To the driving, striving, perfectionist highly frenetic work patterns can be challenging
Though the human system is remarkably strong and adaptable - excessive striving
or excessive demands over a long period take their toll.
For the workaholic and perfectionistoverachiever - for whom overwork is the norm
- sleeping problems,sleep deprivation are just accepted as par for the course.
‘ Wired’ and hooked on stress - they often use artificial stimulants to maintain
alertness and drive. In their ' leisure ' time they tend toward excess and indulgence
substituting one kind of high for another. Once conditioned this way the system cannot
slow down. It just oscillates between ‘flat-out’ and ‘wiped out’.
Self inflicted or not - such stress generates fatigue. Many report feeling tired
all the time and intermittent exhaustion.
The end state may be physical burnout - where the system is out of energy - or nervous
exhaustion and mental burnout or even nervous breakdown.
In cases of chronic fatigue the system may fall into a state recognised as chronic
fatigue syndrome - or M. E. - where the system is unable to get energy with which
to recover. Like a car with an emptied tank - a mere refill will not allow it to
run again. The fuel system has to be cleansed of ' sludge' before it can begin to
function properly. The longer it is ' off the road ' the more maintenance issues
will need attention.
These end stages are frequently accompanied by depression, making recovery more difficult.
On the way there are usually plenty of warning symptoms. Headaches and various other
local or non-specific physical aches increase with rising levels of stress.
Type-A drivers and strivers - proud of their toughness and ability to survive -
are generally in denial of all this.
This sense of feeling wired may extend into states where sufferers feel agitated
and can t stop thinking.
Now at an elevated level of stress, they are in constant need of an energy boost
and feel they are losing their edge. With diminishing motivation and morale they
beat up on themselves and try to flog themselves harder to get back on the pace.
They begin to make mistakes and their capacity to make a decision is eroded. The
process of making decisions may become unduly disorientating because they can't
think clearly any more. By this stage - most people realise that something is going
Excessive sweating and dizziness may begin - together with other anxiety symptoms.
Fairly advanced degradation may be characterised by fibromyalgia - not a widely
recognised medical condition ( see footnote ) - or adrenal exhaustion - a diagnostic
category which is heavily disputed.
People may feel detached or out of touch - even quite unreal - maybe hovering on
the edge of panic or experiencing full blown panic attacks. A sense of hopelessness
and impending collapse may finally force them to seek help
Treatment of theses cases is complex. In the earlier phases very effective work
can be done to relieve symptoms and to set the stage for modifying behaviour patterns.
The further advanced the collapse, the more powerfully entrenched the underlying
programs are - and the more separated the individual is from feedbacks needed to
Their systems have become chaotic. They have been responding to extreme signals generated
beyond safe limits - excluding important awareness which would have kept them within
a tolerable behaviour envelope.
Sufferers are unable to relax in any proper sense - nor can they assess what are
normal and sustainable levels of activity. Habituated to artificially high tempos
- the options often seem seem dull and under-stimulating.
They often find it difficult to accept a proper recuperative regime. Even those with
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ( ME ) often try to use the recovery phase to get back
on the pace before energy reserves have been restored properly.
Such conditions usually require determined cognitive, hypnotic and psychotherapeutic
work and a powerful process of re-education.
These re-connect the individual with true feedback from his own system and re-install
a properly connected sense of self.
Released from the old damaging patterns individuals can then recuperate and follow
effective behaviour programs correctly attuned to their needs, capabilities and safe
This is not necessarily a lengthy process. Five to ten sessions is normal. The time
to full recovery is determined by the severity of the condition and willingness
to co-operate in the development of a well-structured program.