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The Netflix series Living With Yourself revolves around the life of Miles and his clone, from the varying point of views of Miles, his clone and his wife Kate. Rather similar to the Netflix series After Life, the series explores themes of self-identity and the loss of individuality, self-sabotage and how burnout leading to depression affects more than the person suffering from it.
We wrote this article for caregivers and family and friends who know of someone with burnout. This article explores how burnout is through the lens of Netflix’s Living With Yourself, how to work with loved ones who suffer from burnout and simple tips on supporting loved ones with burnout.
The Premise of Living With Yourself
Miles, the main character of the series Living With Yourself, decides to go to a spa for "therapy" without fully understanding what such treatment includes. He does this after a day at work that is both familiar and thought-provoking: He sits down at his desk, trying to come up with something for a deadline and he cannot.
Miles is under a lot of pressure to perform. He has made a plan with Kate, his wife, to commit to fertility treatments to start a family. He has a shared mortgage for a house in the suburbs. He has a colleague who outperforms him in the same department as he is in. There are a lot of commitments, but he is not committed.
He needs to come up with something, anything, for the company he is working for but does not particularly care about, but is paying his bills. At this point, you can almost hear Mile’s thoughts out loud: Is there more to life than this?
Living With Yourself in Your Head
From the offset, there is nothing inherently wrong with Mile’s and his life. He has a roof over his head, the comfort of a house that is artfully renovated and furnished by his interior architect wife, a wife who is devoted to him in more ways than one, and a job that he used to be a star at. We also find out that he has other interests, such as his playwriting, that he pores over from time to time.
It is almost enraging that Miles has chosen to behave like a petulant child by acting like the whole world owes him something. He mops around the house, and backs out on promises that he has made to his wife and company while adamantly proclaiming that he is the one being oppressed.
It is a choice because you realise that Miles is keenly aware of his failings and his lacklustre performance in all aspects of his life, and yet he fails to do anything about it. If anything, you start wondering how Miles is so unappreciative of the good in his life? What exactly is his end-game at committing repeated self-sabotage on the things that work in his life?
Soon enough, we find out that Miles was not always like this. He was originally a charming, action-oriented man with ambitions, dreams and goals. What happened?
Burnout In Living With Yourself
It is not hard to see that Miles has hit a roadblock in his life. We see him exhibiting signs of burnout that have accelerated to a depressive state. He is unsure of himself and how to rescue himself, yet in the depths of his pithole, he refuses any form of help from his closest ones. This situation might be familiar to you.
Signs of Burnout That Miles Exhibits in Living With Yourself
Feeling of failure and self-doubt in his work and life
Complete detachment from his life and that of his wife
The development of an increasingly cynical outlook towards his life
Increasing dissatisfaction with his life
Self-sabotaging behaviour that led to addictive behaviours
Feelings of emptiness and despair
Anyone who has ever battled burnout or had to live with someone who deals with burnout knows the urgent drive to meet deadlines and the emptiness that comes with scraping the bottom of the barrel.
In the case of Miles, he has sped right past the 12 stages of burn out into full-fledged depression. The big question is: Why is Miles refusing help from his loved ones when it is obvious that he is unable to cope himself?
While it can be hard to feel any form of sympathy for him seeing how much he has taken for granted, for family members, friends or close ones who have dealt with a loved one suffering from burnout or depression, it is sobering – sometimes asking for help is just not that simple.
It is not unusual for individuals who are going through long-term burnout to hold on to the belief that it is easier to deal with it alone.
Reasons Why People Refuse Help For Burnout or Feelings of Burnout
Fear and shame, especially when the person experiencing burnout is the sole breadwinner of the family
Fear of being an unnecessary burden
Distrust for the people around them
Inertia in addressing the problem as it brings up feelings of inadequacy
In the case of Miles, it can be difficult to let go of something and redefine what he knows about himself, even when he knows that he is neglecting his marriage and his duties in life.
Understanding Individuals Like Miles In Living With Yourself Who Live With Burnout
While most burnout individuals who also suffer from depression are fully cognizant of the impact that they are making on the lives of their loved ones, oftentimes, they are not able to fully control how they behave or react. In that particular phase of their life, they are responding to the burnout by being selfish to be selfless.
Recognizing Signs of Burnout As A Caregiver
Is your loved one constantly tired even when they have had adequate rest?
Is your loved one withdrawing from things they like to do or people they usually hang out with?
Is your loved one expressing suicidal thoughts or expressed a desire to hurt themselves?
Is your loved one losing interest in everything?
Is your loved one developing physical signs of stress e.g. Losing hair, falling sick more often, etc?
Is your loved one resorting to escapism to deal with their burnout?
This is not a sign of weakness. Neither are they intentionally trying to ruin lives even if it seems that way to you.
In fact, an easy way to view burnout is to see it from the perspective of a beloved automobile who has performed well for the past decade. The automobile has given you a lot of joy. It has brought you places and made life easier and more convenient for you. However, after years of smooth performance, it has started to show signs of strain. It leaks at places that it should not. It requires an oil change. Some parts are due for maintenance work. There are signs of ageing on the exterior and interior of the automobile.
For most auto enthusiasts, giving up on their beloved automobile would be simply sacrilegious. Are we able to transfer that same sort of love and understanding to loved ones who suffer from burnout? If not, what can be done?
Human beings are more complex creatures. While it is not as easy to simply switch out the parts of a human being to make it perform again, and definitely not possible or ethically sound to clone another human being like in Living With Yourself to replace your original self, there are ways to show support for individuals with burnout.
Supporting Individuals With Burnout
It can be painful to watch loved ones spiral from burnout. If you notice telling signs, there are ways to navigate the situation without placing them in a spot.
Schedule A Talk To Share Your Observations
The talk should not be an intervention. Pick a good time to speak to your loved ones. Avoid bringing up your concerns about your loved one's circumstances during a heated debate. Instead, choose a time when your loved one is calmer and more relaxed. Before bringing up the subject, you might want to ask your loved one if it is okay to talk about it.
Ask How You May Be Of Assistance
Do not assume that your loved one wants your help or advice. They might already be dealing with it in their own ways. While it might be hard to accept that they are seeking help without first seeking your support, the focus should not be on this.
Telling your loved one how to deal or what they should do is not only disrespectful, but it also undermines their problem-solving autonomy. Giving unsolicited advice might sometimes imply that you know more than they do. There could be a variety of underlying causes for why they are reacting the way they are that you are unaware of.
Be Genuine, Patient and Understanding
Do not expect immediate changes. Change takes time. In the case of your loved one, they might not even be fully aware of the impact that their burnout has on themselves as well as others. Instead of forcing them to come to a solution, show them that you will be present. In times like these, the most powerful support system is your presence and not an instant solution.
Be Encouraging In All Aspects Of Their Life
While some of your loved one’s reactions and behaviour might not make complete sense to you, strive to be encouraging. Encourage them to not neglect aspects of their life that might be detrimental to their physical and mental health. Support them even when they might not want to talk about it. Their behaviour is not personal.
Ask For Help If It Gets Overwhelming
It can get hard at times when supporting a loved one deal with burnout. There will be times when you feel like nothing is working. If you see that your loved one’s symptoms are becoming more severe, it is a good idea to encourage them to seek help as soon as possible. Asking for help, while difficult, is not a sign of weakness, but strength.
Learn more about burnout and reducing stress:
This article was published by the frankie team on the 30th of April 2022 and reviewed by a mental health professional on the 30th of April 2022. To find out more about how to prevent burnout, read the article here.
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This editorial section solely expresses the opinion of frankie and is not endorsed nor commissioned by any external party. The list is non-exhaustive. At frankie, we believe that your best provider of medical advice is your doctor. Please consult a doctor before undergoing any treatment or procedure.
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