It all started this year.
Work has always had its challenges, but this year, the situation has gotten increasingly draining.
For those who don’t know me, I am a teacher. I am passionate about teaching, and I love the subject that I teach.
I am not a trained counsellor or therapist. If you have a problem or need to talk to someone, please speak to a mental health professional.
The feeling of getting burnt out did not come like a tonne of bricks. It came in gradually, seeping slowly into the soul.
For some people, the burnout can take place over years. For me, it happened in a few months. As little as one month, actually.
I cannot pinpoint exactly when the burnout really started. I think it started as a series of annoyances. Many decisions that were made by management that had many of us – not only me – questioning and wondering why.
I remember how bad it could get. Announcements were made via email, and some were so stressful that they caused an indignant outburst in the staffroom. There were days when there were up to three stress-inducing emails.
Things actually got worse as the months progressed. I could feel my eagerness to go to work slipping away. I was not sleeping well. I couldn’t fall asleep early, and I had trouble waking up on time.
I do not like taking days off from work as a day away means a lesson missed by every class. But there were days when I woke up and I could barely drag myself out of bed.
I didn’t initially recognise it as a burnout. I thought I was just tired from being overworked, from the heat, or that I was going through the usual monthly hormonal imbalance. I took my usual herbal cooling teas, went for my massages, even did hot baths and foot soaks to try to alleviate the fatigue.
But none of them helped. The fatigue was persistent daily; and it can get so bad that my head would hurt, and I ended up having to take two days medical leave in a span of two weeks. Considering I didn’t take any days off last year (yes I had a full attendance record), there is clearly an unusual problem.
Take a break, they said. Err… much easier said than done
Everyone told me that I should take a break. Duh, talking about the obvious, right? Unfortunately, I could not just up and take a break just because I felt I needed it. Work still needed to be done, lessons still need to be taught, and schedules still need to be followed.
All I have to do is tough it out until the next school break. It is in two weeks, but at this stage now, it seems like a monumental task.
However, right now, with a change in management, I am grateful to have bosses who are understanding and are not giving me a tough time about taking a day off work. They are doing their best to improve things, but it will take more than two weeks to see the much-needed change.
A lot of things have happened in the past few months, but I am not here to air dirty laundry. All I can say is that there are changes that are taking place for the better, but it will take time.
In the meantime, I’m just hanging on and treating symptoms until I can get the much needed time off.
Concerned that you are heading for a burnout? Some symptoms of burnout include:
- Exhaustion. This is not only mental, but can also be physical.
- Illnesses, due to reduced immunity, leading to being more prone to getting flus and colds.
- General unwellness. This can manifest as loss of appetite, headaches, stomachaches, insomnia, or even inability to wake up.
- Irritability. This is especially noticeable as a quicker temper and less patience.
- Isolation. This is due to feeling overwhelmed, causing a decrease in socializing.
- Escape fantasies, such as constantly thinking of running away or taking a solo vacation. Some extreme cases can lead to drug or alcohol abuse to numb the pain.
Image credit: Burnt vector created by upklyak – www.freepik.com