The Very Tired Girl: A Creative Essay by a NY Psychiatrist
A short tale on burnout
Myke arrived at work an hour before her usual start time to find herself in another meeting that could have been an email. She returned to her desk, resentful towards her boss for being inconsiderate of her time. Myke hopped on the WhatsApp group with her "work wives" to vent about the stupidity of upper management. Although this gave her a brief reprieve from her anger, it was short-lived once she noticed her emails. She could only tolerate two emails at a time before checking her phone, hoping for some distraction. It was hard to concentrate on anything work-related. Everything was piling up, and her mom's suggestion to create a "to-do list" actually added to her stress. Visualizing her list of tasks made it real, and ignorance was bliss. You see, her workload doubled after her assistant left abruptly, and they promised to find a replacement that was never fulfilled. Although she was doing extra work, she didn't receive the proper recognition or feedback she felt she deserved. She felt chronically overloaded and tired, very tired.
Myke lacked adequate support to do her job effectively, and therefore, her work suffered. She became accustomed to working at a subpar level, especially since there was no reward or incentive to improve her performance. This job was a paycheck and nothing more. She hated being at work and doubted that things would get better. She was especially affected by the daily microaggressions from her oblivious co-workers. Comments such as "Is that your hair or is it a wig?" and "When I come back from vacation, I'm going to be as black as you" were extremely problematic, but she did not want to have to educate her co-workers continuously. So she sucked it up and internalized the anger.
Thank god it was Friday. She longed for the weekend. She fantasized about a good night's rest, hitting a work out class, and cleaning her apartment. But it had been two weeks, and she hadn't been social. So, after work, she met up with her girlfriends for a night out. While at dinner, her boss dared to ask for an update on a recent project. Her anxiety started to increase, and her disdain for work grew as well. She self-medicated with her favourite drink, a gin martini, followed by a glass of wine and free shots of vodka from the waiter. With all these drinks, Myke was very drunk and needed a friend to escort her home. She woke up the next day in the late afternoon, with a headache, feeling unaccomplished, embarrassed and tired, very tired.
Burnout, a disease that results from chronic stressors at work has reached epidemic proportions, mainly in our culture of equating our sense of pride in our work. If any aspect of Myke's story resonates with you, it might be time to speak with a mental health professional. If left untreated, burnout can affect your career and overall quality of life. With a healthcare professional, you can discuss the dysfunctions at work and develop coping strategies to help counteract your state of burnout. Only by understanding your problems can you devise a plan to address them effectively.