A talented online friend, Jess DeWahls, recently asked how you know if you're burned out. I said that when the things that usually bring you happiness no longer do, that's one of the biggest signs that you're experiencing burnout.
Today, Jess posted this on her Patreon.
I've always been the kind of person that always has to be doing, doing, doing.
I always have to be proving myself, if not to someone else than to myself.
Mostly to myself.
I've been burned out for years.
I've always taken care of everyone except me.
Living in the middle of nowhere as my son and I do, we often have revealing conversations about life. Sometimes it's just a bitch-fest, but other times something important rises to the top.
My son has a friend who is responsible for taking care of family members. She asked him how you know if you're developing compassion fatigue.
I had compassion fatigue before I got fired from my job as a home care nurse in 2017. I was burned out and not paying proper attention a lot of the time because I felt like hammered shit. My own health was in a precarious place. This led me to make a critical mistake that I regret to this day.
One of my patients was a pre-teen boy who had a rare x-linked disorder with frequent seizures. He couldn't walk or talk. He was a big kid. I had my tricks for moving and repositioning him. He was incontinent and sometimes he would let loose astounding amounts of urine. On those occasions, the whole bed would need to be changed.
I thought I had him positioned well on the bed while I gathered sheets and pads. I was wrong. He managed to roll out of the bed. I dived to catch him, but his leg struck the chair next to the bed where I sat during the night beside him.
For the next several days, he was obviously in pain, but he couldn't tell us what was wrong.
His mother finally managed to get him to the E.R. It turned out that he had a fractured femur.
I wasn't in trouble because accidents do happen in this line of work. However, I knew that I was nowhere near at my best. Had I been at my best, I would have made sure that there were pillows tucked around him and I would have made sure that the bed rail was up.
A few months later, I was taking care of another patient. I had a serious respiratory infection but was cajoled into going into work anyway since I'd contracted the infection from this patient.
I fell into a very deep sleep, and during that time the patient managed to wrap the oxygen hose leading to his tracheotomy port around himself. When I came out of that darkness, it was 20 minutes later than the time I noted before going under, and the patient's father was sitting on the side of the bed glaring at me.
I haven't been the same since that night. I feel like I had a small stroke. I was completely exhausted and sick as a proverbial dog. I was fired the next day and wasn't surprised. I wanted to scream at my supervisors "you people do this to us! You work your nurses to death and then fire us when the inevitable happens!" I was far from the first nurse that this had happened to.
It took me about three years to stop defining myself by my failure to work a normal job. It took me time to stop seeing myself as a failure because I had to go on disability.
My father was a neurotic perfectionist. He never allowed himself to rest. He was always doing, doing, doing. He slept very poorly. He always felt like a failure. He had a major hemorrhagic stroke at 68 years old and was dead by 74 after several smaller strokes.
I don't want that to happen to me. Unlike my father, I do take medication for my hypertension even though antihypertensives are downers, and the last thing my depressive ass needs is to be more depressed.
Even when I started allowing myself to commit to the literary areas and no longer had to punch a time clock, I've still let myself fall into the trap of needing other people's approval or I'm a failure. When someone doesn't like what I write, it sends me into a tailspin. Sometimes even when it's a criticism of one of my reviews, as stupid as that sounds.
Recently, I found myself not caring about the worlds that mean so much to me and realized that I had to take a step back.
Do you know that there's a lot of crap on the Amazon Prime platform?
Yeah, there's some good stuff too, but there's a lot of crap.
I'm not sure I'll ever be able to entirely accept the fact that I will never be popular, that most people are always going to find me weird and unlikable. Often when I get a bunch of criticism over a story it seems like most of the time it's people playing follow the leader and ganging up on someone who isn't part of the "in" crowd rather than that there's really anything wrong with the story itself.
Also, these fuckers really don't know how to make hamburgers. The WEP team advises using the hamburger method when critiquing, where you wrap any negative critique in two positive ones.
Nobody ever does that with my work when I enter the WEP grid, they just pick it to pieces. Hence, I probably will not be officially participating there anymore. I don't enjoy being nibbled to death by mice, and I don't like feeling like I'm back in high school.
I don't really care if anyone else would publish my work. I'll publish it myself. I just need to spend a day or two watching some godawful melodrama. Then, hopefully, I'll be good to go again.
Ornery Owl is Back to Being Ornery
Free use image from Pixabay