THERE! I said it.
I’ve gotten so many comments from readers about what a wonderful nurse I am and how I’m so caring and compassionate but I’m telling you:
I used to be a bad nurse.
Have you ever worked with someone who was grumpy all the time? Someone who was dismissive?
You could tell they hated their job and they were so unhappy. They came off as rude and hurried. Their heart wasn’t in the right place anymore.
Well…that was me.
I’m sure you’ve heard of burnout. Burnout has recently been recognized as an actual medical diagnosis as burnout syndrome. I wanted to include this chart to clearly differentiate between compassion fatigue and burnout. I was 100% on the burnout side of life.
I want you to ask yourself these questions:
Are you spiritually, emotionally or physically exhausted?
Do you have a positive outlook on your future at your current job?
Do you feel like you see the good in people or give them the benefit of the doubt?
Are you suspicious of your coworkers? Are you afraid they are gossiping about you or have ill intentions?
Is it difficult to concentrate at your work?
Are you as productive as you could be at work?
Do you question your capability to complete your tasks at work?
Do you suffer from chronic headaches or abdominal pain?
Are you sick all the time for no apparent reason?
Do you dread going to work?
THIS. WAS. MY. LIFE.
My documentation wasn’t thorough. I had a negative attitude. I didn’t always show empathy for my patients. I was cited for coming off as rude to other departments and in a hurry and talking too fast. I acted like a know it all.
I was of the mindset “I’ll say it how it is.” One of the new ER nurses told me one day, “You just really have no filter do you?”
I thought everyone hated me. I thought everyone thought I was stupid. I knew I wasn’t good enough. I’m sure everyone was gossiping about me. I was at such a deep dark point in my life that Fall. I wasn’t happy.
I had withdrawn from my coworkers and my friends because I was so sure that they didn’t want to hear about my life or talk to me. I didn’t want to annoy them with my stupidity.
My mind was a battlefield. I was constantly hating myself for the way I looked. I was constantly telling myself I was stupid or I wasn’t good enough. My mind was like a broken record playing this mantra over and over again:
“Why set goals when you can’t achieve them? You’re so dumb. Everyone is watching you. They are gossiping about you. They think you are dumb too. They can tell you’ve gained weight. They can tell your scrubs are tighter. They don’t trust you. They think you’re a bad nurse. They think you talk too much. Stop talking about yourself. No one cares. You look like SHREK. Just go to work and do your job and go home. They don’t like you here. They don’t want to work with you. I feel bad they have to look at me all day.”
My supervisor approached me. She knew I wasn’t operating at my full potential. Other departments were complaining about my negative attitude. My heart broke. I had never gotten a negative review in my life. I’m telling you guys, I had NO idea how bad I was. I spiraled.
In hindsight, I am SO SO thankful that my supervisor came to me. I knew that I wasn’t well but I didn’t know it was effecting my work, my attitude, my work environment, and relationships with my coworkers. I didn’t know how obvious it was to everyone else how miserable I was.
If you knew me during this time, you probably didn’t like me. I’m sorry. I know that my burnout damaged my reputation. I still hear about how far I’ve come and how I used to be very rude. I know I offended people. I know that I wasn’t well liked and I want you to know that I’m sorry and I’m better now. But I also want you to know that this could happen to you too.
I enrolled in therapy in November of 2017. I have been attending ever since to address my deeply rooted body image issues and my need to be perfect. In other words, I am a recovering perfectionist. I am a recovering workaholic. This and my undiagnosed social anxiety put me at an extremely high risk to fall into the burnout trap. I have learned my triggers. I have learned effective coping mechanisms. I know how to recognize burnout in myself. I know how to recognize it in my coworkers and friends.
I want you to know I’m still at the same job and I love it. I want you to know that I was the one putting the pressure on myself. I want you to know that while I was working 60 hour work weeks, I was the one who picked up the hours. I want you to know that if you recognize yourself in this blog post that there is hope.
It was NOT easy. It was hard work. It took time to make progress. Every day was a battle. Every day I was working harder to improve myself as a wife, nurse, and mother. Part of that came in the form of self development. Here are a few things that have played a role in my transformation:
Brene Brown’s The Gift of Imperfection: This book needs to be read by EVERYONE but most importantly it needs to be read by recovering perfectionists. I have read all of Brene’s Books but THIS ONE really hit home and I highly recommend you check it out.
Sarah Knight’s Get your Shit Together: This was a basic introduction for me on working to maintain a work life balance. I remember listening to this on the plane to see my brother in Houston Texas in October of 2017. I was so desperate to feel like I had some part of my life together. Like I said, this book isn’t nearly as “in depth” but it is a basic introduction to getting your life back on the right track.
Here are a few mantras that I recite to myself to cope with day to day work stress that have helped tremendously:
Everyone is welcome.
We are all God’s children.
Will this matter in 5 years?
What is the kind choice?
What is my goal?
You don’t know the whole story.
You don’t know what they are going through behind someone else’s closed doors.
Productive Days I learned that a HUGE part of my problems were trying to find a work life balance. I would come home on my 1-2 days off during the week and just sleep. I was so exhausted I never felt fully accomplished at home or at work. I started putting together the beginnings of my “productive day” that I refer to often on this blog. Read more on that here:
Seeking professional help: I also highly recommend counseling. I LOVE going to see my therapist. She is so kind. I’ve been so fortunate that I have never paid a bill for one therapy session due to some AWESOME insurance. I have come so far, I rarely talk about my anxiety or my body issues anymore when we have sessions but it still feels so good to have a third party listen in and offer perspective.
So what is my goal with this post? I know that as you are reading you are thinking of someone. Maybe it is a coworker, a supervisor, a friend, a daughter or husband. Do you know someone in your life that is burnt out? Is their toxic behavior effecting your life or work environment? THEY. MIGHT. NOT. KNOW. Just like me.
It may be time to have an honest conversation with them or refer them to your company’s employee assistance program. It may be time to send them this blog post and see if it helps them recognize these feelings within themselves.
I was so upset with my supervisor when she first came to me. She was describing me in a way I wouldn’t have recognized. I was mortified. But that conversation changed my life in so many ways. I will always be grateful for her honesty and her professionalism. Maybe you need to be that person for someone.
Thanks for reading friends.