Why I’ve had to stop everything

Blog image: Back of a man looking out of a window.
Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Having not slowed down for months, my body finally gave in. In November, my back gave way, closely followed by excruciating leg pain into December and a meltdown in my mental health. By the 5th of December, having spent a day in agony helping run a digital event, it was clear I needed to take the rest of the year off to recover.

How did I let things get this far? I honestly don’t know! I thought I was doing a pretty good job of handling myself! I’d been off meds for a few years, and I’d pulled off a great event in 2022. 2023 had been full of pressures I’d handled like a champ. I’d still managed to make time for family, and I felt I’d done very well. Everyone seemed happy!

Although, now, as I write (and writing has an amazing ability to unlock things inside your mind), perhaps the one person I have failed over the last few years has been me.

I’ve tried to serve my family, my friends, my community, my business, my clients, my listeners and subscribers, and complete strangers on social media. Admiral, sure.

The only person I was not looking out for was myself. I’ve been so wrapped up in missions to “save others,” I couldn’t save myself.

If it were not for my body stopping me in my tracks, perhaps even now I’d still be doing damage to myself physically and mentally. It’s been excruciating pain that has forced me to stop, rest, and take care of myself.

I didn’t take it well.

Having tried to ignore anxiety and panic attacks for months, telling myself each episode had just been due to extra stress, I ended up melting down completely. I went from the confident host of a podcast at a busy London event to a crying, broken man, holding a pillow close in the corner of the room, recognising why some people choose to end their own lives.

I was completely broken. Physically and mentally, and I did the only thing I could think to do.

I turned to my wife for help and told my close friends I was struggling, having hidden it all from them for months. Within days, I was on medication for the pain, I’d had my first consultation, and I was on brand new medication for my mental health.

Things got worse before improving, but stopping and crying for help was exactly what I needed to do.

For the next few months, I’ll be easing myself into work, but I’ve learned some valuable lessons from this experience. Therefore, I’m committing to:

  • Taking time to rest. Not just sleep, but giving my mind and body a proper rest. Sitting on my phone at night reading about trends in marketing is not resting.
  • Prioritising my health. If I want to support others, I need to be in good shape myself.
  • Accepting help from others. The one thing I’ve struggled with the most is accepting help during this last month. For example, I struggled to accept car lifts from friends and family because I can’t drive due to pain. I’ve burned out over the last year because I’ve tried to do it all myself.
  • Setting personal boundaries. I’ve been great at setting those up with others, but not myself. My mind has not switched off for months. I’ve allowed myself to be “always on” and have not set any personal boundaries. I have been the most demanding person in my life. This stops.

I have learned so much more and am continuing to. But that’s it for this post. I hope my own journey and honesty are a help to others who might be blindly steering themselves to a messy burnout.

If you’ve experienced this, please do share how you got through to the other side and any advice you might have for me and others in order to do the same.

Taking care of ourselves isn’t an option. It’s a necessity. Here’s to a healthier future for us all.


  • Hi Lee, thanks for sharing, and there is a powerful lesson there for all of us! I know it sounds selfish, but we NEED to put ourselves and our own health first. We can’t help anyone if we are sick, or dead!

    • A

      100% brother! Problem is I learn it then promptly forget it. I am hoping this time was extreme enough to change my ways for good and to be a little more selfish ;). Happy new year!!

  • Brenda Malone

    Thank you for being brave enough to post this, it will help others.

    I feel you. I had been going non-stop at 16-hour days for over 10 years. By September of this year, I was 100% burned-out and unable to think clearly. Over the past three years, I have had COVID 4 times, and was left with lung and other Long COVID issues.

    I made the very difficult decision to leave my very lucrative job and just take a few months off to fully recuperate. Keeping up with SEO is hard. It is never-ending. And clients expect you to be always on and deliver immediate results. These things can not be sustained.

    Best wishes during your rejuvenation and balance.

    • A

      Long Covid sounds awful. I hope you are starting to feel stronger and I am praying for you.

      This illness, and like you, my prior busy life has me questioning what sort of future I build for myself. I certainly don’t want to repeat it 🙂

      Here’s to a positive and fulfilling 2024!