Daily Prompt: Burn Out

Tool School

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.

Daily Prompt: Burn Out

10 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: Burn Out

  1. Mrs. AS,
    I can so understand what you went through. I have faced burn out myself, though never went to a doctor. I had a resident physician at home, who was not at all sympathetic and thought I was making the whole thing up myself. For me burn out was when a job was so tedious that its risks far outweighed its benefits. I could not find joy in my work or in my colleagues. I could not open my mouth- every word I uttered seemed to be taken out of context and I was questioned over and over again by colleagues until I decided enough is enough- I am not taking it anymore and I quit.
    At home came the problems from my better half who was sorely disappointed with my decision to no fight it out. Fight with what ? The system that does not encourage you or your brain power or encourages those who are yes men ? I didn’t want part of that.
    I am glad you had a wonderful 3o years before you burnt out and I am glad everything turned out well for you and that you have a good nest egg to fall back on, in the golden oldie age.
    Susie

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    • I think only someone that has had experience with burn out realises what it really is. So many think your are just performing an act to have a good reason to get out of work. I certainly did not calculated myburnout, it is not nice to have and not fun. I was never shy about opening my mouth, but as you say everything was taken out of context and you were never taken seriously.
      If it hadn’t been for the support from my other half, I would probably not visited a doctor and would have been left on my own to sort it out. Looking back on it all, it seems just a sick joke. It is now many years, we are feeling fine and have left that rat race behind us at last. I was an expert in my job, export clerk, and I rarely made a mistake, my speciality being export to those difficult countries where you had to fulfil Letter of Credit stipulations and that was not easy. Suddenly everyone could do it – I won’t say how many mistakes everyone made, but it did not seem to matter any more. I felt cheated and reduced to a mere nothing etc. etc. But today there is nothing more to complain about, I did my time, earned my money and live ok now.

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  2. Burn out is a very real thing. That’s what happened to Garry. He worked his heart out until he had no heart left and then, it was over. I, like you, became obsolete. They no longer wanted what I did so well. They wanted a robot and I’m not a good robot. If I am not allowed to think, I’m miserable.

    Ironically, many of the things that they decided were obsolete 10 years ago are suddenly back. if I were up to it, there’s a lively market for people like me — now. But now? Work? Go to an office? Have some little twerp tell me what to do? I don’t think so!

    I LOVE retirement 🙂

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    • It is almost reassuring to read the remarks I have had on this blog. There are so many of us that were pushed out of the way to make room for something better, a more profitable way for the working place, and at last an excuse to push us away. Mr. Swiss felt it as well, although he had other health reasons. Stupid me still believed in the good of mankind, but mankind no longer believed in someone that proably cost too much money to keep. Quantity was gradually taking over from quality. But today I am also glad to have it behind me at last. At least I could walk out of the company and did not have to be carried out.

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  3. Burn out is real. I loved teaching — I chose it above all the other things I could have (should have?) done. It was a joy to get up every morning and go teach young adults. Then due to things that didn’t have that much to do with actual teaching (changes in the way the schools were structured, not getting tenure for very icky reasons, some other ancillary stuff) I found myself dragging myself to school instead of bouncing out to my car with a joyous, “I love my LIFE!” I began researching burn out and self-diagnosed my situation, accurately, I think. What to do? Eventually the decision was essentially made for me by changes in the program in which I taught. I fought against the changes at first then, suddenly, one miserable March day in 2014, I saw the handwriting on the wall and filed for retirement. It’s a moment I will never, ever forget. I didn’t even totally understand what I’d done. Part of me kept trying to repair the situation at work, to re-organize my jobs. I even got on a committee to build a new curriculum at one of the colleges where I taught. It was as if part of me were pressing on. The other part of me put my house on the market… It was a very strange time. But here I am! ❤

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    • I think the insult added to injury was when I suddenly had a new boss and she was about 20 years younger than me,got her experience from various courses that the company paid for and had all her knowhow from books and not from life. To top it all I had to have my annual qualification talk with her, but only once.During the time I did complain, went from Pontius to Pilatus but they had as much worry for their jobs as I did, so I eventually gave up, kept my mouth shut, and gradually collapsed against the stress of work and incompetant people organising it all. I wasted no time and aske for a transfer to another department, to be told the top boss did not want me to change my job – of course not, because I was probably the only one knowing what to do. I was so frustrated and as you say, the feeling going to work in the morning was completely different, reluctancy and frustration. In the long run it all turned out for the best and I was on full wages for two years after I was given my early retirement. However, I of course lost two years of my pension money. You cannot have everything, but I have maintained my self esteem because I opened my mouth and did not clap hands and bow, but it was not easy. I ask myself how many of us as we approach the older years have to put up with such treatment. I am sure I am not alone.

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      • I think it’s very common. The older, proven, experienced worker can be a threat to a younger inexperienced manager in the same way a young, well-educated worker can threaten the older worker with less education. At each end of my working life I was in those places.

        It made it possible for me to psychologically accept retiring, though. I had never imagined retiring until then.

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  4. This is one of the most personal and touching posts I’ve read here, Pat. I feel deeply for you and for Mr. Angloswiss. It’s so tragic that people who’ve been the life force behind a business are shunted aside not for better but for more efficiency – and often for more money for the folks with their stinky feet on the big desk in some other city. You’d called it burnout and maybe that’s exactly what it is, but I think it’s also that work moves in an entirely unfamiliar and meaningless direction. We are left behind. Younger people take our places, and though they don’t always do a better or even an equal job, they know the language of self-promotion and they are willing to play the game.

    You might enjoy reading A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. He’s a Swedish writer who addressed this issue with sensitivity and humor. It doesn’t cure anything but it made me feel a bit better to read the book.

    I’m glad you’ve come to terms with this because not doing so would be very sad indeed. You contribute much to the world. Don’t forget that.

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    • It all happened a few years ago now. A lot of water has flown under the bridge since and I realise that it is the changing of the times. Those that took over when I was invited to retire I still see sometimes in town and I am still invited to varioius occasions in the company – I am not completely forgotten. But there comes a time when you realise there is nothing to gain by clinging onto old memories, you are now past.I remember when I was working and they had the annual excursion for the retired. The golden oldies would meet outside the company, we would be looking out the window to see who was arriving. They were retired, older, no longer our colleagues at work. We would be passing remarks – look at her/him, they are looking older etc. etc. and I think of that day I decided no, I would not become one of those wallowing in old memories when the company actually appreciated and needed you. After 30 years in a job that you thought was appreciated and respected, you ask why and so it is time to go. I have no regrets, but at the time it hurt. Of course we all put a brave face and do not dare to say what we really want to say. Today I do not care, it is all long gone, and I can even regard it with humour. Life goes on, but it is not funny at the time – burn out is just a name, there is no fire, just exhaustion and despair. The Queen is dead, long live the queen.

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