Driven. Accomplished. A perfectionist. The one people could count on. Handy with to-do lists and action plans. Wanting to help everyone I met.
Classic Type A, right?
I was also completely disconnected from myself.
And very, very exhausted. I couldn’t stand up long enough to take a shower.
There are many theories about what causes burnout: Our sped-up culture. Too much screen time. The inability to relax. Not enough time in nature. Unrealistic workloads. Food additives. Superwoman fantasies.
All of these play a part, but my experience over the last few years taught me a different theory.
Burnout is your soul talking to you about who you really are and how far you are from that person. Your soul making a last-ditch effort to get some air-time. I call this the “Identity Gap™,” and mine was huge.
Here’s how it happened for me.
When I was 16 I was picking up a prescription with my mother at the drug store, and asked my mother about the man helping us. He had silently taken the prescription, filled it, and then said “Take this with food. That will be $16.” Mom told me pharmacists made a lot of money but required extensive schooling. I thought maybe I’d found my dream job–making ‘lots of money’ without really talking to anybody. I was intrigued.
The next year we had a job shadow opportunity. I chose to shadow a pharmacist.
Fast-forward several grueling years… I’d finished pharmacy school and it was time to interview for my residency.
The universe started trying to get my attention. I ignored it.
I drove nine hours (one-way) to one interview in an effort to save money, and ended up being handed a speeding ticket that cost me twice what airfare would have been.
On that same trip, I hit a blizzard. A semi passed me and sucked my little car into its draft, spinning me around on the freeway—in the midst of heavy traffic, white-out and darkness. I started the car and kept on going.
I was offered a position I wanted because I’d be working with someone I really admired. Too late in the process, I learned he wouldn’t even be there. Because of the way the pharmacy system works, I “had” to take the job I no longer wanted. I took it and kept on going.
Then followed a long string of positions, each more stressful and soul-crushing than the last. Suburbs. Retail. Nursing homes. Bad fits. Irresponsible manage-ment. Corrupt systems. Mafia ties. (I’m not kidding!)
To say I was on edge by this time is an understatement, but I didn’t let it show (or so I thought) at work. After all, I still believed that anything worth doing wasn’t going to be easy and that I could keep on trucking through any adversity life threw at me.
After a particularly challenging Christmas visit to my boyfriend’s family, I felt extra-exhausted when I got home. I chalked it up to the emotionally draining trip. I managed to drag myself to work, but soon was barely able to stand through my shower or even hold the TV remote.
I quickly morphed from “Wow, I’m kinda tired” to “I don’t think I can get off this couch.”
I skipped showers. I postponed eating and peeing because I didn’t have the energy to walk to the kitchen or bathroom. I couldn’t remember very basic information—like my nephew’s name. Paranoia set in, and I imagined my boss plotting against me.
I realized I was thinking like a crazy person. I waited for the day my boyfriend would walk out because my life had shrunk so drastically. The girl who had studied to be a doctor and ran miles every day now wore the same pajamas for a week and could barely brush her hair. The once stoic, super-productive professional was now nearly bursting into tears when someone took her pen.
I was terrified, but I kept on working. After all, no one else was going to pay the mortgage, right?
When I finally went to one physician and then another… and another, they couldn’t find anything wrong with me. I added bitter frustration to my utter exhaustion. I was fantasizing about ending it all when one doctor recommended I see a functional medicine doctor.
She spent 90 minutes with me and told me what I had. Adrenal fatigue.
I told her it didn’t exist. (After all, I’d never heard of it.) The more she talked about it, the more what she said made perfect sense.
That day started the most meaningful journey of my life so far.
She gave me an action plan… and I saw this was not going to be a quick fix. I went on disability. I felt worse before I felt better. I celebrated if I managed to get the dishwasher loaded myself.
Finally after about three months, I began to feel ok. Then, a few more months went by I began to feel really good. Vibrant, even.
I studied everything I could about functional medicine. I listened to my body. I paid attention to the nudges I received. I came to see that there is crap in life we don’t actually have to put up with.
And this is what I began teaching my clients today to do.
I closed my gap. I created a new business. I became a teacher. I loved it.
That’s not the end of the story, though.
I started receiving more nudges. In one 10-day stretch, three different people told me I was psychic. My brain didn’t have any way to assimilate this. It had been hard enough a few months before to own that I was a Control Freak. Now I had to own that I was Psychic?
And I started feeling exhausted—I knew by now that’s a signal from my body that I’m widening the gap again. I know its signal to pay attention.
So I did… and it changed the way I work even more. I started doing soul-purpose readings for my clients and could see clearly how they were out of alignment with who they were meant to be and how it was showing up in their body.
Now I read the Akashic records, am a certified Soul Realignment™ practitioner, perform distance energy healing, and am developing a process for distance chakra balancing with crystals. Plus I’m a licensed pharmacist. I draw on everything I’ve ever learned to help my clients close the Identity Gap™.
Here’s what I’ve learned: If you have a life you don’t love, a situation that’s out of control, or a job that doesn’t feed your soul, it’s not ok. It’s not normal. It’s not something you need to keep doing because you’re noble. It is not who you are. And it’s really not good for you.
Being unhappy or unfulfilled, exhausted or in pain is not a necessary part of getting older. And, contrary to what many people believe and what I was taught all my life, there is no virtue in suffering.
Your suffering is a wake-up call. The universe is tapping on your shoulder. Pay attention. Don’t wait until it has to trip you and hold you down.
(That’s what I did and, believe me, you don’t want that.)
If you’re like I was, there is a gap between who you are being right now and who you are meant to be in this world.
Here’s a simple equation: The bigger the gap, the more stress and tension in your life and the worse you probably feel. My own gap was a freaking Grand Canyon.
But if I can close that gap, you can, too.
My mission is to speak the truth and—using the tools I’ve discovered on my journey—help you speak your truth, too. To help you discover and plot a course for a life and livelihood that’s in alignment with your soul.
And, my beloved Ms. Type A, I promise you’re going to feel a whole lot better when you do.
Dr. Heather Clark, PharmD , is an intuitive coach, healer, speaker, and author. Dr. Clark was a National Merit Scholar, earned her doctorate in pharmacy in 1997, completed her post-doctoral residency at the Kansas City Veterans Administration Medical Center in 1998, and has practiced in a variety of settings including community, long term care, consulting, and hospital clinical pharmacy.
After her own recovery from severe burnout, she has helped many others recover quickly, safely, and permanently using her Burnout Cure program. Dr. Clark awakened to her purpose when she realized that the root cause of burnout isn’t ‘just’ stress–it is the stress of being someone you aren’t.