His face is dimly lit, his sweater gray like the sky behind the window glass. Jürgen Klopp, coach of Liverpool FC, sits on a chair. The shoulders slump, shadows under the eyes. Only the grass on the training ground is green like hope. But Klopp wants to go, actually go. At the end of the season, after more than eight years, he is leaving prematurely a club that he absolutely loves everything about, as he says in this club video from the end of January. It's an emotional message; the 56-year-old keeps pausing between sentences, takes a breath and finally says: "I'm running out of energy."
A sentence like a mirror of our society. Klopp, the idol: a tired man. It's like someone is saying how we feel. Drained, weak, empty and tired. As if Klopp had laid down a burden that we all carry with us.
He is not the first celebrity from the world of competitive sports to name them. Ralf Rangnick was 53 years old and a coach at Schalke when he was informed that he was suffering from exhaustion syndrome. His memory, as the Schalke club doctor said about Rangnick in 2011, was empty. Oliver Kahn also felt exhausted, and a few years after the end of his career he spoke of a tunnel into which his doggedness had driven him: "I always felt a symptom, this burnout, it all took an enormous amount of strength." In 2022, the then sports director of Borussia Mönchengladbach Max Eberl turned to the public. He said through tears: "I have to get out, I have to take care of the person." And now it's Jürgen Klopp who has to go out, man.
The world of top-class sport is certainly its own. Top coaches and goalkeeping legends have different ways than we do to respond to their exhaustion. But they are also people of our time. You live in a society in which exhaustion is simply part of it - and sometimes even decorative. Anyone who is exhausted has at least given everything. It was needed.
Exhaustion is everyday life, the basic feeling of a life in which we can just about manage everything or just not. This feeling describes a present in which more and more of us are failing because our resources have been used up. The AOK figures prove this. Days of absence due to mental illnesses such as exhaustion, stress disorders, depression and anxiety disorders have increased significantly.
Although doctors cannot write someone off sick just because of "burnout", there is a separate additional number for this in the ICD-10 diagnostic classification, according to which illnesses are coded. And this shows that the number of days of incapacity to work due to exhaustion has almost doubled over the past ten years: from almost 88 to 160 days per 1,000 insured people per year. Women are on sick leave for almost twice as long as men. Employees who have a lot to do with people at work are often affected: for example, nursing staff, especially those with management responsibility or customer service employees in dialogue marketing, as well as professions in curative education and special education.
The illnesses are usually preceded by warning signs that we overlook or ignore. As if we were used to the attrition process. As if we only thought of what a good life felt like – or could feel like – in exceptional situations.
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