Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On burnout

Today was my first day back to work after 11 glorious days off. Vacation is an amazing thing and I am so grateful that I have a job which provides me with a very generous amount of vacation time. I realize this is a luxury and for once I took full advantage of it by not logging in to work to check e-mails (usually I say I'm not going to but then I do anyway).

I read four or five books. Knit a couple hats. Watched the entire first season of Bones, plus finished watching Charmed (the first seasons were so much better than the last few), watched a bunch of movies, slept in, went back to bed some mornings to sleep more, did some shopping, oh and of course went to Maine for a few days. I needed all of that. Very very badly.

Today at work wasn't as bad as I was expecting. All hell did not break loose for a change which is usually what happens when I go on vacation. I only had about 380 e-mails to deal with which was fewer than I was expecting. There were no huge crises and no frantic voicemails. In fact, I didn't have a single voice mail waiting for me. I spent the morning catching up on the doings in the office while I was gone (yes, it did take most of the morning, I work with a lot of people and there's a lot going on right now). And I even managed to get my inbox down to a reasonable number of items to deal with tomorrow.

Before I get to the point of this post I should note that I like my job. At least for the most part. There are parts I don't enjoy, but really, who doesn't have at least some part of their job that they don't like? I'm not challenged by it all day every day, but I think I'm okay with that. I really like the people I work with. Again, at least for the most part. I think the work we do is valuable and that means a lot to me.

Now, my point. I decided on my drive home tonight that I'm burned out. Let me (or should I say the dictionary program on my laptop) define burn out for you:

burnout |ˈbərnˌout|
1 the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion : good carbon burnout | [as adj. ] a burnout furnace.
2 physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress : high levels of professionalism that may result in burnout | you'll suffer a burnout.
• informal a dropout or drug abuser, esp. a teenage one.
3 failure of an electrical device or component through overheating : [with adj. ] an antistall mechanism prevents motor burnout.

Number 2 above fits me to a t. I honestly am not sure how much longer I can keep my head above water. No, that's not exactly right. I can always keep my head above water. It's more like I'm not sure how much longer I can go on before I snap. Before something gives. And I don't want that something to be my sanity. And it every day it feels more and more like that's what IS going to give.

I should not leave work (an hour after quitting time) on the first day after a vacation with a headache, the stress chest I had before vacation, and near tears. I should still be basking in the beauty and relaxation that is vacation. To be honest I was fighting back wracking sobs of, I don't exactly know, frustration?, stress?, dissatisfaction?, while Maggie and I were walking this evening. I mean the tears were leaking out of my eyes, my nose was all snotty and I was really really hoping not to run into any of my neighbors because I'm pretty confident that they'd be able to tell something was wrong and yeah, not sure the "oh, just a little allergy attack" response would have fooled either of us. Pretty sure that's not normal. Or good.

Maybe it's just reentry into work like after so many days off. Maybe I'm dehydrated. Maybe the stars are aligned all funny or something. I know it's not hormones. Most likely I'm simply burned out. And now that I've admitted it I need to do something about it. Take some sort of step(s) to fix it. I'm just not sure what that step(s)
is yet.

So, lyrics. Right then. Can't think of a burnout song so, we're going to go with some tried and true Rent. Because, well a) it's Rent and b) it's also fitting for my non-work life (Mark, Mark, I'm Mark!) and c) it's been stuck in my head for days now. From Goodbye Love:

Mark: Hey, for somebody who's always been let down
who's heading out of town?

Roger: For someone who longs for a community of his own,
who's with his camera, alone?

No comments: