My Crash and Burn()out
I’m writing this post because I want to be faithful to always walk the talk about mental health as I’ve been seeking to do since 2015 when I shared my mental health story publicly for the first time at WordCamp Denver.
My hope is by sharing what’s been going on with me it may resonate with some of you and you hear loud and clear, “You’re not alone.”
And that this is another step in eradicating the stigma of mental health from our planet and species.
I also am writing this to honor our amazing members and to share how it is changing my work at Post Status and our other ventures.
So here goes…
I have not been well.
Right before the winter break, I crashed and burned out harder than I ever have in my life.
Mental and physical exhaustion.
Like where the candle burns down so far it leaves big scorch marks on the metal base.
And I haven’t been back to “work” until this week.
Each time I try to do work or get on a computer I’d get overwhelmed, panicked, sick to my stomach and spend the rest of the day in bed.
After the first of the year, I had to tell our team at Post Status I was out until further notice. And I had no idea when or even if I could come back.
The physical part started around late October when I fractured my foot racing with my kids in our backyard barefooted and it just dominoed from there.
In November, I traveled for business three straight weeks on four separate trips … walking through airports in a temporary boot until I could see a specialist.
In December our family did a quick and blissful trip to New York City.
But when we got back and rolled into the winter break I wanted nothing to do with a computer or “work” and thought a nice two-week break cleaning out our garage (yeah that bad) and soaking in our hot tub would help me get back.
It was a start but I needed much much more time.
The fact is … I’ve neglected my body for years. I haven’t taken care of myself.
I rode my youth and fire and then my body finally said … no more.
My inner mantras had been:
Push Push Push.
Go Go Go Go.
Faster. Faster. Faster.
Farther. Farther. Farther.
Drive Drive Drive.
I wasn’t just a sled dog, I was the entire team yelling, MUSH! to myself.
Until I finally fell face down in utter exhaustion the last 6 weeks.
I came face to face with the fact … I’m not 32 anymore, the age I was when I started iThemes. I’m 45 as I write this but feel much much older. My body and my mind have taken a beating.
Even if I wanted to, I can’t push my body and mind and heart anymore like I did.
It wasn’t healthy to do so, that’s obvious, but a few weeks ago, I finally said to myself: I’m done.
And in my heart, I hung up my climbing gear.
15 years going at full speed, neglecting my body, carrying 80 pounds of worry, frustration, and paranoia — the weight of the world on my back finally broke me.
Mentally, the last couple of years since the acquisition of iThemes and leaving my beloved team have been some of the hardest of my life … but also the very very best.
All because I’m doing my deep deep Iceberg work.
I have called it the Great Recalibration. But in the last month or so, it’s as if the building was razed to its foundation and I’ve been painstakingly rebuilding it brick by brick.
I’m learning self-love, self-worth, self-care …
Lindsey wrote me a note and it said: “I hope one day you can love yourself as much as I love you.”
I’m learning and building emotional and physical strength. Every day.
Some days are really good. Some days I want to curl up in bed.
But thankfully I’m surrounded by an incredible group of people who love and support me — the kind who rush in when everyone else runs out.
They go by the names of Lindsey, Caloway, Lillian, AJ, Pam, Dad, Sandra, Talisha, Lacey, Michelle, the entire PS team, my therapist (meeting weekly now), and my comrades in OKC EO Forum 2 who have walked with me over 10 years on my first entrepreneurial summit, among many many others.
They’ve picked me up, dusted me off, and sometimes carried me.
I am not alone.
Each day I’m feeling and getting better.
I’m rediscovering things I cherished when I was young … art, design, nature, publishing. I’ve gone to museums, walked in and savored nature when I could, and opened up more than ever to the people who love and care about me most.
Most of all I’m working on taking care of myself first.
I’m putting on my own oxygen mask before I seek to run out and help others with theirs.
And I’ve been reminded again: Everybody hurts and it’s ok to ask for help.
Because I certainly have hurt and I have asked for help and gotten it.
I don’t know what work will look like for me. I’m very slowly turning things back on (you know the drill: deactivate all plugins and start activating them one by one to see where the trouble is).
I’m hopeful. I’m optimistic. Delusionally so, my therapist might have said.
I’m on the right path and the only path I want to be on — my healing journey.
But work will look different. It must look different. And I’m at peace not knowing exactly what it will look like or be.
Lindsey is Taking Over as Interim CEO
My wife Lindsey has started taking over all our ventures I was running including Post Status.
What most of you might not know or realize is we’ve been doing this thing together for over a decade.
Our dearest friends know this but it’s always been an US thing and never a Me thing. She’s been my first and key critical partner in everything I’ve accomplished and done. She’s tirelessly worked mostly behind the scenes, been my chief advisor and strategist and talked me down, and picked me up too many times to count.
I could not have done what I’ve done without her. And I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted to try it without her.
Now she’s stepping into the spotlight here. And I’m so excited about that. Mainly because you’ll get to see what I’ve known for years — she’s a gifted leader and entrepreneur beyond measure.
She started her business Content Journey in the middle of the pandemic while earning her Master’s degree in counseling and keeping our family together and 100 other things I probably don’t even know about.
And she’s absolutely killing it.
To say I’m proud of her is the understatement of 2022.
She’s the real deal.
But I ain’t going anywhere.
You are my people.
Lindsey stepping into this role means I get to do more of what I love — be a connector, guide, coach, advisor, mentor, facilitator, and friend to you.
I’m incredibly thankful for her, my support team, our Post Status team, and … for you.
This Part is About You
I implore you…
If you’re going through what I have … don’t go it alone.
Seek and ask for help and support.
Find a counselor who knows your story so when things happen like what I’ve shared here you have someone to call and help guide you through it like I have.
That’s why we started AllCounseling.com by the way.
Finally, be sure to say hi to Lindsey and cheer her and our awesome team on as we continue to serve and support you.
They all love what they do for you here.
So say a hearty thanks when you can to them.
And I hope to see your face and hear your voice soon — maybe on one of our weekly Member Huddles.
Until then, be well my friends. And most of all, take care of yourselves.
Once again you’re leading by example when it comes to being open and honest about your mental health concerns. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. But I’m also so proud to call you my friend. I hope that, just like last time, your vulnerability will help others realize that it’s ok not to be ok. And that putting your mental health first is the most brave, successful, and leaderly thing you can do.
Brother, nobody “walks the talk” like you do when it comes to mental health. I just want to say thank you. Thank you for sharing with such honesty about this most recent ‘leg’ of your journey, as challenging as that must have been. And you are most definitely not alone, my friend. I felt every word as if I had written it myself. Like Kenna said, it is okay to not be okay. And I’m grateful you’re heeding the warning signs, taking care of yourself, taking the time to heal. And Lindsey, thank you for stepping into this role. So much love and admiration for you both!
Cory, deep respect to you for your vulnerabilty and sharing what you’re going through. I hope you’re doing okay and taking some time out helps you heal and come out the other side stronger. Also, respect to Lindsey for stepping into the spotlight. You guys are a formidable team xx
If I could hug you through a post, I would.
In order to keep our mental health, we need to take (very good & regular) care of our body’s health, and all aspects of our lives.
I gained 55 lbs (25 kg) in 21 years that I have been in a big corporation, as Director/Manager, until I realized that I needed to change ALL the aspects of my life in order to “survive”: I needed to change my nutrition, physical activity, sleep, remove some “toxic” people from my environment, etc.
So I did it: in my 47. years (2 years ago), I quit my 21 years very good paid management job, created & started my own job, changed my nutrition habits 100%, started running and doing strength training…
I lost 57 lbs (26 kg) and have been preparing for my 1st half-marathon (in a couple of weeks), and hopefully a full marathon afterwards, having enough energy for the whole day/night, …. in short: feeling great & fully enjoying my life, my family and my friends!
You (and everybody else), could do the same – you just need to start with the small steps and start your “metamorphoses”. It won’t be easy, it won’t be fast, but you will come there, eventually, however you need to be persistent, that’s all.
I put together, in one document all that I did (and still have been doing) for my (physical & mental) health and how to keep my current weight, I hope it could help you (and others), too: https://paper.dropbox.com/doc/Lose-weight-smartly-easily-by-using-technology–BatzZIdIjSaEGda6sH~7pXxCAg-oJeqaYNJkAXyGUI5pvqrM.
Sigh. I can relate to so many pieces of this. I’m so grateful to see these words shared transparently. Part of me (the part that doesn’t fully critique myself) feels like the entire online industry is on the brink of this.
I run a business similar to Content Journey, but the burn out of the prospects for that business has been so frustrating. It’s just a volatile business (or perhaps I’m not targeting the right people?)
Also your work in the counseling space is admirable. I’ll be reaching out to see how I can bring that kind of service to one of the brands I run, FirefighterWife.com
Final thought…. all I keep hearing is “we have to do this together”. Sharing these words is a step to the collaboration for good.
Be well and thank you for sharing this. It’s been a rough few years for me as well, you are not alone!
I truly hope you can recover from this to get back to whatever makes you happy and fulfilled.
I know the stigma is still awful and so many people don’t understand so you have been very generous in sharing so much.
As always, much love and respect for you, Cory Miller. I’m glad you are taking care of yourself. And let’s be honest, nobody is ever sad when there’s MORE LINDSEY MILLER on the horizon. 🙂
DITTO! She’s a force and so thankful she said YES to marry me 10+ years ago! Now EVERYBODY benefits 🙂
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