28 februari 2019 Caroline van de Ven

When your fire starts to burn out …

A month ago I wrote a blog about me dancing on the edge of a burn-out again; sharing that place which is so familiar to me… a place I have to pay attention to and take care of… also ten years later… still an on going dance…

I put this blog online on my website, posted it on facebook and put the first part in my newsletter with an optional link to read the rest of it…

I never before got so many responses to a blog… likes, sympathy, support, stories of recognition, people giving me advise, others saying I was brave to share this personal experience so openly, while being a teacher and last but not least more than ever before people unsubscribed from my newsletter…

Okay, this was not just a blog… this one really talked to people…

What happened to me ten years ago was that I saw a documentary on television about burn-out which annoyed me and made me feel rather sceptical: really… is that a burn-out? I know all these symptoms, I have them all, and I am still working… is this what they call a burnout? These people really are overreacting… To put in short: I was in my phase of denial…

Later I went to the GP because of an increasing amount of physical complaints… I started my list of 25 and after five minutes my GP stopped me from talking and said to me she was ready with her diagnose: total burn-out… I had to pull the plug immediately, let go of all my activities… I was totally surprised and disbelieving… it was just two weeks before my summer holidays…

I went home and called my boss – I was a coordinator, running a European exchange network at a medical university – and told him about the GP’s diagnose and that the next two weeks I would round off my work and then take a long holiday, starting with three weeks and maybe prolong them with another three… My boss was very determined and made it crystal clear to me: “Pulling the plug, is pulling the plug… I don’t want to see you at work, pulling the plug means NOW.”

I can’t say that it dawned upon me then… that only happened in the week that followed, doing nothing… my heartbeat went up to almost 200 per minute, I got really ill and scared and panicked and the only thing that seemed to keep me together turned out to be laying myself down and sleep…

I alternated panic and sleep for more than three months, three horrible months, a hard lesson that is in all my cells and that I will never forget. Sleeping, being up, going into panic again and back to sleep… After three months there was a moment I sensed in my body I really went all the way to the bottom… I was on the bottom now… I wouldn’t fall any deeper… time would come to get back on my feet again…

It was in that very moment that I sensed moving would be healing and sports were out of the question, so I started dancing the 5Rhythms. Actually, they danced me while I was lying on the floor… after three classes I knew I wanted to become a teacher and that I would quit my job at university… a crazy insight considering the situation I was in, but I never gave it any doubt. It took me three years to get back on my feet, three years of baby steps… reinventing me… discovering another world… my world… my needs and my wishes… my desires, my dreams, my qualities…

This blog is to cheer all the burnouters out there. You know you are not alone, hope you can feel it too… Take your time to rest, then turn your suffering into art, step by step transform this disaster into a huge chance… the chance to reinvent yourself, to live your life like you!


About the Author

Caroline van de Ven Caroline van de Ven is 5Ritmes® docent en lid van de 5Rhythms Teachers Association (5RTA). Zij werd opgeleid door Jonathan Horan, zoon van Gabrielle Roth, de moeder van de 5 Ritmes®. Voorheen werkte Caroline als fysiotherapeut, klassiek homeopaat en beeldend kunstenaar. Tevens is zij geschoold in Gestalttherapie, lichaamsgerichte therapie, wetenschappelijk medisch onderzoek en diverse dansvormen (klassiek, beat- & jazzballet). Ook deed zij een opleiding Rouwverwerking om mensen in de dans te kunnen begeleiden bij verlies (verlies van een geliefde door overlijden, maar ook verlies van gezondheid, werk, relatie, etc.). Momenteel geeft en organiseert zij 5 Ritmes® lessen, workshops en lezingen. Daarnaast assisteert zij collega’s bij hun workshops in binnen- en buitenland. Haar thuisbasis is in Beek-Ubbergen, vlakbij Nijmegen; van daaruit reist zij graag, ze geeft ook les in Zuid-Limburg en incidenteel in Keulen en Düsseldorf in Duitsland en in Linz in Oostenrijk. Het dansen van de 5 Ritmes®, bewegend mediteren, is haar leefstijl geworden.