to my kids and family.

  • I had placed myself on a hamster wheel with only self-hatred and junk food to fuel me.

  • My self-care currency changed for the worse.

  • Sugar for the shock and alcohol as an anaesthetic were the name of the game.

  • I forcibly revved myself up to rocket speed with caffeine and then chilled myself out to level comatose with wine.

  • The only movement I embraced came in the form of a bicep curl lifting a chilled glass or a chocolate croissant.

  • I lost my voice— metaphorically speaking.

  • I no longer felt effective in my purpose or confident in my performance which all just mounted into a huge big pile of apathy. I stopped voicing my opinions in work meetings or sharing creative ideas.

  • This trickled slowly into my personal life, where I didn’t set boundaries with family. When I stopped projecting my voice, I somehow simultaneously stopped believing in myself.

  • I became self-conscious, self-critical, self-doubting.

  • I worked relentlessly around the clock.

  • I never said “no” to tall orders. I churned out work at record speed, often at the last minute. I always had my phone on and showed up to the table with a smile. I never prioritised myself.

  • Those in my personal circle felt it. It was so clear to them from the sidelines.

  • I never felt good enough.

  • I let my true self wither thanks to a mean and horrid internal narrative that was playing on high volume. This is what imposter syndrome does. It torments 70% of us as we tremble in fear waiting for the exposing moment of a fabricated concern.

  • I was crumbling, both physically and mentally.

  • Always keep in mind that exhaustion can exhibit physical symptoms, including chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal pain, headaches, loss of appetite, anxiety and depression.

  • As if it were a chocolate selection box, I took a bite out of all of these symptoms. No wonder I felt sick and struggled to get through the day.

  • I completely lost my smile but found cynicism.

  • My sense of humour fell between the cracks of the sofa. I lost any enjoyment or zest for life through a hole in my pocket.

  • I watched myself fade, sub-consciously detaching from those around me. It made me want to self-isolate, keeping the uncontrollable burnout fever to myself.

  • The scary part for me was I could now fully appreciate how people came to suicide ideation. I fully understood as I sat slumped on the bathroom floor and struggled to utter the word ‘help’.

  • Looking back, it’s absolutely terrifying I landed in that cold space.

  • But this is what it’s like to be human with all the confusion, shame, vulnerability along with the raw feelings and emotions.

  • Interestingly, would I have said I had suicidal thoughts at the time? No. Would I have said I had a mental illness? No. But would I have said I was mentally well? Hell, no.

  • The most important thing you can do is recognise the stages of burnout rather than waiting to go all the way through to the dire straits inefficacy stage. Please, don’t do that. Take it from me, it’s not fun. You deserve so much more.

  • When you see burnout warning signs glimmer on the horizon, take note, make sure to step in, and take swift action.

  • Prioritise yourself. Take a break. Wipe off things from your to-do list. Get some rest. And I mean deep rest. After that? Take some more things off your to-do list and bag yourself some more rest.

  • I cannot stress enough how vital it is to talk, share, connect, to reach out for help. Studies show that social support has the biggest impact on burnout.

  • I know there is content out there on burnout and mental illness. I know there are tips and tricks on banishing burnout. But these clickbait articles in three paragraphs with their suggestive boxes to tick, gave me no comfort at this point.

  • I wanted to read the stories of others and know how they got through a dark day. I wanted to know how others eased their tight anxiety chest and managed to utter the word… ‘help’.

  • That’s why I’m throwing bucketloads of honesty onto this list. For others to see and feel less alone. It’s the only way.

  • I had to stop; I had to listen; I had to feel. I have to nurture myself while I continue to recuperate. Maybe you do too?

  • It’s been nine months since I threw the towel in on my dream writer’s job. I did it for my physical and mental health, and I did it to model to my kids that self-care and self-love are the foundation of our life and wellness.

  • Hands down, it was the toughest decision I’ve ever made, with a hefty financial impact too. There were a lot of snot-ridden tear-soaked tissues involved.

  • Whether you’re reading this because you’re experiencing burnout or reading this because you’re curious as to how the heck a mental health writer lost her own mental health—learning and developing compassion for one another always wins.

  • Please share this list with the women in your circle who may be struggling with the hefty mental loads on their spinning plates.

  • Sharing our stories and talking about our mental health can ‘shhh’ that damn stigma and put an end to those internal whispers that say we’re not good enough.

  • With eyes forward and heart open, show yourself and others the warmth, love and humanity we all need right now.

**If you want to find out more about Flic’s burnout experience and recovery you can find her at (both written and audio versions of her blog posts are available)



Mental Health UK:



** ‘But why is there blood in the toilet?’ ‘But why do people die and are they just sleeping?’ and “But why do adults drink beer and what does it do?’ are some of the tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to preorder now  and also on audiobook.**



–  Listen to philosopher and founder of The School of Life, Alain de Botton, on Honestly podcast as he discusses nurturing emotional wellbeing.

–  Listen to psychotherapist and mother-of-three, Anna Mathur’s calming wisdom on Honestly podcast, which is full of advice on how to combat overwhelm.

–  Read Lucy Sheridan’s list Quit the Comparison about why we all need to stop marking ourselves against everybody else. 

–  Read Zoe Blaskey’s emotional and educational list How I Finally Learned to Be Kind to Myself after she had previously been a people pleaser, driven by fear and expectation.



Find submission guidelines here.  All writers and topics are welcome, but we are currently particularly looking for lists on:

–  Internet trolling

–  Prison

–  Pain killer addiction

–  Extremely large families

–  Estrangement

–  Lottery winners

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