Stacey Garbarski, a 26-year-old actress and animal shelter resource counselor, first began feeling “burned out” in high school. Exhausted from balancing academics and theater, she claims she once nearly face-planted while walking down a hallway after dozing off mid-step.
After graduating from Edgewood College, Garbarski said there were times when she would work 80 hours a week — managing appointments and pet adoptions by day, and rehearsing for theater projects that made her little money by night, all while taking care of a special-needs pitbull at home. She said that she had a tough time saying “no” to new projects, and would sign up for multiple shows at once.
She began to find it tough to wake up in the morning to go to work, and to feel any kind of positivity about her job. She became easily angered, “blowing up” at cars that cut her off on the road. The chronic exhaustion became a weight that she would carry around on her shoulders, she said.
“You get relief when you are sleeping and when you are dreaming, when you are separate from what is going on in your current reality,” she said.
It was only a year ago that Garbarski began to learn vocabulary for what she was going through: She was feeling burnout, a psychological syndrome marked by feelings of exhaustion, detachment, insecurity and a deterioration of work performance caused by on-the-job stress.
Madison is home to many stories like Garbarski’s. In a city brimming with jobs in fast-paced and demanding fields like tech and health care, and with a growing population of career-driven young professionals who put a premium on hard work, cases of burnout are common.