Monday, 26 April 2010 09:39

Radio Namakwaland - Burnout

As a result of an article on Burnout, in Vroue Keur (see article), I was invited to do an interview for Radio Namakwaland on 2nd November 2009.  The programme was called "Hoe Nou Gemaak?" ("What do I do now?"). The interview was so well received that it was rebroacast twice.

Radio Namakwaland is a community radio station based in the Northern Cape, South Africa. The listeners are Afrikaans speaking, and so the interviewer asked me the questions in Afrikaans, but because I do not speak Afrikaans fluently I answered him in English. (To help you understand what I am answering, I have written down the questions in English. Read them as you listen).

Afrikaans questions translated into English

  • Is burn-out something that is quite prevalent and therefore something that you see in your consulting rooms often?
  • Are burn-out and depression the same?
  • Is burn-out mainly restricted to one of the sexes?
  • Well, we must be honest, we men cannot multi-task so well...
  • Are persons from certain age groups and race more prone to burn-out?
  • What exactly leads to burn-out?
  • Is it only at work? Can it be a combination of home, work, church, everything?
  • Well, this is a good start, how does one recognise the symptoms of burn-out?
  • Is it true that when you experience burn-out you also have a tendency to forget things? Is this one of the symptoms?
  • I also understand that burn-out has certain phases. Please can you take us through the phases
  • It is very interesting that you start the phases with the honeymoon phase. The honeymoon phase is something we all experience when we get into a new position, but as we progress we lose our enthusiasm. Is this the case for burn-out?
  • Don’t you think that the circumstances of certain jobs contribute to burn-out? For example a person sees that their colleagues are not pulling their weight and then think “I must work harder” to compensate for the sake of the company. Could that contribute to burn-out?
  • In the case of somebody going through these phases of burn-out, is there something physiological happening? Is there an emotion perhaps, a tingling of the skin? I am asking this because of something I personally experienced 8 years ago when I felt my internal organs starting to convulse and immediately afterwards I collapsed. It was burn-out. Is it always like, or is that not a prerequisite?
  • At that same time a good friend of mine went to the bathroom and 2 days later he woke up in hospital – he “hit the wall” as you would say. Does this usually happen with people – that they just implode, similar to getting a heart attack? Do people experience it differently? (The hitting of the wall)
  • You are making a very important point. The person going through burn-out may not necessarily say “help me”, but rather friends and family, concerned people, will refer them to someone (a professional). Therefore it is important to maintain a close family involvement. Family should certainly be saying: “Mom, Dad, Friend, you must now go for help.”
  • Can a person experiencing burn-out help him or herself or must they go for professional help?
  • Is there healing for such persons and is medication necessary?
  • Do support groups play an important role on the road to recovery?
  • Can suicidal thoughts occur in a person’s life during burn-out?
  • ...but also bearing in mind that you often get religious people who say: “I am going to read my bible and pray more”. Is this a solution for the physical problem they are experiencing at that moment? It can also cause more tension. Can you answer both these questions at the same time?
  • Have you any tips to help a person prevent burn-out?