This week is the third week that I’ve had off work. The sick note reads fatigue and burnout. The last day I went to work, I felt like I couldn’t physically manage another day of work. I was so looking forward to 4 days holiday, but sadly I haven’t yet returned to work.

I haven’t done any research into fatigue and burnout that will come, for now I want to write about my lived experience. I am so overwhelmingly tired. How did I get here? Well I think there are 2 factors if I’m honest, work and social life…

I work for a charity. I work with NHS staff and Social services. I have volunteers who I can allocate to help people out after they have left hospital, whether just a friendly visit, to fetch shopping or many other neighbourly things. My job is varied; there are elements of admin, volunteer recruitment and management, promotional and networking activity, visiting people myself, monitoring, social media… I love my job. I am great at my job. I love working with people, both professionals and clients. BUT when there is no volunteer to visit, I am the pressure release; I have to pick up the referral. When there are bank holidays I have to squeeze all my work into fewer days, holidays become a curse and not a blessing. When there is meetings, training or the head office is short-staffed, I have to leave my work and squeeze it into the remainder of the week. I care. I love to care for people. I love to hear their stories. I like to draw alongside, to help and support at a time when some TLC can help get them back on track. With some people I wonder who is helping who and feel like I’m getting more out of seeing people than I’m giving. Other people suck you dry, they need you to help and do for them; they play a role of helplessness. Saving my holiday for the winter when I depression usually gets bad, I haven’t had a holiday (except bank holidays) since January. I thought I was being sensible, planning ahead. My GP was pretty unimpressed.

The other element to this journey is more embarrassing to admit. I live alone, sometimes I feel alone and isolated. So what do I do, every evening I arrange to meet up with people, sometimes I arrange more than one activity per evening. I feel I have to earn people’s friendship. I am convinced no one would willingly want to spend time with me. I feel I have to arrange things, that if I don’t meet up with someone I’m letting them down. Of course our friendship is all my responsibility, not theirs.

So with all the running around both at work and at home, the lack of holidays or me time, I find myself with fatigue and burnout and the road ahead feels scary and uncertain.

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