Q. I have a very intense, stressful job that I would tell you I managed quite well until I fainted at work and ended up in ICU for 10 days!! I don’t even remember most of those days. I was diagnosed with encephalitis. I am trying to figure out what I do now. I want to share my story with your readers and hope it helps someone before it is too late.
A. Brenda shared the following: “I am a very type A personality and take on the most difficult tasks with the determination that I will succeed. My supervisor is keenly aware that I will give every challenge 150% of me. What I was not keenly aware of was how this year after year giving 150% was killing me.”
“The fact that I fainted that day really comes as no surprise. The encephalitis however was a surprise. The diagnosis of diabetes was a surprise. The reality that my weight had increased over time was something I was aware of but darn, who knew 40 pounds was the number. (The scales were not my friend so I did not go near them).”
“My health was a total mess. I was told by the doctors that I was near death. I had not felt good for a long time. As a manager I encouraged my staff to take care of themselves, I would cover for them sometimes when they took a day off. But taking care of myself, apparently did not happen.”
“I was the employee who gave 150% remember? For what, I ask myself now. Why was I working 10 hour days on a regular basis? Why did I go home, make dinner for the family, and fall into bed exhausted on a regular basis? Why wasn’t I listening to my husband when he said, “you need to stop working so much, you are exhausted.”
“So I slowly started feeling better and went back to work. I had to see if I could still do it. I moderated at first, then insidiously I was back at those long days again. I had to stop, I could not do it. But what was I going to do now?”
Brenda learned what many of us learn; the more we give, the more they take. There is never an end to most manager/supervisor positions. There is always something to do; one more meeting, one more report, one more call to make.
I too, learned like Brenda did. I started my management position in perfect health but after three years I walked out of the hospital with a diagnosis of Lupus and Raynaud’s, oh and lets not forget, exhaustion.
So here is what my internist prescribed for me: 1) Don’t take work home 2) Don’t stay late
3) Don’t go in early OR someone else will raise your daughter because you will die!! Those are the exact words he wrote on his prescription pad.
He saved my life!!! I quit the job!!!
Vicki L Mayfield, M.Ed., R.N., LMFT Marriage and Family Therapy Oklahoma City
If you would like to send a question to Vicki, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org