It’s 7h55, in my medical office, I drink my first cup of tea (I try to stop coffee but it’s so hard, cause I love that). I’m looking outside: it’s grey so turn on my UV lamp (vitamin D is so important).
Looking at my dates: the first one is Larry. I’m standing and looking for him:
– Hey Larry, what’s up?
– Hey Doc, not so good, even I wouldn’t be there.
– Ok, Larry how can I help you?
– I need medicines to sleep.
– Oh, Larry, just one minute. Why don’t you really sleep? You can’t sleep? Or you wake up by night? Tell me, I am here to listen to you and, together, we will find a better solution.
– I stay one to two hours in my bed just thinking about millions of things, and sleep doesn’t come. I wake up two to three times per night with a dry mouth. When the alarm of my phone snoozes, I fell so tired and fell I can’t assume my working day. Doc, I feel tired before beginning my job and I know I will not win the race…sounds like both my body and soul are empty from energy. It’s driving me crazy!
– Oh, Sorry Larry, How do you feel at work?
I’m looking to him: Larry freezes and his eyes move quickly, he stares at the ground, he takes a few seconds before answering me :
– The truth is, I can’t do my job as I would. I take too much time to do little things. I’m late on all my desktops and sounds like it’s too speed for me. I feel overwhelmed. People want me to do more and more but I already do my best. It’s difficult for me and Diana cause I’m in a bad mood every day and yell. I have to drink one or two beers when I come back from work to relax. I can’t stand this situation and from time to time I want to kill my boss and feel guilty cause it’s my fault: I just have to do more again but I can’t.
– Oh, Larry, It’s the beginning of a Burn Out.
I remember an article that I’ve read weeks ago: Every morning, I take a cup of coffee (I told that I tried to stop but not succeed again) and speedily (before my daughters wake up) read something on Medicine cause I always try to improve myself.
The article was about the Burn Out Society and told that the twenty-first century is a neurological illness (Standford University Press).
Several symptoms of Burn out described by studies are already present in Larry (Burisch M. Heidelberg: Springer. (2014) and we must act before things get worse.
An article showed that the frequency of psychiatric illness is greater in men aged from 30 to 49. Another one showed that Burn Out is an important predictor of depression, diabetes, high cholesterol rate, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and increased mortality before the age of 45 (Plos one 12(10) 2017 ).
Larry is 36, and he needs me:
First of all, it’s very important to decreases the pressure, so I ask Larry to take two weeks vacation and take all the time for himself. Like a Lot of people (including me), Larry thinks that he’s fundamental in his work. He says that he’s already in late so take time is not possible…It is.
Work is very very important but you’re not fundamental at work, you are for your family. Your wife needs her healthy man, your children need their super dad continuing to play the superhero. No one needs an annoyed guy who yells because he brings back his problems from work.
Second, do respiration exercises to help yourself to relax. Try cardiac coherence. It’s a simple three times per day exercise: during 5 minutes do 5 seconds of inspiration and 5 seconds of expiration.
Third, see a therapist. It’s important to talk about your difficulties. You’re an human, not a machine.
People think that see a therapist means they are mad: the real madness is knowing to be ill and lets the situation get worse.
Fourth, I will prescribe herbal medicine, they are pills with few side effects, and they will help to relax. Often chemical drugs are seen as a simple and effective solution. They are necessary in some cases, but in many others, you have to take the time to assess the situation.
Last we will meet in two weeks to see the evolution. The feedback is so important because you are the center of care. Your feelings and your progression allow the caregivers to take, with you, the best decisions .
Realizing the situation and accepting it as a reality allows you to really face it. It is also the beginning of the therapeutic strategy with your doctor, perhaps a therapist, who will make you feel better and will go back to being who you have always been. The real strength is not to not give in, it is to rise up and triumph.
Gradually, larry’s facial features relax, and I see a twinkle in his eyes. would they be tears? I’ll never know because they haven’t dropped.
– Thanks Doc, you’re the best!
– I know (or I convinced myself that I am)
PS 1: When I saw Larry again 15 days later he told me it was a little better. These 15 days closer to his family have done him a lot of good. He has started psychological therapy and he knows he will be okay.
PS 2: It’s hard for me to admit it, but Larry also told me that herbal medicine didn’t really help him. no big deal, with or without, he’s better and I’m happy for him.
PS 3: Burnout is a very serious pathology that time to time needs some pills or consult a psychiatrist. In Larry’s case, we were lucky, he reacted very well by coming to consult. Never hesitate to talk to your doctor, or those around you, and never keep it to yourself. Burnout and depression are monsters that like to drive people into loneliness.