When I graduated from college, I landed a coveted position for one of my area’s largest live-in rehabilitation centers, serving women and children. Although the pay wasn’t outstanding, and it was painfully understaffed, I thought I’d found my dream job.
I truly felt passionate about my job assisting clients: doing intake interviews, taking them to doctor, dental, and court appointments, one-on-one sessions, or just teaching classes. I can sincerely say that I felt like I was on the path God wanted me on, and I felt so optimistic about it.
However, my positive thinking model was at odds with the upper management and some other staff members. My 36-hour workweeks (full time) were suddenly 45-50-hour weeks, and basic needs such as days off, self-care, and sick days were gone.
Support for clinicians was nonexistent; I was attacked by a client who later committed suicide. The head of the program tried to imply that it was partly my fault because she was removed from the program for violently assaulting me.
The Final Straw
The outbreak of Covid-19 was the final straw for me. Like many other clinicians, I felt overwhelmed by day-to-day stress of my job sometimes. But then the virus hit, and it was just unbelievable. I didn’t know what to say to my clients when they talked about the stress they were feeling from the news, the radio stations’ reports of more deaths, or that they were scared for their family/friends because I was dealing with the same things. I was just as scared and worried, just as frightened as they were.
For the first time in my life, I understood what burnout was. I stopped turning on the radio on my drive to work. When I got home, I cried in my bathtub almost every night. I started resenting going to work and questioned why I was doing my job. That’s when I knew something had to change.
Time for Change
With no support for the burnout I was suffering from, I turned in my two-week resignation letter. I was fired on the spot. After years of working there, I was “… no longer a good fit for the company and not eligible for hire at any of their other facilities.”
I hadn’t ever been fired from a job, but I didn’t feel bad or angry; instead, I felt immense relief. I had been so focused on helping others for so long that I had forgotten to help myself.
At this time, I have retired from mental health. I’m happy to say that I am enjoying life again and no longer feeling the emotional distress of burnout. I think I’m exactly where God wants me to be. My current mantra: I am a work in progress. I’m learning how to manage and be the healthiest, happiest person I can be.
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Kristy Conn writes from the Pacific Northwest.© 2002 - 2023, AnswersForMe.org. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.