This is so much like de ja vous, I could have written this (if I could write like you)!! Personally,I went through 2 major meltdowns over 10 years and really never recovered well after the last one. My aha moment was provided by my physician as well when she advised early retirement for me last year before I developed a major stress related illness other than major depression. It has been quite a learning curve for me this past year as a retiree, adjusting to "was a nurse"" as opposed to "is a nurse", but I would do it all again in order to be well. I agree that no one ever approached death saying I wish I had worked longer. I have no regrets about my career, but it does tear you apart after a while!!
UOTE=VivaLasViejas;7286923]"I Had A Life---But My Job Ate It" proclaims the bumper sticker I just put on our 13-year-old Ford. I don't usually adorn my vehicles with stickers---I've always thought they were sort of tacky---but considering all that's gone on in the past few weeks, it's quite appropriate.
I bought the sticker in a funky little gift shop, the kind that can only be found in beach towns like the one my husband and I visited yesterday. We'd gone there on strict physician's orders---my psychiatrist and I share a love of the ocean, and he'd actually written a script for me to take my husband and go to the coast for a day. (I rather like his prescriptions; the next one, he tells me, will be for a trip to Hawaii.) So, rather than protesting "I can't, we don't have the money" or "I can't, I need to work", I simply followed instructions, and off we went.
I could practically feel the stress lift from me as we drove into town and caught the first whiff of salt air. The seashore is the one place where I've always found peace....it's the place from which I draw the strength I need to face whatever I must face. It occurred to me that it had been almost two years since I'd been here; no wonder my well had run dry. And as we trudged through the soft sand toward the water, it felt as though a burden was dropping off my back and shoulders with each step.
We explored the tidepools and delighted in the wet sand, which glistened with treasures from the sea. I took pictures of some yellowish seafoam that had formed iridescent bubbles, and made a short video of our adventures with my smartphone. We held hands as we walked along, just like a young couple; we dodged seagulls and tried not to stare when a shirtless, pale-skinned, and very large older gentleman lumbered across the beach. And we talked.....not just husband-and-wife talk, but the sort of conversation that only people who have known and been comfortable with each other for many, many years can appreciate.
Eventually, he went to use the restroom and I was left alone on the shore with the magnificent Pacific Ocean before me, its endless waves roaring so loud as to drown out any self-recrimination or anxiety about not being at work. As always, I fell into a state of relaxation---and contemplation---that I've never been able to attain anyplace else on earth. Seeing the mighty ocean, in its beauty and its terror, reminded me once again of how insignificant all my little problems really are in the grand scheme of things, which offers a refreshing perspective at times when I get bogged down in the minutiae of life.
Standing on the beach, it no longer mattered that there was a stack of incident reports on my desk or that the state surveyors were due to return any day now......in fact, these issues (to say nothing of the associated stress) might as well have been a million miles away, instead of a mere hour's drive and an eighth of a tank of gas. How foolish I'd been not to do this more often....and how sad that it had taken a doctor's order to persuade me to allow myself this pleasure in the first place!
It's amazing what fresh air, exercise, and a day of pure enjoyment can do. Last night I slept better than I have in many months, and without medications to boot (I fell asleep with the sound of the ocean in my ears before I could take them). But it also made me realize that I'm not yet ready to return to work, that I need to follow my doctor's and my superiors' advice to get completely better before I attempt it.
This is not easy for me to admit. I've always been someone who keeps going long after others have given up on a bad situation and walked away, and for only the second time in my life, I reached the point where I couldn't do it anymore. Seven years ago, I flamed out in a spectacular burst of emotional fireworks and walked out on my hospital job, never to return again; to say the least, I don't care to repeat that performance, especially not at my age and in the middle of a job shortage.
Bottom line, I have to practice what I'm forever preaching to others about self-care. I need to remember walking in the sand and allowing the fear and anxiety to roll off my back. I also need to keep in mind that I have only this one life, and when it's over I am NOT going to wish I'd spent more time at work, thinking about work, or stressing about work.