Burnout: A Social Worker’s Personal Story and 7 Reasons Seeking Help May Be the Answer You Need

Greg Leslie
Burnout: A Social Worker’s Personal Story and 7 Reasons Seeking Help May Be the Answer You Need

It all started when several people in my community were shot. One was my very close
friend who ended up in a coma for two months before he regained consciousness.

Then a short time later three young people, my clients, died; one a murder victim and
the other two were involved in a car accident. If that wasn’t enough, then a young
racialized male was killed in his high school.

During this time, it was hard to be me. The personal and professional lines were blurred.
I felt like I was blowing in the wind, just going through a wave of emotions, riding the
lows.

The violence in the community impacted everyone at work. But I had lived in and was
then working in that community. It was my community. It was a community that was
upside down raddled with death, gunfire, police surveillance, and angry parents. I was
tired of hearing sirens, seeing police cars, reporters and cameras. All I wanted to do
was stay home.

I knew what I was feeling was more than “stress” or something that a vacation would fix.
I had a severe case of exhaustion, insomnia, loss of appetite, dissatisfaction with my
work (something that I once was so passionate about), and irritability, just to name a
few symptoms. I was not feeling like myself, and it was impacting my relationships.

I can tell you that finding the courage to seek professional counselling to help me
recover from burnout, even as an experienced Social Worker did not come easy for me.
But I knew that I could not deal with the issues alone or by talking to a friend or family. I
needed to get to the root of the problems and address it head-on.

“When in the throes of full-fledged burnout, you are no longer able to function effectively on a
personal or professional level.” Psychology Today’s piece, the Tell Tale Signs of Burnout…Do
you Have Them?

So after wrestling with myself and trying to cope but failing, I took some time off work
and sought help from a Psychologist. I needed help to understand the environmental
impacts of the violence, vicarious trauma and transference that I was facing. The
decision to seek counselling was a difficult one for me, despite my profession and
education.

I struggled with fear of being “labelled”, I felt anxiety, stress and uncertainty. I also felt
vulnerable. I never had to open up so much to anyone before so. The Psychologist
concluded that I had burnout.

This experience, however, was empowering. It not only allowed me to return to work
faster but it also allowed me to identify with all the clients in a way I never had. The
experience was invaluable to my professional and personal growth.

The process of healing took some time but eventually, it led me to where I am today,
with Educare Selfcare Studio, my private practice and filled with the passion and drive
for the work that I thought I had lost as a result of the burnout.

In addition to working with Psychologist, one thing I credit to my being to survive
burnout and thrive was my dedication to my self-care practice. So much so, that
Educare focuses on teaching self-care workshops to groups, employees and
entrepreneurs as a strategy to manage stress and to better equip them for success in
their professional and personal lives.

“If you’re not experiencing any of these problems, that’s great! However, you should
keep these warning signs in mind, remembering that burnout is an insidious creature
that creeps up on you as you’re living your busy life.”

I’ve put together this slideshow for reasons that seeking help may be the answer you
need for dealing with burnout and other life challenges you may be facing and maybe
not wanting to face them alone anymore.
For me, recovering from burnout involved 7 key steps:

1. Self-awareness: being self-aware and accepting that I was going through something
serious even if I could not name it.

2. Timeout: taking time away from work.

3. Asking for Help: finding the courage to say I need help and taking action to get the
professional help I needed.

4. Making self-care a priority: exercising regularly, eating healthier food and getting
more sleep was critical to recovery.

5. Relationship building: Spending time with my loved ones and close friends.

6. Reconnecting: making time to do the things I enjoyed doing such as writing, music
and cooking.

7. Practising Patience: being patient and taking the healing one at a time.

I hope you find helpful this helpful.

Please leave a comment or say hello!

  1. So REAL!!!, ..The true feelings and experiences can only be articulated when one has suffered/experienced it themselves. Wrestling with one self is the first step of acknowledging that there are some things that we cannot handle ourselves and that we can seek professional help. Especially when we consider ourselves to be strong and cannot be affected by what’s happening around us. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Greg this is an honest, raw post. Thanks for being open about how you recovered too. There are many in caring professions who aren’t admitting the truth about their emotional needs and this helps make it safe for many. Thanks!

    1. Thank you Rosemarie, I believe being transparent on topics like this opens the way for healing, learning and reflection

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *