Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about job burnout lately. I know it is something completely common in the social work field. You'd think people would figure out a way to fix it, and if someone has figured it out, they haven't told my place of work. I read somewhere that the biggest source of burnout in the social work field is having too much to do and not enough time to do it in. That describes my life for the past few weeks. And you know what makes me frustrated? I never wanted to be a social worker, and here I am, being a social worker.

This week is outrageous. I worked 12 hours today. It will likely be 12 hours tomorrow, as well. The thing that bugs me is that these are all things about which I have no choice. Everyone likes to tell us to have boundaries to keep ourselves sane and destressed, but then work puts us in a situation where if we don't do the work, we'll get in trouble. So, in essence, we don't have a choice. This week, I don't have a choice that I have to work late 2 nights, in fact, cancelling plans I had made in my personal life, plans that I had been looking forward to for a long time. Just thinking about that gets me more angry and upset. If I don't do what I have on my work calendar this week, no one else will do it, and I'll get in trouble.

They also like to tell us to communicate and ask for help when we need it. I did that this week. I voiced my concerns and I have been completely ignored. If anyone cares at all that this job is ruining my week and making me bitter and burnt out, they are not sending me an email or taking a minute to encourage me and try to work with me and see if I can get a day off next week or something like that. Instead, I got an email that said, "Hey, it won't be that bad!" But the reason the person in email said it wouldn't be that bad was because they forgot about a client, and all the hours of work I would have to be putting into that client for this week. So, there was both a lack of awareness about the demands of the week and my job, and I felt like it was an insulting attempt to placate me.

Because I've been working very hard for long hours recently (I rarely get a lunch or breaks), I feel like I am becoming my job. I like a lot of parts about my job; the diversity, teaching refugees about America, reuniting families, and so much more. But I want that to be just one part of me. I don't want to be "senior case manager". I want to be Renae. And so often lately, I am just "senior case manager". I feel like I am disappearing, and I don't know how to get me back. Even if I knew, I wouldn't have the time. And so I fade away...

My sister will be giving birth hopefully in the next day or two. Two years ago today I had a friend who died. I have a boyfriend and a social life. I was sick this past weekend, and I was not able to take the time to fully recover, and so my cough is getting worse, but I don't know when I'll have time to go to the doctor. I've postponed medical appointments several times recently because of pressure at work to complete tasks that I couldn't reschedule. Because I'm sick, I'm missing out on my training for the Lincoln Half-Marathon. All these things...I have no time to think about, no time to reflect, no time to remember, no time to be thankful, no time to heal, no time to rest...this is not how it's supposed to be. Social work is not the type of work I want to do, but I could handle it if it weren't so demanding, if it didn't cost so much. I could handle it a little better if I didn't feel like I was the sacrifice my agency was making to improve their program and reputation in the community. I think I could handle it better if they realized that they were sacrificing me.

All this...ramblings of a clearly overworked and burned out social worker. Ugh. How typical. And since I got home at 10:30, and took some time to check my Facebook and write this, I will go to bed late, and I have to get up early tomorrow and do it all over again...

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