The morning that changed my life
Alun Rees describes the morning he realised he was doing too much and how Confidental can help.
I remember it well.
Monday 8am, first patient due at 8:30.
I was driving to our practice in a suburb of Gloucester.
My journey took me through the picture-postcard village of Upton-St-Leonards.
I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw four cars behind me, bumper to bumper.
I realised I was driving very slowly and was unable to put my foot on the accelerator any harder.
I pulled into the side of the road and turned off the engine.
My pulse was racing, blood was pounding in my ears and I was hyperventilating.
Then came the tears.
I had spent most of the weekend at work, trying to deal with what felt like a mountain of paperwork.
Letters to read, referrals to make, financial statements for analysis.
Plus, a difficult decision about hiring a new team member to replace someone of long standing who had left because: ‘I can’t work with you any longer, Alun’.
I now know four signs of burn out:
- Has anyone close asked you to cut down on your work?
- Have you recently become angry or resentful about work, colleagues, clients or patients?
- Do you feel guilty that you are not spending enough time with your friends, family or yourself?
- Do you find yourself becoming increasingly emotional?
On that Monday:
- My wife, a hygienist who worked as my partner in the business, had suggested I try to do less
- I had started the practice, enjoyed it and our patients. Now it all felt like a heavy load dragging me down
- I regularly missed our son’s bedtime. My Dad had died the previous year, his last words to me were: ‘take care of your mother’, she was not coping well
- My journeys to and from work were marked by my shouting at other motorists or Radio 4.
I wish I had known then, what I know now.
Confidental, the 24-hour telephone helpline for dentists by dentists, is now officially live.
Trained volunteers are there to offer support in a crisis and are there to listen.
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