Example: Alexandra

For weeks now Alexandra has felt like a squeezed lemon: just throw me away! Still, she manages every morning to drag herself to work at the mid-sized pharmaceutical company where she is marketing manager. At least she can function.

Completely exhausted

Her workload has increased considerably over the past few months: She now has assumed the responsibility for a budget of several million euros a year. Her boss is very ambitious and has set ambitious goals for her in the existing business plan, which means considerable travel both at home and abroad, attending meetings, visiting conferences on the weekend, assuming managerial tasks, communicating with other departments as well as external agencies, customers and suppliers. She is expected to attend or lead many internal and external meetings, and she has to interact with experts in clinics and individual medical practices. Combined these tasks have left their marks on her, both in her appearance as well as in her mental state.

In a state of chaos

Her head is in a state of complete chaos, she is nervous and cannot concentrate properly. It´s become hard for her to focus on a task. Her self-esteem has also been reduced to nearly nothing, and she no longer enjoys her work at all. Even in her free time Alexandra feels exhausted. She´s started neglecting her friends and living only for her work. A feeling of tension has taken over her being and looms immeasurably large. At times Alexandra thought she would “break.” She can no longer sleep, and when she finally does find some peace and quiet, she awakes completely exhausted. She tends to blame herself for this state of affairs: Were it only possible to bury the feelings of guilt she harbors under more and more work! Just get it together, bear down, get a grip! Somewhere, sometime, she had read about the phenomenon of mental exhaustion, burnout and depression, but for her that had always been something other people experienced. This had led to her asking herself whether, maybe, she should get some sort of help for her situation. But for what? Because of her “mental state”? Exhaustion? The latest fad diagnosis? In the end Alexandra had to unsparingly face up to her true situation. One thing quickly emerged: “It can´t go on like this much longer. Something has to change or I´ll go under.“

Ways out of the crisis

She began asking herself the hard questions: What is wrong with my situation? What is making me so unhappy? How can I find a way out of the present dilemma? Will I ever be happy again? Is this of interest to anyone besides myself? Does anyone even care about me? She contemplated how her future could look and what her possibilities were – and what she wanted to do with her life. It quickly became clear to her what she would have to change – and that every change has its own price. She realized she would have to muster the courage to pay that price for change. But, she concluded, finding a way out of this crisis would be worth any price demanded of her. Alexandra did not attempt to extract herself from this crisis on her own, but rather decided to get help from others. She reached out to people in her environment, initially to family members, later to friends and colleagues, especially a colleague who had started working in the company on the very same day as Alexandra and with whom she had a good relationship. Alexandra profited from talking to people from her immediate environment about her stress and about her dwindling energy reserves.

Support from friends and family

Especially the feedback she got from her family, her friends and colleagues gave her the strength to eventually approach her superiors with her problem. She was pleasantly surprised at how understanding they were about it. It was agreed that in the future Alexandra should concentrate on the two marketing projects that were of greatest importance to the company, whereas two other projects would be delayed and an additional project, unrelated to a specific product, would be delegated to an assistant who had begun working there about a month ago. Alexandra´s boss assured her, the assistant would be entrusted with the work only as a means of unburdening her. The ambitious goals foreseen in the business plan remained the same, but the responsibility for the marketing budget was now divided between Alexandra and her boss. She was able to delegate a number of trips abroad to her assistant, and the communication with other departments, external agencies, customers and suppliers was also passed on to others. She also canceled a number of internal and external meetings, claiming staff shortages. This allowed her to concentrate on her core tasks, that is, the interaction with experts in hospitals and physicians´ practices throughout the country.

Back to life as usual

In the meantime Alexandra was able to break through the fog that had invaded her head; she became able to focus her attention on specific matters; her concentration abilities increased and once again she could participate in social relationships. She has now resumed contacts with her circle of friends. Every weekend she reserves time for at least one meeting with others. Slowly the feeling of being continually stressed is giving way to one of being more balanced. Her friends report her seeming happier and more satisfied than a few months ago. And she´s sleeping better. She feels like she is participating in a completely new work atmosphere, tailored to her needs. She is still the same marketing manager in the same mid-sized pharmaceutical company, but she now has her self-esteem and her sanity back.


Today, she´s doing well. She found a way out of her crisis, it´s her personal success story – and she´s proud of it.