Released On 9th Apr 2021
Victoria's blog: Burning out
I like googling the symptoms of ‘burn out’ during my copious free time. It gives me the same sense of satisfaction as acing a quiz. Difficulty concentrating? Tick. Trouble sleeping? Tick. Persistent headaches? Tick. Being kind of excited that I need some minor surgery that means I am going to get an overnight stay in hospital? Tick.
OK, the last one doesn’t come up when I google. But when you are looking forward to being cut open so that you can get a break from work and family, it’s a pretty good sign that things are out of control.
Since totally failing at Christmas due to work (see previous post), things actually got worse in 2021. My husband and I had huge, life-destroying deals to sign within four days of each other in February. The crunch point came one weekend when we both had to work flat out for the entire weekend and had no childcare at all. About eight hours into Saturday, our five year old asked (for the first time in his entire life), “Mummy, do you think that we’ve had enough screen time now?” And I had to respond, “No, sweetie, I think you are capable of watching a lot more TV this weekend.” My faith in his TV watching skills was well-placed.
Since that weekend, things have improved a bit – mostly because my deal is now done and my working hours are a bit more normal. But I am still reeling from lockdown, 6 months of billing 200+ hours per month with reduced childcare, days off spent home-schooling… I could go on.
Anti-anxiety medication has been staving off total meltdown for a while but I am starting to wonder if things need to change. My therapist (yes, I have a therapist – I grew up in America so view therapy as essential maintenance) says that I am resistant to real change. Well, of course I am. No one likes change, do they? Especially when that change is forced on them when they realise that their life is a total shambles.
I need to make my life more manageable. But, to state the bleeding obvious, you can’t just quit parenting (not that I’d want to… mostly…) and I really, really don’t want to quit my job. I’ve worked too hard for it and I love it… mostly…)
So somehow I need to figure out a way to manage exactly the same children and exactly the same job, differently. It’s helpful that mental health is getting much more focus in the City. Apparently people have realised that taking a lot of highly-strung over-achievers and putting them in a pressure cooker can lead to a less than ideal result. Who’d have thought it? But I still don’t feel like I can tell my employers (lovely as they are) that I am losing the plot.
So I’m currently at an impasse. I fear that when I write my next post in three months’ time that I won’t have changed anything (proving my therapist right). But I’ll let you know.
Victoria is a solicitor at a City firm and her husband is a solicitor in-house. When he grows up her 5 year old son wants to spend ‘all day working on his computer like mummy’ and her 2 year old daughter wants to be a ‘police’ so that she can have a whistle.