I Need A Timeout. Why I Took a Mid-Career Break?

I need a timeout

From the Walls of the Great Hermitage of Tatev, Armenia

I need a timeout. We all need a timeout but because of needs, we set aside taking breaks from daily routines. We sacrifice a lot to perform our jobs, to fulfill our careers and professions and responsibilities.

But why I need a timeout?

The Glorious Days

One of the happiest moment of my life was when I passed the Philippine Board Exam for Nurses. The happiness was real. I felt I was so close to my dreams to become rich (and to serve others…) But in Philippines, working as a Nurse is really one of the low-paying jobs. I still cannot understand why but that is one of the harsh realities.

The next time that I can remember that I  was the happiest was when I have to take an exam in Makati, Manila and right after the exam, I was holding a paper indicating that I passed. My thoughts were “I am going abroad and I’ll be receiving high salaries and I’ll be rich.”

Nursing licensure exams really love me, they didn’t fail me at all. I kept on passing them. And I thank God for the gift of intelligence during those times. (But now, you cannot really make me answer even one nursing question.)

Welcome to Team Overseas Filipino Worker

I arrived in the Middle East last December 2010 with the hopes to get a high paying job. But as a newbie, I have to start small. I didn’t have the luck to receive such high salaries, but I am really grateful for my first job who provided me the visa so I won’t go back to The Philippines jobless.

Fastforward, we are now in 2017 and I’d been to three different employers. But why I am taking a mid-career break after more than 6 years? Why I need a timeout.

The fact that nurses are human beings and so am I. Nursing job isn’t just wearing that white uniform or any scrub suit, going to work in a hospital and passing medicines to the patients. Nursing is a tough job dealing with lives.

We feel happy, contented and motivated but we are also prone to frustrations. And what it has to do with me?

My Symptoms of Burnout

I was the eager one, the flexible one and the one who can learn things easily. (I was, and this is my line whenever an interviewer asks me to tell about myself.) Nursing job burnt me out. I felt exhausted. And I am not hesitant to admit it. I was losing my patience but tried to control everything. I was counting days till I’m free. Nurse burnout is real (but it is not a crippling illness.)

I cannot appreciate anymore what I am doing. It felt heavy everytime I go down from the bus and enter the staff entrance of the hospital.

I do still wear a smile but the feeling doesn’t go with it anymore. My remaining patience was about to end. I was still functioning well because I have to but I wasn’t happy at all. There are many external factors why I felt like this.

The simple telephone ring at the nurse station irritates me. Call bells? Aargh… Everytime I hear “for injection, for IV, for CTG, for blood test, transfer to LDR now, for admission, etc” started to become a challenge for me. It was like a heavy task to do. It even get worse as the time goes by and I was told to “help in the urgent care, relieve the nurses in this clinic, go to Paeds OPD, go to L3, go for training, and from now on you will report to L2.”

Even hearing my name irritates me. It was like, what’s the problem again, any issues? Are you going to send me somewhere? Are you going to ask me to do this and that?

I was the “flexible” one, the “helpful” one and the one who is “eager to learn” BEFORE. These characteristics became estrange to me. I became less motivated. I need a timeout.

The real me can always give sound advises and I am a good listener but during the burnout moments, I became inattentive to others. I was thinking, I have my own problems, don’t involve me with yours.

When you’d able to asked me before why I wanted to become a nurse, the answer you probably heard from me is to serve and help the sick. That was an automated answer though. And I don’t know what will be my answer now. I feel so empty that as if I have nothing to give. I am physically and emotionally drained. (Oh, I need to mention that I had a blood pressure reading as high as 143/100.)

The Solution

I need a timeout and help myself.

I gave a letter of notice that I am not going to renew my contract.

I’ll go on for a break not to find myself but let my self free from hospital politics, be free from a call of service here and there, to be away from hearing health illnesses and pain, to break free from home to hospital routine. I need to find and to gain balance.

I will travel.

Am I rich enough to do this? As this is what perceived by many when I said I am quitting my job. I’m rich in hopes and dreams. Inspite of feeling burnt out, I’d never let go of those dreams. Financially, I’m not well off. The only sure thing I know now is that I will survive for few months more without a job.

I’ll be utilizing that time to improve myself, to plant motivations within myself and to please and do what I want. I’ll be focusing on inner growth so I’ll be whole again to face the tough world of nursing job and that is to serve and help others and of course to receive my salary again.

To fellow nurses, if you feel at some point you aren’t the person you used to be, you deserve a break. Nurse burnout is real. But it is not a crippling illness. Take a break. Whatever suits you, do it. A trip to a neighboring country? A few days staying at the comfort of your home? A long weekend break? A vacation to Philippines? You and I need a timeout.

I also have my fears now of how I can go back to my nursing profession. I have to think of my licenses need to be renewed and credentials that need to be updated. Can I still go back to Abu Dhabi, get a job that I will love?

Notes to Fellow Nurses

(This is a developing story because I still don’t know what awaits in the future. No concrete plans just simply embracing the unknown. Meet me at the crossroad.)

1 Comment

  • Jenny says:

    such a strong woman!! i wish i can just say “fuck that!! im gonna travel!!! im not a nurse but i feel that “burn out”
    A month vacation isnt enough but i can’t take risk yet!!

    ill be following your stories! fighting!!

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