Hello dear reader, I am back again for the Thursday-series. Last week I told you that I sought treatment for burnout with an behavioral therapist.
At the end of March I made some important decisions. During January and February I went to work to discuss my possible return. I’ll provide you with some context here. I had a breakdown due to burnout in August. When my GP said that he saw symptoms of burnout, I told him I didn’t wish to ever go back to that workplace. Whilst being ill people told me that I wasn’t fit to make big decisions. In my mind nothing was going to change at work, I had no illusions that they would adjust something in the workload, communication or just how things were done there. I was confident in my ability to see that for what it was.
I had two ‘bosses’. The first one called during September to inform how I was doing. Not well, I can tell you that much. In October I had a long phone conversation with the other one. She was very understanding and told me that she couldn’t make promises but that we could at least have a conversation about possible adjustments in my job. That was my incentive to see some hope. I worked hard with the therapist and we made a proposition, some things I would like to do at work.
With my hopes up and after a 6 months absence from work , I was eager to hear what my bosses would have to say. Without a doubt they would have some thoughts about the situation no? It is their job to ‘manage’ the place after all. I prepared the meeting with my coach and she advised me to mostly listen. Well, I sat in the conference room and they were staring at me. I didn’t say anything, the advice in mind. After a while it became quite uncomfortable. It became clear to me that they had no plan so I told them my aspirations. The answer: ‘That is not possible‘.
Rather I needed to tell them within two weeks if I was going to return to my job as it was or if I chose not to return at all. They wanted to know if they should hire somebody new on a permanent basis or not.
My wishes were to have one day per week without shifts but I would work the afternoon and evening in support of my colleague. I wished to have three hours to invest in direct contact with the patients. To be able to speak and listen to them without the interruption of being ‘on call’ all the time. I explained my need to rekindle my enthusiasm for the job and that I had difficulties with stressmanagement.
I was upfront telling them that I didn’t see me ‘changing’ in my job when the job stayed exactly the same.
I decided not to return. That came as a relief but held also some kind of mourning for the opportunities lost, the dedication to the job not seen. I experienced a small depression. My coach said again that it was perfectly normal for me to feel that way. After a month there was a goodbye party at work and I could move on to the next chapter. My coach said that she thought it was time for me to move on to a job coach. I had the feeling she didn’t know what to do anymore because my recovery was slow. The moment I felt slightly better and some decisions were made, it was time to pass me on.
But I did start to feel better because I closed that chapter of my life and I could see some other future lurking. I didn’t sleep that well and was still tired but not to the point of exhaustion anymore. I was hopeful and happy in a way. A week after my farewell party, the nurse of the health insurance told me that now it was really time to move on and to go out in the world and go job hunting. I tried to explain that I didn’t feel that well overall but she assured me that I could still be ill but just not at the expense of the insurance.
I slipped away in something dark. It didn’t get better. I felt like I lost all the happiness I gained during the past months. I started to cry out of the blue, I had no feelings left. What I built up with my coach, the small activities I use to enjoy, didn’t speak to me anymore. I looked at my paintings and found them ugly. I looked at the yarn and couldn’t be bothered to pick up the knitting needles. I listened to music but it was all noise to me. Watching tv wasn’t fun, I already knew the world wasn’t a happy place. I saw my happiness slip away every day and there wasn’t a thing I could do to stop it. My GP referred me to a psychiatrist. I just needed to wait a month. I held on to that appointment for dear life.
Thank you for reading and following my winding road of therapy. If you are interested in the previous parts, you can click here: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5. Or you can find ‘my story’ in the menu ‘mental health’ on my site. I hope to see you next week at the psychiatrist.
Since being diagnosed with burnout I made the decision not to go back to my old job. I worked out that conclusion with my burnout coach. The insurance lady told me that after being on a sick leave for about 8 months now, it was really about time to go out looking for a job. … Continue reading Winding road of therapy – Going to the psychiatrist. Medication for burnout and depression? Part 7.