Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Return of Happiness

Years ago, when I was early in residency training, I wrote a post on the first version of this blog called "Fundamentally Happy"*.  In it, I talked about how, despite the many challenges of residency, at my core I was happy.  Satisfied with where I was in life and with where I was going.

Earlier this year, I lost that feeling.  Not just for a moment, but for months on end.  I felt like I was working constantly and as if life was a perpetual slog through overbooked clinics and piles of paperwork.  In the beginning, I was having trouble staying caught up for more than the briefest of moments, and eventually I lost the ability to ever catch up.  I was slowly drowning.

It has taken a lot to come back.   I have drawn on every resource available to me to get through this, and I have been so lucky to have been met by nothing but support everywhere I went.  Support from friends, colleagues (remember the one who took three weeks of summer call for me?), and even my department head.  I am so thankful to have had a good experience, because I know that many physicians who burn out don't.

Life is different now.  My clinics are capped, so even on days when everyone shows up, I usually run (at least close to) on time.  I don't run over too often, and some days I finish early.  I still get behind on paperwork sometimes, but it's usually because I've taken something extra on (like travelling to a remote community to share my knowledge with a group of rural physicians) and not because the work load is too much.  And when I get behind, I can catch up again.

I can finally breathe again.  Not the shallow, panicked, desperate breaths that I was breathing for months.  Deep, calm, happy breaths.

Things are so much better.

*I think.  My memory is crappy.