Advice from a Burn-out

Advice from a Burn-out

- in Column, Culture
Illustration: Aydin Ramezani

The lack of teacher led hour contributed to Tove Swartling-Eriksson burn-out. Once there, she received a lot of useless advice about how she could feel better. Now she wants to greet new students welcome to the University with a few advices on how to handle stress.

When I were to write my third paper at the University I felt that I couldn’t go on anymore. After having spent six and half years as a student primarily studying the Humanities I felt so incredibly tired. What was the point with writing my B.A.? Or studying? Or even leaving the bed?

That I got burnt-out was not only the University’s fault, but it certainly had something to do with it. It is possible to work eight hours a day but it is not possible to study eight hours a day. And with the menial financing the Humanities gets that is what is generally expected of the students. During my latest term I had two hours of classroom teaching a week – seminars where we discussed the literature. All learning was to be done through reading. It was soul-killing.

I think it was when I read Ester Eriksson’s comic book Det finns ingenstans att fly (There is nowhere to run) that I, in earnest, realised I was depressed. The book came out last spring and is an example of a trend where more and more comic books touch on mental illness. The problem for the main character in Ester Eriksson’s book is not her studies, but rather the reaction of her surroundings on her health. Her unsympathetic boyfriend is a perfect example of the difficulties of living with mental illness. He thinks that Ester should not be medicated for anxiety and depression, but should instead try yoga and thinking differently. But what she might really have needed was a simple “I understand” and a hug.

I have myself received a lot of advice from unsympathetic people on how to deal with stress. You will certainly also get that and most of them are completely useless. I have however scraped together a few things I myself would have wanted to know before I started studying. Things that you might find useful.

  1. Accept that you will not have time to read everything you should – read what seems most important and the rest you can read summaries on the internet.
  2. It is okay to bullshit.
  3. You are all on your own so expect that you will have to make do without input from your teachers.
  4. Eat, it doesn’t matter if it is junk food – you have to eat something. It all boils down to this: don’t kill yourself – keep track of your limits and remember to pause, everything doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. Be kind to yourself. The world doesn’t end if your thesis is not on time.

Text: Tove Swartling-Erikss

Translation: Viktor Jönsson

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