Overworked were our grandmothers without a washing machine, modern kitchen equipment and having a working day that never ended. Our mothers, also to a certain degree, but things were improving.
I had a washing machine, washing up machine and all the mod cons necessary to look after a household and so I became a working woman for 30 years and really enjoyed my work. I never really felt overworked because every day brought a new challenge, and I was a fool for challenges. I still am if you look at my WordPress history. There came a day when a brain or logistical organisation was no longer required. You were tranformed into a robot. You no longer followed your orders through until delivery in some strange corner of the world, where knowhow was required. You just participated in a small part of the journey, because the organisation was no longer in your hands. Suddenly the word “work” had a meaning. The word “intelligence” or “knowhow” was obsolete.
You were being organised. There was someone else, who knew it better, whereas that someone else was probably in the right place at the right time and possibly only a little more than half your age. You were reduced to a person sitting at a desk doing the right thing at the right time, no matter how boring or monotonous the work had become. It was now time for profits, and assembly line work. Your job was to process the orders, even if they only arrive late in the afternoon, and get them delivered on the same day. Everything else was done by someone else on the line. Of course somone asked once, is it possible. Do you say yes or no, you say perhaps, because you really do not know and want to keep your job and wages. And so life goes on.
Until one day you discover that problems with the new “organisation” become more and more confusing. One day, after a confusing day, you go home and tell your partner you cannot go to work tomorrow. After almost 30 years I was this far. The partner was worried, had noticed that I was not as I used to be concerning my work. He immediately made an appointment with his doctor, also a specialist in such matters and the next day I was sitting in the doctor’s surgery instead of going to work. I was diagnosed with a bad case of “burn out”. Now this is something and nothing. It seemed to become a “fashion” illness and many were just nodding their heads and thinking “another one with the burn out”, but I was ordered to stay at home for at least three months because I could no longer do it.
I remember the time when I could not even enter a supermarket on my own without being confused by the many people surrounding me. I lost part of the grip on my life because of a silly “burn out”, just two words that had become a modern way of staying at home, or two words saying this person is ready for a nervous breakdown due to the new methods of work. What does it matter really? I returned to work working half time after three months abscence. In the meanwhile the work system had been changed and I noticed there were more people coping with a process I was doing on my own – I wonder why.
I was already approaching golden oldie age, although there were still offiially a couple of years left in the old goat, but eventually I was given an early retirement. I would say I was handled fairly and I am not complaining, that is now many years ago.
Just a few days ago I was talking to my other half, who also had to have an early retirement due to health reasons, and we reached the conclusion that this was so not important what happened then. Life goes on and there is always someone that takes your place. No-one is indispensable. After I cleared my work place, two weeks later someone else was sitting at my desk.
No, I was not overworked, just burnt out, although the interpretation of those two words is left to those that have experienced its meaning on the body and mind.